Texas floods

Texas set record-breaking rainfall in May with a month-long deadly deluge of seemingly biblical proportions. Perhaps the one positive takeaway, as residents begin to put their lives back to normal, is the subsiding of extreme drought conditions that were plaguing the state.

Lake and reservoir levels are slowly returning to normal, which bode well for this fast growing state, the environment and boaters since for many in Texas, boating is a way of life.

Lake levels across the state have been at perilous and exceptional lows for the past few years. Many boat ramps and marinas were left high and dry, while boaters’ safety was becoming an issue in some places as boats were hitting shallows or newly exposed debris causing significant damages to hulls or engines. Rivers and creeks dried up and without the influx of fresh water into the estuaries along the Gulf, these nursery grounds for redfish, speckled trout, black drum and flounder have been in severe distress. The $17 billion tourism economy—much attributed to the appeal of Texas’ lakes and Gulf Coast—showed signs of sluggishness.

Let’s hope this will signal the end of the drought for Texas and along with it the return of its unique boating culture and people back out on the water.

Kemah boardwalk
Those last few steps in the sands and dives in the waves of the Gulf of Mexico on Galveston Island are approaching fast as there are only a few weekends left to take the kids out boating and allow them to create great memories and stories that last throughout the school year. Kemah’s Boardwalk is an easy day or weekend boating trip for most residents in the Houston area and an ideal family-friendly way to close out the summer.

Located on Galveston Bay, Kemah’s Boardwalk has a full-service marina catering to transients looking for endless dockside dining, outdoor concerts and a carnival-like atmosphere for the kids. Filled with rides, the Boardwalk draws in families from the Houston area, where there’s no better way to visit and escape traffic than by boat. Transient boaters can find slip space at the marina from 30-50 feet. Reservations are advisable.

In August, live salsa bands wander the boardwalk and add to the excitement of the carousel and other rides. As the sun sets, parents can enjoy the atmosphere or savor fresh local oysters and redfish from their choice of six waterfront restaurants. Whether you stay on board your boat or get a room at the Boardwalk Inn, the Kemah Boardwalk is an easy weekend getaway and a world away from the start of the school season. It might also stimulate you to untie those lines and become even more adventurous in exploring Texas’ sprawling Gulf Coast.

By Harlen Leslie, Southern Boating Magazine August 2015

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