Blue Crush…the Movie

I will admit, every Summer I’ll watch the surfer chick movie Blue Crush, starring Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sanoe Lake. It’s great to watch especially after a fun surf in the morning. The Summer thunderstorms move into this area in the late afternoon/evening, so it’s nice to just kick back and watch a movie then.

In this movie, the best actress award goes to Keala Kennelly, who plays herself. She’s an incredibly talented big wave surfer, and an inspiration for so many- including myself. I’ll never ride the terrifying waves that she does, but she proves what is possible. She’s had to endure her share of the Good Ole Boys’ club growing up (I can relate), but her unwavering commitment to the sport in the face of all these obstacles keeps her a REAL hero in women’s surfing, no Hollywood required.

Hollywood has yet to come up with a more thrilling scene as this one of Keala in Tahiti:
Keala at Teahupo’o
In my favorite scene from Blue Crush, she warns the main character- played by Kate Bosworth- not to hold back nor hesitate when going for a wave, or she will “eat shit.”


Well, that’s an interesting life philosophy. And I 

didn’t have to read any Deepak Chopra or The Secret to get there. Schweet. If you go into something halfway committed, you’ll end up far worse off in the end. However, if you don’t try, there will never be any success. Applies to many things, not just catching the next wave. Deep.
All I know is Blue Crush made women’s surfing more than “Gidget Enters a Surfing Competition.” Blue Crush showed that women were also committed and dedicated to the sport of surfing just as much as the men were. I think the real Gidget (Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman) would be okay with this changing acceptance of women as more than a novelty within surfing.
After all, the real Gidget probably wants to be known as one of the Most Influential People in Surfing (#7, according to Surfer)- not for supposedly chasing after the local Malibu surfer boys.
The real Gidget….

The marketable Gidget (played by Sally Field)….

Wetsuit Care, Drying and Storage

I’ve read it’s best to let your wetsuit drip dry inside out between sessions after rinsing. I’ve been good about observing that recommendation, since that’s usually the way I fight my way out of my wetsuit anyway when all is said and done.
I noticed one of our suits from last year that was hung up in the closet on a hanger like we usually hang them:

Normal way most people hang up wetsuits

The downside is I noticed that the heavy duty hanger I used kind of left a “lump” in the shoulder. I’m sure this won’t be noticeable after wearing it a while, but is does remind you how heavy neoprene really is.

Shoulder lump

I was trying to think of a better way to hang up and store my suits inbetween wearings, and for seasonal storage.
For inbetween wearings, nothing’s worse than letting it dry in the sun. It will actually break down the polymers of the neoprene. I hang mine in the garage after rinsing, but that’s usually on a hanger, which is now even more weight subjected on the wetsuit’s shoulders with the combination of the heavy neoprene and water. I thought clipping the arms or legs up might work, but I didn’t want to leave impressions in the neoprene. Then I thought the zipper may be a good option. It’s strong, it has it’s own hanging hole, and if I zip it up slightly before hanging, it will bear the weight much better:

Zipper shown zipped up slightly

I used an ordinary shower hook, ran it through the metal hole on the tab on the zipper, and there you go, a simple hanger:

Wetsuit hanging from a shower hook on the zipper tab

This is far stronger than depending on the neoprene to manage the weight.
Now, for those who have zipperless suits (I do too), make a sling out of some 1/2″ nylon webbing tape, put grommets in either end and string the webbed tape loop up onto the shower hook, only suspend your wetsuit on the loop between the crotch (yeehaw- hope you’re not wearing the suit at the time). This will distribute some of the weight over the suit, but will still allow the appendages to be free enough to dry.
For storage, I really recommend getting a closet suit cover that’s pretty big. I’ve gotten some off of Craigslist for next to nothing, and they show up at Goodwill new from time to time (Target donates a lot of overstock). If you get a big sized one, you can hang (off of hooks, not hangers!) 3 or 4 suits or vests. This will help them from getting sunlight on them, protect them against damage from other junk in your closet. If you throw a couple of those silica gel packs in the bottom before you zip up the case- you know, those little desiccant pouches that are in everything from medications to shoes- those will help keep some of the moisture from making your wetsuits funky next season.
But then, you already had the lock on Funky, right? Dig it.

Recycling Wetsuits and Neoprene

I’ve been exploring this subject quite a bit during the course of this blog, but I came across someone’s question on the 2ndlight.com forum about recycling neoprene. For this case, I assumed that he might have been thinking of a place that you can drop off an old, damaged, non-usable suit to have it sent off to be deconstructed chemically into the polymer basics and reformed into new neoprene cloth.
I did see where Rip Curl in Europe started a wetsuit recycling program, however, this program makes shoes (espadrilles) from the existing neoprene, and chops up the rest into small bits to use as beanbag stuffing for “designer” RipCurl beanbag resale. Quite smart, and something I may incorporate in a future craft. I always thought they would make great pillow forms (expensive to buy at the fabric store).
For now, recycling wetsuits is mostly about repurposing the neoprene and components. I look at an old, unusable wetsuit like a junk car- it may not be street worthy, but has salvage value. Outside of just the neoprene fabric- which can be quite a lot if you plan your cutting strategy right- a wetsuit has viable heavy duty zippers that are reusable (again, expensive to buy new). Neoprene sections that have been coated in an insulating skin (usually over the chest area), make excellent electronic covers or durable pads.
For now, there’s no magic place that will remelt your suit into something new (I’m thinking like the Patagonia Common Threads thing), but neoprene is quite an unusual material to have on hand and should NOT be thrown into the trash. Donate the neoprene to Goodwill, or post it on Craigslist, if you don’t feel like messing with it. But if you do want to give it a shot, may I make some suggestions???

The Windy City of Tamarindo

Well, we’re finishing up our trip to Tamarindo, Costa Rica and it hasn’t been the best for surfing this week. With the exception of the first couple of days, the ocean’s been angry, my friends…
The other night, a small local boat wrecked here on the rocks and the pieces were scattered all over the beach and in the water. I collected lots of little small wood planks that looked like they may have come from the flooring of the boat. Anyway, great crafting material, and a great way to use salvage that’s cluttering the beach.
Not sure if it’s teak, but I guess I’ll find out back at the ranch. It’s just screaming to be a cool craft!
¡Pura Vida!

Working with Wetsuit Material

Neoprene, the trade name used by DuPont for neoprene polychloroprene, is a foam type material that can withstand a variety of environments, one of the reasons it is so popular for wetsuits. You can read more about it on DuPont’s website if you want.
We are still far off from wetsuit season here in Florida, but I have some wetsuits laying around that I picked up at boating sales, yard sales, etc. just for the neoprene (they don’t have a hope of being used again). Buying yardage of neoprene can be pricey in small quantities, so for the hobbyist, used neoprene is probably your best bet. I’ve picked up OK suits for $5 or less.
Now, I know that many have reservations about used neoprene- especially wetsuits- but if you are going to use this material in non-wetsuit applications, it is OK to wash it by machine and break the holy rule. In fact, my material bible, More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina (if you’re a sewist, this should be on your shelf), says that neoprene can be washed in warm water, and even machine dried at a low temperature. These days, detergents are not so harsh as in the past, so when a veteran surfer tells you to NEVER WASH neoprene, it’s understandable, since that up until recently, many detergents were much harsher than they needed to be to get your clothes clean. I recommend washing the neoprene before use, just to be on the safe side, and to get an idea for how it holds up before investing time in a project.
Back to using it- my reference calls for using a roller foot when sewing on machine since neoprene has a foam core and will move easier with less resistance.

Roller foot

Also, nylon thread is recommended since the application will probably be around water. Small zig zag stitching is a must since the material is quite stretchy and will need some give in the seams, even if not being worn.
I have read that for neoprene 4 mm in thickness and up, you must use an industrial machine. Since a lot of neoprene wetsuits that you would be cutting up for crafting are at least 2 mm in thickness, this may present a problem when seaming pieces together. I’m hesistant to try this on my machine since it may damage the mechanism, so I may consider hand sewn projects.
I’m looking forward to chopping up my yard sale suits just to see how many projects I can get out of one suit, so stay tuned!