Frequently Asked Questions...
Do you offer lessons?
We provide hands on intermediate level instruction with some of Chicago's best sailing instructors as part of your lease. We also provide periodic seminars on topics such as navigation, docking, sail trimming, etc. There's always more to learn!
I have never sailed before. Can you teach me?
Our program is not geared towards rote beginners. If you don't know the difference between a halyard and a sheet, you'll need some basic instruction before sailing with us. There are a lot of places in Chicago that can get you up to speed. We work closely with a few Captains in CHicago and point you in the right direction for getting some lessons from a qualified licensed captain and instructor. Once you've learned to sail, leasing one of our smaller boats is the perfect way to practice what you've learned and become more confident in your sailing skills! Summer 2017 could be the start of a lifetime on the water!
I am just getting into sailing, do you have any recommendations?
The Skipjacks program at the Columbia Yacht Club is a fantastic overview of what sailing and the sailing lifestyle offers to Chicagoans. All too few Chicagoans realize that ours is one of the world's great sailing cities. Skipjacks provides some classroom instruction and will allow you to get out on a number of different kinds of boats, it also gives you temporary access to the club's facilities.
What does it take to qualify for your program?
You need to be able to sail the boat you want to lease. We do not require documentation or certification of any sort. Paperwork (or the lack thereof) does not really say a lot about your sailing ability. Instead, we have an instructor take you out on the boat to ensure that you can safely and competently handle her on your own.
I haven't sailed in a few years, should I still sign up?
Yes! Our check-out process is to weed out applicants who simply cannot safely sail a boat of the size the want to lease (and, have overstated their skills on their application!). If, during your checkout, either your or our instructor think you could use a little extra training, we will provide hands-on-instruction until the instructor is confident that you can handle the boat on your own (when needed, this usually only takes a session or two beyond your checkout).
Is there anything else that would prevent me from leasing from you?
We reserve the right to reject anyone either we or our instructors feel would not be appropriate customers. But, we are a very welcoming group. The only hard and fast no-go is a recent DUI conviction.
How the Program Works
Can I take the boat to another harbor?
Yes. All of the boats can be taken overnight to another harbor.
Can I book the boat for multiple days?
Of course! You choose the exact days that you sail. Take them one at a time or, book long weekends.
Can I anchor the boat or take it to the dock?
Sure! Anchoring in the playpen or off of Northerly Island during concerts is one of the things that makes sailing in Chicago unique. If you think you'd like to anchor or dock, have the instructor verify that you can safely do so during your checkout. If you are inexperienced in this area, we can teach you.
Can I sleep on the boat?
Yes! You can sleep on all of the boats. The view from the harbors at night is stunning. Just be off the boat before 9 AM. The Monroe Harbor tender starts running at 8 AM on weekdays.
How many people can I have on the boat?
No more than seven, including yourself. This is an insurance mandate and applies to all of our boats. I would not recommend actually sailing with more than five people on the Catalina 27's.
Do I have to clean the boat? What is expected of me?
You are sharing a boat with a number of other captains. When you leave the boat, you should leave it in the same condition you found it. You will need to remove any trash and spend a few minutes wiping the cabin and cockpit down. We are on the boat several times a week to do heavier cleaning.
How do I get out to the boats in Monroe?
A water taxi, or tender, will take you out to your boat at Monroe. You need passes to ride the tender. We have lockboxes at the Monroe Harbor tender office that contain two passes per boat. If you are taking a group of people out, you can purchase additional passes. Or, if you have been cleared to dock, pull the boat over to the touch-and-go area to meet your guests.
Is parking included?
We share parking passes at both Monroe and 31st Street.
What happens if there is an accident?
Accidents happen; even to the most cautious sailors. When you sail with us, you can be confident that you are covered by insurance. Our insurance has a $1,000 deductible. You are responsible for any damage you cause up to this amount. If you are ever in an accident, your first step should be to call us.
This sounds great! But, my wife/boyfriend/husband/family doesn't like to sail as much as I do, I am worried I won't have anyone to sail with.
Sailing is more fun with company! We have built a list of crew that you can call when you are looking for someone to go out with you.
Is the lease all inclusive?
Yes, your lease includes everything: fueling, cleaning, instruction, insurance, etc. You do have to buy your own rum, sadly.
Are there any other costs?
If you want to share a lease among a group of friends there is a $500 fee to split a share among up to three people.This would allow you to book sails individually and sail independently of each other (if you are always going to sail together, there is no need to split the lease.)
Is there a damage deposit?
Yes, you are responsible for any damage caused on the boat under your watch. Your liability, however, caps out at $1,000 (our insurance deductible). This is the most you would have to pay if you were in an accident. We ask for half of this as a security deposit, refundable at the end of the season.