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Learn How to Captain Your Pontoon through

We saw an article on Fox News recently where a boat company indicated you can learn how to pilot a boat in 15 minutes, and that’s totally absurd! Rental Boaters and their guests can really get hurt with this senseless thinking. This is the reason there are so many boat rental accidents and rental boat insurance claims in Chicago.

BUT, there’s hope, we at can show you the correct way to drive/pilot/captain your rental boat! …and just to share, our governor wants all boat renters to be educated boaters, so this helps.

We offer a NEW 2-part Boat Management Training Program for Boat Renters.

First Part is gaining boater education, and has linked two educational options for you through our Who’s Your Captain? page. Those options are the Illinois State Boater’s License Course ($32.95) and the National Boater’s Safety Course (Free). Both courses are supported by all states, but the license course is much more thorough and it enables you to get your actual state boater’s license. It seemed like 60% of our clients pursued the state course in 2021. The national course is a great educational program for those with at least 2-years of boating experience.

What’s NEW, is our Second Part “Onboard Training Program” through Onboard Training includes: boat’s operation, boat docking, USCG rules discussion, tying in Part One learning, sound signals and when to use them, and guest awareness and communication.

Our Onboard Training Program costs $50 per head for boat driver(s) /new captain(s) for 1-hour of boat captain’s on-board training with either Captain Lemzar 224.607.7416 or Captain Vernon 773.791.7311. The money goes to the captain of the day, and will donate the use of Granny or Meemaw Pontoon during the training period. Its easy to make the training commitment to schedule prospective clients looking to get on the water during the same week or even the same day with our Training Program. Only paid captain-students may attend the sessions. This gives the client and the confidence that the client will need to pilot the boat themselves with boating knowledge and onboard skill leading to a safer and more enjoyable boating experience on the water. Clients will be able to pilot Granny and or Meemaw Pontoons in our fleet after they have taken both parts of our program.

Renter/Driver/Captaining Responsibilities

What the renter doesn’t often seem to want to understand is that once they take a boat away from the rental company onto the water, they must follow Bareboat Charter (Boat Rental) Rules of the USCG, the renters are totally liable for their actions or in-actions, they’re responsible for the safety of their passengers, and they are responsible for the undamaged return of their rental boat.

Drinking and driving is one of the biggest issues we’ve seen on the Chicago River rental scene. All the instruction in the world won’t inhibit a rental client from drinking and that’s when poor boat management decisions are made.

Docking a boat is the most challenging, and banging a boat into the riverwalk wall or a dock in a harbor or marina is inappropriate action. If you hit the dock or seawall hard enough, the momentum of the boat can hurt guests onboard by either knocking them out of their seats or off their feet injuring them, while causing damage to the rental boat. The damage a renter causes to a rental boat whether physical damage or loss of income is the renter’s financial responsibility and can be costly. has been renting boats in Chicago successfully for 22 seasons and we rent boats to adults who are responsible to bring the boat back in the same condition they found the boat in.

Its’s commitment to boater education that inspires us to develop our Onboard Training Program and we hope those interested in boating in Chicago feel the same way and join our program. Our Training Program will be posted soon, but interested boaters can email us at to schedule the training starting June 2nd, 2022.



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