When camping by the beach, you often get a storm that rolls through with little to no notice. You can scramble and get all your possessions together and hide in your tent...OR, you can use this method to enjoy the rain like a boss.
What you need:
1. A tarp. I have a 12X14 tarp I bought years ago for 15 bucks. It is pretty sturdy for a plastic tarp, but certainly not as robust as a canvas tarp (much heavier).
2. 4 bungy cords. Longer for more versatility. I use these in place of taut lines.
3. 2 REI Aluminum poles that can setup/break down quickly.
In each of the corners of the tarp, I tie a small loop where the bungy cords will attach(these loops stay on the tarp. If you can, do this before you even leave for camp). I do this because my bungy cord hooks are big/reinforced hooks that need a bit more space than the hole provided in the tarp.
I hook my bungy cord to any stationary object i can find. A tree, table, bear box, whatever you can get that bungy around. NO KNOTS ARE NECESSARY.
Notice that I allow the bottom of the tarp to stay about 12-24 inches off the ground. The space and the bungy cords work together to give/take as the wind blows. Initially, always try to protect yourself from the storm front. Typically on the West coast, we get the storms coming in from the West or WNW. I position the tarp so that the wind can blow and pass over and under the tarp. The bungy cords give and take as necessary.
Many fellow campers ask me, "Sam, Why do you not just tack down the tarp on one end and let the air flow over the tarp?". A.) The ambient heat from my fire is very hot. I like to mix hot and cold air for a perfect blend of awesome. B.) The ambient heat reflected down from the tarp is great, but you also get a lot of smoke with wet wood. The spacing continues to supply me with clean smoke free air. C.) I don't like a dirty tarp. After a big rain, if you tack down into the ground, your tarp with have all sorts of dirt and possibly rat/mouse/racoon disease on it.
Later that night, a storm actually came through. Here is an example of the setup with a roaring fire.
Last note: When you have a warm fire and it is cold/rainy. Seek out other campers and invite them over. This is just good camping Karma.
Happy Trails guys.