For boaters, there is no scourge like the pestilence of winter. For many on the American continent, boating is a seasonal venture. Snow, and its brethren wind, cold, and misery, ransack aquatic joy for 6-8 months of the year. It is a vicious, albeit necessary, time for reflection among water enthusiasts. During that downtime, which feels plentiful thanks to perpetual darkness and a calendar that seemingly moves in reverse, boaters often daydream (or nightdream at 4 pm) about clever ways to offset the sadness.
Sometimes, the answer is to head south where the sunshine is plentiful and the water isn't hard like steel. Other times, it means staying in the frigid north and outsmarting Old Man Winter. This year, Midwestern survivalists have unveiled a new strategy for defeating the frosty malaise -- hot tub boat rides down the Chicago River.
According to NBC Chicago, the Chicago Electric Boat Company has announced that for November and December, two of the most downtrodden months of the Chicagoan winter, they are offering scenic boat rides in 'spacruzzis.' Does the name sound familiar? It should, because the Spacruzzi is one of the cleverest things designed to float. It is exactly what you think it is.
To be fair, the tour company also calls them Duffy boats as they have a fleet from the Duffy Electric Boat Company, but no one is going to argue that 'spacruzzi' doesn't have a more jovial ring.
Sure, Spacruzzi is also a brand, but let's not get into a "Jacuzzi vs. hot tub" branding squabble while devising our winter escape. It's a floating hot tub.
The CEBC is reveling in the humour too, saying in a press release: "Picture this: a bubbling hot tub, on a boat, cruising the Chicago River. It’s not just a boat ride; it’s a floating paradise, exclusively yours to enjoy."
They neglect to mention the temperatures will be sub-zero, but nothing worth having is perfect.
Each tour is a 90 minute jaunt down the river with up to 6 passengers, at a modest rate of $158. That's great value for avoiding hypothermia.
The boats also come equipped with underwater lights, floating cup holders, and coolers. But wait, there's more!
Each reservation can include an 'optional captain' to lead the way through the Windy City, or you can captain the boat yourself and your crew of swimsuit-laden friends. If you utilize the 'optional captain,' or you've got a sober sailor who can man the helm, you can BYOB. That's right, you are free to imbibe like a pirate.
(Although there are two caveats -- no hard liquor, and no bathrooms on board. So that means no coconut rum, and no peeing off the pulpit. Do with that information what you will.)
If the prospect of public hot tub sanitation has you tweaked, don't worry. According to the company website, "We employ a chemical-free, all-natural cleaning process. This method includes the use of a chlorinator probe with a gentle salt solution while the boat is docked, initiating an electrolysis process to achieve the highest level of water cleanliness."
Let's hear it for the marina staff. As it working the docks in Chicago in December wasn't hard enough.
If you're not onboard with the hot tub concept, CEBC also offers an enclosed Duffy tour boat with a built-in heater, saying: "Imagine gliding along the Chicago River, snug in the warmth of your private vessel, surrounded by the magical winter scenery."
If you go the non-immersion route, you'll experience Chicago by water without the prospect of changing into swim trunks on the dock during a blizzard. You can expect reservations to fill up quickly, because no one wants to be frozen in Chicago over the holidays when they could be imitating Captain Jack Sparrow, so you'll want to book now.