Small World :: Big Trees

Serendipity…

So we take a break from working on my new “man barn” on Saturday to drop some supplies off down at the shop…and, to give Rob a hand since boards and paddles were flying out the door…

The “man barn” was built to house a few of my hall of fame surfboards, sailboards, and SUP’s from the ages…and, to absorb a few odds and ends left over from the garage remodel this Summer…a project that was long overdue…

The shop is packed with people…but, this couple shopping for SUP’s L(©¿©)K vaguely familiar…Deb is talking with them as I was closing another deal…when I hear them “ask do you know Craig Spjut?”…OF COURSE, we know Spjut…legendary Humboldt hellman…the first to tow Nelscott Reef…we used to scout out waves in his airplane…and, we lived next door to his state of the art shaping room in college…spent lots of time surfing with him and hangin’ at his cabin at Big Lagoon overlooking Patrick’s Pt….yada…yada…yada…

Craig Spjut (hat) surveying “Killers” on a huge day at Patrick’s Pt.



Redwood curtain“…;-)

Ironically, now that I’m involved up to the tips of my ears in the SUP industry…
I could be remembered in Santa Barbara as being the dood that got people into riding really big boards on the really small waves that exist around here…I’ll have to pass on the “King of Leadbetter” title…that’s been claimed by someone else…;-)

Anyways…it was heaps o’ fun chatting it up as we started connecting the dots with Don and his wifey about all things behind the “Redwood Curtain”…a real blast from the past…Don owned the Whole Earth health food store on the Arcata Plaza (click for Arcata Plaza cam)…his presence even brought back the patchouli scents and other herbal fragrances wafting around at the time…;-)

So, the chat becomes a whos who…where and what…catalog of people, places, and things during the halcyon years of the initial Humboldt big wave surf scene over 30 years ago…memories and names come flooding back like it was yesterday……lots of very unique characters…prolly blew Rob away as he listened in…;-)

It’s gonna be fun spending time and chatting it up with our new “old friends” as Don is building a house in Montecito…and, starting to paddlesurf…

It was too kewl as Don remembered the work that the late Tom Pratte, (my classmate from the Humboldt State Univ. Oceanography Dept.) and I, did to start the nucleus of what was to become the Surfrider Foundation…

“Tom Pratte was a co-founder of the Surfrider Foundation and surfing’s first full-time environmental advocate,” said Kira Stillwell, Chapter activist and Chair of the Program Committee of the Board of Directors. “He dedicated his life to the study and preservation of waves and beaches. It is a reflection of the growth and health of our Foundation, and our unwavering commitment to supporting our membership, that we are now expanding our level of assistance to those who are following in the path that Tom has blazed.”

The Surfrider Foundation Thomas Pratte Memorial Scholarship program, established in 1994, previously awarded scholarship grants of $2,000 to selected applicants at California’s Humboldt State University, Pratte’s alma mater. Pratte graduated from Humboldt State in 1982 with a degree in Natural Resource Planning & Interpretation. Along with surfer/activist Glenn Henning, he founded the Surfrider Foundation in 1984 to confront dredging and discharge practices that were destroying Malibu’s famous point break wave. From 1985-1989, he served as the Foundation’s first Executive Director and paid employee and received a Coastal and Ocean Management Award for his landmark work in organizing the surfing community as an effective public interest group. His environmental victories were many, including his pivotal role in a legal precedent setting settlement with Chevron Oil Company in El Segundo, California that represents the first time a government agency, department or office at any government level, has recognized the significance of a breaking wave as a natural resource deserving of protection. Pratte died on April 7, 1994 after a short battle with cancer.”

I used to take Tom down to surf the “Lost Coast” in the King Range Wilderness in the Karmann Ghia that I bought from the guy (Jim, now deceased) that bought Don’s health food store…

I cracked open a photo album that hadn’t been opened in years and selected a few gems…sorry for the resolution…a good chunk of my better pics were “borrowed” by a renowned surf book author and never returned…might still have some negatives of a few keepers…

I did like to ride short boards in bigger surf back in the day, despite the thick wetsuits…wetsuit technology has definitely advanced so that now surfing in places like Alaska and Iceland is quite doable…

Here I am talking with a local Hupa Indian kid who was fishing with his dad…after a session at the Jetty…sporting a state of the art, O’Neill 5/3 hood and a 6’2″ Channel Islands single fin “Tri Plane Hull”…shaped by Al Merrick…who didn’t use machines or ghost shapers at the time…

Here is the first thruster in Humboldt…a custom kevlar, channel bottom, 6′ “Progressive” thruster from another Santa Barbara shaper, Dave Johnson…
I’m showing it off to legendary tube rider “Duster”…now a captain with American Airlines…lots of naysayers on the 3 fin design at that time…didn’t take almost all of them long to be convinced, however…

Humboldt quiver…the sidebiter on the Progressive was busted off and re-glassed after I hit a submerged log floating in the take off zone at the Jetty…

I still have the Dick Brewer single fin gun…it made many trips to the Mexican Pipeline in Puerto Escondido, Mexico with me…

I liked to surf the hollow, uncrowded beach breaks on the “lost coast”…reminded me of surfing Pt. Mugu and some of the Oxnard beach breaks that I grew up surfing on in the Summer, when the Santa Barbara points were asleep…they were a little too sharky for most guys considering the number of great white attacks on surfers in the Humboldt Nation…

Wardog slowing down time in a deep, long, rivermouth barrel…

Then there was the pioneering days of Humboldt and Oregon Coast windsurfing…
Most of the guys that I was surfing with at the time were waterman types…after being introduced to windsurfing in Humboldt by one of my Oceanography profs, and seeing pics of Robby Naish and other early Maui wavesailing pioneers in the surfing magazines at the time, it was no wonder that most of us got into it…the area bounded on the North by Cape Blanco and on the South by Cape Mendocino, is relentlessly pounded by surf and wind…they are the two furthest most Westerly points on the continental US…

I have heaps of stories and pics from the early pioneering days of windsurfing…
We’ll save that for another day…let me segue back to standup, and the present, by congratulating one of people behind the Naish SUP brand, “Mr. Windsurfing”…the legendary, Robby Naish, on being a grandfather…man, how time flies…

WARDOGSmall World :: Big Trees

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