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Our Wild Chicago Weather

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Our Wild Chicago Weather

Cruising on Lake Michigan is a fantastically fun experience and one of the best ways to enjoy our city. The spectacular Chicago skyline, the tranquility of cruising on our beautiful lake and connecting with friends, family or colleagues – all make for a great time.

Then there’s our weather.

Let’s just say, we don’t live in Chicago for the climate and we might find ourselves asking “what season will we have today” with how the weather can change by the hour. The day can start out with beautiful blue skies, glistening blue waters and then end with a foggy scene right out of an Alfred Hitchcock film!

What about people who’ve booked private yacht charters?

When the skies are dark and cloudy and the weather anchors are saying run for cover, what happens to people who are looking forward to entertaining clients or guests on Lake Michigan?

They go out and have a really great time! While they might prefer the glorious sunset shot, a bright horizon under dark skies is pretty amazing too.

We never cancel charters. You’ve already invited guests. The food’s been ordered. Our yachts are large enough to have your group inside (where it’s cozy and heated). We are committed to providing safe and fun events if the weather is very threatening, we will stay in the harbor. Otherwise, we cruise!

We monitor weather radar conditions very carefully, our captains and crews are highly experienced and they’ve all been out on Lake Michigan when the weather suddenly turned from sunny and beautiful to black and stormy or heavy with fog.

It happens (in Chicago!) and we’re always prepared.

See some of the feedback we received from previous charter clients, all of whom cruised in less than ideal weather conditions:

“We had a great time; the staff was great and the cruise was really fun. We’ll definitely be doing it again!”
-Michelle Rotter Google

“Our group had a wonderful time, to say the least, and I would guarantee that we will be back again in the future. Your hospitality and service were outstanding.”
-Steve SchultzArthur J. Gallagher & Co.

“Please thank all your staff for their help with our cruise yesterday. Our group had a wonderful time despite the unseasonably cool weather. We look forward to hosting again with you next summer, Thanks Again!”
-Blair A. Bedalow, Member Events & Catering Coordinator, The Buckingham Athletic Club

What routes do the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit take?

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What routes do the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit take?

We hear this question a lot while planning your private yacht cruises. The Free Spirit does a Chicago Lakefront tour while the Gypsy Spirit can do either a Lakefront tour or a Lake and River tour (your choice).

Both tours start out of Burnham Harbor where our yachts are docked. If you’re not familiar with Burnham Harbor, it’s just southeast of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and north of McCormick Place, the largest convention center in America.

The Free Spirit cruises north to exit Burnham Harbor, proceed past Northerly Island and then heads south. From there we cruise by the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium cut through Monroe Harbor, wave at all of the landlubbers, pass by Buckingham Fountain, the Chicago Yacht Club, the MV “Abegweit” aka: Columbia Yacht Club, Navy Pier, and then North through the “playpen” — that Lake Michigan hangout you see from Lake Shore Drive, north of Navy Pier, where you’ll find a gazillion boaters gathered together enjoying the skyline. If the lake isn’t too bouncy the Free Spirit will cruise past the Harrison-Dever Intake Crib. Check out this old WGN broadcast about “the Crib”, see why it’s so cool!

The Gypsy Spirit can do the same cruise as the Free Spirit or you can head straight for the Chicago River, a unique part of our city, and one that you and your guests will find fascinating. The Chicago River System is 156 miles long and flows through downtown Chicago. It used to flow directly into Lake Michigan until 1900, when the Army Corps of Engineers reversed the flow of the river to prevent a recurrence of epidemics, giving Chicago the world’s only river to flow backwards. Just an interesting bit of trivia about our city! When you cruise with us, we can provide a tour guide to entertain you with anecdotes about Chicago history, architecture and fun facts.

We’re launching the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit.

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Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit Yacht Cruises.

We’re excited to tell you that we’re launching the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit. Free Spirit Yacht Cruises will be back in Burnham Harbor in April!

You’ve probably noticed. Despite the cold, spring is peeking around the corner. The days are getting longer. Don’t forget we Spring Forward on March 11th (hurray!). Could there be better news?

Actually, there could.

Spring means it’s time to start planning your summer fun. And in Chicago, summer fun is synonymous with Lake Michigan and our amazing lakefront.

Mouthwatering menus and more

We’ve been busy booking charters and designing mouthwatering menus for the 2018 season. Captain Joe and the crew are hard at work making sure everything is immaculate and in perfect working order aboard the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit. Come April, our yachts will be ready to cruise Lake Michigan for your private events, company outings, meetings and more.

Yacht Yoga

We’re practicing yoga on a yacht.

We’ve got something extra special and fun for you to enjoy on Lake Michigan. It’s Yacht Yoga. Yes, Angela is leading Vinyasa yoga classes on the deck of the Free Spirit. What a perfect spot to focus on mindfulness and relaxation, right?

Angela has been teaching YogaSculpt since April, 2015. She’s earned her 200-hour teaching credentials for Vinyasa yoga and will have 100-hour teaching credentials for Yin Yoga as of March 23rd when she returns from Costa Rica. Angela wants to share some of the wonderful benefits of yoga with clients and friends.

If you’re one of those people who puts others before yourself too often or simply find you need a little “me” time, this is the class for you. We’ll create your own private Yacht Yoga event or you can sign-up for our open Sunday afternoon Yacht Yoga flow.

If you’re missing the sunshine, watch the video we’ve created to get you in the spring spirit. It’s our “Taste of Chicago” but with cruises. It features our clients and friends with images of Chicago’s magnificent skyline, Navy Pier fireworks, the Air & Water Show and of course a gorgeous Chicago sunset (remember those 😉 ) Be sure to watch ’til the end to meet our captains and crew.

We hope you’ll share the video with your friends, colleagues or anyone who’s looking forward to summer and may want to experience Chicago’s most inviting yachts.

Water safety. Not something we take lightly.

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Last week brought this water safety headline: Coast Guard rescues 49 people aboard faulty yacht lost in Lake Michigan fog.

A few words immediately jumped out at us: rescues, faulty yacht, lost in Lake Michigan fog. Reading the article, we learned of additional frightening facts: “no operating navigation system…. not enough life jackets on board…”

A recipe for disaster. Fortunately, all 49 people got back to shore safely thanks to the Coast Guard. But the yacht’s owner faces heavy fines. Or possibly losing his license.

Water safety is not something we take lightly. As the owners of two luxury yachts that host hundreds of charters each season, it’s a responsibility we take very seriously.

Our captains and crew are experienced professionals who are thoroughly trained in yachting safety. Along with the list of safety guidelines posted on our website, we provide this information to clients when they book a charter.

Be prepared for us to be safety sticklers. Coming on board, a crew member will ask your female guests to remove high heels. We’ll refuse to serve liquor to a guest who’s had too much. We won’t go out of the harbor if the lake is too choppy. We’ll keep you safe.

Yes, we’ve had push-back from the occasional charter guest who wants to sit on the hand rail or stand on a bench. Or swim. Or have another drink. But we’d rather have a guest angry with us than injured. Or worse.

Lake Michigan is beautiful, and we feel very fortunate to spend our summers on it. But it’s also deep and cold with currents that have surprised more than a few hapless victims.

The U. S. Coast Guard has been cracking down on illegal charter boats following an increase in the number of injuries sine 2014. Here are a few interesting facts according to boating statistics they’ve compiled from 2015:

  • 71% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction.
  • 8 out of 10 boaters who drowned were in smaller boats (less than 21 ft.). Think rowboats, motor boats, canoes, not large yachts.
  • and not surprisingly, alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents.

We hope the Coast Guard continues to pursue illegal charter boats because water fatalities are something none of us want to see. It hurts business. It ruins lives.

We want to see you come back again and again. And so we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure your Free Spirit Yacht Charter experience is one that you and your guests will remember happily for years to come.

What our clients say:

Thank you so much for a wonderful experience Wednesday night! You and your crew were a huge part in us having a successful event with our partners. You made it extremely easy for us to coordinate and I truly appreciate you allowing us to customize our event with the tea cocktails and tea beer. Our guests loved it! Everyone on your crew from the safety lesson to our captain and bartender were excellent and very kind. We enjoyed everything so much and will definitely be back! You can count on me to spread your name by word of mouth 🙂 Thanks again for everything!” -Ashley & the Tiesta Tea Team