Prairie State Canoeists
A Northeast Illinois Canoe and Kayak Club
Date(s): Saturday March 16, 2024
Leader: Bharat Meshwani
Location: 905 W. Eastman St, Chicago, IL
Come join us on St. Paddy’s day as we paddle the emerald waters of the annual dyeing of the Chicago River! Be one of the few to experience the green water as thousands of on-lookers crowd the bridges and river banks. You can only get this unique experience in Chicago. We will paddle part of North branch (south of REI), East branch and ½ mile of South branch. We will not enter the locks or go into Lake Michigan. This year, St. Patrick Day festivities will take place on Saturday March 16 and river will be dyed starting 10:00 AM.
Launch and Parking:
We will launch from a pubic launch near REI Lincoln park at 905 W. Eastman St, Chicago, IL 60642. There is no launch fee. This is a free public launch site available on a first come first serve basis. It does get crowded at times. There is limited street parking in nearby streets (W. Eastman Street & N. Kingsbury Drive). Drop off your boat and gear at the little circle near the end of W. Eastman St. and park at a nearby street. It gets busy on a weekend so plan ahead and arrive early. It would be more than usual busy due to St. Patrick’s Day. Do not park in REI garage. Plug these GPS location coordinates in your favorite navigation software for dropping off your boat: 41.906797, -87.651638.
There are no toilet facilities near the launch point. So plan accordingly. There are a few restaurants nearby but this being a Sunday and early, most places will be closed prior to launch.
READ THIS FIRST:
This is not a beginner trip. There will be tourist cruise boats and other boats as well. Expect minor waves, some wake, reflection waves and minor chop on the river. This will be a 6-7 mile long round trip paddle and will take about 3-4 hours depending on how long we hangout near the crowds, eating snacks, etc. There is no shuttle involved and we will return to the launch point.
There is no place to come out of the boat after the launch and until we return. There is no bathroom or lunch area or any place to take a break or stretch your legs during the trip. Plan accordingly. Any snack that you want to eat will have to be with you on the boat in a dry bag. Carry any food or drink with you in your PFD or day hatch or a dry bag that you can easily access. Everything (dry bag, food, camera, etc.) needs to be tethered to you or your boat. Bring plenty of water to hydrate and food for energy. We can raft up to have snacks.
Dress Code and Equipment:
It is still winter, so come prepared for cold temperatures. Air will be cold, water will be very cold. Dress for the possibility of immersion. Wear synthetic active wear like polyester, spandex, etc. dress in layers, and dress warmer than you think you need to. Paddle jacket will help but is no substitute for a wet or dry suit. Hat and gloves and your St. Paddy's day best! ABSOLUTELY NO COTTON or JEANS or FLANNEL or any water soaking materials. Dry suit is best, a wet suit is highly recommended. Water proof gloves or pogies are highly recommended as your fingers will get cold without them. Without warm and waterproof gloves, your fingers will get numb and ultimately be painful and you will be unable to paddle for a long time. Wear appropriate skull cap to protect your head from getting cold. Also wear appropriate foot wear so your feet are do not get cold. Overall, you need to wear proper cold weather gear to avoid hypothermia. You need to carry a whistle for signaling and a bilge pump with you also. Also very important is that your boat needs to have enough flotation (float bags) so it does not take on water or sink.
Safety and Rescue:
A properly fitted PFD must be worn at all times when on the water or when within 10 ft. of the water. In you fall in the water, you need to be able to get / climb back into your boat with some assistance. Remember: this is still very early in the paddling season and water is very cold. If you have not practiced assisted rescue or done any kind of cold weather paddling, please reconsider your trip plans. If you wear a spray skirt when kayaking, you either need to have a roll or be able to do a wet exit and then climb back in your boat with some assistance. Remember: Neither the trip leader nor anyone on the trip is responsible for your safety. You are primarily responsible for your safety. Trip leader and others will gladly assist in a rescue situation. Please do a self-evaluation of your skills before considering joining on this trip.
8:00 AM: Arrive no later than 8:00 AM. Please be respectful of everyone’s time and arrive on time. The earlier the better. Due to parking limitations and space availability near the boat drop off, arrive early. There may be some waiting to drop off your boat. Unload your boat, gear and park. Suit up and prepare for launch. Eat snack, go bathroom, etc. Sign the club waiver.
9:00 AM: Perform safety check and haul the boats down the ramp to launch point.
9:30 AM: Launch
Head down the river on North branch towards the confluence and take a left on the main branch (a.k.a. East branch) after Kinzie St near Merchandise Mart. Slowly paddle east towards the locks, enjoy the crowds and return to the confluence. Take a left towards South branch, go about ½ mile and return northbound towards the launch point straight to the North branch (channel east of Goose Island). We will be paddling upstream in mild current upon return.
1:30 PM: Return.
Questions: Reach out to the trip leader.
Thank you and let’s have some fun!!!.