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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 capacity of the boats?
    All of our boats may have 12-13 people plus the captain/crew. The boats that are 45-foot or more can have 13. The rest are limited to 12. See each listing for the capacity designation. People of all ages are considered passengers, i.e., babies and children count toward the capacity. Due to these US Coast Guard regulated capacities, our boats are not permitted to be tied up to other boats.
  • 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. 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.
  • Can your boats be tied up to other boats?
    No. Due to US Coast Guard regulated capacities, our boats are not permitted to be tied up to other boats.
  • 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 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?
    The Captain fee is not included in what you have paid to Chicago Yachting to reserve the boat. You are renting a recreational vessel which means that you, as the renter, must hire and pay a Captain directly. This procedure is not unique to Chicago Yachting. All recreational boat rental companies in Chicago require that renters hire their captains directly since this is required by US Coast Guard laws. Chicago Yachting provides a Captain contact list, but you have your choice of who to hire. We recommend budgeting $100-$125 per hour plus gratuity. Rate and payment method should be confirmed with your hired Captain, and rates may be higher for holidays and special events. Click here for more information about the process to hire a captain.
  • 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 $85 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
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