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I'm interviewing for a position in Houston, Texas and, it appears we will be moving. I have done a cursory search for marinas in the area. Local knowledge tops it all, however. Like the marina has 7' of water, but the channel rarely has more than 5 1/2. And then there's the occasional discrepancy of what is offered and what is really there. Anyway... we looking to liveaboard and would like to hear from you about the area, the marinas, whatever you can share.
Thanks
Arthur and Sylvie
 

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Most of the marinas are around the Kemah / Seabrook area on Clear Lake. If you are actually working in Houston you'll have close to an hour drive each way in rush hour traffic. Galveston is another 30 minutes or so. Not as many marinas there though. I bought my current boat out of Watergate marina in clear lake. They seemed pretty nice around there. Had nice facilities but I didn't leave the boat there long enough to really see the whole place.

My boat draws about 6.5' and I was restricted to the channel until getting a ways out from the bridge at the mouth of the lake. After that you can sail generally anywhere in the bay. It's dirty water but in this area that's what you find. Lots of sailing around there though and I've considered moving the boat back fire a while if I ever buy a house and move back ashore.
 

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Stay in Florida.

I used to live in Kemah. Houston is a vile cesspool. I'm not kidding. Cancer rates are through the roof, and the effluent from both the 20-odd miles of refineries and the city itself all flow out through Galveston Bay. Never mind the smog which rivals and surpasses that of Los Angeles.

The above mentioned shallowness is correct. The whole bay is thin water. Kemah/Clear Lake is the marine center of the area.

As for commuting, it sometimes paid to be further out, as one can take the loops around most of the clogged inner-street traffic. For example, it took husband :45 to get to work and some of his co-workers who lived much, much nearer took the same time or more.

BTW took a pay-cut so we could live elsewhere, FWIW
 

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I used to live in Kemah. Houston is a vile cesspool. I'm not kidding. Cancer rates are through the roof, and the effluent from both the 20-odd miles of refineries and the city itself all flow out through Galveston Bay. Never mind the smog which rivals and surpasses that of Los Angeles.
Have fun in Houston did you?

Waterford is definitely the nicest Marina in terms of facilities (except maybe the yacht clubs). Portofino or Seabrook Marina are the best in terms of how quick you can be sailing. Also the best for a deep draft boat.
 

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Knotty Wench
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Stay in Florida.

Houston is a vile cesspool. I'm not kidding. Cancer rates are through the roof, and the effluent from both the 20-odd miles of refineries and the city itself all flow out through Galveston Bay. Never mind the smog which rivals and surpasses that of Los Angeles.

BTW took a pay-cut so we could live elsewhere, FWIW
I wish that more people believed that, because we would have more room to go sailing by ourselves.

We love Galveston Bay and Houston Area. How do people think that fuel, motor oil, and plastic gets made? Much of our bad air comes from Mexico City especially when they burn their fields. But we have to suffer from federal reg that do nothing to help the air. It just destroys our small engines!

If you move to Houston area and are kind, then you will meet the greatest people in the world that can do anything to help you. Houston feels like a small town and very welcoming.

I was not born here, but I moved here as fast as I could.
 

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Our boat is in Watergate. It's a really nice place at what I think is a very good price. I agree with RainDog - Waterford (just around the corner from Watergate) is a step up.

All in all, I really like the place. We draw 5'6". Over 6' is starting to push it for some of these marinas and adjacent channels - but you can find places.

The traffic issue is spot-on. 45 is a freakin' nightmare at rush-hour.
 

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I had my boat in Watergate for a little while when I first bought it. I draw 6.5' and never found bottom though I did follow everyone else's lead I where to go. I liked the area and the sailing but a two and a half hour drive was a bit far to go for sailing a couple times a week. I enjoy being able to get to the boat within ten minutes of leaving work. If an offer was presented I don't think I'd have a problem moving to the Kemah area but I have no interest in Houston.
 

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I have slipped at Waterford, and Seabrook. I am currently slipped in Galveston yaght Basin down on the island. I will be bringing my boat back up to Kemah for good at the end of the month. I draw 5,2 and have had a few winter days stuck in my slip at waterford. Have never been in the mud at Seabrook. I have found the air to be clean, the people friendly, and the sailing community superb. I find that if you are friendly respectful people, that you will have no problem finding friendly respectful people to hang out with. I do not find the water dirty, however the bay and clear lake have a mud bottom so the color reflected off of the bottom tends to be brownish.

My experience down in Galveston has been poor. Fish heads thrown into the marina from the fisherman, theft and breakins due to the lack of proper security and transiant shrimper population, lack of proper maintanance of docking facilities are a number of things that are causing me to come back up to Kemah. I love Kemah and my year stay down in Galveston has just reaffirmed those feelings.

As far as traffic goes...well there is really no good way to get to work (I work in Sugarland) but I suspect that is the case no matter where you live unless you live across the street from your employer.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Don't know what it's like now, but I stayed at Marina del Sol while doing my refit (2006-07). Decent price (especially if you paid for a year), good pool, while the rest of the facilities were nothing special, but more than adequate and clean. Plus you could usually park near your dock.

Waterford, Watergate, the Boardwalk, and Portfino are all handy to local businesses.
 

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I had my boat in Watergate for a little while when I first bought it. I draw 6.5' and never found bottom though I did follow everyone else's lead I where to go. I liked the area and the sailing but a two and a half hour drive was a bit far to go for sailing a couple times a week. I enjoy being able to get to the boat within ten minutes of leaving work. If an offer was presented I don't think I'd have a problem moving to the Kemah area but I have no interest in Houston.
That's funny. We were dragging through silt in our fairway (in the fixed-slip area) just a few weeks ago (5'6" draft). I also raced on a boat out of Watergate that had a draft of 6', and we were boiling up mud behind us in the channel just outside the breakwater during one of our departures.

Were you in the floating slips?
 

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That's funny. We we dragging through silt in our fairway (in the fixed-slip area) just a few weeks ago (5'6" draft). I also raced on a boat out of Watergate that had a draft of 6', and we were boiling up mud behind us in the channel just outside the breakwater during one of our departures.

We you in the floating slips?
I was in the floating slips. I was on the short dock on the northwest side of the complex. Last slip on the right which doesn't have a slip across from it. It was right by the breakwater. I don't remember hitting bottom there.

Possibly got lucky in the slip I was in or always managed to take the boat out with a good tide. I wasn't there very long so maybe with a good north wind at low tide in the winter I would've been in two feet.

At my current marina I've got 4' under my keel on those days whereas my buddy on the other end of the dock is stuck in the mud with a foot less draft. I snagged that slip the day the previous sailboat moved on.
 

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When my son lived in Houston he told me that it was the only city he'd ever seen with a 24/7 traffic jam.
 

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Strange I keep defending Houston, since I really don't like it that well, but.....

Compared to Austin, Houston is a traffic pleasure. Houston is 17th out of 100 US metro areas on the Inrix traffic scorecard. Not great, but not close to Los Angeles or Austin.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Good information, now that I'm here and still trying to acquire my live aboard, we've had an opportunity to check out the places you've mentioned. One this is certain, the cost is much more affordable here. Over 20/ft in Miami!! Much better here. Of course your cruising ground isn't as great but I'm not going to complain. The ratio of cruising to day sailing and short trips is still to low to justify the cost for me.
 

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Good information, now that I'm here and still trying to acquire my live aboard, we've had an opportunity to check out the places you've mentioned. One this is certain, the cost is much more affordable here. Over 20/ft in Miami!! Much better here. Of course your cruising ground isn't as great but I'm not going to complain. The ratio of cruising to day sailing and short trips is still to low to justify the cost for me.
Check out Portofino. They are dockominiums, but many for lease. There was a number dumped by a single owner the past couple years, so you might find a good deal. The parking situation is good as long as you get the right slip, and marina is gated.

The best draft marina in Clear Lake/Kemah is Boardwalk, though I would not want to keep my boat there full time for obvious reasons. Southshore is too far in for a sailboat and a bit of a party place. Seabrook is good, and a little (I say little) easier to commute into Houston as NASA Road 1 is faster to 45 and closer to the bridge for the back way. with the exception of Portifino and Boardwalk.

Bayland is new, but not a great location for a liveaboard with nothing around, and you have to fight with the shipping channel where Kemah/Clear Lake there is good day sailing in the bay before hitting the shipping channel. Also not in the best part of town.

Harborwalk is a very nice Marina except the tugs will shoal in the entrance. You would think looking at a map that it would be a good candidate for commute, but the back road to get there is VERY long. There are also nothing around it. Did I mention the lonely road in is long?

Watergate is nice and probably the best family friendly marina with two pools, tennis courts, and not too far in. Waterford is very nice as well and you will find a great deal of people cruising were last based in Waterford.

Galveston should be avoided unless you are retired or work on the island and there are only a couple marinas over there anyway.

Be sure to join the Texas Mariners Cruising Association and you will get the lay of the land (water) in short order as they have many cruises and active members who know the bay very well.

Lakewood Yacht Club is my choice if you are into the Yacht Club scene and lifestyle. They have a number of slips and great facilities.

As a working liveaboard, parking and location of showers is important. Make sure to check how far as all of the marinas there are slips where it is a hike.

There are a couple of services that will come to your slip and pump your holding tank, worth every penny as there are fewer pump outs than you would think in Clear Lake. Without naming names, I liked the one with the Red Fish.

Be it LA, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, etc. you usually figure out in short order that driving 15 miles out of your way may get you to work much faster, and it is just the price you pay.

You will have a love/hate relationship with Houston.

I hate to let out the secret, but from a cost of living standpoint for living aboard and salaries in Houston, there is no better place in the country right now.

Welcome to Texas.
 

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I have slipped at Waterford, and Seabrook. I am currently slipped in Galveston yaght Basin down on the island. I will be bringing my boat back up to Kemah for good at the end of the month. I draw 5,2 and have had a few winter days stuck in my slip at waterford. Have never been in the mud at Seabrook. I have found the air to be clean, the people friendly, and the sailing community superb. I find that if you are friendly respectful people, that you will have no problem finding friendly respectful people to hang out with. I do not find the water dirty, however the bay and clear lake have a mud bottom so the color reflected off of the bottom tends to be brownish.

My experience down in Galveston has been poor. Fish heads thrown into the marina from the fisherman, theft and breakins due to the lack of proper security and transiant shrimper population, lack of proper maintanance of docking facilities are a number of things that are causing me to come back up to Kemah. I love Kemah and my year stay down in Galveston has just reaffirmed those feelings.

As far as traffic goes...well there is really no good way to get to work (I work in Sugarland) but I suspect that is the case no matter where you live unless you live across the street from your employer.
Hi Casey. I'm preparing to sell my house in Katy and go back to being a live-aboard again. Was just going through some older post I had saved from a couple years ago and re-read this from you. Did you end up back at Clear Lake again?
 
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