Texas 200 – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)How do I register?
• Typically, on January 1st of each year, we open the registration process for that year’s event. Email the name of your boat, captain and all crew members to Matt Schiemer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and you will be added to the “Who’s Coming?” section of the Texas 200 website. Next you’ll need to pay for membership for the captain and each crew member, via the links on the Texas 200 website. With that, you’re signed up and we’ll look forward to seeing you in June.
What are the rules?
• We work hard to keep the rules to an absolute bare minimum. Basically there are three Club rules. First, the captain and each member of the crew must pay for membership the year of the event you are participating in. Second, the captain of each boat must attend the Captain’s meeting the Sunday morning before the event starts. If crew members can attend along with the captain, that’s highly recommended but not required. Third, the captain and each member of the crew must turn in a signed waiver at the Captain’s meeting. Any crew under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by a supervising adult. The waiver can be found on the Texas 200 website. Those are the only Texas 200 Club rules for this event.
How experienced of a sailor do I need to be to participate in the Texas 200?
• This event is not for beginners. The captain of each boat should be an experienced sailor. You should have experience in winds up to and including at least 25 knots, preferably higher. You should know your boat well, and be able to self-rescue in the event of capsize or in the face of equipment failures while under way.
Are there crew requirements? Maximum number of crew? Can I singlehand?
• This is 100% up to you, as captain of your boat.
What’s the best way to find crew or obtain a crew position?
• Since your family and friends are unlikely to join you on this little adventure, feel free to post on the Texas 200 Facebook page for any crew positions wanted or offered.
What types of boats are allowed to participate in the Texas 200?
• Any and all boats are welcome to participate in this event. It is a cruise-in-company, not a formal regatta or race, and we’d love to cruise with you in whatever vessel you decide is best for you. That being said, the event is primarily intended for small sailboats. Sailboats as small as 8 feet in length have completed the event, as have 30-footers. Most are in the 14 to 18 foot range. A few powerboats have completed the event over the years, and one gentleman even successfully rowed the entire event in 2015. Yes, he rowed 200 miles. No kidding. The event has been successfully completed by monohulls, catamarans and trimarans. We recommend that you consider the extremely shallow nature of the bays along the TX200 route, and the number of reefs and shoals along the way, as you evaluate your boat’s suitability for this event. If your boat is very heavy and/or draws a lot of water, this event may not be the best for you. Head over to the Texas 200 website and browse through the photos, videos and accounts section of the previous years and you’ll get an idea of the types of boats that are common.
I see the camps listed for each night, but what about the routes we are to sail each day?
• There are no required or official routes on the Texas 200. We identify the camps and each captain is 100% responsible for identifying the route to sail (or motor, or row, or paddle) between camps. You are responsible for obtaining and interpreting nautical charts and plotting and sailing your route for each day. Sometimes we will have members that offer their route suggestions and we’ll post a few of them to the Texas 200 website for informational purposes. But they aren’t recommended or official routes. Keep in mind that you can experience all that the Texas Gulf Coast and TX200 has to offer by getting out of the ICW and sailing through the bays, cuts, passes and bayous as much as possible. That’s where it truly gets interesting, challenging and fun. Sailing in the ICW for 5 or 6 days isn’t all that interesting; you didn’t really come all this way just to do THAT, did you?
How much navigation experience is required? Can’t I just follow someone?
• You should have experience navigating by chart and compass, and/or GPS, in order to successfully complete the Texas 200. A navigation plan that consists of following someone else is not a navigation plan, and is strongly discouraged. You might think that with 40 or 50 boats all departing from the same location each morning and headed to the same destination, that we’d be in sight of many boats all day, but this is not always true. You will have portions of your day, every day of the trip, where you will see no other boats for as far as the eye can see. Many of the bays we cross are wide enough to where the water will extend to the horizon in all directions, and you won’t be able to visually identify any landmarks anywhere. Even when you can see land, most times it’s the same low lying sand and scrub brush that you see all week, so it’s largely meaningless and useless in terms of navigation. Sailing by compass and chart is a minimal navigation skill for this event. If this is something you are not experienced and comfortable with, or can’t spend some time learning and practicing prior to the start, then this is not the event for you.
What charts do I need?
• There are a number of sources for marine charts for the Texas Gulf Coast that can be found online. Standard NOAA charts are available free of charge online for download and printing. Many TX200 sailors have also used the Hook n Line fishing maps and swear by them (www.hooknline.com). We’ll leave it up to you as to which charts you use. Just make sure you have them, and you’re very familiar with them before you start the event. As for electronic charts, GPS and chartplotters, that’s entirely up to you, as well. You can ask the other members on the Facebook page and you’ll find no shortage of opinions and experiences with these devices and technologies.
What type of supplies and food should I plan to bring?
• This varies widely and we recommend that you go to the Forums and Accounts on the Texas 200 website, and spend time on the Texas 200 Facebook page reading as much as you can from those who have completed this event. There is a significant amount of information out there, and you’ll be able to plan your trip much, much better if you read all of this and inform yourself. Be sure to keep in mind that this event is sailed mostly in remote locations, many miles from the nearest town, marina, supermarket, Home Depot or West Marine. You should plan to be totally self-sufficient for the entire event, bringing on board your boat everything that you think you need in terms of food, water, gear, spare parts, tools, medicine, etc, to get you from the starting point to the finish line. If you have a specific question, hop on the Facebook page and ask.
How should I prepare my boat for this event?
• This event is held far from towns, marinas and services. You need to ensure your boat is up to the task, and can handle high winds and 200 miles on the water in 3 foot of chop. Take time prior to the event and review and inspect every aspect of your boat. Everything. Replace any worn or weak parts, frayed rigging, torn sails, etc. Rudders are particularly vulnerable and have proven to be an issue on this event in the past. Make sure your gudgeons, pintles, backing plates and hardware are appropriately sized and in good shape. Your rudder should ideally be designed to kick up and not break when you hit a rock-solid oyster reef at hull speed. Also consider your keel, daggerboard, leeboard, centerboard or other similar downward-protruding parts of your boat. You must have some way of significantly reducing sail (reefing) due to the prevailing high winds. Think through every part of your boat and the rigging and have a plan for repairing or jury rigging everything that could break along the way. If you can’t self-rescue and self-repair, you might find yourself standing on a reef, with a broken boat, miles and miles from nowhere. Come prepared.
OK, now you’ve got me worried. What happens if I need to drop out part way through?
• There are no pre-determined drop out locations for this event. As captain of your vessel, you should spend time on Google Earth, your charts and maps, and determine where the nearest boat ramps, marinas, roads and towns are. If you are a member of TowBoatUS and similar services you should contact them directly for specific coverage areas and services offered.
Who do I notify if I have a problem or need to drop out?
• This is a cruise-in-company, not a formal race or regatta. You are on your own. There is no TX200 notification process or chase boat. If you have an emergency you should hail the USCG on VHF 16 and consider a 911 call from your cell phone. You will find that your fellow Texas 200 sailors will be extremely helpful and come to your aid if they are aware of your situation (by hearing your call on VHF 16), but this requires everyone to have their VHF radios on and tuned to 16, and that you are close enough to the nearest boat for them to receive the call. Since we are often sailing far from the nearest boat, and therefore out of range of the handheld VHFs that most of us carry, you must plan for self-sufficiency, self-reliance and self-rescue on this event.
Is there cell phone service along the route?
• Much of the route has service, but there are still some locations that do not have service. This includes one or more of our camps on any given year. Be prepared to be out of touch for a day or more at a time during the event.
How do sailors communicate with one another on the Texas 200?
• All participants are very strongly encouraged to carry, monitor and utilize a VHF radio. We monitor and hail on Channel 16, and our working channel for discussions is Channel 68. Given the remote nature of much of this event, and the lack of cell phone service in those areas, a VHF radio should be your preferred method of communicating with the other Texas 200 participants.
When should I arrive at the starting point? Launch? Give me some logistics advice please.
• If you are trailering your boat in to the starting point, you should plan to arrive Friday evening or Saturday by mid-day. You’ll want to launch your boat sometime Saturday afternoon at the latest, and get into a slip (or pulled up onto a beach) with time to do any pre-trip prep items that you’ll need to do (rig your boat, buy food, last minute prep, etc.) by Saturday evening. There are no pre-determined or official launch points, slips, beach plots or other facilities. We suggest that you investigate online and take advantage of the TX200 Facebook page to ask your fellow sailors for tips. They will be quite happy to share their experiences at the different starting points for the event. Sunday morning at 7am you will need to attend the Captain’s meeting. The meeting will be over by 8am, and you’ll need to get on the road with your vehicle and empty trailer shortly thereafter. Most people choose to drive their vehicle and empty trailer up to the dedicated parking spot at the finish line (this location will be arranged by the TX200 and will be announced at the captain’s meeting), and then take the charter bus back to the starting line with the group. A bus ticket must be purchased in advance, and the bus leaves promptly at 2pm. You will be back at the starting point by about 7pm, which leaves a little time and daylight for any last minute prep items if needed. You do not need to use the TX200-arranged trailer storage lot or bus. Feel free to make your own arrangements if you prefer.
What time does the event start each morning?
• There are no official start times for the TX200 each day. You should make your navigation plan for each day and start at whatever time you feel is best. We have approximately 14 hours of daylight during the TX200. Use it wisely. Most sailors are up and shuffling about at sunrise (6:30am) and many folks are on the water by 7:00am each morning, particularly the smaller and slower boats. If you sail a catamaran, you can probably sleep till noon and still pass the fleet and beat most people into camp each day.
Is there much commercial traffic in the ICW? How do I handle it?
• There are portions of the event that have fairly significant barge and tanker traffic. This includes some of the largest vessels that sail the seven seas, particularly in and around the Corpus Christi Ship Channel and the inlet to the Gulf of Mexico in Port Aransas. Do not be fooled into thinking that, as sailboats, we have the right of way. These are large commercial vessels operating in a confined waterway and they cannot and will not be able to avoid you. You are strongly encouraged to keep a very safe distance from these vessels, particularly when crossing the ICW or ship channel. DO NOT CROSS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ONE OF THESE VESSELS! They are moving a lot faster than you think and they cannot stop. If you don’t have experience in these conditions we strongly recommend you spend some time investigating how to stay safe in these situations. Do not take this lightly.
What are the prevailing wind and weather conditions on the event?
• The prevailing winds along this part of the Texas Gulf Coast in June are southeast, and they tend to blow steady in the 15-20 knot range each afternoon. Mornings and overnights are typically lower than that, but still blowing much of the time. However, it is important to note that the prevailing SE winds are regularly accompanied by periods of ESE, E and even ENE winds. If we get a front or storm coming through (this can and does happen) then the winds can even come out of the North for a period of time. It is not uncommon to sail approximately 20% of the event to windward / close hauled, so please be aware of this and prepared for it. Also, there are many interesting routes that can be sailed on this event, and many of them are shallow, narrow and into the wind, again requiring participants not to be lulled into the false impression that this event is sailed entirely on a broad reach or a run. The wind strength also varies greatly on this event. While the prevailing conditions are certainly in the 15 – 20 knot range, there are regularly periods of light winds, sometimes lasting several hours in the mornings in particular. Many days we need to cover many miles, and that means being prepared to maximize boat speed in very light winds if you are to reach camp during daylight hours. So, if you’ve got light air sails and room to stow them, bring them along. At the other end of the spectrum, we often see very high winds too. If you plan to participate in this event, you MUST be experienced in sailing your boat in 25 to 30 knots of wind. This is not at all uncommon on the Texas Gulf Coast in June. You should have a means to significantly reduce sail on your boat. If you are unable to sail safely in 25+ knots of wind, you may put yourself or other boaters at risk, and should not be participating in this event. Please make an honest assessment of your boat and your skills before committing to this event.
What kind of flora and fauna can I expect to encounter on this trip?
• While sailing, you will see more dolphins and pelicans that you can shake a stick at. And somehow, it never gets old. There are a number of other birds as well as the occasional sea turtle and alligator. At camp, you should be aware that there are significant populations of rattlesnakes, feral hogs, and coyotes. There are also alligators in many places. And cactus just where you want to put your tent. And the mosquitos can sometimes be bad. You can escape these land-based annoyances and head to the water, but there you’ll find razor-sharp oyster shells, thigh-deep mud, stingrays and sharks. You’re sort of between a rock and a hard place. Welcome to the Texas Gulf Coast.
What are the camps like?
• This ain’t Cancun, baby. There is very little actual sand, and no Hard Rock Hotel and Marina. Our camps consist primarily of mud, dirt and shells out in the unforgiving Texas sun in the middle of nowhere. Some camps consist of 100% broken, jagged shells. Make sure you consider this if you are tent camping. You’ll need a tarp or something to protect your tent’s floor. Speaking of tents, keep in mind that the wind blows hard down here all through the night most nights in the summer. That means that a big, tall, cheap tent will get blown over and those cheap plastic poles will shatter. We’ve seen it happen. Therefore, we strongly recommend tents that are smaller, lower to the ground, and higher in quality wherever possible. Also, in case it isn’t clear already, there are no services at most Texas 200 camps. That’s right, no water, no electricity, no trash cans, no houses or bathrooms or porta-pottis. Nothing. Landing at most of the camps is exactly the same experience that the Spanish and French explorers had 300 or 400 years ago.
Texas… that’s a dry heat, right?
• Unfortunately, no. This is the Texas Gulf Coast. Expect temps in the lower 90s during the day, with plenty of humidity. The sun is up from 6:30am to 8:30pm and it’s fierce down here. If you come from Oregon or Boston or Canada, let’s just say you’ll find it “nice and warm” down here. The nights aren’t bad, with temps dropping down into the high 70s. If you’re lucky, we’ll get some cloud cover here and there during the day, but don’t get your hopes up.
What type of clothing and footwear are recommended?
• We thought you’d never ask… You should plan for lightweight, light color, non-cotton clothing that covers your full arms and legs. Add in a good hat and neck protection. Better make sure your hat’s brim is firm, since floppy ones blow down over your eyes. And a chin strap would be wise, lest your hat blow off into the drink at some point. And plenty of sunblock for any exposed skin. Sunburn and heat stroke have been the cause of more than a few drop-outs. As for footwear, you should plan to bring good shoes or sneakers with thick soles and full foot protection that lace up tight. Tevas, sandals and flip-flops will not cut it. When you run aground, or arrive at camp, you are going to step into deep, thick, shoe-stealing mud… or onto razor-sharp oyster shells. Or onto a rusty pipe. Either way, you’ll want good shoes that are tied to your feet quite well. Pushing your boat off of an oyster reef against 3 foot waves and 20 knots of wind in your trendy beach flip flops will almost certainly result in severe lacerations to your feet… and game over for your TX200 experience.
Can you tell me about the different marinas and yacht clubs we’ll be stopping at during the week?
• This thing goes down mostly in the middle of nowhere. But, there are a few places where you can find a store or marina along the way; they’re just few and far between, and most days we don’t have the time to make anything more than a very brief stop. Port Mansfield is one. Marker 37 marina up near Corpus Christi is another. And the municipal boat harbor in Port Aransas. Rockport and Fulton are options. And at the northern end, Port O’Connor. You’ll have to do some homework and ask around on our Facebook page if you want specific recommendations from members. Typically, the most convenient stop is at Marker 37 marina and their neighbor, Snoopy’s (a seafood restaurant). These fall roughly at the halfway point of the event (when your ice is just about totally melted), and are literally a few yards from where we’ll all be sailing by.
The Facebook page seems great for day-to-day conversations, but what about searching through old posts?
• There is a very effective search tool on the Texas 200 Facebook page. It will allow you to search through the text of every post and every reply on our entire page, which goes back several years. On the upper right side of the Facebook page, just look for the search box.
Does the Texas 200 include any sailing in the Gulf of Mexico?
• This event is intended to be sailed, from camp to camp, in the bays along the Gulf Coast. As Captain of your vessel, you may choose to sail one or more legs out in the Gulf of Mexico, but that is 100% up to you, as is every other choice you make as Captain of your vessel. The Texas 200 Sailing Club does not recommend sailing in the Gulf of Mexico due to the relatively small size of the boats that participate in this event, and the inherent dangers associated with sailing offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.