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Captain Spotlight: Gabe Argumedo

Posted on July 26, 2017

Meet Captain Gabe Argumedo (pictured on right with Chief Engineer Mike Shivers), an employee with Chicago's First Lady Cruises since he was 15 years old. A longtime friend of the family, Gabe has worked his way up from a deckhand to now driving the boats as a Captain and the company's acting Director of Vessel Operations.

Why did you become an employee at Chicago's First Lady Cruises?

I have been best friends with Tim Agra since I was eight years old. By the time I turned 15 years old, Holly Agra offered me a job as deckhand. I wasn’t aware that Chicago had a river, much less one you could work on, but I was excited for the opportunity to join the workforce. I worked my up to the wheelhouse at 19 years old and have been at it ever since.

What was your most recent professional career?

This is my first and only career. I am currently the Director of Vessel Operations at Chicago’s First Lady Cruises.

As a child, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

I grew up watching Thomas the Tank Engine on television. I swore I wanted to be a train conductor until a real train conductor told me as a kid to avoid it at all costs. I think driving boats has scratched the childhood itch.

What building on the tour is your favorite and why?

The Harry Weese River Cottages. The exterior architecture is just so different than its surroundings that it feels exclusive, and I love the fact that you have such a beautiful view of the city right outside your back patio.

Tell us about a memorable experience on one of your river cruise tours.

I’ve had to rescue a few boats over the years that lost power. It's highly stressful but rewarding knowing you can help your fellow mariner out of a bad situation.

Where did you grow up?

Deer Park, IL, a northwest suburb of Chicago.

Besides architecture, what are three passions of yours?

• This may be obvious, but anything boat related.
• My family is a bunch of musicians. I play the guitar and can dabble on the drums and bass.
• I am also a closet nerd in that I enjoy anything Transformers related.

Where in Chicago are your favorite places to...
•        Unwind – Anywhere along the lakefront. Lately I have been going to Calumet Park off 95th street.
•        Experience the great outdoors – Same as above!
•        Grab a great cup of coffee or tea – Eleven City Diner has a nice atmosphere to go along with the coffee.
•        Enjoy a delicious dinner – Chicago Oyster House in the South Loop
•        Play tourist for a day (besides the cruise of course!) – The brand new Riverwalk is a nice place to take your family. I also love the views of the city from the Shedd Aquarium. If you travel a little farther, the Museum of Science and Industry is always a hit.

What's something about Chicago that is a "hidden gem" of yours?

The Z-6 railroad bridge located just south of Cortland Avenue on the Chicago River is one-of-a-kind. It is a unique swing bridge that has one side that is longer than the other. It was used to provide materials to the steel plants and other manufacturers that resided off the river. I have a soft spot for the old industrial history of the Chicago River, and that bridge is one of few remaining pieces of the industry along the North Branch. They are currently proposing that the bridge be used to complete the 606 trails. Although it’s low clearance, it would prove a problem to barge traffic that pass through.

What is the most adventurous thing you've ever done?

I went skydiving one time, indoors!

What is the next destination on your travel wish list?

I wouldn’t mind traveling to Japan to visit Sukiyabashi Jiro, a sushi restaurant that was featured in a Netflix documentary. It is supposed to be the best sushi you can get!

What is something people are surprised to learn about you?

Typically people are surprised when they learn how long I have been working at Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. With 13 years under my belt, I’m looking forward to many more!