BBQ on an oyster reef, a new tent, dolphins and a swimming snake…

BBQ on an oyster reef, a new tent, dolphins and a swimming snake…

Branndon Bargo, West Hansen and Jeff Wueste pulled their kayaks onto an oyster reef in the Intracoastal Waterway near Port O’Connor Tuesday and ate barbecue from Peter’s BBQ in Ellinger. Jimmy Harvey photo

I’m driving back down to the coast today, after taking a day off to catch up on other projects here in Austin.
In the meantime, I checked in by phone with West Hansen, leader of the Third Coast Cowboys Epic Kayak trip from South Padre Island to the Louisiana border. Hansen, along with Jeff Wueste, Jimmy Harvey and Branndon Bargo, began their mini-expedition a week ago. They’re about halfway through the 385-mile trip.
Hansen described Tuesday’s 37.4 mile-paddle from Rockport north along the Intracoastal Waterway as calm. After a late 8:30 a.m. start, the team crossed two bays. They stopped for lunch on an oyster reef about the size of a backyard trampoline, munching on brisket and ribs from Peter’s BBQ in Ellinger (delivered by Hansen’s wife the previous evening). They got rid of the tents ruined in the Sunday night storm and debuted a new, sturdier North Face tent that’s not as breathable, but less likely to blow down in a storm.
Hansen took a few minutes to answer some questions from readers, too:

What are you eating? “We’ve all got different appetite issues. I’m not hungry at all. The other guys get hungry. But I’m eating two packs of instant oatmeal (apple cinnamon) and two cups of instant coffee for breakfast, and a 1,600-calorie protein drink as I’m paddling in the morning. For lunch it’s a can of tuna, trail mix, nuts, Cholula sauce, water and electrolyte pills, and for dinner, dehydrated meals. Sometimes I’ll eat two.”

How’s that chafed patch of skin on your lower back? “It’s the standard thing.” (I watched him apply anti-bacterial ointment the other day.)

West Hansen’s back is chafing from rubbing against the seat in his kayak. Pam LeBlanc photo

What other physical issues are you dealing with? “We’re all starting to lose fingernails, they’re getting loose. Everybody snores; no one cares. It feels really good to put foot powder on at night.”

What do y’all talk about all day while you’re paddling? “Music, trivia, navigation.”

Do you paddle all together as a group? “Jimmy paddles all by himself up ahead. We all stay within sight distance.”

What’s your average speed? “3.8-4 mph.”

How do you keep clean? “Jimmy stinks.” And from a disembodied voice in the background: “I bathed in Dawn dishwashing liquid!”

How’s Branndon doing? (Bargo is new to sea kayaking, and struggled early on with sea sickness.): “Brandon’s paddling has improved, yeah, I can say that. He started with not much experience and he’s really stepped up. He’s learning quickly so we’re all very proud of him.”

What wildlife did you see Tuesday? “Lots of dolphins, and Jimmy saw a snake swimming across the channel. Redfish tailing. We paddled past Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. We need a breeze tonight to get rid of the mosquitoes.”

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