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Who’s Your Captain?

Welcome to Rent Chicago Boats Captain’s (boat driver’s) page.

NEW Illinois State Boat Drivers Mandates!

State of Illinois requires all boat drivers to have a Boat Drivers License and two years experience or hire a captain.

NEW to boat with Help US, Help YOU get on a boat!

If you want to drive it yourself, must meet our requirements below.

To those renters without (2) years of experience managing a boat and without a boat driver’s license or boaters education, you’ll have to hire a captain.

  • Renter/Boat Driver must be a competent person,
  • Must have a minimum of two years of experience operating vessels of a similar type and size (within 3 feet) to the Scheduled Vessel,
  • Have no marine losses in the last ten years,
  • No violations/suspensions (including auto) in the last five years,
  • No criminal convictions or pleas of no contest ever!

To convey 2 years of boat experience show either of the following:

  • boat owners registration card; or
  • boat rental receipts.
  • (2+) Years of Boat Ownership can be your experience with boater education

If not, then in order to rent a boat you’ll have to hire a professional captain.


JOIN our NEW Renters HANDS-ON / Boat Driver Program. 


Illinois Boater’s License 

For the most ideal way to boat in Chicago is to get your Illinois Boater’s License or show your state’s boaters License if traveling from another state. All you have to do is to email us a copy of your current Illinois Boater’s License prior to the time of booking and you’ll eliminate that step. State of Illinois does require that all persons managing a boat, have a current Illinois Boater’s License, so we are providing the link for you to the extended program so you can look into it and achieve your license. This an great idea when you know you’ll be enjoying boating for many years to come.

If you can meet the aforementioned history and have taken your state’s DNR license course and need a brush up, take the online National Boater Safety course and test out at 90% plus. The renter must submit a copy of their test score to prior to the rental.

In the event of damage, a copy of the boater’s drivers license and or test score will be sent with our contract to State of Illinois for processing and fines. So, we expect you to make smart choices in boat management.

Alternatively, if you are wanting to party with your friends, hire a USCG licensed captain from our list below.

Boater Insurance

Clients are self-insured on our boats. Our insurance covers liability only! YOU PAY FOR YOUR OWN DAMAGE AND LOST GEAR on our boats! Talk to your broker about extended coverage from your “homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance, or auto insurance for boat rental coverage” and provide a copy and policy number of that to during Pre-boarding or prior to the day of your rental.

Ultimately, captains are liable to you, and YOU are liable to Whether you and or your captain causes any damage or maritime fines, the client is liable to Rentchicagoboats to pay for the damage, fines, etc.

We reserve the right to turn away clients that do not either have skill and who have not followed the new State of Illinois boater’s captain / driver mandates.

Boater Safety Class / Test

We no longer serve unskilled boaters by letting them drive our boats. You must have a state Boater’s Drivers License or for those who can prove their boating history, may take the National Boaters Safety Course, Score 90%+  email it to “as proof of performance”. Don’t score 90% – take it over til you do, its fun! You can keep your score page, for future rentals with

Chicago’s USCG Captain’s List

These captains “work for you” as a captain, not Rent Chicago Boats. Contact them directly and negotiate their rate. Rates range from $90-$125 per hour + gratuity, and may be different based upon their schedule. Captains are outside contractors who are responsible to you (the hiring party) “for their actions”. Ask a captain for a referral. We prefer to list the most professional captains with a track record of taking care of our clients as well as our vessels on your behalf. Captains are liable to you and you are liable to Rentchicagoboats/CW as third party contractors, but the client must hold the clients responsible for their actions when your cruise doesn’t go as planned.