Last Wednesday, I was cordially invited by the Chicago Electric Boat Company for a ride on the Chicago River to see the fireworks at Navy Pier.
Ever since the occasion, I have had the song Electric Co. by U2 from their first album Boy in my head where the chorus echoes “if you don’t know, electric co.” I have been humming the tune in my head although substituting Chicago Electric Boat Co. for Electric Co.
The song chorus and title is fitting for the new company in Chicago because many probably do not know about the Chicago Electric Boat Company. Their headquarters are under the famous Marina City Towers or the corncobs beneath the House of Blues.
Besides the title of the song by U2, the similarities between U2 and the Chicago Electric Boat Company end. However, owner Ron Silvia does look a bit like U2 lead singer Bono when he puts on his signature sunglasses on.
The tour starts with an instructional video where owner Ron, with glasses on, guides visitors on how to enjoy the boats safely. Basically, do not drink when driving, do not hit other boats or objects, and do not ride under the water hose that sometimes gushes water. Electricity and water mix when the boat is floating on the water, but not when the water is gushing into the craft.
Ron worked in the Marina City selling boats and quite often people would wander down to the marina and inquire if there was a place to rent boats. There really was not a place for locals or travelers to rent boats and enjoy the water themselves. There are a ton of river tours, but no place where people could enjoy the freedom of exploring the Chicago River in a motorized craft.
The wheels started to turn for this young entrepreneur and the Chicago Electric Boat Company surged forward. The company has been in existence for two years and rents six boats from April to November on the Chicago River. Their hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 10:00am-10:00pm, Wednesday and Saturday 10:00am-11:30pm, Friday 10:00am-10:00pm, Sunday 10:00am-8:00pm
The boats are as easy to handle as a golf cart and go 4-5 miles per hour. The best thing about the company in my eyes is it is green friendly. At a time when we need to clean up the Chicago River and not add to its environmental woes, the Chicago Electric Boat Company provides a sustainable alternative to the high impact of fuel based boats.
On our blogger tour we had 7 bloggers and the owner Ron on our boat, and we were very comfortable. On their website, they state the boats can fit up to 10 people. The seating was spacious, and their were two tables with drink holders.
As Ron said, the boats basically allow you to bring your living room on to the Chicago River. It is a great way to socialize with friends, drink and be merry, and see the beautiful sights of the Chicago River.
Anyone who comes to Chicago, I highly recommend one of the Chicago Architectural Tours. Renting these boats do not take the place of these tours, but compliments them. You definitely want to take a tour, but the next time you are ready for the Chicago River, you can do your own tour with friends and family and go where you want. You have to hire a captain if you want to go out on Lake Michigan.
There are also options to cater your time on the water and hire a captain. These of course add to the price, and the rental prices are not cheap, but keep in mind that you can defray the cost between several people since the boats fit up to 10 people.
As Ron said the boats bring the living room on to the water, but they do not bring the bathroom. There are bathrooms at the Marina City, so you can utilize these before and after. This may not be the activity you are looking for if you have been drinking all day. If you start your drinking on the boat you would be fine because most people only rent the boats for two hours. Remember though that the driver cannot be drinking or have been drinking.
If you are a local Chicagoan or a traveler and are looking for a unique way to see the city, check out the Chicago Electric Boat Company: if you did not know.
Although I was given a complimentary tour by Chicago Electric Boat Co., the views are my own. Owner Ron Silvia did not slip me a $20.00 to state that he resembled Bono.
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