Summer is here, and the water has been beckoning. In Chicago, the river plays daily host to boats of all sizes, motors and not. While not suitable for swimming, it lends itself well to an easy exploration of downtown by thousands of visitors. We recently had the chance to explore the river with Urban Kayaks, and got a little first-hand experience on sharing a congested waterway with other users. Our guides, outfitted with marine radios to communicate with the tour and taxi boats, assembled the captive audience of clients as we all sat in our boats on the shore overlooking the river. They emphasized shore proximity as a matter of courtesy, awareness of wakes, and non-verbal communication on the water. As we rounded the corner under the Trump Tower Chicago, the guides were in constant contact with the water taxis and larger boats to alert them of the 15 kayaks that were patiently waiting for a moment to pass by this extremely busy area. When clear, the group moved in concert to the next appropriate place to stage in a raft of kayaks, safely out of the way of the constant water traffic.
Despite only being on the water in Chicago for 2 seasons, the staff at Urban Kayaks have begun to build a respectful reputation on the river as they chauffer tourists striving to see Chicago from below street level, all through a little courtesy and communication.