ESCAPE TO QUARANTINE SHORE THE TEXAS 200 IN 2020
Small Craft Advisor|January - February 2021
It is almost dark. The sun has finally hit the horizon as I tack down Matagorda Bay towards Pass Cavallo.
Chuck Pierce

When we launched at Magnolia Beach earlier in the day, we’d decided this would be our camp for tonight, and surely others would be there by now. I’ve gone back a couple of times to check on a friend who hasn’t sailed for three years due to some rough cancer treatments, and I’m running later than I’d like.

After sailing past the Port O’Connor jetties, I anchor for a half hour to give my friend a chance to catch up…but I’m running out of time. Pass Cavallo is different every time I’ve been there since Hurricane Harvey roared through the area in 2017. I do not feel confident I can find today’s version of the pass in the dark.

Filled with misgivings, I haul the anchor up and sail on.

In the last of the light I see masts a mile or so away, and an anchor light on one of the boats. I head for it. As the sun drops below the horizon it gets dark quickly—really dark. Darker than normal, even. I have read something about Saharan Desert dust in the air, maybe this is a side effect. It’s 2020, after all.

I drag my Mayfly 14, Gamaray, ashore right at 9 p.m. One of the other guys immediately texts our missing friend. He replies that he’s on a beach across from Port O’Connor with a couple of other Texas 200 boats, and that they are camping there for the night. I don’t know why I was worried about him—this guy is smarter and has more sailing experience than pretty much anyone I know. We make plans to meet up at Army Hole the next day, and as I am changing into my dry camp clothes I notice that my clip-on sunglasses are still clamped onto the frame of my glasses. The Mystery of The Darkness is solved.

The next morning we get up, have coffee, breakfast, and some social time (properly distanced, of course) before heading out. This is a new and strange thing for me on the Texas 200. Usually, time is so tight that I am away at first light or shortly thereafter so I can make it to the next camp and get set up before dark. This week, however, we have five whole days to make it to Quarantine Shore.

The Texas 200 organizers had decided early on that the only way to avoid canceling the event was for everyone to sail and camp in small groups; to start and end on whatever days they thought best for their group, and to be prepared to camp socially distanced, to avoid spreading the virus among participants. Some of the fleet is starting in Port Mansfield, some in Magnolia Beach. There is no shuttle bus this year, since the bus company is not even operating at this point. Everyone is truly on their own except for the one evening when we’re all together. Quarantine Shore, in addition being a perfect tie-in to what is going on with the pandemic, has lots of room for distancing. It is the only spot designated as an official Texas 200 camp this year. The idea is for the fleet to meet up there on Wednesday, June 17.

The small group of friends I’ve been sailing with decide that we should put in at Magnolia Beach on Saturday and take out at Magnolia Beach the following Friday, giving us a seven-day Texas 200 and no shuttle. That’s five days upwind, and two days back down to Magnolia Beach…meaning we’ll have some time to explore.

Veteran Texas 200 participant Cathy Tomsett recently gifted a 15-1/2-foot Bolger Featherwind, Hello Kitty, to my friend Matt Schiemer. He replaced the poly-tarp sail with one from Really Simple Sails, modified the rigging for the new sail, and renamed it The Mystery Machine, after the van in the Scooby-Doo cartoons. The Featherwind is a flat-bottomed skiff that's similar to my Mayfly 14, but a couple of feet longer. Matt has done many Texas 200s in an O’Day Mariner 19, a nice boat, but deep draft by 200 standards. This year, he has decided to come over to the dark side of small plywood boats and balanced-lug rigs. He is sacrificing the comfort of his larger boat for the adventure and cool sights that (down here, at least) can only be seen in small, shallow-draft boats. We have decided that we will take less-traveled routes whenever possible, and that starts today.

Our friend Stan Roberts spent a miserable, mosquito-infested night pulled up onto a beach in the ICW. He will be heading through Fisherman’s Cut out into Espiritu Santo Bay towards Army Hole, where we will meet up and have lunch. Matt and I will go from Pass Cavallo to Sunday Pass, which used to be Sunday Beach until Hurricane Harvey opened a cut through the beach into the Gulf. From there it is on to Espiritu Santo Bay and Army Hole through The Fish Pond and Lighthouse Cove.

We aren’t sure if we’ll actually be able to make it through The Fish Pond, which is a foot or two deep on the fishing maps we’re using to navigate. The wind is from the northeast this morning. It will be at our backs going in, so the first thing we need to do is test the ability of the Featherwind to sail upwind in shallow water, in case we have to turn around and sail back out.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM SMALL CRAFT ADVISORView All

Upgrading the Potter 15 Centerboard

When I bought my Potter 15, Blue Knot, in 2014, it already had more than 25 years on its clock.

9 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

REMEMBERING MY POTTER 19 TANBARK

In the mid-1980s, Joe Edwards flew me out to California to try out our new boat.

7 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

The Sea Trials of Minimus II

Since our first article about Minimus II, our minimalist, four-masted voyaging catamaran (SCA #117), we’ve taken her offshore for initial sea trials. On our second outing, we spent two days and a night offshore from the coast of Oregon.

5 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

The Importance of Capsize Testing

I was glad to see your recent article on the back page regarding one person’s experience with a capsized boat (Artful Sailor #122). I’m so glad he did this testing on his boat and I agree with his conclusions.

3 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

ESCAPE TO QUARANTINE SHORE THE TEXAS 200 IN 2020

It is almost dark. The sun has finally hit the horizon as I tack down Matagorda Bay towards Pass Cavallo.

10+ mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

SMALL BOAT CRUISE: Moosehead Lake, Maine

There’s adventure in leaving a place you know for a place you don’t know.

9 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

Sweet & Simple

Fred Shell shares some of what he has learned over nearly 40 years of designing, building, and sailing small boats

7 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

Diversity Afloat

As the sailing season comes to an end on northern waters, I find myself pondering the modern sailing scene.

3 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

Boat Review: Salish Voyager

Gig Harbor Boat Works releases a new design aimed toward adventure

10+ mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021

Anchor Juice

That’s odd, I said to myself. It hasn’t rained, yet there’s a cup of water in the bilge.

3 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
January - February 2021
RELATED STORIES

CAN JUSTICE BE SERVED ON ZOOM?

COVID-19 has transformed America’s courts.

9 mins read
The Atlantic
May 2021

Austin, Reluctant Boomtown

Residents fear that the wave of tech workers arriving will turn the city into San Francisco

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 12, 2021

THE RIGHT TO AN ABORTION ISN'T GOING AWAY

WHILE OVERTURNING ROE V. WADE WOULD LEAD TO NEW RESTRICTIONS IN MANY STATES, LEGAL ACCESS TO ABORTION WOULD BE UNAFFECTED IN MOST OF THE COUNTRY.

10+ mins read
Reason magazine
May 2021

TEXAS AG SAYS PROBE TO CONTINUE DESPITE TWITTER LAWSUIT

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that a lawsuit by Twitter won’t deter his office from investigating the content moderation practices of the social media giant and four other major technology companies.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #489

MIRANDA FLYING COOP & LEAVING HUBBY BEHIND!

She’s desperate for alone time

2 mins read
Globe
March 08, 2021

WHY TEXAS BROKE

The state is famous for its energy industry. But a winter storm left millions without power and water. How did things go so wrong—and what, if any, will change?

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
March 01, 2021

COVID RAVAGES LUNGS WORSE THAN SMOKING!

MANY survivors of COVID-19 are left with ravaged lungs scarred worse than those of heavy smokers, experts warn.

1 min read
Globe
February 15, 2021

TEXAS AIN'T HOG HEAVEN ANYMORE!

Shoot-on-sight order as dangerous wild pig population explodes

2 mins read
Globe
January 04, 2021

AFTER TOP STAFF EXODUS, TEXAS AG SEEKS $43M FOR GOOGLE SUIT

The mass exodus of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s top staff over accusations of bribery against their former boss has left the Republican seeking $43 million in public funds to replace some of them with outside lawyers to lead a high-profile antitrust lawsuit against Google.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #480

DOLLAR STORE GATOR SAVED!

Gentle giant gets new home after being terrorized by taunting Texans

1 min read
Globe
December 21, 2020