Note: Have you cruised to a new destination or seen a familiar destination from a new perspective? Leave a note in the comments and we will share your cruising tale. Below is a story from 26 North Yachts co-founder and broker Nicholas Scherb.
If you live on the Eastern Seaboard you often pass your hometown running north and south, however if you are like me, bringing a yacht to your hometown is slightly impractical. I am from Chicago, approximately 2,100 NM and 37 locks from my current home in the yachting capital of the USA, Fort Lauderdale. It has always been my dream to arrive home onboard a yacht.
I have traveled all over the world and spending several months off the beaten path on an unknown adventure often wins out over bringing a yacht to my own backyard. So it was with some trepidation that we decided to bring the 85-foot Burger home.
We departed Milwaukee at sunrise on a clear July morning. Cruising down the east coast of Wisconsin the anticipation was killing me. Soon the white tower of the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, Ill., was glinting in the sunlight. Once we were abeam of the temple, Chicago’s magnificent skyline came into view. Like a child asking “Are we there yet?,” hardly a minute went by without me checking with the crew for an updated time of arrival. We Chicagoans suffer from an undiagnosed syndrome where we need to tell the world how wonderful our town is, but by the time we arrived at the red-striped water pumping station I was afraid of getting tossed overboard. The view of the skyline was made even more impressive by the fact the rising sun was shining off the eastern facades of the buildings.
Rounding the seawall into Burnham Harbor, I half expected to see all of my family and friends holding Welcome Home banners. Instead, in true Chicago fashion, I was greeted the neighboring boaters coming out to lend a friendly hand with our docklines. While everyone was settling in to our new location, I got off to stretch my legs on the lakeshore path that runs the entire 18 miles of Chicago’s shoreline. Within a five-minute walk of the marina there is the Planetarium, Soldier Field, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum all of which were visited during my stay.
After a good night’s rest, my girlfriend and I walked downtown to catch the sights. We walked through Grant and Millennium Parks, saw the Buckingham fountain and the “Bean” sculpture, and wandered up Michigan Avenue to the Magnificent Mile to do some shopping. While there, we stopped to see the Water Tower, one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire, as well as the John Hancock building. The following days saw us visiting with family and friends, eating, shopping, riding the lake path, eating, touring museums as well as the Sears Tower often accompanied by more friends and eating. Being docked downtown meant all the sights and restaurants were within walking distance, and we didn’t worry about parking, finding a taxi, or watching train schedules.
Since I was young I have been hearing about beautiful places near Chicago that are easily accessible by boat. In Chicago driving is not the best option; by the time Friday’s rush hour lets up, it could be Sunday. Places like Holland and Mackinac Island, Mich.; Fish Creek, Charlevoix, Petosky, Beaver Island and the entirety of Door County, Wisc., are all within a one-day cruise of Chicago. If you add another day to your cruising schedule, there is the North Channel and Georgian Bay, Ont., and the entirety of the wilds of Lake Superior.
The Great Lakes may not yet be at the top of your cruising wish list, but with fresh water, hidden inlets, and metropolitan cities all within a short cruising distance, perhaps it’s time to update your travel itinerary.
Photo Courtesy of WikiCommons by Daniel Schwen