By Judy Carmack Bross
Captain Chloe West of Barton & Gray Mariners Club set the course while photographer Suzette Bross Bulley provided the photos of a perfect summer evening on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Bulley shared her photos of the family and friends evening as a tribute to Chicago summers and West described what it takes to sail our waterways.
Calling the sea their clubhouse, Barton & Gray has 60 plus yachts in 29 harbors and offers landmark destinations in the Midwest and along the Eastern Seaboard, casual to catered cuisine for connoisseurs, and watersports including snorkeling and tubing. A club member in our family invited us to come aboard at DuSable Harbor on a sparkling summer night recently. The skyline from the Lake, the locks on the River, and dinner following at a Riverwalk location where we disembarked made us glad to sail our seas.
Captain Chloe West
West started on commercial tour boats and has taken “everything that is available” to be a good mariner.
“I have a 100 GT Merchant Mariner Credential issued from the United States Coast Guard–less than one percent of license holders in the U.S. are women. I attended the US Maritime Academy, Chicago at the Columbia Yacht Club in 2012.
“I have had extensive training for emergencies such as: fire (both engine room and on deck), abandon ship, flooding (sinking), man overboard, first aid, CPR, and assistance with other vessels in distress. We are all fans of fair-weather yachting, taking risks on Lake Michigan is definitely not worth it.”
Some seasons she is a captain on Barton & Gray yachts in Florida where the company is docked at many harbors along the east and west coasts including Naples, Boca Grande, Palm Beach, Miami, and Key Largo from November until May and then heads to Chicago for the June to October season. “When I was a child my father had a small boat for weekend sailing. Whenever I travel I try to sample the waterways. If I could, I would live on the water,” she said.
Many of her passengers are not Chicagoans and the voyages give her the opportunity to use her second favorite interest after sailing: history. She describes herself in her California elementary school as the one who stayed in at recess to read history books. “I arrived here at 18 from Oregon, and I haven’t looked back I am a big fan of Chicago architecture and love showing off our range of fabulous buildings from Art Deco to German Brutalist to stunningly modern,” she said.
“My favorite day’s sail is the start of the Mackinaw Race. We can get pretty close to the professional racers as they are in the regatta around Navy Pier,” West said.
Many of her sails last three hours and are catered by local restaurants. “River Roast often provides the day’s special and everyone loves the lobster rolls from Shaw’s Crab House. Charcuterie boards, shrimp cocktails and fruit and veggie platters work well while sailing.”
We asked West the inevitable: what does she recommend for the occasional seasickness? “We find that pressure point bands work well, and we always have non-drowsy Dramamine on board.”
West said sunset is her favorite time on the Lake and shared a photo of her own.
Photo by Chloe West.