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Thread: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

  1. #1
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    Default A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    I figured I might as well while away a few more hours of quarantine time by posting some photos from the 2016 Texas 200, which I sailed with my friend Pete in a Ross Lillistone-designed Phoenix III. I, of course, do not own a Phoenix III (more's the pity), but my brother does.

    To my credit, I tried to convince him to come along and sail his own Phoenix III, letting me tag along as crew, but it didn't work out. My own boat, the Don Kurylko Alaska I'm sailing these days, was in the final (ish) stages of construction and not ready to launch. But suddenly my friend Pete had some time off that lined up with the dates of the Texas 200, and my brother was gracious enough to let me use his boat. Again. (I've done that a lot, as you know if you've seen my other threads here). I did promise myself it'd be the LAST TIME--I wouldn't go sailing again until I was sailing my own boat.

    For those who don't know, the Texas 200 is a casual cruise-in-company type raid that started in 2008, the brainchild of Duckworks founder Chuck Leinweber. The route varies a bit year by year, but the basic idea is: start near the border, and sail NE for 200 miles or so (5-6 days) up the Texas coast, mostly inside a chain of barrier islands, camping in semi-remote island locations. Something like this:

    route overview.jpg

    Winds tend to be favorable (SE) but strong, often up above 20 knots. Although it's an organized event, there is no official starting time, or starting location, or chase boats, or rescue crews, or inspections, or anything. Self-sufficiency is the word.

    Having sailed the Texas 200 in 2009 (my Bolger boat Jagular) and 2010 (hitch-hiking on various boats, mostly on a couple of Jim Michalak Lagunas), I figured it wouldn't be too bad to do again, with a friend this time.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Pete and I got the boat launched at a marina in Port Isabel, near the border, and at the southern end of South Padre Island, which would protect us from the open waters of the big bad Gulf of Mexico. Then I drove the trailer 4+ hours up the coast to the finish line, and took the Texas 200 shuttle bus back to Port Isabel--a long day.

    The next morning we rowed out of the marina:

    IMG_1359.jpg

    Under the watchful eye of marina security (the aptly named "Pelican Point Marina"):

    IMG_1360.jpg

    And raised the sail in pretty windy winds--one reef tied in. Perfect. Except a few moments after beginning to sail north up the Laguna Madre (the first two days, 65-ish miles, cross this large bay from south the north), the sheet came untied from the boom, giving us a few moments of excitement as I headed up so Pete could grab the boom and re-tie the sheet. And then it was off on a day-long broad reach, surfing along at good speed.

    The day ended with a rarity for the Texas 200--a stiff 5-6 mile beat dead to windward up the Port Mansfield cut, to find camp at an inlet right on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Chad Bachmeyer 1.jpg

    (That's a Chad Bachmeyer photo--I had managed to drop my camera into a wet bilge at the beach, killing it forever in the salt water).

    Lots of boats all sharing the same stretch of beach--but lots of them dropped out (I think over 50% by the end of the week). For us in the Phoenix III, which does quite well to windward, tacking up the channel to camp was a casual evening of sailing. It was harder for some of the other participants. And one boat that took the outside route on Day 1 ended up getting into some breaking waves trying to enter the cut to camp, and (briefly) lost a man overboard.

    Exciting times! Pete and I were having more of a pleasure cruise of it, though the June sun was hot.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Days in the Texas 200 tend to be long--40+ miles isn't unusual. But with the standard June winds, the miles can go by quickly. Pete shot some video as we broad reached up the Laguna Madre on Day 2:



    Camp on Day 2 was at the notorious Haps Cut, the location of the only 3 shade trees on the Texas coast. And perilously afflicted with thick mud:

    IMG_1377.jpg
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Tom, you guys sure looked like you were on a leisurely afternoon sail as i cruised by w/ Winky Dink in tow

    DSC00002.jpg

    what a great event !

    go ahead and tell 'em the rest of the story

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Thanks for posting that photo of us sailing north up the Laguna Madre (I think?)--perfect timing!

    Day 3 started from Hap's Cut, with Pete--a scofflaw at heart--ignoring the "No Tresspassing" sign to find a shady location out of the mud for breakfast:

    IMG_1389.jpg

    Luxury accommodations every night on the Texas 200:

    IMG_1382.jpg
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    So, this was pretty much the route for Day 2, across the northern half of the Laguna Madre and into the Land Cut, a narrow dredged channel:

    day 2.jpg

    I always describe "deep water" on the Texas coast as "you might get your knees wet if you hopped overboard"--but the first two days hadn't been too challenging in that regard.

    After breakfast on Day 3, Pete and I stuck around for a brief consultation with some of the late starters. Their idea was to spend the day exploring options for camp locations for future years of the Texas 200, and we decided the Phoenix III was fast enough that we could accompany them on some exploration-type side trips.

    IMG_1398.jpg

    With its Duckworks connections, the Texas 200 brings out a lot of interesting boats. Above, L to R, is my brother's Phoenix III; Chuck Leinweber's artfully painted Michalak design, a Toon 19, I think (Chuck's wife is an artist and comes up with a daring paint scheme for each boat--I really liked this triangle motiff); John's purple and yellow Michalak design (I forget which one); and Chuck Pierce's Michalak Mayfly 14 (I think) in light gray.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 03-23-2020 at 07:41 AM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Day 3 was great, sailing along in a group of 4 boats more or less together. We deviated from the now much wider ICW route to sail east to the barrier island, scouting potential future Texas 200 campsites. At one point we were completely surrounded by porpoises doing full-body aerial acrobatics all around us. On the map below, you can see where we deviated from the straightline course, which typically follows the west side of the chain of tiny spoil islands.

    day 3.jpg
    .
    We camped on a VERY shallow beach--got there early enough that there was quite a bit of sitting around in the hot sun. Lots of time to hang out with interesting people. I do a lot of solo cruising, but an occasional social event like the Texas 200 is a nice change of pace. I'd say the people you meet are the best part of this thing. That, and the chance to sail 40-50 miles on the starboard tack every day in 20-25 knots of sustained wind. But no shade today...

    Bird Island camp.jpg

    Round about sunset vicious hordes of mosquitoes set in and the beach cleared rapidly.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 03-23-2020 at 07:42 AM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Day 4 brought us, first, to Snoopy's, a waterfront restaurant that has become something of a landmark for Texas 200 sailors. If you're sailing through Corpus Christi, it's on the right, before the big bridge. A bunch of us, maybe 20 or more, stopped in for lunch. I had lots of fried seafood and cold drinks. Then, realizing we were getting fairly lobstered out there in an open boat, Pete and I each bought some lightweight UPF gear from the marina store, which we wore the rest of the week.

    The route here hits some pretty open water crossing Corpus Christi Bay (a 10-mile crossing), so it's wise to hug the windward (eastern) shore in a small boat. On my first Texas 200 back in 2008, in my little Bolger boat, this crossing felt scary--big waves, and I saw one boat (a small yawl) capsize a mile ahead of me, and a big proa dismasted when its mast jumped out of the step. This year, in the Phoenix III, the only challenge was running aground a few times as I tried to sneak us TOO close to the windward shore. We sailed ourselves into an almost dead end behind some little islands. We made it through, dragging the keel, but another Texas 200 sailor who tried to follow us had to turn around.

    Remember what "deep water" means on the Texas coast? None of the water on today's off-route exploration was deep, even by Texas standards.

    day 4.jpg

    Pete at the helm in his new UPF face mask, with the big bridge (and Snoopy's) in the distance behind him:

    IMG_1405.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 03-23-2020 at 09:32 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Once you've crossed Corpus Christi Bay and arrived at Stingray Hole (the tiny pass just east of Pelican Island), there are a couple of choices for routes to the campsite at Quarantine Shores (which is actually a lovely shell beach). The straightforward way--which can involve a couple of hours of dodging ferry traffic--is to follow the dredged channels east and back west to make a giant V, approaching camp from the east:

    Day 4 A.jpg

    Of course, for full adventure value for Pete's first Texas 200, we took Option B: a meandering route more or less straight through the bayous and back bays toward Quarantine Shores.

    Day 4 B.jpg

    Lots of VERY shallow water along this route, and a low bridge requiring the ability to drop your mast. There was also a marina, the Fin and Feather, where we stopped for a shower. They had a radial arm saw (I think) set up in a back room, with a cat draped lazily across the top of the saw to get closer to the ceiling fan just above.

    Our navigating went mostly ok. It's much harder to find the route from water level than from an overhead image. We decided to risk a short cut (or what we thought was a short cut--hard to tell since we weren't exactly sure where the channel WAS), where we ran into 40 Grit, a fellow Texas 200 sailor's self-designed home-built, perfect for the shallow local waters.

    IMG_1412.jpg

    Lured off course by 40 Grit, we were soon brushing the muddy bottom with the keel, board up. We ended up needing to hop out and drag the Phoenix III about 30 yards to deeper water. No harm done. Then we were at Quarantine Shores--probably my second favorite campsite of the trip, a neat shell beach in a remote location. Again, the chance to hang out with a lot of kindred spirits was nice.

    IMG_1416.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 03-23-2020 at 07:24 AM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Great photos and story -- more, more! ;-)
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    So, Day 5 continued across some bigger open water, but through some waters so shallow that you have to follow some twisty (but somewhat marked) passes (you can stay in the deep ICW channel, but what fun is that?)

    day 5.jpg

    Still enjoying 40+ miles a day on the starboard tack. Watched one of the very first built John Welsford Saturday Night Specials pass us by, really moving. We were reefed, he wasn't. And that's a big sail, maybe 100 sq ft?

    IMG_1418.jpg

    Camp on Day 5 was at a remote little island at Hidden Pass--a narrow gap between two tiny islands that looked like it might be narrow enough to jump over with a good running start. I couldn't convince Pete to try it, though. Maybe because we found an alligator skeleton on the beach? But we enjoyed an evening of good company in the best campsite of the course.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Lots of people at the Hidden Pass camp had smart phones and were checking the weather, which was supposed to be hot, and windless, for the final leg to the finish line the next day. Which got me thinking... Why not sail through the night while we had wind? Navigating might be a bit tricky, but why not?

    It wasn't that hard to talk Pete into it. He might have an over-exaggerated idea of my "expertise." So, we hung out at camp until the sun was almost below the horizon. Then, just about the time that the mosquitoes would have driven us into our tents, we shoved off.

    Bill Fisher 1 (2).jpg

    A perfect evening for sailing--cool 15-knot breeze, no direct sun. Really, why isn't the Texas 200 a night-time event? I guess everyone else wanted to see how we did before following our example. They paid for their timidity the next day when the forecast hot windless day arrived as promised!

    With just a chart (well, Hook and Line fishing map) and compass to navigate, we steered a bit to the south of where we thought the narrow pass would be, so that when we hit the shore after ten miles or so, we'd know which direction to turn.

    It got darker. And darker. And then it started raining fish. Mullets, I think--they started jumping straight up, 2 feet, 3 feet. Then one jumped over the foredeck. Then one jumped INTO the boat. And another. And another. I grabbed a boat cushion and kept shoving them down toward Pete, who already had his hands full with the sheet and tiller. He kept throwing them overboard. They were, we assumed, being pursued by dolphins.

    But our navigation worked perfectly--we got within 30 yards of shore (full moon night), and turned north, using the centerboard as a depth finder. And then, there it was--a green can marking the pass. We tacked around to come back to the channel. And couldn't find it...

    We sailed up and down the coast in the dark, Pete steering, me getting a bit sea-sick trying to read the chart in the red lamp of my tiny headlamp. Just when I thought I knew where we were, we ended up somewhere else. But luckily, that somewhere else turned out to be the very last pass out of the bay, putting us right back on course. Mission complete!

    We sailed out the Port O'Connor jetty, dodged some barge traffic in the uncomfortable narrow channel ("dodged" it by beaching our boat and waiting for it to pass), and then we were free and clear. We turned left at the end of the channel, and spent the rest of the night and early morning sailing north in ever lighter breezes. I napped while Pete steered. Pete napped while I steered. I napped while I steered.

    And then we were at Magnolia Beach, the official finish line. Still dark. We set up tents on the grass and enjoyed a few hours of sleep before sun-up pretty much made that impossible.

    IMG_1425.jpg

    If the Texas 200 had been a race (it isn't, and stubbornly refuses to become on), we would have just won. Figures that the only race I win is one in which I'm the only contestant...

    The boat did great, as expected by now:

    IMG_1451.jpg

    The trailer tires not so much:

    IMG_1454.jpg

    Good thing we didn't see the welcome signs BEFORE the trip:

    IMG_1452.jpg

    Anyone else around here been at the Texas 200? Any photos and stories?
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Oh, yeah--the route (more or less) on Day (Night) 6:

    day 6 night sail.jpg

    Tom
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    GREAT TALE

    folks reading this won't really believe how shallow the Laguna Madre is

    nor will they believe it can be done on one tack(stbd)

    when Tom talks about sun and heat he isn't kidding one iota

    even under a full canopy in my little diesel trawler it took me 3 years to tie a string from Port Isabel to Maggie Beach

    the 1st year(2015) i started w/ the fleet on Monday morning camping out at the Mansfield Cut that night

    the campsite at the Mansfield cut is a nice sandy beach back behind the south jetty of the cut

    looking West from out over the Gulf the camp is seen on the left

    mansfield pass_9_18_12 002asm.jpg

    i was lucky to arrive early and get a front row spot where my trawler w/ a 2' draft could pull right up to the beach w/ a few other larger FRP vessels

    11755703_10207259619908258_9056519487856751589_n.jpg

    the folks on the beach that evening were just like a huge family reunion

    SUPER FRIENDLY !

    some visited into the night

    most were in their beds not long after sunset

    at sun up boats were already leaving the beach

    because of family obligations i had to return to Port Isabel and begin my trek back to north Texas on Tuesday

    86 total miles and a really nice trip/introduction to the Texas 200

    sw

    TBC
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    i was back in 2016(2nd year for me) ready to do the full trip(i thought)

    having seen how several of the larger vessels had to anchor off shore i decided to i needed a dink to get ashore

    Winky Dink was born the spring of 2016 and was launched for the first time @ Port Isabel

    she floated as advertised in the free plans offin the www.interweb

    Attachment 56647

    and followed obediently out of the harbor right up the ditch

    Attachment 56649

    when folks arrive in Port Isabel there is no way to get a feel for the number of souls involved

    the skipper's meeting on Sunday morning doesn't even tell the whole story

    only when you can see all the participants strung out in the ditch can you get a good feel for the numbers and diversity

    this is a stolen image butt it tells the story

    Attachment 56650

    first and 2nd nights quite similar to Tom's story above(my trawler & dink are in the background of Tom's Hap's Cut mud beach pic above) butt the heat was hammering me

    cruising across Baffin Bay found my trawler surfing the swells and maintaining control was sporty to say the least

    lunch @ Snoopy's w/ some other participants lasted longer than planned because i was plumb exhaustipated

    by the time i left i was about the last Texas 200 participant left

    Attachment 56651

    @ age 67 being over weight and having pulminary issues i decided to pull out when i got to Port Aransas

    i felt that if i got into the least amount of trouble i might could have difficulty taking care of myself not to mention the boats

    discretion ruled

    i got there after the Harbor Master's Office closed so i just pulled into an empty transient slip and called a friend to pick me up

    luck was with me and he n his bride needed a house/dog sitter so i had a couple days to wash the boat down in their driveway and otherwise REST

    the original quest still had a hold on me so i promised myself to start in Port A in 2017 and finish the full 200 miles

    sw

    TBC
    Last edited by swoody126; 04-06-2020 at 07:46 PM.
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    steve

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Oh, yeah--Snoopys! Not Skippers as I posted above. Thanks!

    Glad you made it out ok--without local connections to pick you up mid-way, it could be logistically challenging to pull out.

    Edit to add: It's definitely more challenging sailing this thing solo than it is with a good partner. Even with a fast boat, the days tend to be long, and the wind doesn't often let up.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 03-23-2020 at 09:34 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    2017 found me back and ready to finish the quest

    i made the skipper's meeting on Sunday morning in Port Mansfield where the event was to start this year

    the meeting had more attendees than normal even though a large group was doing the event backwards this year

    many of the attendees were quadrupeds

    there is a large white tail deer population in Port Mansfield that is not bothered by humans

    when the meeting assembled the deer just kept on munchin'

    Attachment 56653

    i launched on Wednesday from Port A and met the fleet @ Mud Island

    the last camp was to be at Army Hole an abandoned military air strip on Matagorda Island where there are still some decent docks for the larger vessels

    Attachment 56654

    and a nice grassy beach for the skinny water boats

    Attachment 56655


    sw

    TBC
    Last edited by swoody126; 04-06-2020 at 08:08 PM.
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    steve

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    the old air strip can still be seen at camp #5/Army Hole

    64305388_3416046291746230_6004925481709731840_n.jpg

    along w/ some of the local inhabitants

    Attachment 56656

    some of the locals(rattle snakes) hide in the grass and strike w/o warning

    the warning YOU COULD DIE can be found in all the documentation associated with the event

    the last leg of the 2017 event was a great down wind run

    i encountered a couple MayFly 14's on my way to Maggie Beach

    they were comfortably reefed down just cruisin' along

    Attachment 56657

    the Finish each year is accompanied by a shrimp boil that is worth the price of the ticket

    Attachment 56658

    the Texas 200 is a long grueling event that attracts masochists from all over the North American continent

    young ones old ones and older ones

    boy ones and girl ones

    some participants are impaired in one form or another

    each year many don't make the whole distance

    some break their boats

    some turn over

    some come back to finish what they started

    sw
    Last edited by swoody126; 04-06-2020 at 08:20 PM.
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    steve

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Nice to see another T200 perspective, sw--thanks for posting.

    FYI, the photos in your post #15, 17, and 18 are not showing--they are coming up as attachment links. When that happens to me, I find I need to go back, open the "Edit Post" option, remove the photos, and reinsert them.

    It helps to resize photos (I do a 30% resize in MS Paint) before posting. A bit frustrating at times, but it sure beats the Photobucket days!

    Tom
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Tom the website has gone bonkers

    when i make changes i can see what i wanted to post butt when i save the changes stuff gets real stupid again

    i'll wait a few days and try again

    thanks for the thread

    it's keeping me out of the beer joints pool halls and off the street corners ;-)

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    This is exactly what used to happen to me (and still does, but not nearly as often). I find it helps to close the message after adding each image, then use the "Edit Post" option to re-open to add another image.

    Also adding smaller versions works much better for me.

    Tom
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Great thread, thank you!
    Skip

    ---This post is delivered with righteous passion and with a solemn southern directness --
    ...........fighting against the deliberate polarization of politics...

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    thanks, Skip and everyone else.

    Meanwhile, I forgot to say there's still a live link to the article I wrote about this trip for SAILING Magazine at the time. You can check it our HERE if you want a more text-centric version of events.

    Just have to disown the title--not mine--and the way the editors "improved" my text/captions by referring to Ross Lillistone's Phoenix III design, with a balance lug rig, as a "gaffer"... And apparently they didn't believe my line about how "even a boat with a 6" draft needs to navigate carefully"--they changed it to 6', inadvertently creating the funniest line in the article! No one with a 6' draft would have gotten ANYWHERE near where we were sailing that day.

    Oh, well. I guess not everyone is familiar with traditional rigs. And not everyone OKs captions and reviews changes with the writer. They paid on time, and were nice to work with otherwise. I appreciate that an article like this is well outside their normal focus, and am happy they were willing to take it on.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 03-25-2020 at 06:59 AM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    I like this line: "
    I napped while Pete steered. Pete napped while I steered. I napped while I steered."

    Good thread!

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    I want to know what kind of tent stakes you have?!

    5205AC38-991E-4439-92E5-889C7F47DD55.jpg

    Been there. Still have sand embedded in my skin from the ďbreezeĒ. Itís lovely on that coast.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    I want to know what kind of tent stakes you have?!
    Rob, I'm not quite sure what you mean--do you mean how to get stakes to hold in soft spoil sand? I just had cheap round ones that came with the tent. They worked better there than they do on Canadian Shield granite (or Sierra granite for that matter). I now have a freestanding tent that doesn't need staking out, which has improved my life in one of those many small ways that matter more than they ought to.

    Tom
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Rob, I'm not quite sure what you mean--do you mean how to get stakes to hold in soft spoil sand? I just had cheap round ones that came with the tent. They worked better there than they do on Canadian Shield granite (or Sierra granite for that matter). I now have a freestanding tent that doesn't need staking out, which has improved my life in one of those many small ways that matter more than they ought to.

    Tom
    Tom,

    Just a joke for anyone whoís been there. I must say itís the only time Iíve ever had the inside of my tent touch me. Hahaha.

    Thanks for these travelogues. Make the time pass.

    Peace,
    Robert

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,277

    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    Ah--I was a bit obtuse. It IS windy there, that's for sure. Somehow our tents didn't blow away.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Somers, CT
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    What I am wondering is where do you go to the bathroom at those beach campsites? The weeds don't look tall enough to hide that activity. Plus the possibility of snakes complicates it even more.

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,277

    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    To be fair, I did encounter a rattlesnake at camp in the 2009 Texas 200 while on a trip to the set of scraggly bushes that passes for the head.

    There are occasional bushes, and often lots and lots of space if you wander far enough from the beach. There is also the opportunity to stop in town now and then, as per the lunch at Snoopy's in Corpus Christi, and the Fin and Feather Marina just before the Quarantine Shores camps.

    I believe some campers may bring porta-potty arrangements to use in the cabin boats, though I have not looked into the issue closely.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    dfw
    Posts
    1,313

    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the Texas 200

    hey Tom, i attacked the pic issue again see if you can see 'em

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

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