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On the water, first run of 2015

Memorial Day Weekend is what many of us wait months for.  It's the beginning of the summer season, and in the northern climates, like here in Chicago, it signals the beginning of the boating season.  Sure, many boats are in the water as early as April and Cygnet was in all year, but it's the time when the weather is usually warm enough to get out and wear shorts, or better yet a bikini.  This Memorial Day Saturday we set out in the evening to celebrate a birthday and just get Cygnet out on the water.  Kevin's mother turned 70 this week so we invited her and her boyfriend along with her brother and nephew out on the water for the first Navy Pier fireworks of 2015.

The Playpen in the shadow of the John Hancock Building
We started the day in the mid afternoon, just hanging out in the marina, and departed about 5PM for the lake.  We had perfect timing through the lock and made it through in record time.  We love going through the lock for many reasons.  First, it's just a cool piece of engineering and we appreciate that it's operational 24/7/365.  Second, we love watching the other boaters struggle with some simple maneuvering.  Kevin usually captains through the lock and does a decent job, it's fairly easy with Cygnet, but some of the other boats through the lock really have no clue.  We really shouldn't be laughing at other boaters who struggle, but sometimes we can't help ourselves from being entertained by the 'noobs' trying to get their boats near the wall.  In Chicago it's pretty simple, wear your PFD and get your boat near the wall and have two people hold the ropes hanging from the wall while the water level changes.  Some people just don't seem to get it.

Look carefully and you can see Colette waving as she pilots Cygnet north.
Once out on the lake we headed to the 'Playpen' which is the area just east of the Streeterville neighborhood where boats raft up and party.  We don't hang out here much but one of our passengers wanted to check it out since he'd heard about it but had never seen it.  Since it was evening, there weren't too many boats left, we saw only about 25 in this area where there can be hundreds on a summer weekend.  We then headed north to run the engines for a while.  Since Cygnet hadn't been out in eight months it was time to stretch her legs and blow the cobwebs out.  The swells were less than a foot, we had the wind behind us, and light traffic as we went north to Montrose Beach, about four miles.  Cygnet ran well, and we all enjoyed the scenery on a beautiful 72 degree day.  From there we went south to what we call the swim spot.  It's a not so secret area on the south side of Chicago near the Museum of Science and Industry.  It's a place we discovered with our previous boat Two Wrights where the water is calm and the bottom is sandy.  You can anchor and swim in water as shallow as your waist.  With 3,800lb Two Wrights we used to anchor and all jump in since we could pull the boat anywhere we wanted with the anchor rode, but with 30,000lb Cygnet we haven't done that.  This time we sat on the boat and had dinner and freshly made birthday rhubarb pie made by Kevin's cousin.

Looking northwest as we head south
We had an issue (of course) with the anchor windlass, the electric machine that pulls the anchor chain back in the boat when we want to depart.  The switch, which Kevin replaced last year because it didn't work, failed again.  We were able to make a temporary fix by Colette standing on the bow giving commands and Kevin's cousin using a jump wire to bypass the switch to run the windlass back in.  It worked but it took a little while to figure out.

Swim spot at night
Once we were set, we hightailed it to Navy Pier for the fireworks.  They light the fireworks from a barge that sits in the lake just south of the pier and we were able to sneak into a spot just outside the lock about 500 feet from the barge.  We had an excellent view as the fireworks exploded right in front of us.  Colette was so gracious that she manned the controls to keep Cygnet in place while Kevin watched from the bow.  It was a great show.  Immediately after the fireworks ended we headed back into the lock and back to River City Marina.  It was a great day and a wonderful night.

Double Boom!
So, water we thinking about the beginning of summer in Chicago?  We tell you this story so you can look at the amazing times we have and understand why we find this lifestyle so appealing.  Of the nearly nine million people in Chicago only a handful got the experience we did this weekend, and all the troubles and issues that we may have living aboard the last year are completely forgotten on days like this.  It really is all worth it!


  1. It’s nice to know that Kevin is quite a pro when it comes to maneuvering the boat, while others are having a hard time doing so. Anyway, it seems like you guys had a really grand time, and that everything seem to fall in place with your schedule. Thanks for sharing this with us. All the best!

    Kent Garner @ Whites Marine Center


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