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While the Bayou City is often viewed as a bustling, cement-covered metropolis, most Houstonians are unaware of the large sailing community that's less than one hour away and—unbeknownst to most people—doesn't cost an arm and a leg to enjoy. Below, five reasons to lace up your boat shoes this season. 

1. Close to home

Hop on I-45, head south towards Galveston and, 40 minutes later, you've reached the Gulf of Mexico. Kemah is an even shorter drive that offers just as generous winds and waves. While this isn't new news to many Houstonians, it is nice to be reminded that it takes less time to get to open water than to find parking at The Galleria.

2. No boat, no problem

You don't have to buy a boat to enjoy the thrills of the Gulf. Pass on hefty price tags and maintenance costs by using a fractional sales company, like SailTime, which provides an opportunity to sail at a fraction of the cost and without the responsibilities of owning a boat. Members can sign up for a specific boat and sail it for the season. From $445 a month. sailtime.com/houston.

3. Learn the ropes

Enhance your experience by learning the basics from the American Sailing Association (ASA), which currently has three schools in the Houston/Galveston area. Prices and schedules vary; discoversailing.school/homebayareasailing.com and lets-go-sailing.net.

4. Start small 

Interested in sailing but not ready to fully commit? At Wednesday Night Races near Clear Lake, captains are always looking for crew to help race their boats. Experienced sailors are a plus. However, unexperienced sailors are welcomed and often play an important role as “rail meat"—sailors who sit on the high side of the boat with their feet dangling over the edge to prevent the boat from tipping over. clearlakeracing.org.

5. Fun and games

Whether your company is interested in a team-building exercise or you want to spend a day on Galveston Bay with friends, charter a boat for a smooth sailing event. Prices vary; theyachtchartercompany.comsailgalvestonbay.com and windwardseaventure.com.

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