Almost my car. But mine’s white. And it’s a 1970. This cute red thing is early 1960s. It makes me a little swoony, in truth. Let’s go surfing right now, please.
Yesterday, there was surf. I pulled my wetsuits out of the closet, dragged my stick out from behind the door, and headed downstairs to my… car.
What is this thing? I put my stick on the roof and my stuff inside. I sat down and reaquainted myself with my four-wheeled contraption. Found the ignition. Win! It started. Yay! I put in the clutch, put it in reverse, and backed into the driveway. Then, in one of those mind-blank moments where something completely obvious turns out to be totally opaque, I forgot where to find first gear. Oh, first gear, why must you hide from me? I tried second. That didn’t work very well. I tried third, that worked even less well. Finally, about four blocks later, I found first, up on the top left, where it always is.
After that, I drove to the beach. Also, the surf was good. And I didn’t forget anything else.
Once upon a time, on a flat Summer day in Santa Barbara, John decided to build a surfboard. An Alaia, to be exact. The Alaia is an ancient Hawaiian design made of wood. It is completely flat. Look ma, no fins.
Off we went to the hardware store to purchase some wood. Heh, heh, she said wood. Well, it turned out that they didn’t make wood wide enough. So we bought two pieces of wood (6’x 1’x 1″) and some very very strong glue. We also bought a saw, because we didn’t have one. A planer, because we also didn’t have one of those. Some sandpaper. And some string.
Those are all the ingredients, right there.
Chapter 1: The Planks
The boards, they needed sanding. John planed the inside edges so they’d fit together all nicelike. Then, they needed gluing. Newspaper might have been a good idea right about now. Shhh, don’t tell the landlord.
The planks had to dry. This part was sorta boring. Like watching, er, glue dry. The strings kept the wood all close together and tightlike without squishing it. Squishing is bad.
Chapter 2: The Measuring
The template came from the internet. Is there anything that isn’t on the internet? I’m going to say… no. The laser printer rallied to the cause and belched out all the pages. Then, we taped it together. Be vewy vewy kwiet, we’re measuring surfboards.
And then, measuring it again.
Chapter 3: The Saw
Now it was time for the cutting and shaping parts. The cutting part would be much easier with a better saw. Like, maybe one of those fancy ones that you plug in and stuff. Sweaty business, the sawing.
With the outline cut out, the planks were starting to look something like a surfboard. Something, being the key word.
Now it needed rails and some curves. John planed the rails down to a rounded edge.
Then, he put a wee bit of upward curve on the nose. (Okay, I lied, the Alaia isn’t totally flat, just mostly.) He also put a concave in the back. Just a wee one. I tried to take a picture of the concave, but it didn’t work out. You can barely see the concave curve on the bottom.
There followed lots and lots of sanding. Then, the Alaia received several coats of linseed oil to seal it for freshness. And a Milo brand for cuteness. Voilà.
Finally, we took it to the beach, and put it in the water. It actually floats! There weren’t really any waves, but John made it surf. I don’t have any pictures of this phenomenon, because I was surfing too. Maybe next time.
Final measurements: 5’11”, 3/4″ thick, 16″ wide (at the center).
La Jolla, Cali.
I don’t generally go for the sepia look, but this one worked for me. So I stole it from my big bro. I’m sure he won’t mind. Erm, right?
And while I’m stealing, how about another one?
Gettin’ Shacked in La Jolla. Same spot, same day.
See more here. Photos copyright Christopher See, used with permission.