On the morning of December 24, Mark Bromley, a photographer, was at Windansea Beach in La Jolla with Mark Frapwell and Derek Dunfee. Bromley had just taken the money shot of the Windansea surf shack (which is also a registered historical landmark). Moments later, he says, it was struck down by a huge wave.
"Sometime between 7:10 a.m. and 7:15 a.m.," said Bromley, "a mother of a wave came crashing down on the shack and made one of the four pillars collapse. That morning there was a high tide of 7.2 feet and the waves were about four to six feet."
Ozstar de Journay said he put out a “coconut hotline alert” that “the shack was going down and [he] needed help ASAP.”
Bromley said that any surfer knows that this means "red alert." Surfers and community members responded and tied the surf shack to an agave plant so it wouldn't float out to sea.
On December 29, Mark Bromley was busy pulling out nails and palm fronds from the wreckage of the shack.
"I want to get ready for the rebuild and make sure the nails don't wash out to shore and back in for someone to step on,” Bromley said. As far as the rebuild, "I'm not sure when it will happen, just that it will happen. Everyone in the surfing community will just come together and rebuild it without fanfare….
"Windansea Beach is my church and temple; it's where I come to re-energize my soul. It reminds me that nothing is more important than being kind to each other."
Bromley has been visiting Windansea since he moved to San Diego from Upstate New York in 1980. He can't remember the last time the shack was in shambles, but he guessed it may have been about 15 years ago. (You can check out more Windansea surf shack photos at Markbromley15 on Instagram or Mark Bromley on Facebook.)
Carol Olten, the historian for the La Jolla Historical Society, says she doesn't recall the last time the surf shack was wiped out but does remember a big summer party at the shack years ago when everyone there was wiped out.
As far as historical designation of the surf shack, Olten said, "The surf shack got historical designation in the 1990s. But it first became iconic beyond San Diego in the 1960s, after Tom Wolfe wrote about it in his collection of essays titled The Pumphouse Gang.”
Woody Ekstrom is one of two original surfers that is still around from the old days. He's now 88 and living in Leucadia. He has some funny jokes from the old days.
"We built the shack in 1946 because the fellows were coming home from the war,” said Ekstrom. “Most of them were stationed in the Navy and were coming home in August of 1945. Don Okey was the father of the whole thing. His wife asked him to build some shade for their kids, Candy and Michael. We went to Scripps Hospital and cut down eucalyptus trees to built the shack. It finally got built in the summer of 1946. We had a big luau after it was built with electricity supplied from across the street for the shack. We had stages and Hawaiian dancers….
“The first time the shack wiped out was about five years in. But it needed maintenance all the time. It starts looking tacky and needs rethatching often. It started out closer to shore but had to be moved to the rocks over time."