Cheap sailing in Chicago
March 14, 2012 12:47 PM   Subscribe

What is the easiest and cheapest way to go sailing in Chicago without buying a boat?

Years ago I had an ancient 25-foot sailboat and it was wonderful. I'd love to go sailing again, but I live in Chicago and a boat and slip here would be more than I really want to spend. I don't drive, so even something on a trailer would not really be practical.

Is there any way to go sailing without owning a boat? Can I rent a Laser somewhere? Or crew on something bigger?

I see a number of places that offer sailing classes. I don't mind taking a class in order to qualify but I'd like eventually to be able to sail outside of an instructional setting.
posted by enn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I had a sailboat and slip at Burnham harbor for a number of years. Prior to that a friend and I rented a sailboat from Chicago Sailing a couple times for half-day outings. It wasn't cheap but they were, at least 8 or 9 years ago, easy to deal with. They offer bareboat and captained rentals of a range of sizes.

If you hang around the harbors enough you can get yourself invited to join a short-handed crew for the Chicago Yacht Club's Wednesday Beer Can Racing series.
posted by Babblesort at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2012

Best answer: Chicago Sailing has both rentals and classes, and you can likely crew on boats during the racing season. Other options include the University of Chicago Sailing Club (is open to the public), the Chicago Yacht Club, and Sail Chicago ($400 for a course and membership fee with sailing time - seems to be the afforable option!)
posted by snowysoul at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2012

Nth'ing local Yacht Clubs - look for a beer-and-pretzels kind of place rather than a wine-and-cheese kind of place. They'll often have storage facilities for member's small craft.

Even the ritzier places aren't bad, the Chicago Yacht Club (first hit on Google for Chicago Yacht clubs, go figure) has $40/hr rentals of small craft.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2012

Do you know anyone at all with a boat harbored in Chicago? When my Dad harbored his (power)boat in Chicago, he was surrounded on all sides by sailboats and the owners were happy to take on any crew member who seemed reasonably familiar and able-bodied.

Or as everyone else has suggested.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2012

I have been sailing with friends on a boat rented out of Belmont Harbor.

I don't know any of the details, but yes: you can rent a sailboat in Chicago.
posted by phunniemee at 1:11 PM on March 14, 2012

Best answer: Last summer I took sailing lessons at NU. For a couple hundred bucks, you can get a membership for the season, even if you're not in any way Northwestern affiliated. They have 420s, Lasers, etc that are free for members to borrow...
posted by kickingtheground at 1:32 PM on March 14, 2012

Best answer: I started crewing a couple years ago here in Chicago, and people keep bringing up Sail Chicago. It sounds like they're a good route if you want to get more time learning at the helm.

I learned through the Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club's Crew School, which looks like it starts next week. It's $130, so you can't beat the price. The downside is you don't get any on water training. It's mostly introductory stuff and then you get a chance to meet captains who are looking for crew.

Since you have some experience, you may just show up there on Wednesday nights and ask to meet people who need crew. It's very laid back atmosphere there.
posted by tenaciousd at 4:38 AM on April 4, 2012

Response by poster: tenaciousd, I actually found the Corinthian Yacht Club's crew school by Googling after I posted this question, and went to the first class last week—hopefully it will lead to real sailing later in the spring. (I don't mind the introductory stuff since it's been a long time since I've been on the water, and I've never done any racing at all.)
posted by enn at 8:23 AM on April 16, 2012

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