Author and his future wife on the 12-foot Hobie
In 1980, Seagull surf shop was across the street from the beach in O.B. I’d hit the dawn patrol with all the locs and go change in back of the shop to get ready for ding repair. I grinded and filled and rubbed the boards, giving them more care than most of their owners did. While waiting for a batch of resin to go off or if the dust got unbearable, I would take a board across the street and “rinse off.” One of the best job perks.
The crowded summer surf made for good business, as crowded surf makes for more dings to repair. But summertime swells can be few and far between. These doldrums can last for weeks and every surfer starts to feel his gills dry out.
That summer the surf was nearly flat…maybe one to one and a half feet. One day I came into the shop from surfing, grumbling that the waves were too small to ride even on my nine-footer. The shop owner heard me and called me over.
“Kid,” he said, “go down the street and over a couple of blocks and out in the yard behind the brown house under the big avocado tree there is a board that will work.”
So, me and another kid went in search of the board. We thought we’d found the right house but nobody was home. We went in through a side gate and found the tree and buried under two feet of leaves was the board: a 12-foot Hobie tandem surfboard that weighed over 50 pounds. We carried it back to the shop with a few rest stops on the way. I went to work cleaning it and sealing the holes and cracks.
The next day we took it out and began an adventure that lasted for many summers. Just getting it to the beach was an ordeal. We would have to stop traffic on Abbott Street to cross. The board would glide on the smallest of waves and had no problem with two people riding on it. We got so stoked and so many kids wanted to ride it that six kids once paddled out on it and caught a wave. Two fell off the back after standing up and the other four rode the wave. Two were facing regular foot and two were facing goofy foot. It was hilarious.
After a while it was natural that girls wanted to try, and I took several out for their first time riding a wave. On the beach they’d be anxious, paddling out scared, waiting for a wave anxious again, and dropping into the wave, freaking out. Once I had caught the wave and got the board on the face I’d tell them to stand up. I’d keep a hand on them for balance and then it would hit them: they were surfing, standing on a board, flying down the line on a wave. Talk about stoked to the max — we’d be grinning ear to ear.
The bravest girl that surfed with me on the board was my wife. She would actually shoot the pier with me and her dad took some photos of us on the south side lining up to go under. It was a great experience to share with everyone who rode that board and felt the glide.