How they launch in Chicago

By S. F. Morrison

One of the sure signs of spring in Chicago is when the time comes to regularly raise the bridges to let the fleet back out into Lake Michigan. All winter the captains have had their sailboats of all sizes in storage. The month of March was spent getting ready, doing all of the bits and bobs needed to put the prized boat back into the water.

This year the ritual began on Saturday April 18th. There are some 37 operable bridges over the Chicago river and they get raised sequentially to let the boats through. It really is quite a site.

The bridge tenders leap-frog the different bridges so as to keep the procession moving. At one time each bridge had a tender assigned but no more.

As the boats move along the river it can at times become quite close quarters. Some captains just take it easy but there are others that need to keep moving even turning around and it can get dicey.

This ritual will continue each Saturday and Wednesday until June. During that time drivers will curse the bridge going up and ultimately know that if they get ahead of the fleet they will have a bridge not yet up that will allow them to get to the other side.

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