Musings on winter, yoga, headstands…..and yacht cruises.

As a private yacht charter company in Chicago, ours is a seasonal business.….leading a lot of people to ask, “so what do you do all winter?”

Wouldn’t it be nice to say that we winter in Costa Rica or travel abroad? We can’t say that! The reality is somewhat less glamorous. Joe still goes to the boat yard, does maintenance work and makes sure the bubblers are working so the Free Spirit doesn’t freeze in the pond. Margaret and I work on office projects and stay in touch with clients. In other words, we’re working just about year round.

This year, however, I found time to take Yoga Teacher Training at CorePower Yoga. This is the sixth week of the eight-week program. While challenging, the experience has been incredible, and I am learning so much more than yoga poses.

FreeSpiritCruisesChicagoFor example…. the other morning I woke up at 7am and decided to do an 8am class. But I couldn’t really get into it. Let’s just say, as we were going through the Vinyasa flow, I wasnʼt feeling too flowy. More like agitated. I had to keep reminding myself to quit judging how well I wasn’t doing and focus on my breathing.

Then, my instructor announced, “Next, weʼre going to do a tripod head stand.” This was something I was quite sure I was never going to be able to do. But she came over, and with a little assistance to position my head and hands correctly, I lifted my legs, one at a time, until I was in a HEADSTAND. And my earlier self-talk of “I’m not doing this well today” disappeared. I felt weightless and comfortable and awesome! Cause it wasn’t just doing a headstand. It was doing something that had seemed unattainable. I tried it and I did it! And that felt pretty terrific.

You’re no doubt wondering why I’m telling you about standing on my head and feeling great about it. Well, aside from reminding me that overcoming something you don’t  think you can do is one of the greatest feelings in the world, It started me thinking about how cool it would be to have some type of yoga-centric cruise this summer. No headstands on deck, but some grounding exercises, meditative yoga, soothing music. Sound interesting?

To be continued…

Almost here…..spring. Here now….our new website.

Anyone else looking forward to this Thursday? March 20th is the official start of spring – the vernal equinox (a much more melodious phrase than “polar vortex”)!

We’re all so ready for some warmth and sunshine. Let the remaining ice mountains melt so the tulips and crocuses can start peeking out already. After months of gray, we’re craving bright colors.

Speaking of bright and new….. hope you like our spanking, sparkling brand new website! It’s fresh and clean and easy to navigate. We think you’ll see that it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for, whether it’s rates, photos of previous charters or catering menus.

HomePagePhotoCheck it out at:

We’d love to hear what you think about it, so let us know on Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+. And please share it with your friends.

Happy sunny and no-new-snow Monday!

Coming soon to Burnham Harbor!

It appears that winter is not leaving easily this year. Although the days are definitely longer and it’s still light after 5:30 (hooray!), the weather forecasts seem to be stuck in the low digits. Sigh.

But at Free Spirit Yacht Cruises, the excitement is building. We’re shaking off the frosty forecasts and planning for the upcoming boating season. Cause we are launching the yachts in April, and it can’t come soon enough!

Captain Joe is all set for his annual top-to-bottom inspections on our Gypsy Spirit and Free Spirit luxury yachts to make sure everything is immaculate and in perfect working order.  I’m busy booking charters from clients who are as anxious as we are to get out on Lake Michigan. Lots of parties, meetings and company outings on the horizon.

Speaking of Lake Michigan and horizons……we thought you’d enjoy watching this video we put together. Sort of a taste of what’s to come as we all look forward to another spectacular Chicago summer.  Feel free to share it with your friends and colleagues who might not know about us.

Keep thinking warm thoughts. March is next week!

Things are looking up, Chicago.

Last month we talked about the Chicago Boat Show at McCormick Place. Hope you got a chance to see it. It’s one of our favorite tradeshows.

This week, we feel like we should be talking about the Chicago thaw. Since everyone else is, we’re going back to McCormick Place.

We have a lot of clients who attend tradeshows and conventions at McCormick Place. But did you know that a number of them have chartered one of our yachts to sit at the dock as a luxe spot to entertain clients and woo potential clients? We kid you not! Companies looking for something out of the ordinary will charter the Gypsy Spirit or Free Spirit — not to cruise, but to dock next to the convention center as a unique venue for lunch or cocktails.  Guests can come and go as needed. Talk about entertaining in style!

Other clients have had us pick their guests up near McCormick Place for an evening cocktail cruise. Rather than having guests hustle to get to our dock, we come to them. We stay docked for the first ½ hour and cruise for the next 2 ½  hours. Guests just walk out of the convention center and we’re right there to greet them and welcome them on board.

Can you think of a better way to impress those clients you’ve been wooing? We can’t either.

Want to see how close we are to McCormick Place? Check out the map below.

We’re thinking hearts and roses….and warm!

Anyone else tired of talking about the cold?

We are. So we’re thinking warm thoughts….like Valentine’s Day which is right around the corner.  We’ve got a great gift idea that will make your favorite gal warm and cozy and let her know you’re thinking of her long term — a Merlot & Massage Cruise.

The cruise date is June 17th. Here before you know it! Three hours on our luxurious Free Spirit yacht on beautiful Lake Michigan (it WILL be beautiful by June, trust us!). She’ll enjoy hand, foot and chair massages, a delicious light buffet, and wine, as she relaxes with friends and soaks in the incomparable view of our world-famous Chicago skyline.

Last year’s Merlot & Massage Cruise (which was sold out and fabulous) was featured in NowYouKnow.  It was THAT much fun!

Here’s a link to sign up online.

fyi….special ladies not limited to wives, sig-Os and girlfriends. It include moms, daughters, granddaughters, nieces, friends. We usually have some guys on board as well, so men, you’re welcome to join us.

Stay warm!

Who’s ready for a taste of summer!

We all are, right? It may be cold and windy in Chicago, but here’s a chance to get away for a few hours and pretend it’s summer.

Where else but the Progressive Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show, billed as a one-stop marketplace for outdoor fun. Held at McCormick Place, this year the show runs from January 16th- 20th.  So you have five whole days to check out the latest, coolest summer outdoor sports gear….

Along with demos and seminars, they’ll be hosting some cool contests and giveaways — including a $500 shopping spree. Be sure to check it out before you go to the show.

And here’s a link to the Official Show Guide so you can see what’s going on each day.

Let us know if you’re going. Or take a picture and share it on our Facebook page. Maybe we’ll see you there. We’ll be hanging out around the luxury yachts. But then you knew that.

A wonderful way to start a new year

I began 2014 by participating in a Sparkle Flow Yoga Class. It was amazing! Hot yoga with wall-to-wall people. The energy in the room was strong and positive…. definitely a different experience than years past.

Our instructor focused on what each of us could do for the greater good of man and about helping others with small acts of kindness.

While we were in final resting pose, he shared a recent encounter on Thanksgiving Day. He stopped to get a cup of coffee and saw a woman in a wheel chair who couldn’t open the shop door. She called to him for help and asked if he would get the door for her, which he did. A man was entering with his 5-year-old daughter, and he held the door for them as well.

The woman in the wheel chair ordered a small hot chocolate and donut. The bill was $3.15 and she only had $3.00. The person at the register kindly said they would cover the 15 cents. Then the woman asked for a larger cup so the hot chocolate wouldn’t spill when she moved around in her wheel chair. The cashier said no, they count the cups, and it would cost the same as a drink. So the man with the young daughter offered to buy the cup for the woman. His daughter was perplexed. She asked, “Daddy what are you doing?“ The father knelt down and told his daughter to remember this moment because it could be easy to forget, “If someone is in need, and you can help them, then you should.” The instructor went up to the man and said, “Dude, you’re a good man.” And the man said, “Good men also hold doors open for people.”

Little acts of kindness. What a wonderful way to start a new year. And I made it home to be with Joe at midnight to bring in the new year with a kiss;)



Holiday Traditions in the Donofrio Home

Those of you who know Captain Joe know there are few things he loves more than being at the wheel of one of our luxury yachts cruising Lake Michigan. But here’s a side you probably don’t know…..that’s Joe in the kitchen at Christmas time…..making Christmas cookies.

It’s a holiday tradition in our home that started years ago with daughter, Ashlie, and continues today.  Ashlie and her friends come over and gather in the kitchen where Joe has “cookie stations” for each girl to create her own cookie. As the girls have grown, the variety of festive cookies has grown as well. Favorites over the years are Pizzelles, Russian Tea Balls, and Rosettes….along with Buckeyes, Chocolate Chips, Rice Krispie Treats and more.

If it’s hard to picture our captain in a chef’s cap, we understand. So we wanted to share this photo of Joe and the girls and the cookies…..which taste yummy by the way.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and wonderful, warm happy traditions shared with your family and friends.