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  #1  
Old 10-07-2010
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michigancruisers is on a distinguished road
Chicago advice needed

Advice urgently needed.

Without going into all the details, it suddenly makes sense because of many non-sailing reasons to keep our new boat in Chicago.

We know nothing of sailing in the Chicago area.

We know nothing of marinas in the Chicago area.

What we do know is that for many of the non-sailing reasons it is highly preferable to be right at downtown.

Can anyone give us some insight into:

1.
Marinas Ė (we will be spending lots of long weekends on the boat so we want nice amenities and access to town.
2.
Sailing conditions (we are from Traverse Bay where you never really have to worry about lake conditions because there simply isnít any fetch. Is a Catalina 309 generally undersized in Chicago? How much of an improvement would a Catalina 375 give?
3.
Fun places to sail to. Day sail or long weekends.


Any help would be deeply appreciated

Thanks

Shawn and Kelly
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  #2  
Old 10-07-2010
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First of all, nice amenities an Chicago Harbors don't belong in the same sentence. Its really a shame, with all of the resources that Chicago has to offer, being a boater friendly city is not one of the strong suits.
Why, I don't know. They are one of the largest municipal run harbor systems in the country.
Most marinas have very limited shore facilities.
A Harbor masters office, and a small store of snacks is the most you will find.
Sure they all have showers and laundry facilities but on a very limited basis.
For example, there are over 1000 mooring balls in Monroe harbor yet there is exactly one shower stall in the Men's bathroom; and they are not very clean.
The harbors and everything related to them are very congested as can be expected from a big city. The docks and moorings are crammed as tight as possible to get as many boats in as possible.
Parking can be a real pain in the butt.
They are extremely expense for slip fee's. Full service marinas are not on site and require either going up the Chicago River or the Calumet River for servicing.
That being said, Chicago is a great place to sail out of.
Lots to do and the skyline lite up on a starry night is an unbelievable sight.
Fireworks, outdoor events, Rock Concert, Blues Festival, taste of Chicago all happen within easy access.
We did it for over 25 years and we still return for visits.
As far as access to the loop and downtown, your best bet is Du Sable Harbor. If you like mooring balls, Monroe Harbor has over a thousand; as was already mentioned. The protection at Monroe is not the best and the harbor can become very unruly. Not pleasant for a lot, but we never complained.
In recent years there was a long waiting list to get a slip, but that has changed and I am sure you will get right in, but be ready for a hefty slip fee.
As far as weekend sailing destinations, they are few and far between, not like what you are used to up on Grand traverse. Michigan City is the destination that most cruise to as it is about 30 miles from Downtown. Other than that, there is not a lot; Waukegan and Racine to the North but they are not exactly day sails or weekend trips in my opinion.
As far as what to do in the city, your choices are endless-you are living in a world class city; Shopping, dinning, theater, sports teams, etc. All the best of the best, well maybe not some of tthe sports teams.
Other harbors worth checking out on Chicago are Belmont, Montrose, and Burnham.
I sailed out of Monroe Harbor for over 25 years and loved it, but you have to go with the flow and be ready to tackle some hassles. We moved over to Michigan about 5 years ago and have never looked back, but like i said, still return for visits and I still race the Beer Cans on Wednesday evening. We love the city and all it has to offer, but we also enjoy not having to deal with all that comes with it.

Start here for some info.... Chicago Harbors - Westrec Marinas
If I can be of any other help, let me know. I do have some experience.
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Old 10-07-2010
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I was in Chicago last week and could not imagine where all the boats along the lake went for the winter. It must be very expensive to keep a boat there year round.
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Old 10-08-2010
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I bought a boat that was on land at Crowley's boat yard up the Calumet river. That would be a possibility for storage. They were very nice and professional.

(Just look out for MONSTER cargo ships going up the river. Their bow thrusters will spin you around)
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Old 10-08-2010
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I lived there for 10 years and absolutly loved it. well, the summers anyway.
lots of boats at belmont harbour--organized beer can races too. there is another closer to downtown by midway, but the name escapes me.
once a year they schedule you a time to take your boat up river for storage when they open all the draw bridges. sailing is good. the Chicago ---> macinaw race is famous. however, the lake can be treacherous--it is a HUGE body of water. i lived in bucktown--at the corner of chicago and ashland--kind of an artsy trendy hood on the come, but now it is probably totally developed (i think they were putting in a bananna rep when i left). the indiana dunes national lakeshore is bout 45min away (on land) and is spectacular.

Burnam, he got it, thats the one by midway. it is a world class city that has retained a neighborhood feel. wrigleyville is cool, lincon park pricy trendy, the muesems (sp?) rock. esp the art institute
i think i heard once that there are more shipwrecks in the great lakes than all the oceans combined, but this might be an ole wives tale
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Last edited by QuickMick; 10-08-2010 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 10-08-2010
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Chicago and Lake Michigan

There's a lot of good information in this post already but I thought I'd chime in too. For many of the reasons sailortjk1 mentioned we keep our boat up at Waukegan Harbor (about 30 nm north of Chicago) rather than in the city. Every once in a while we'll take a weekend and sail to the city, get a transient slip (DuSable Harbor), and take advantage of all the city has to offer - and that's a lot. Sailing north to Wisconsin is a great way to get away from the bustle of the Chicago area shoreline. There are a number of ports lining the shore each about a day sail away - Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, Port Washington, Sheboygan and on up. Waukegan provides a nice jumping off point for that. If you're adventurous and have the time, the Door County Penninsula and Green Bay offer some northwoods style solitude and small town appeal. Larsen Marine Service is only a mile or two from the harbor so boat storage and full services are very convenient. Like the city marinas, though, services are somewhat sparse but much better maintained. As for the lake itself, weather is everything. Here at the south end a persistent north/northeast wind much over 15 knots can build up some big short period chop that can be uncomfortable and challenging. The good news is that most of the summer months see winds from the west and southwest and a lot of perfect sailing conditions (though many light air days). Summer takes its time getting established and a 75-degree inland day in May might still mean upper 40s a few miles out. Fall offers some terrific sailing days even into October but once the Autumn north and northeast winds lock in it can get pretty brutal until Spring. If nothing else, you've got lots of options.
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Old 10-08-2010
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It's been a while but we kept a boat in Chicago for about 10 years before moving in 96. Most of that time was in Belmont Harbor before they put in all the slips. We loved sailing out of the city and being in one of the harbors other than Monroe is preferable in my mind just on the size of the harbor and how rough Monroe can be on occasion, especially if you like to sleep on the boat which we did. Had a 30' for about 4 years then upgraded to a 36. Of course liked the 36 better as it handled the lake especially on crossing better. Depends on the sailing as to whether the upgrade is worth it to you. I would bring the 30 down and upgrade once you are there and know what you want.
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Old 10-08-2010
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Further up the coast you'll find better shoreside amenities. North Point (Zion) is a nice marina but you're 40+ miles north of the city. Waukegan is a great harbor (we're there) but the town itself is nondescript and rather "industrial". They do have a very good, full service yard (Larsen Marine) there as well

Chicago harbors are pretty much as described above. If we want to go down to the city for the weekend we just get a transient slip. We usually go north anyway.

Links:

Waukegan Harbor

Larsen Marine | New & Used Jeanneau Sailboats & Valiant Yachts | Waukegan, Illinois

North Point Marina - Located on Lake Michigan in Winthrop Harbor, IL
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Last edited by cormeum; 10-08-2010 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 10-20-2010
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Monroe vs Montrose Harbor

I've moored for 4 years in Monroe, and finishing up my second year in Montrose. I sail a Catalina 27 TR and a Cal25

Monroe's tender service can be exhausting. Since Monroe has no fixed docks you have to take the tender service to your boat. Usually this is at the same time as everyone else wants to take the tender as well, and due to budget cuts, they have cut the number of running tenders. On occasion you can end up waiting for quite a while.
Also, while you will get a parking pass, guest parking is non-existant and expensive (30+$ a day)

Montrose is the north side of the city, and is the northernmost harbor of Chicago. Parking is widely available, and is generally a "calmer" more relaxed harbor. It's also extremely well protected. Im loving my time in Montrose, but the trade off is that you wont be downtown; but buses can get you there quickly.

When it comes to amenities; one option is to join on of our Yacht Clubs; Columbia and Chicago provide great amenities, but can get expensive. Corninthian yacht club in montrose is CHEAP and very friendly/awesome.

As far as winter storage is concerned you have options in the city (up the chicago river), or south down the calumet river. You can also sail up to Winthrop Harbor, or other areas 6 hours sail north. This can be tedious at the end of the season (Oct 31st in Chicago), as the weather starts to get trying.
Storing in MI will always be cheaper; but the same warning applies.

I store in Canal Street storage in Chicago. Great people, comparatively cheap rates, and since I live in the city, easy access to work on my boat on the hard.

Good luck, and you will love Chicago!
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Old 10-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryanphaas View Post
I store in Canal Street storage in Chicago. Great people, comparatively cheap rates, and since I live in the city, easy access to work on my boat on the hard.

Good luck, and you will love Chicago!
Us too. Good folks. Good coconut buns at the Chinese market across the street too.
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