A Surfer’s Guide to building a board

Getting a PhD in “cosmic evolution as transformative experience” has required I spend a lot of time in a very cerebral space. Now that the dissertation is submitted, I’ve been eager to get out of my head and put my hands back into service in a more down to earth, manual sense.

After months of planning and the last two weeks of building, I am superbly pleased to introduce the first Tree to Sea Surfboard Art Project.

This special, board-building art project started in an old brewery on the banks of the Hudson River (thank you REconsider!) and ended at the historic Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway on Martha’s Vineyard (an island which I have a deep, natural history with as a commercial fisherman and surfer). Nat Benjamin was gracious enough to allow for not only me to set up my traveling wooden surfboard workshop, but also for the visionary painter Imogene Drummond, who I have teamed up with, to do her thing on the beach in front of the boatyard.

This was a truly extraordinary experience. Not only was I able to craft an original 6’2 single-fin retro design, but I was privileged to make friends with a local cadre of some of the best boat builders, sailors, and dock-hands in the world. To Abby, Angie, Alex, Brad Duncan, Chelsea, Christian, Lyle, Lynn, Max, Nat, Zolle, Starling, and Zephyr, I can’t express the deep gratitude I feel for all of your help and hospitality. Those cookouts on the beach are some of the best stuff of life.

I also had the chance to get in some summer surfing in one of my favorite secret spots on the planet on my current favorite board, a Wing 9’0 built last summer. One of the wonderful challenges of surfing in this spot is a mile-long paddle through a salty lagoon followed by a trek across a desolate beach. This little journey to the surf is another opportunity to connect with nature.  One encounter with a horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) reminded me of my childhood fascination with these creatures. The meeting inspired a whole new design for the board and fin, and perhaps even a new name. As always, time in Nature provides inspiration, wisdom, and pure bliss.

This project is meant to capture the essentials of a lifelong conversation I’ve been having with Nature, Art, Science and Surfing. When the board is completed, proceeds from its sale will benefit my non-profit educational work in a new project called the Surfer’s Guide to the Universe.

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