Written by: Peter F. Grooves
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved making things with my own two hands. There aren’t many positives to take away from this global pandemic, but one has been the opportunity to do little DIY projects to keep myself busy. I built a new desk, am working on a bar cart and just finished up painting my first ever surfboard.
Technically, it wasn’t my first surfboard, but it was the first surfboard I really learned on. The first one that I bought when I moved out here was this long pencil that couldn’t catch any waves and especially wasn’t made for any waves in San Diego. I sold it and bought this other one off Craigslist, which by no means was a great board either, but it was the board that I really started to learn on. It was a 5’10 fish-hybrid with glassed in fins and a ton of volume.
I think there are three times you catch your “first wave.” When you stand up on a foamy in the whitewash in your first lesson, feeling like Kelly Slater but really looking like a kook; when you catch your first wave before it has already broken, riding in straight towards the beach; and then when you catch your first wave that actually counts, where you ride down the line. I caught the latter on this one and for that reason, I could never let it go. Even when one of the fins snapped off, it was waterlogged, and it had too many dings and holes to be worth fixing, I kept it. I was thinking one day I would do something cool with it, whether that be a table, a chair, or a bar.
Once quarantine started, I was looking for something to do other than watch TV, so I bought a paint kit off of Amazon. If we’re being honest, the paint kit was meant for little girls, but it got the job done as my skill level was around there, if not worse. I bought some more paints and brushes and did a few things on canvas that I liked and figured it was time to step up and paint on something bigger, so I pulled the ole fish from underneath my bed and started to get her ready for a new paint job.
I let it sit in the sun for a little bit and then scraped off the wax. Even after scraping for a long while, there was still some gunky feel on it, so I took some Goo Gone Pro Series that I had from another project and wiped it down with that. It seemed to do the trick and now it was nice and smooth and relatively clean. It almost made me want to get it fixed and ride it one more time.
Then I started to paint, I used some of the techniques I had learned from YouTube for my other paintings and painted a beach sunset on the cliffs. I added in my truck with a board on top for a little personal touch and was mostly happy with how it looked. I sent Wes, founder of Driftline, a picture of the almost finished painting and circled the bottom telling him that I liked everything except for that. He said that it didn’t look that bad and if it’s standing up, then people wouldn’t even notice it.
I was shocked by this as Wes is a very meticulous guy and always wants to get everything perfect. I reminded him of a story from Steve Jobs’s biography that talks about how is father always built everything the right way and even cared about the hidden parts. That passion for quality was passed on to Steve. Jobs said, “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” I knew that I wasn’t building the Macintosh or painting the Mona Lisa and to some people the quality and aesthetic probably is anything but quality. But I wanted to know that the painting was the best that I could do, so I redid the bottom. I painted over the shrubs with the clay color that the rest of the cliff was and it left a little bit of green which I actually liked as I imagined it to be the small patches of grass you see poking through on a bluff.
The board won’t be surfed on ever again, nor will it end up in an art gallery, but it gives me an excuse to hold on to it for a little longer than I should. I’ll put it in a corner of my house and stare at it in the years to come reminded of making the best of times in quarantine, California surf trips, and of course that feeling of my first ever real wave on the old friend I could never let go of.