Refreshing zephyrs glide off freshwater lochs and onto SkipperBud's, an all-purpose marina on the shores of Lake Mendota. New and used boats from high-end brands such as Starcraft and Sea Ray bob beside the sprawling facilities, where savvy salespeople bring decades of know-how to the 40-year-old company. Engine parts, safety tackle, and watersports equipment are also on hand, as are adept boat mechanics trained to tinker on most boat models and engine types. Indoor storage facilities fend off the icy barks of Old Man Winter, and, in the summer, make for easy access to Lake Mendota's launch points.
Size is no object at SkipperBud's, where all forms of aquatic fun line their shelves, from water-wings on up to yachts. Though the shop doesn't actually line the walls with multi-ton vessels, it does store smaller recreational vehicles in dry stack, pulling entire boats off high shelves with an enormous, specially outfitted forklift. Inside the store proper, staff keeps neat displays of more conventionally-sized gear, including watersporting apparel such as skis and life vests to boating accessories, such as anchors and bumper stickers to slap on the bottom of a ship's hull that say, "If you can read this, you are a really smart fish."
To keep boaters covered in the office, SkipperBud's deals in a variety of storage and maintenance packages. They shield private vessels from the elements during winter months in vast warehouses, and perform tune-ups and major repairs to engines and fiberglass hulls.
SailTime Chicago is the local franchise of SailTime, a fast growing worldwide boating company. We provide our members access to cruising class sail and power boats. The best way to say it: we have fun.
Gliding across Lake Michigan, the sailing party watches the sun sink beneath the Chicago skyline. As the last rays fade from view, the city's skyscrapers throw their light onto the lake's surface. The captain steers the ship past Grant Park and Millennium Park, and then veers out toward Navy Pier, where the ship's passengers find a prime viewing spot for the Saturday-night fireworks show.
In addition to charters like these, the captains of Go Sailing Chicago—all holding US Coast Guard Master Captain licenses and certifications from the American Sailing Association and US Sailing—furnish beginner through advanced sailors with sailing gloves and life jackets before leading hands-on instruction in proper seamanship. Launching from DuSable and Monroe Harbor, and sometimes other points along the lakeshore, Go Sailing Chicago's four-boat fleet meets or exceeds the safety standards set down by the USCG and the most persnickety of ship-in-a-bottle builders.
Wendella’s boats have sailed Chicago’s waters since 1935, when founder Albert Borgström built the company’s first ship by hand. Still run by Albert’s great grandson, Michael, the company complements its time-tested architecture and history tours with specialty tours that feature beer and barbecue, wine and cheese, or fireworks. Wendella also operates Chicago’s distinctive yellow-and-black water taxis.
The hustle and bustle of the city can’t touch the calm waters of Lake Michigan. There, on gently rolling waves surrounded by fresh breezes, Kayak Chicago hosts tours and lessons, and lets paddlers take to the waters on their own with rentals. Captained by Dave Olson, a kayaker for more than 20 years and outdoor educator for more than 10, the company entrusts certified instructors and guides with shaping the strokes of kayaking newbies. Their tours take aquatic explorers out on the lake at night to ooh and ahh over summer fireworks or along the Chicago River to survey the city’s renowned architecture and map out their next bank heist. The staff also plants patrons on standup paddleboards for introductory lessons or wave-top rounds of SUPYoga or SUPPilates.