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As a proud resident of Ocean Beach, CA, Surfrider Foundation’s annual Paddle Around the Pier is an especially convenient event for me. There’s not a whole lot that beats living three blocks from the ocean — even if the curbs of Newport are a bit grittier than those in La Jolla. (And hey, lay off that grit! It keeps my rent down.) I fully embrace the beach-hippy lifestyle — the dogs, the farmers’ market, the sandy cafes, the tattoos, the circus yoga. But I’ve always lacked in one essential Ocean Beach department — I don’t surf. Don’t get me wrong; I grew up swimming outside the waves and am practically pro when it comes to sun bathing, but I’d never really given surfing a try.

Until this summer.

surfing dog

Watching dogs like this one catch wave after wave with ease can be a real ego-buster to a newbie.

This past July the water was just too perfect to not give it a go, so with fresh wax in my hand and a friend’s borrowed longboard under my arm I made the trek to dog beach. Dog beach, it turns out, is both good and bad for beginners. Good because waves are manageable and people are pretty accepting of clumsy beginners. Bad because it takes a special kind of fortitude not to give up when the golden retriever next to you catches his twentieth wave in the time it takes you to grab two.

surfer art

The artwork of local artist Harry “the Hat” Daily is partly to thank for my new-found hobby. (I really want to be this girl.) You can find Harry and his beach-inspired art in front of OB Surf and Skate during the farmers’ market each Wednesday.

Despite many bruises, sore muscles and the almost-catastrophic discovery that string bikinis are less than ideal for serious waves, I find that I love surfing… and can’t seem to stop. There’s something to be said for having something to do in the water beyond just bobbing around, And as cliche as it sounds, I find myself feeling more connected to the sea — the beautiful, all-powerful, sometimes terrifying, mostly thrilling deep blue sea.

interview on bamboo stage

Interviewing True Blood’s Sam Trammel for Surfrider’s Celebrity Expression Session in 2011. Note: When working at a big Malibu surf fest it’s best to keep the fact you’re not a surfer on the DL.

Appreciation truly breeds responsibility. I want to take ownership of my beach and protect it — from cigarette butts, plastic, oil spills and all of the less-than-desirable waste that comes from living in an industrial nation. I’m lucky to work for a local company that feels the same and is working to change things. Founded eight years ago by two idealistic surfers, Cali Bamboo not only provides a sustainable alternative to traditional lumber (deforestation being a huge contributor to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), they also support amazing non-profits like Surfrider Foundation and Coastkeeper that work to protect our beaches and waters. It’s a very natural fit for a company where the CEO and employees regularly meet for morning surf sessions (another good reason for me to learn) and the boardroom is strewn with actual boards.

bamboo surfboard

Cali Bamboo co-founders Jeff and Tanner display a bamboo board at Surfrider’s Celebrity Expression Session in 2010.

So while I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to torture my upper body by making that big paddle around the longest pier in Southern California, I’ll definitely be there on Sept. 16th representing my company (come by the Cali booth!) and championing Surfrider’s message. Hope to see you there and show that deep blue sea we’ve got her back!

bamboo surfboards


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