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post #1 of 8 Old 04-29-2010 Thread Starter
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Chicago Area Marinas -Bleg for "Local Knowledge"


It looks nearly certain I will be moving from the Gulf Coast to Chicago sometime over the next year.

I have been to the Chicago Westrec site, and see the basics. I've also searched through the forums as well. And I see there are alternatives in Hammond and Waukegan (was stationed at Great Lakes for "A" School decades ago-but that was an experience from a whole 'nother life so can't really pull much from it to apply now).

I assume those prices listed are for the season?

How hard is it to get a mooring/slip?

Any and all feedback/opinions on the sailing environment up there would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-30-2010
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We have a mooring ball at Monroe Harbor. Great location right across from the parks and near the museums. The South locations are the least expensive. Runs us around 2K for the season with tender passes and parking permits for Monroe parking garage. You should have no problem getting a mooring in Monroe - last season there were a lot of empty spots. DuSable is right next to Monroe but the slips start around 4K a season and there is a waiting list last I heard. You can also try Burnham which is behind Northerly Island (where Meigs field used to be) which is also near Soldier Field and the museums. They have both slips and mooring balls but you need your own dinghy for the balls. Only negative I've heard about Burnham is the weekend concerts which can get a little loud.

Last season there were empty slips in some of the harbors due to the economy..I'm not sure if that will be the case this year. They are also building 2 new marinas. One at Navy Pier and another one further East between Jackson Harbor and Burnham.

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post #3 of 8 Old 04-30-2010
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Ditto to Everything Ken has said and add...
yes there are other alternatives such as you have mentioned, but if your going to be in the Chicago area, than you really do want to be right in the city. Everything happens right in the heart of Chicago and Monroe Harbor.

Hammond is a beautiful marina, but it located right at the edge of the industrial sector of the Southern tip of the lake. Right next door is Lever Brothers soap plant. Have you ever smelled a soap factory?

About a mile away is a refinery. Not a pretty view from the water. Don't get me wrong, we too have and are contemplating a slip there as the fees are much more reasonable as compared to a SLIP in the city.

Waukegan Harbor back in the 70's was considered the most polluted harbor on the lake. A lot of money was spent to clean it up, but it still not one of my favorites. The view there is also less than spectacular.

As for the slips in Chicago, as Ken said, at one time the waiting list was three and four years long. That might have changed in the past couple of years. The rates for a slip in Chicago are as high as you will find anywhere. A mooring can is a nice alternative.
Depending on where you will actually be, (Chicago and Illinios is a large area) other location worth mentioning are; Michigan City to the Southeast and Winthrop Harbor to the North.

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post #4 of 8 Old 05-01-2010
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I have sailed out of three Chicago harbors.

If you have a chance, go take a look at Winthrop Harbor. I think it is one of the most beautiful marinas in the Chicago land area. Only problem is that it's on the Illinois/Wisconsin border so its quite a distance away.

Waukegan harbor is closer but there is a gypsum plant next to the marina. Its cool to see the freighters come in, but at the same time, the whole industrial aspect of the harbor is an eyesore.

Lately, i have been sailing out of Belmont Harbor, just north of the City. Its also a very nice harbor with slips, mooring balls, and star docks. I believe there is a wait list for the slips, though with the economy being the way it is, you may get lucky.

The issue with Belmont harbor, like many other Chicago harbors is that if you need major repair work done on your boat, you will have to sail it (or get it towed) to Waukagan, Winthrop Harbor, Crowley's on the Chicago river, or the other marine servicing centers around Chicago.

Good luck. Chicago is a beautiful place to sail.

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post #5 of 8 Old 05-01-2010
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I have sailed from Burnham for two years and Monroe for 10 years. Monroe is the place to have your boat. At some point we will go to pier I'm sure. If you are a Chicagoan the price is less, about 25% I believe. If you are not a Chicagoan you pay more. We used to live in the suburbs but we moved back to the city when we started our family and sailing. Also, I used to believe that the empty cans at Monroe were unsold. I learned this last summer that the cans that are empty are for "rescue" or "safe Harbor" cans, I do not recall the exact term, for boats that have an emergency. Also the Chicago Park District keeps a certain amount open for overnight rental. I also learned that Chicago is the largest - most number of boats - municipal harbor in the world, that surprised me (5,000+ and growing). The view from the boat when sailing is truly spectacular. I have a 28' Pearson on a 30' can and it costs about $1500 per season. That price includes parking - which I have not used in three years - and two unlimited tender passes.

Good luck on your search.

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post #6 of 8 Old 05-01-2010 Thread Starter
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Really appreciate it y'all...

What about winter haul out?

Thats TOTALLY foreign to me.
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post #7 of 8 Old 05-01-2010
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All of the above is really dependent on where in the Chicago area you end up living and working. A city of 7,000,000 plus metroplex is really spread out. The commute to some places makes it harder to use the boat as much as you would like, so you need to plan for it. I think Chicago is easily one of, if not the, greatest cities in North America.

Haul out will depend on the size of your boat and what you will want for winter storage. Lots of options north and south on both sides of the lake.

Good luck in the city. I don't think you will get bored soon in Lake Michigan.
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-01-2010
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Without a doubt Monroe harbor is the place to be. It's across the street from Grant Park where there is always some free live entertainment taking place. You'll be right in the heart of pre-Mac racing preparations as Chicago YC is located in Monroe. It's a short distance to great museums and public transportation that'll take you just about anywhere in the city, especially North to the Lincoln Park area and, of course, Wrigley field. You could go South also, I hear there's a baseball team down there A longer walk or short bike ride to Oak Street Beach.

If you're looking for something quieter/cheaper I'd second the Michigan City option. There is a nice harbor there within walking distance of a couple of local eating/drinking establishments, and miles of beach. Also public transportation to Chicago and not too long a sail over to Chicago for multiday visits. Dusable Harbor, just North of Monroe has transient moorings.

Lake Michigan is great for sailing, the views of the Chicago skyline at night are spectacular. The cruising grounds tend to be further North along the Michigan and Wisconsin coasts.

Best wishes,


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