In June of this year, we organized the Texas200. It was a 200 mile sail over 5 days up the coast of Texas. Some 40 boats or so participated. The Texas200 was not a race or even a Raid, really, it was more like a moveable messabout. There was no starting time or deadline, just a spot on the map to stop together each night. It was not necessary to make it to each night's stop, in fact many boats did not make all five. Thanks to digital cameras, this event has to be one of the most well documented ever. I could not resist putting this collection of pictures, videos and comments together.
Travis Votaw was one of the first to arrive. He and Rich Green were sailing his Pilgrim, a Princess 22 designed by Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht designs and built by Charlie Jones. Most folks arrived in Port Mansfield on Saturday and launched their boats then put them in slips for the next two nights.
Click the pictures for larger views
On Sunday morning, most of the guys drove their trailers and vehicles north to Magnolia Beach where they were parked for the week. That afternoon, we all boarded a nice, air conditioned bus for the ride back to Port Mansfield and our boats.
Mike Miller, my crew, and I walked over to a local restaurant for a farewell dinner after the bus ride on Sunday and there we met Bill Moffitt, his son Paul, and Stan Roberts. They were still working on a Mikesboat and a Piccup Pram in hopes of having them ready Monday morning. The Moffett's boat had never sailed at this point. The boat was built for this event and Bill kept a great blog.
Most everyone got an early start Monday morning. From Port Mansfield we were sailing about 40 miles to a spot on the ICW called Happ's Cut. Here is Bobby Chilek leaving Port M under power in his Bolger Bobcat.
We stayed in a slip overnight but went around to the county park early Monday just in time to see John Wright heading out in his PDRacer. His was one of three of these diminutive boats to participate.
Martin Adams was among those leaving the County Park that morning. Unfortunately, he broke the rudder on his unique catamaran shortly after the start and had to return to Port M, hitch a ride to Magnolia Beach and then return to pick up his boat. That's bad luck - we hope he comes back next year.
Kellan Hatch was our "buddy" - which means we mostly kept each other in sight in case one or the other needed help. This clip was shot Monday morning as we were sailing up the lower Laguna Madre toward "The Land Cut". We were mostly running downwind. Later the wind picked up, gusting to 30 mph but by then we were in the protected water of the Land Cut.
Kellan had left ahead of us so we used full sail to catch him. Once we caught up, we dropped our main and proceeded under our mizzen alone - a surprisingly good match in speed. At that point we were passed by some of the faster boats. Here is Waid Lackey in his Chrysler Lonestar 16, Desiderata.
Shortly after we got into the land cut, Kellan pulled up on the sand for a quick repair to his push-pull tiller. We were able to lend him a drill so he could use a pop rivet.
As we made our leisurely mizzen-powered way up the ICW, everyone else was taking advantage of the good wind and flat water. Dan St Gean and Brian Rugg passed us with a couple of rooster tails flying - this in spite of two guys and camping gear for a week on their Hobie 18.
Right behind them were Kevin O'Neill and Laurent Coquilleau. These guys made it their mission to catch the Hobie 18 in their home built proa and at times they were able to do just that. Very impressive.
Bill and Paul passed us in the land cut. Not only did they finish building this boat the day before, but it was the first time Jim Michalak's Mikesboat had ever been built. Make no mistake about it, these guys are top drawer builder's and sailors.
Two Hobie 18's passed us that afternoon - this one manned by Bob Johnson Jr. and Bob Johnson III. They were even towing a kayak!
We did not know that Happ's Cut would have a muddy beach - it was just a spot on the map, remember? So we made the best of it.
We also did not know it would have a couple of shade trees - a rare thing in these parts. The buildings are part of a fish camp. These things are located sparsely along the ICW and are fairly rarely used. There were half a dozen here but no one that belonged to them was about.
John Turpin was among the guys on the muddy beach that first night. He brought his Potter 15 down from Oklahoma to join the Texas 200 and recorded the trip on his website.
Grant and Wendy Wolfe sailed their Catalina 350 down the ICW from Galveston to join us. They met the fleet at Happ's Cut which is where they got this great shot of one of the many Dolphins in the area.
Finally, the sun set on a bunch of happy sailors. Even the mud could not dampen the spirits of Kevin and Laurent, the intrepid proa sailors.
I got up pretty early Tuesday, around 6 AM as I recall, but I was barely in time to catch Andrew Linn heading out in his PDRacer. These little boats were usually the first to leave and the last to arrive.
At sunset on Monday night we were still missing one boat - the Miller family, but the next morning there was no sign of the Millers but there was a new one - a Bolger Martha Jane. On it were George Broadlick and his sons, David and James who told us that they had helped the Millers recover from a capsize and that they were just down the way.
Tuesday morning we sailed out of the land cut and into the Upper Laguna Madre. It was wonderful to see so many other boats like Terry and Brian Dunn in their Core Sound 20. I have sailed this course many times and I hardly ever see another sailboat.
Kevin and Laurents must have left after we did as we got this picture of them catching us just as we passed one of the hand full of barges we saw on the trip. Kevin must have had his camera out because he shot the following video clip about the same time...
Kevin took this clip of the Caprice. Mike is at the helm and I appear to be talking on the phone. Some vacation!
Kellan kept a close eye on us all day. Did I mention that Kellan assembled his inflatable, FUGU shortly before the event? Did I mention that he brought the entire boat with him when he flew from his home in Salt Lake City to San Antonio and assembled the thing on the beach at Port Mansfield? Now that is dedication.
We finally caught John Wright near the turn into the Padre Island Yacht Club, our destination for Tuesday. We offered him a tow as the entrance was about a quarter mile upwind, but he politely declined and proceeded to tack up to the docks like the gentleman he is.
What a difference a day makes! From a muddy bank to a Yacht club. And the folks at the PIYC really rolled out the red carpet. They send dinghies out to guide folks in and they opened the facilities so all could have showers and tables.
This doesn't look like adventure - this looks like a bunch of folks lazing around at a yacht club. And we made the most of it too - there were beer runs...
... and Paul Wegner, who lives in Corpus Christi, took this bunch of sunburned guys to "Snoopy's", a local seafood place right on the ICW.
Thanks to local knowledge on the part of Charlie Jones, we decided not to stop at Deadman Island as previously planned but instead to head for a point of land on St Joseph Island called "Paul's Mott". Deadman, in the middle of Aransas Bay, might have waves breaking over it due to the higher than expected wind but the shell beach near Paul's Mott at the base of Long Reef turned out to be fine.
Some time after dark, the Miller family arrived at the Yacht Club with a sad story to tell, some sunburned kids and the news that they would withdraw. We were very relieved that they had made it.
The next morning folks left early. There were at least three possible routes and more attention would need to be paid to navigating than on the previous two days. Here Tim Rinkevich readies his Core Sound 17. His sailing partner was Pete Brigatis.
Mike and I took the more eastern route, across Corpus Christi Bay to the ship channel, up that to the Lidia Ann channel then around Mudd Island and along St Joseph Island to Pauls Mott. At the far end of Corpus Christi Bay, we anchored near Shamrock Island to wait for Kellan. While we were there we took this clip of Andrew Linn sailing by in his PDRacer.
Before we got into the ship channel, we took Kellan aboard and his boat in tow as there is a lot of traffic in this area. Sure enough, we had to overtake this huge oil platform headed out to the gulf. Look at all those tug boats!
Just before we turned into Lydia Ann Channel, we had to cross the ferry route. These free ferries cross from the mainland to Mustang Island and they carry a lot of traffic. Here Carl and Josh Clover cross behind one of them.
Once in the Lydia Ann Channel, we dropped Kellan and met Roger Harlow. Roger had borrowed my Ladybug for the trip but had elected to start at Corpus, his home.
As we rounded Mudd Island, we were overtaken by one of the two Shearwaters. This one had Larry Knowles and Liz Arnow as captain and first mate and Mark and Carol Decasembroot as crew.