Check out our latest Discover Boating feature story, which ran in the Chicago Sun-Times this past Sunday, August 30th. It discusses boating as the ultimate "staycation" and features ways in which you can get the entire family involved. We hope you enjoy it!
Read the story below, or click here to view the story on the Sun-Times website.
Take a break on the lake
WET AND WILD | Surprise staycation turns to treat with watery good time
August 30, 2009
BY DALE BOWMAN Staff Reporter
Tubing on Lake Michigan with Chicago’s skyline as a backdrop while practice for the Air and Water Show decorates the sky and air is not a bad capper for the summer.
We didn’t plan a stay-put sort of staycation summer.
Sometimes you just make do.
Our grand plans for the summer anticipated an overnighter at Indiana Beach, and a couple extended weekends of fishing/ swimming/boating/laying about with friends in northern Wisconsin.
A son’s hospital stay put the kibosh on all that.
One adjustment was a staycation story Dana Fennewald pitched early in the summer. For the last several years, the public relations manager for the Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association has come up with ideas for showcasing boating.
Illinois ranks 10th in boat registrations (379,454 in 2007) and 16th in new powerboat, motor, trailer and accessory sales ($301.4 million in 2008).
This year she wanted to focus on staycation and on-water options available within minutes off Chicago. We sampled the whole platter on the Friday before the Air and Water Show, a day we lucked into. Weather blew off the first date, then came the hospital stay.
But we were happy with the day when everything came together.
It was a treat.
I never tire of seeing Chicago from the water. It was even better sharing it with the whole family. And we took the whole gang, loading up at DuSable Harbor and strapping the younger ones into life preservers.
Capt. Rob Newsome strutted the stuff of the 32-foot Cobalt 323, ’’The Corner Office,’’ even showing the boys the switch that made the twin engines throb like a racing boat. But this Cobalt is designed to be a family boat, with lots of space at the back for play outside. That was our ultimate aim, play on the water.
Newsome is part of the DiscoverBoating.com team and has broad experience on waterfronts and lakefronts. I rank Chicago’s at the top, of the ones I have experienced, for a lot of reasons, but wanted Newsome’s ranking from his broader perspective.
He puts Chicago as the best urban waterfront overall. His point went beyond the scenic value of the Chicago lakefront to the actual use of it.
’’Lake Michigan is so accessible,’’ he said. ’’You can leave your office and be on your boat in five minutes. That’s what we do: five minutes to walk to the boat. And I like freshwater, personally.’’
He started us with a quick tour of lakefront sights: the lock and Navy Pier, then out through the breakwall to off Fullerton.
The bonus was simply leaving the growing heat on shore behind. It was quite a welcome change when we passed out into the lake.
About that point, the serious practice began for the Air and Water Show.
That highlighted the day with everything from fighters breaking the sound barrier right over us, to helicopters whirling in waiting at the filtration plant, to transport planes passing by, to stunt fighters practicing loops just off North Side beaches while the oldest boy tried to identify each aircraft.
Then Newsome and Fennewald took us tubing with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop. The fright of the day came when the 4-year-old let go and floated around secure in a life jacket, screaming at the top of his lungs. Then we (well, most of us) went swimming in 30 feet of water. The only thing missing was fishing, and I have done enough.
The morning ended with a light box lunch while we drifted around, just relaxing and watching planes.
It was time.
Back on shore, we drove north on Lake Shore Drive and could not believe the hundreds of boats lined up to watch practice, where we had just been.
The day stayed with us, a good reminder the outdoors should be fun.