Menu 1

If you don’t know – Chicago Electric Boat Co.

Chicago Electric Boat Company

If you don’t know – Chicago Electric Boat Co.

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.

Chicago Electric Boat Company

Owner Ron Silvia looking like a rock star on a Chicago Electric Boat

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.

Chicago Electric Boat Company

The boats are docked at Marina City – Here I am at the start with the lovely Pola from Jetting Around

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.

Chicago Electric Boat Company

A Chicago Electric Boat Company craft takes off from the marina

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.

Chicago Electric Boat Company

Going under a bridge on the Chicago River with the Chicago Electric Boat Company

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.

Chicago Electric Boat Chicago River

Chicago River is beautiful at night from a Chicago electric boat

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.

Chicago River

Our living room had sandwiches, beer, and bloggers on social media

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.

Chicago Electric Boat

Watching the Navy Pier Fireworks from a Chicago Electric Boat

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.

Chicago Electric Boat Company

Beautiful views on the Chicago River

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.


The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

On the right sidebar is a donate button. If you would like to donate in order to support the site, it would be appreciated. All donations would cover travel expenses and improvements to make the site better.

, ,

18 Responses to If you don’t know – Chicago Electric Boat Co.

  1. Mike (Nomadic Texan) July 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    I love Chicago. One of my favorite cities in the US. To bad we didn’t know each other then! Oh wait….we did. Why in hell didn’t you or Pola invite me?

    • Ted Nelson July 23, 2013 at 12:36 am #

      You have a standing invitation to our beautiful city.

  2. Trips By Lance July 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    I love walking along the river. Never thought about exploring the beauty of Chicago from the river. That bathroom thing might be a negative, but for two hours it’s manageable.
    Trips By Lance recently posted..Five Ways to Experience Baseball Travel

    • Ted Nelson July 23, 2013 at 12:37 am #

      I was hesitant drinking on a boat with no bathroom, but for two hours it was fine. I would not like to be on it if I was drinking a lot before hand.

  3. Christy July 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    This looks fun!
    Christy recently posted..An Afternoon in Marcilhac sur Cele, France

    • Ted Nelson July 23, 2013 at 12:37 am #

      It was a good time. We all enjoyed ourselves.

  4. Leigh July 22, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    What a great way to enjoy the city skyline; I like the fact that’s it a reasonably green way of getting around. I wish this post had been written last Friday as I had a friend visiting Chicago last weekend – and she and her girlfriends would have loved this.
    I also enjoy your sense of humour in evidence in this post.
    Leigh recently posted..A Backpacking Trip in Auyuittuq NP on Baffin Island – Part I

    • Ted Nelson July 23, 2013 at 12:39 am #

      Thanks Leigh,

      I try to liven up posts a bit to make them less vanilla. It is a great way to view the skyline. Some people are not into kayaking or canoeing, but still want to explore on their own. This gives them this option.

  5. Anita Mac July 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Love a good entrepreneurial story!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Monday Morning Series: Adriatic Beach – Croatia

  6. Tom Pacetti July 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    I have been noticing and wondering about those little boats floating up and down the river. Seems like I see one just about every time I cross over the river on the way to or from the train. Thanks for the info, Ted!

    Keep up the good work.


  7. Erin at The World Wanderer July 25, 2013 at 2:37 am #

    Ohh, this sounds like a great way to spend time on the river. I’ve only been to Chicago once before, but I think this boat ride would be fun with a few of my favorite friends from Chicago. 😉
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Exploring with Santiago Adventures.

  8. Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) July 25, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    Too funny…. my co-workers just bought a Groupon for Chicago Electric Boat Company and we’re taking the boss for his birthday. It must be getting popular because we couldn’t get a reservation until September. Looks like a lot of fun and now I’m really looking forward to our work outing!
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..A family bonds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  9. Leah Travels July 26, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    I love this idea! Why didn’t we know about it during the Windy City Tweetup? I smell a return trip.
    Leah Travels recently posted..Six Simple Amenities that all Luxury Hotels Should Offer

  10. thelazytravelers July 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    beers and boating is one of my favorite combinations! luckily im never the one driving the boat. another reason to add chicago to my bucket list! xo, the wino
    thelazytravelers recently travel required: #frifotos

  11. Pola (@jettingaround) July 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    That was such a fun evening!! I’m surprised noone of us tried to take over and drive this thing. But maybe that’s good… 😉
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo(s) of the Week: Steel wings of Milwaukee Art Museum

  12. D.J. - The World of Deej July 28, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    Great way to see the city. I got a laugh out of the bloggers on social media. I’d have been one of them, I’m sure…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Early Morning at Disney’s California Adventure – Random Picture of the Week

  13. @mrsoaroundworld July 29, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    What a great way to see the city! I did a bigger version when I last visited but this sounds so much better!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..My hOtel: Maikhao Dream Villa Resort & Spa, Phuket by @chinmoylad

  14. lola August 1, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    looks like such a fun boat trip. of course, just about anything is fun with you, Ted! 🙂
    lola recently posted..#BarbieIsMoving – a traveling world of PINK

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge