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Plenty of options to get out on the water even if you don't own a boat

A lone boat sails under sunny skies and warm weather in view of hundreds still moored in Elliott Marina in Smith Cove earlier this week. (AP image)

Seattle's boating season officially gets underway Saturday as thousands take to the water. But if you don't happen to own a boat or know someone willing to take you out, there are plenty of ways to still get on the water without breaking the bank.

Boat sharing has become increasingly popular, says Bob Mclaughlin, host of KIRO Radio's On The Water. "You just pay a monthly fee and then share the use of the boat, much like a vacation timeshare," he says.

A company called Seattle Boat Share offers a fleet that ranges from casual floaters to speed boats and sail boats. A season sharepass costs $2800 and gets you access to all the boats. You can reserve them in advance, and the only additional costs are gas and dock fees. The company says you can get out 18 times in 15 weeks over the summer on some really cool boats, for the equivalent of less than $300 month annually.

You don't have to join a club to gain access to a boat. Woodmark Waterfront Adventures in Kirkland offers a variety of high-end power boats for rent. You can rent a 23-footer for $139 per hour for a two hour minimum, or a high-speed wakeboard boat for $249 an hour.

Another great option is joining one of the many Seattle-area sailing clubs. The Seattle Sailing Club at Shilshole Bay offers both unlimited and pay-as-you go memberships. After paying a one time membership set-up fee of $395, you can get access to their diverse fleet for between $199 and $335 per month depending on the size of the boat. Many are well-equipped for overnight charters. For beginners, the club offers a variety of classes.

"Don't think it's only a rich man's activity, because it's not," Mclaughlin says. And he says don't be shy about asking people to take you along. You might be surprised how willing they are to give you a ride.

"People are more than happy to welcome you with open arms to show you what life is like on the water."

On The Water with Bob Mclaughlin airs Sundays at 7 a.m. on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

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