CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois governor announced Wednesday that the state would be moving into phase three of his reopening plan, which means good news for boast owner and those who make a living on the rivers and lakes.
Chicago’s harbor system is one of the largest in the nation with about 6,000 boat slips — slips that remain empty right now because of COVID-19 — but that could all be about to change.
The Salty, the Salty Dog Sailing Company’s flagship sloop, is still in dry dock in Waukegan. Until Wednesday Captain Kirk Kessler wasn’t sure if his small charter business was going to survive the pandemic because most of his business comes from couples who hire him to take them on tours of the lakeshore. The two-person boat rule made that impossible.
Word that next month the governor plans to allow up to 10 people on boats was a welcome relief to Kessler.
“I think it’s terrific,” Kessler says. “The boating community, the charter boat business in particular can breathe a sigh of relief, get outside and enjoy the lakefront. Everybody can look forward to getting their boats in the water and enjoying Lake Michigan.”
Kessler says normally boats start coming out of storage in April. Now they are weeks behind schedule, so he expects there to be a shortage of cranes needed to lift boats off dry docks and get them in the water.
Kessler says to maintain safety he’ll check the temperatures of passengers before they board and will test himself regularly for COVID-19 antibodies.