Semi-Private FAQs

Purchasing a general Semi-Private voucher through 3rd parties or on special (as opposed to seats purchased for a specific date/time – which are not sold through third parties) are not a good choice for guests that do not live in or near Chicago or that only have one or two specific dates when they can or wish to sail. This is because the vouchers are valid for a period of time, and not just for a specific date, and said purchases cannot be refunded if your sail is cancelled. If your sail is cancelled and there is less than 2 weeks left before the expiration, the expiration will be extended to allow 2 more weeks for you to book a sail.

Reservations, Changes, Confirmations, Support

Location, Parking, Meeting Place, What to bring

The Sailing Experience

Weather and Conditions

Miscellaneous

Reservations, Changes, Confirmations, Support

How do I make a reservation?
Use your voucher number and email address to LOGIN and follow the directions on the screen. Each voucher is good for 2 seats, and if your group has 4 or 6 people, you must make a single reservation for all the seats if you wish to be certain that you are on the same boat. When making a reservation for 4 or 6 people you will need to enter the voucher numbers and the email addresses of each voucher holder.
Where do I select which boat I want to sail on for my trip?
You do not select a specific sailboat for Semi-Private sails, only a sail date and time.
How do I change my reservation?
LOGIN with your voucher number and the email with which you made your reservation. You can view other available sails to see if there is something else you would like to book. If you decide to book another sail, simply cancel your current reservation and schedule another. Please note that change fees apply if you are cancelling or rescheduling a sail that is less than 10 days in advance. Any fees owed will not be due until you reserve a new sail.
Are there fees for changing a reservation or missing my sail?
Changes made less than 10 full days in advance are subject to the following change fees.
Why are reservations made only online?
For accuracy, legal, and liability reasons, all reservations must be made online. Reservations require your acceptance online of the terms, and the recording of your IPaddress for legal reasons. Additionally, credit card or paypal account information used for any fees or taxes that may be due is not shared with us when you enter it online.
Do I need to bring my confirmation email to the sail?
We would really like for you to bring the map that came with the email so that you do not end up in the wrong end of the harbor and miss your sail. You are not required to bring it, but we strongly suggest it.
I lost my confirmation email, how do I get another one?
LOGIN with your voucher number and the email address with which you made your reservation, and your reservation details will appear. You will have the option to cancel your sail, view other available sails, or resend your confirmation email.

Location, Parking, Meeting Place, What to bring

When should we arrive for our sail?
Please arrive at the meeting point at least 10 minutes before your sail time. Your captain will come get you to board about 5-10 minutes before your sail. If you can, we strongly suggest arriving earlier in case you hit any delays along the way. You can enjoy a walk along the beautiful shoreline if you are early.
How do we get to the harbor?
Please click here for a map and directions. There will also be a map and direction in your confirmation email. We are in the NORTH end of Belmont Harbor and sails meet near the picnic table outside the “H” dock gate.
Where should we park?
Update In Progress for 2012
If we take a cab, where should they drop us and how do we get a cab when we leave?
Update In Progress for 2012
Where do we meet for our sail?
Please meet at the spot labelled “Meeting Point” on the map included in your confirmation email. We meet in the NORTH end of Belmont Harbor near the picnic table outside the “H” dock gate.
What if we are late for our sail?
If possible for the captain to delay a few minutes, he will call any guests not present at the meeting point to see if they are near. So that we do not inconvenience other guests, we cannot delay sails for late arrivals. Any guests who miss their sails will be contacted via text and/or phone on the cell number they provided at the time of booking. There is a substantial change fee if you wish to book another sail because you were not on time for your departure for whatever reason unless you purchased cancellation insurance. To completely avoid this issue, we simply suggest that you plan to arrive well in advance of your sail, and plan for traffic delays and time to park. Even if you are there 45 minutes early you can enjoy a walk along the shoreline, or along the harbor wall. Please be warned that drinking alocohol on park district property is illegal.
What if I miss my sail due to circumstances I cannot control?
In order to keep the costs low for all guests, even if the cause is a circumstance beyond your control, there is a substantial change fee if you wish to book another sail unless you purchased cancellation insurance.

The Sailing Experience

Is there a captain on board?
Yes, there is always a Captain on board to sail the boat.
Where do we sail?
Your captain will always try to give you the most enjoyable sail given the conditions of the day. Sometimes the wind and waves will be ideal for cruising up and down the shoreline, and other times straight away from shore. Sometimes your sail will be fast, other times slow. Whatever the conditions of the day, our experienced captains all know our sailboats and the behavior of the lake well, and will take the course that they think provides the best sail for the present and forecast conditions.
Do you have a bathroom on board?
All of our ships have bathrooms (a.k.a. “marine heads”).
Can we bring food and drinks?
Yes, and we suggest the more simple you keep it, the more you will enjoy your sail. Things you can eat with one hand like sandwiches, fruit, bite size things in general, are the easiest to manage on a boat. Please avoid red wine and glass bottles (except for white wine and champagne bottles).
Is it ok to bring alcohol?
Yes, alcohol in moderation is fine. Please avoid red wine and glass bottles (except for white wine and champagne bottles).
What kind of shoes are best to wear?
Light colored, soft-soled, non-marking shoes like deck shoes or top-siders are best to wear. Gym shoes that do not have dark colors (black, blue, red) in the sole are OK. Please don’t wear shoes such as loafers, which have hard soles and can damage the boats. Most inexpensive flip-flops are not good for boats as the charcoal black soles leave scuffs everywhere, but sandals such as TEVAs are normally perfect. Don’t worry, if you show up with shoes that are not OK, your captain will work it out.
What should we bring with us, and what should we avoid bringing?
In addition to the confirmation email and map, some good suggestions are: simple food and drinks, sun screen, maybe a hat and sunglasses, and possibly some extra clothing (especially on night sails when 75° on shore can feel cool on the lake with the wind). We have all the paper plates, forks, knives spoons, cups, napkins, cooler space, drink cozies, tin foil, ice, etc. that you will need. Please AVOID red wines or any other dark staining liquid (like grape or cranberry juices, etc.), Glass of any kind above deck (white wine and champagne bottles which we will keep below for you), hard soled, dark soled, or marking shoes (you may go barefoot in some cases if you don’t have boat friendly shoes), metal rivets or buttons on pants (they damage the finish on the boats), and illegal substances.
What if there is light wind or no wind at all?
Though it is uncommon, if there is not much wind, we will motor sail (for example towards Navy Pier for great views of the shoreline). We do not cancel sails for light wind conditions.
What about sea-sickness?
We find it uncommon except in people who are prone to motion sickness. If you are worried about it, you may want to take one of the over the counter medications (please read the directions) WELL BEFORE sailing. You must take it well before your sail to be effective. If you are prone to motion or sea sickness, you should probably not book a sail.

Weather and Conditions

Should we still show up at the harbor if the forecast is for rain?
Yes, please show up on time unless your captain contacts you asking you to do otherwise. We will use the current and predictive radar, as well as the marine forecast to determine if we will sail. While the weather forecast may say there is a high chance of rain (even on an hourly basis), this is very broad and may not affect the time of your sail or the area where we may sail. So if your sail is at 9am and it stops raining at 9:45am, and looks like it will stay clear, we will sail at 9:45am. There is a substantial change fee to reschedule a missed sail unless you purchased cancellation insurance.
What if our captain cancels our sail due to conditions?
If your captain cancels your sail, you will of course be allowed to reschedule. All rescheduled sails must occur prior to the expiration of your voucher. If your sail is cancelled with less than 14 days remaining before your voucher expires, your voucher will be extended so that it expires in 14 days. If you cancel your reservation or no-show, change fees will apply if you choose to reschedule a sail, and will not extend your expiration date.
What if it is raining on our way the harbor?
Please arrive on time unless your captain contacts you asking you to do otherwise.We will use the current and predictive radar, as well as the marine forecast to determine if we will sail. If your sail is at 9am and it stops raining at 9:45am, and looks like it will stay clear, we will sail at 9:45am. There is a substantial change fee to reschedule a missed sail unless you purchased cancellation insurance.
Do you sail in the rain?
Please see our detailed weather policy in the terms.
Will you shorten or delay our sail if it is raining?
In some cases sails can be delayed for up to 1 hour at most before departure (which will of course push back the return time by up to 1 hour). Shortened sails are rare, but we will do so for comfort and safety if the situation dictates. Please see the Partial Sail policy for more details. Please see our detailed weather policy in the terms for more specifics.
Will the harbor give us a refund for parking if we are rained out?
No, they will not. If you arrive more than 10 minutes prior to your sail and it is raining, we suggest that you wait outside the parking booth without paying the parking fee. This way the captain has a bit more time to contact you in case he is making a sail time decision to delay or cancel your sail.
What if there are big waves?
We will not sail in conditions deemed to be unsafe or unreasonably uncomfortable. Waves are a part of sailing, and sometimes modest waves. Each captain will judge the current conditions as to how the boat will handle in them, and make his decision to wether to sail or not. Sometimes a 4′ wave with an East wind is comfortable, and a 3′ wave with a West wind is not. There are many variables to consider, and our captains are very capable of evaluating the conditions.
What if there is a small craft advisory?
A small craft advisory can be very misleading as far as sailing is concerned. Advisories are typically only updated every 6 hours, and some advisories are issued with conditions that are favorable for sailing. There are several times each year that there is no advisory, yet the sailing is terrible and we cancel sails. There are many more when an advisory is issued, the sailing is fantastic, and we sail for hours before the weather service realizes that they should cancel the advisory. One perfect example was Saturday 8/20/2011, the first day of the Chicago Air Show. The morning was awful, the air show was put on hold, and the weather services all said that there would be continued strong storms throughout the entire day ending around 8pm. At 1pm the rain stopped, the skies cleared, the radar cleared, and the show started. By 3pm we had blue sky and some of the best sailing we had seen all year (the small craft advisory was never removed). This is why we use current conditions and doppler radar, coupled with marine and local forecasts, instead of obscure non-specific small craft advisories.
What if I don’t want to sail unless it is 80° and completely blue sky?
The perfect answer for you is our cancellation insurance. If the conditions are not to your liking, simply cancel your sail and schedule another one.

Miscellaneous

Can we go swimming?
For safety and logistical reasons, swimming is not allowed on semi-private sails.
Are children allowed?
Children must be at least 12 years old to join us on Semi-Private sails.
Can we smoke on board?
There is no smoking allowed on any of our boats.
Is tipping customary?
Yes, tipping is customary and typically ranges from 15-20% of the retail cost of the sail (similar to dining out).