top of page

Frequently Asked Questions

We've had thousands of guests choose our boats for their outings. These are the topics that come up the most. Have something else to ask? Send us a message!

  • What is the maximum passenger capacity of the boats?
    Our Sea Ray 240 bow rider has a maximum passenger capacity of 8. All of our other boats have a maximum passenger capacity of 12. The maximum passenger capacity includes the charterer but does not include the captain or crew. All children, babies and infants are included in the maximum passenger count.
  • Where are you located?
    All of our boats are located at 31st Street Harbor, Chicago IL. Click here for more information about the harbor, parking and facilities.
  • What happens in case of bad weather?
    Please refer to our weather policy here. Weather forecasts in Chicago change quickly so please do not reach about weather reschedules more than one day before your rental.
  • What do I have to pay now to reserve the boat?
    25% is required to reserve the boat. 75% is due 30 days before the rental date. Damage deposit will be returned within 3 business days assuming no boat damage or incidental charges incurred. If you book the boat less than 30 days in advance we will collect the full amount at booking.
  • Can we bring our own food and drinks?
    Yes! You can bring your own food and drinks, including alcohol. Recommendations: - Finger foods tend to be easier for guests to manage. - Avoid red wine and other items that are likely to stain the boat. Many of the surfaces are white. -Choose cans over bottles when possible. This is for your own safety and the safety of our cleaning and dock staff. Beer bottles are very easily broken on the boat. Generally champagne and wine bottles are ok. -Consume alcohol in a moderate and responsible manner. Most of the problems our charterers have had on the boat have been linked to excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol also increases the likelihood of sea-sickness.
  • Is catering available?
    Chicago Yachting does not provide catering, but we can provide recommendations. If you would like Chicago Yachting to receive food and beverage deliveries and set it out, please reach out to us for a quote for this service.
  • Can we listen to music?
    Yes, all the boats speakers that you can connect to from your phone via Bluetooth.
  • Can we go swimming?
    All of our boats have swim platform and ladders to facilitate swimming while the boat is safely anchored. Swimming in Lake Michigan is a great way to stay cool on a hot day and to enjoy your boat rental! Swimming is not recommended in dangerous conditions or after dark. We recommend that you discuss swimming conditions with your captain. All swimmers - even those that consider themselves experienced, should wear a life jacket in the water.
  • Why do I have to hire a captain?
    You are chartering the boat from us for your recreational use; it is not a commercial/inspected passenger vessel. You assume the risk and liability of the vessel and the voyage during the charter period. US Coast Guard requires that, in order for a valid/legal bareboat charter to exist, any captain and crew are selected, hired, and paid by the charterer directly. The captain and crew are considered the employee of the charterer, and may be terminated by the charterer. You are not restricted to the captains on the list that we provided and may hire any captain of your choosing who is experienced and competent to operate the chartered vessel. Click here for more information about the process to hire a captain.
  • What is included in the cleaning fee?
    The $50 cleaning fee you have paid covers normal cleaning. Extra cleaning fees up to the entirety of your damage deposit will be charged if the boat is returned in a condition that requires more than a basic cleaning. What we want to prevent is the abuse of property, excessive amounts of trash, food and decorations left behind. We ask that guests treat the boat with care and respect, leaving it in the same general condition as it was provided. INCLUDED: · Light washing of deck and cockpit · Wiping down of exterior surfaces including seating · Disinfecting and cleaning of the bathroom · Disinfecting and cleaning of the kitchen and living area surfaces · Vacuuming of main cabin INCIDENTS RESULTING IN ADDITIONAL CLEANING FEE: · Minimum $250 charge if you clog the toilet with toilet paper or other items (do not put anything in the toilet except what comes from your body, use the trash can in the bathroom!) · Broken glass · Staining or spills on carpet or surfaces from food, drinks, makeup, suntan lotion, or stains that result from clothing color transfer to seats. · Spraying champagne or other drinks · Excessive food or trash left behind · Vomit clean up · Clean up of decorations such as glitter and confetti
  • What should I do once I get to the harbor?
    Our boats are located at dock I ("I" like Indiana). Your group can gather at the table outside of the gate to I dock. Once your group has gathered, call your captain and they will take you to the boat. During this time you can also stop by the harbor office to pick up ice. Please check the office hours if you plan to buy ice there. Since traffic can vary greatly, especially on weekends and holidays, we recommend planning to arrive at least 30 min before your scheduled departure. Your charter will end based on the reservation time, even if you arrive to the harbor late.
  • Do you have inflatables?
    Yes! We have large inflatable swim mats for a $50 rental fee. Please let the Chicago Yachting know you'd like to rent one prior to your departure.
  • Do you have life jackets?
    Yes. All boats have at least 14 life jackets on board. Please let us know if any of your guests are 13 years old or under ahead of your rental, so that we can make sure to have child's life jacket on board. If you're bringing an infant we highly recommend bringing your own USCG certified infant life jacket.
  • What items are prohibited on the boat?
    Any illegal substances. This includes marijuana as it is still illegal federally and Lake Michigan is a federal body of water. Items with a flame, including cigarettes and cigars.
  • Where can the boat go?
    The most common itinerary is a cruise north past downtown to Navy Pier. Then, the boat anchors in the playpen for a while before heading back. There is a second anchorage at the Monroe harbor that is also very popular. Click here for more information on these itineraries. Cruising up the river is an option but please let Chicago Yachting and your hired captain know in advance so we can evaluate if there is enough time for this itinerary. In order to go onto the river, the boat must go through the locks in both directions. Waiting for the locks varies significantly and can take up to an hour, in both directions, during a busy time. There may also be a fuel surcharge for a river cruise. Contact Chicago Yachting for more details.
  • I already know someone who can drive boats, can they be my captain?
    Any operator of the boat must: Be over 21 years old Have no criminal convictions or pleas of no contest on their record Have no marine insurance claims in the last 10 years Have no violations / suspensions (including auto) in the last 5 years Have at least 2 years of experience operating similar size (within 10 feet) boat Be approved by Chicago Yachting to operate the boat. The approval process includes a screening of the operator's experience and a pre-charter orientation and on-water skills test with a member of Chicago Yachting staff. There is a $150 cost for this "check out". Chicago Yachting reserves the right to approve or reject a proposed operator. Please see the page about Hiring a Captain here.
  • What kinds of groups rent your boats?
    Our customers use Chicago Yachting rental boats for all kinds of events, gatherings and celebrations! Whether you're looking for a unique way to catch up with family or coworkers OR have an epic boat party with friends, you can count on an unforgettable experience! Bachelorette parties Bachelor parties Birthday parties Corporate Outings Team Building events Family gatherings Family Outings Kids party Engagement Graduation Parties
bottom of page