Rediscover Chicago on the Red Witch

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 I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area, so I’m always on the lookout for places and activities that enable me to “rediscover” Chicago.  Viewing the Navy Pier fireworks from Lake Michigan while sailing on the beautiful Red Witch helped me to accomplish my goal.

I am so happy that I decided to celebrate my birthday on the Red Witch by taking the 3 hour Fireworks Cruise. I knew I was in store for an adventure when I found out that the Red Witch docks at Burnham Harbor.   As I drove into Burnham Harbor, I couldn’t help but think that this place is one of Chicago’s best kept secrets. You don’t have to compete for a parking spot or fight your way through the crowds in order to board your ship and take advantage of the beautiful view of the lakefront. The secluded boarding gives you a feeling that you are sailing on your own private ship.

I’m so happy I was able to share my sailing experience with my mother, my friends and colleagues at Kerramel Productions, Ron and Kerry Ben-Joseph. My sail on the Red Witch came about last year when I attended a Windy City Social event and won tickets on the Tall Ship Windy. I was fortunate to have the “Princess of Luxury Travel, Purveyor of Hidden Gems” aka TraveLin coordinate our Tall Ship Windy event. Although I did not get a chance to meet TraveLin, I could tell from our conversations that she was a great person, so we kept in touch. TraveLin and I are both Cancers; being the kind person that she is (I would expect no less from a fellow Cancer), she extended an invitation for me to sail on the Red Witch and I gladly accepted!

My guests and I arrived early and I finally got the opportunity to put a face to a name by meeting TraveLin. She is very friendly and possesses an extraordinary amount of knowledge about sailing and of course the Red Witch. As Linda was giving us some fascinating history about Red Witch and Burnham Harbor, as if on cue, we could see the Red Witch in the distance pulling into the dock.  It is quite an impressive schooner! The Red Witch is the only wooden 77-foot gaff-rigged topsail in Chicago and can accommodate 49 people. There is ample room to move around the ship so you can take pictures (they don’t pack you in like a can of sardines). As you can imagine, there isn’t a bad seat in the house!

As I stated before, sailing on the Red Witch allows you to feel as if you are sailing on your own private ship.  On the Red Witch, you are able to customize your event by bring your own food, drinks, and music aboard.  Or, you can allow TraveLin to arrange everything for you. The Red Witch is capable of providing 5-10 gourmet course meals paired with seasonal beverages or flagship cocktails such as:  the “Pearadise on the Horizon”, “the Sparrow Mojito”, and the “Red Witch Royale” (the Red Witch Royale evolved from TraveLin’s trips to Paris).” TraveLin’s extensive knowledge of food, cocktails and working with award-winning talent will make your event an experience to remember.  This would be a fantastic place to hold parties, company outing, etc. (private or semi-private).

Regardless of how long you have lived in Chicago, you have not truly seen the city until you view it from the Red Witch. In comparison to other boat companies, Red Witch takes you out MUCH further on the lake, which enables you to see Chicago from vantage points that I have NEVER seen before. The Red Witch enables you to see spectacular views of the skyline –so prepare yourself to witness several “Kodak moments”.

In addition to the breathtaking views of the skyline, we had the opportunity to learn even more about Lake Michigan.  At different positions on the water, TraveLin gave us some history about these different areas. It was just as captivating to hear about her adventures and travels. TraveLin definitely has an interesting life! She has been planning and producing events for 10 years in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Chicago. Working on the Red Witch has enabled her to incorporate her passion for sailing and planning events. TraveLin recently spent 6 months in Hawaii sailing and planning events. She is responsible for planning gourmet soirees and champagne pirate events on the Red Witch and Tall Ship Windy. Listening to her travels around the world was absolutely fascinating and added more to our experience.

During our sail we were able to witness a beautiful sunset as we sailed towards the spot where we would watch the fireworks. I don’t care what kind of day you have had; watching the sunset from the water will cause you to feel like you don’t have a care in the world! The various colors in the sky and the skyline make for quite a dramatic picture. The skyline looks equally as beautiful at night.  Your spirit can’t help but be renewed when you watch the fireworks from the water with the city in the background. I LOVE fireworks! I love the designs they create and the sounds they make.  The twinkling of the lights and the reflection off the water was breathtaking. It is definitely a sight to see! I could not have asked for a better night. Great view, great conversation and hospitality along with a spectacular fireworks show—what more could you want?!

When we made it back to the dock, I got a chance to meet Captain Andrew, the owner of Red Witch. I wonder if everyone that works on the Red Witch has to pass some sort of test that gauges how unique you are because Captain Andrew also has a fascinating background! He attended medical school and became the youngest executive at the American Medical Association.  Captain Andrew went on an amazing journey around the world, which included living with a Shaman (indigenous healers) which further cultivated his desire to pursue holistic medicine.

For 5 years he practiced holistic medicine/psychology/energetics, led workshops and lectures before writing several books on ancient healing. These books will eventually become university textbooks for the curriculum he is designing that focus on holistic medical philosophy, holistic psychology, energetics, and consciousness studies. He serves aboard the Red Witch for five months and during the remainder of the year he serves as a holistic practitioner, lecturer, author and hopefully a professor when he earns his PhD next year. Andrew also plays and records music throughout the year. All I can say is, “Wow!”

I wish my sail on the Red Witch Fireworks Cruise could have lasted forever! The scenery, soothing waves, and great company enabled me to have a memorable birthday.  Although we took the Fireworks Cruise, you should also consider taking the “Cocktail Skyline Sail Cruise” where you will be treated to a complimentary flagship cocktail. You can’t beat the ambiance, price or find a friendlier crew to set sail with. The crew (special thanks to 1st mate Nick) does a fantastic job of making sure the passengers are at ease and having a great time.  Make sure you book your trip with Red Witch and “rediscover” Chicago in style. I HIGHLY recommend it!

The Red Witch has local and TraveLin discounts up to 50% off so be sure to call 312-404-5800 for more information. Also make sure to connect with Red Witch on Facebook (!/TallShipRedWitch) and Twitter (@RedWitchChicago or @gr8lakesevents).

Disclosure: I did receive a complimentary ticket to sail on the Red Witch. I was not asked nor was I compensated for writing this review. I’m doing this because I had an awesome time and want to make sure that you allow yourself the opportunity to do the same.


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