The Latest Surfing Trends and Fads: Spring Edition

Once again, I’ve got a fresh batch of surfy gimmicks and gadgets from the surfing world. Am I EVER given any of these things for free? No freakin’ way- I’m the last average surfer chick they’d want reppin’ their brand, and that’s all good with me. Some of these I think are great ideas, but some paddle straight into a huge closeout.

As always, N-Joy….

Shower Toga

 

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So this is another Kickstarter funded product that allows you to take a full shower in the open. This may be necessary after surfing in a remote location, or if you need to return to work with minimal stink. To me, this is an easy DIY project with an old shower curtain (instructions here, kids), but I guess there are enough people who don’t have time nor interest to go the DIY route. The price is pretty high in my opinion, but I guess if you’re part of the need-it-now crew, thirty bucks (plus tax and shipping) isn’t bad. They also sell a rinse kit that is very similar to another DIY project I’ve done. Just sayin’.

Cost: $29.95
Pros:
  • If you don’t wanna do DIY and have 30 bucks to spend on a fancy shower curtain, this looks like a good one
  • If you’re against the wonders of indoor plumbing and live with a bear named Ben, this was made for you
Cons:
  • It’s a $30 shower curtain

 

Shark Eyes

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So this has become THE hot item as of late, and I’ve seen it on quite a few boards around here. Developed by Australian surfers, they are large eye stickers placed on the bottom of your board to supposedly deter sharks from below, minimizing the chance of being attacked. Hey, it’s the psychology of it all, ya know? Come to think of it, I had my DIY anti-shark device on my board when I was NOT attacked by a shark, but just popped in the head by an errant stingray. Thesis defended, drop da mic.

Oh, wait- I forgot. I don’t have the Australian cred. D’OH!

Cost: $20 per sticker
Pros:
  • Great gift from a nervous Surf Mom to her Groms
  • Fun decor for any type of board
  • Cheaper than SharkBanz
  • Could end up in an interesting staring contest with a shark
Cons:
  • Shouldn’t be construed as any type of guarantee- local awareness always matters
  • It’s a big sticker of an eye….that’s a little freaky
  • As of today’s post, their website is down, so….that’s never a good sign

 

Hang Air

This product is a wetsuit hanger that contains a waterproof air fan to dry your wetsuit faster than just slinging it over your shower rail. I honestly didn’t think much of it when it first came out, but now I’m a total believer. It’s pricey, but I’ve had mine for a few seasons now, and I’d never surf in winter without it. I can hang my suit up wet after an afternoon sesh, turn it on, and the next morning it’s totally dry. This is also good for those multi-day SCUBA trips, because a dry wetsuit is a good thing at 8:00 A.M. on a cattle boat out to a reef. Keeps the suit usable for a longer time too, in my opinion. Also nice is that it’s made in the USA from recycled materials too.

Cost: $69.90 
Pros:
  • Keeps the stank out
  • Prolongs the life of the suit by preventing mold and bacteria growth
  • The hanger holds up to 100 lbs- that’s a lot of soakin’ wet gear it can handle
Cons:
  • Pricey up front, about the cost of an average wetsuit
  • The large size of the hanger may make it difficult for smaller wetsuits to fit over it properly (I have some difficulty with mine)

 

MyGo Mouth Mount for GoPro

Ok, so it constantly amazes me the number of different GoPro camera mounts available on the market. I have noticed a trend within the last year of these “mouth mounts” on many surfers using GoPros in the lineup. Yes, these mounts- used by Kelly Slater himself- can produce some outstanding footage of the inside of Pipeline from your simple GoPro, making for some epic surf vids.

Problem is, how often are YOU surfing at Pipeline? Yeah, me neither.

The mouth mount honestly looks a bit dangerous to use in a heavy swell. While the footage can be worth it on big barreling waves, most surfers won’t be dazzled by their own video- I’ve seen a handful of decent looking mouth-mounted shots, and they’re all from Slater, of course. So it’s a meh accessory for someone like me.

Cost: $29.99 (marked down from $34.99)
Pros:
  • Comes with bite supports that claim to give more stable footage
  • About average price of most GoPro anything
  • Compact and easy to use for a skilled surfer
Cons:
  • Can be dangerous for even an intermediate surfer to use in rough surf
  • No flotation (but a lanyard is included)
  • This type of angle is typically not desired for average waves and/or surfers- it won’t really impress your buds unless it’s a gnar barrel

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Hope you enjoyed checking out some phunky phresh surfy gadgets and trends out there in the fun Surfing World. Above all else though, we all just wanna catch as many waves as humanly possible, right? The rest is….well, just even MORE gravy.

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Somewhere in between always works, brah

Time for a New Surfboard Leash

Last week, we had a few days of fun longboard swell, so I took out my heavier 9’0″ Dewey Weber Performer longboard. When I attached my usual longboard surf leash, I had noticed that the Velcro was beginning to fray badly and the attachment points had become far too supple, almost to the point of tearing. It was time for a new leash, and this one was finished….

Typically for my longboards- which have ranged between 8’6″ and 9’2″- I’ve used a standard 9′ long surf leash. Your leash needs to be about as long as the surfboard you plan to ride. I have a 9′ leash for my longboards, one for funshapes/shortboards that’s 7′ long, and a 5′ leash for my little 4’6″ Beater board.

Surfboard leashes have become an essential safety item to me, since the lineup here in Florida can become crowded quickly with surfers AND swimmers alike. I don’t want to take the chance of a wipeout potentially injuring someone else. I also consider it important in case I become too tired to swim if I lose my board, which was one of the main drivers behind the invention created in the late 1960’s in California (History of the Surfboard Leash).

Pat O’Neill (of O’Neill Surf Company fame, and the son of founder Jack O’Neill) gets the credit for making the “kook cord” popular. Ironically, he lost his eye when his board snapped back in his face due to the initial poor design of the surf leash. Today, better designs make this much less common, but there are some things I still do to prepare my leash before its’ first use.

Once either end of the leash attach points become frayed or loose, spend a little coin and get a new leash. It’s not worth taking the chance over spending $20-30 bucks at least once a year if you surf frequently. More if yer a gnarly ripper, brah. Lawsuits can get pricey. Same goes if the cord comes loose from either end- no gluegunnin’ it here- this is SAFETY equipment. Y’all feelin’ me?

Now, all brand new leashes have the same problem- they’re kinkier than Christian Grey.

Kinky.

Every one of my new leashes gets a turn on a sturdy palm tree to stretch it out a bit. I like having both my eyes, so getting it stretched out a bit keeps it from “snapping” back as much during initial surf sessions. Of course, future wipeouts will help stretch the leash as well. Yikes.

I’m finally getting some strength exercise in…..

Much better than before.

This particular leash I purchased is a “Regular” leash, meaning the cord thickness isn’t too thin, nor too thick for most recreational surf breaks. It’s what is typically found at most surf shops.

Comp” or “Competition” weight leashes have a thinner cord. The concept is that the thinner cord reduces drag when paddling, surfing, and doing tricks. Personally, I really like them because they are light, and more than enough cord thickness for our usual 2-3′ waves here in Cocoa Beach. Comp weight leashes are hard to find in 8’+ lengths at many stores, but I’ve seen them on occasion.

Big Wave” leashes have supa thicky-thick cord. Unless you’re planning on surfing huge Pe’ahi or Cloudbreak with your 10′ elephant gun, OR your name rhymes with “Blaird Blamilton,” you can probably pass on this type of leash. If you ever need it, trust me- you’ll already be in the know then.

Can’t wait to try out my spiffy new leash, but it’s gnar chop city for a few days, so I’ll have to find somewhere else to go…..

DIY Paddleboard Bungee System

Tomorrow, I’m paddling in a 7 mile “fun paddle challenge” to benefit the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary in Merritt Island. It’s a good cause on the shore- that is, until the horn sounds, then it’s on, and it gets real like a roller derby. I’m going to be in Camp Fun Race tommorrow, though, enjoying the run.
Most people will be on their SUP’s, but I’ll be on Seadragon, my 14′ prone paddleboard, my most beloved of my quiver.

Seadragon

Several years back, I was doing a lot of paddleboard races, but there were not a lot of requirements for things to have on board, even for races that were offshore 7 or 8 miles. It hasn’t been until recently that a lot of races have started requiring paddlers to carry things like water and safety whistles, which is good practice.
I have a mount on my board for a water bottle and GPS, but if I wanted to carry anything else, I’d have to strap it to myself somehow, which would be annoying paddling prone (or even if I was standing up).

My water bottle and GPS mount

So, I wanted to make my own simple DIY bungee for my paddleboard that could hold a small pack of “just in case” items for a short or medium distance race.
First, I went up to the local hardware store and picked up a pack of 4 small suction cup hooks, like what you’d find for hanging decor. In fact, my pack of 4 came packaged in green and red Christmas packaging!

The first thing you’re going to do is slip the metal hook off of the suction cup, and save the hooks for some other project. Take a look at the suction cup knobs on top after you take the hook off- they have a little place under the knob that will allow some elastic to fit under perfectly, which will be forthcoming:

Next, clean off the area on your board where you are going to place your 4 suction cup mounts. I’m going to place mine right in front of my water bottle so I can get to it easily. I took a pencil and marked four dots on either side of the center line where I wanted the plugs:

To glue the suction cups down, I used E6000 epoxy cement.

 I placed plenty of glue around the inside of the bottom of each cup and smashed the cup in place over each mark, using the suction to help hold and secure each plug. I let the plugs dry in place for a full 24 hours without touching them.

The next day, I came back with some 1/8″ flat braid elastic and a cord stop, both of which can be found at a craft or fabric store.

I used about a yard of the elastic to make a taut criss cross pattern, finished off by running the ends through a cord stop (for loosening and tightening), then making a knot to prevent the ends from slipping back out. Then, I trimmed off the excess:

I was lucky to find a small dry bag at Goodwill for .40 cents, so I packed that with sunscreen, an energy bar, my car key, and I wanted to attach a safety whistle to the outside:

So I used the ties on the bag to lash it to the elastic (in case it slips out if I capsize), and I used a Lark’s Head knot to tie the whistle to the elastic, so I can easily get to it if I need it with plenty of cord, but I can also keep it tucked away too:

I just realized that my water bottle holder can double as a raw cookie dough holder in case the requirements ever change. Well, you never know….depends on the FUN level.

DIY Surfboard Car Rack Pads

OK, so I broke down a bought a new car after 11 years and nearly 225,000 miles. It was about time. One requirement was that I had roof racks installed on this vehicle, of course. I had to get Yakima permanent mount type, so I paid through the nose to get them installed. I at least could save a bit my making by own rack pads to go on the bars so it wouldn’t damage the boards. Ok, like $40 bucks, but hey, better than nothing.
I thought a lot about the materials I could use to make the pads out of, and I decided on using an old yoga mat I didn’t use anymore since I got a new one. For the sides, I had some flag fabric, which is essentially heavy duty nylon cloth, used to make those outdoor decorative flags. It can be found at any fabric store, but I already had some in my fabric stash.
First, I measured the width of the bars across. I came up with about 27 inches. I decided to round this down to 26″ for my pads to leave a bit of room. You will have a different measurement depending on your racks.
Next, I took a pool noodle and measured the circumference using a tape measure. I came up with 8 inches. Since I’m going to use Velcro as a closure, I added 1 inch to each end, to make it 10 inches to make an overlap. This made the dimension 26″ by 10″. This is what I cut out twice from the yoga mat for each pad.
I was going for pockets on each end of the yoga mat to fit the pool noodle into- therefore, I cut four squares of the flag fabric into 10″ by 10″ squares using a rotary cutter on a cutting surface. The width is the same, but I wanted some space inbetween to fit the pool noodle into.

I then overlocked each edge of both squares using a standard overlock stitch on my machine set at 5.0 width, and 1.0 wide. I used a J foot, used for overlocking.
Next, I stitched the stitched the squares to each end of the yoga mat, placing the squares ON TOP of the mat. Here’s a diagram of the stitching pattern:

Here’s the layout on the floor:

 

When you stitch, keep the edges just overlapping- try not to overlap too much. Use a straight stitch and preferably a roller foot to make the pass.

When you’ve stitched both squares down, lay the piece down right side up and fold each half toward you.

I acquired some blue 3/4″ Velcro from the store to use for this project. Laying it up against the long edge, staple it along this edge to secure it for sewing.

 
Sew lengthwise along the edge of one side of the Velcro, then sew another line along the other side of the Velcro lengthwise. Here’s a sewing guide for this stage:
 
                                            
 
 
FLIP the piece to the other side and do the same thing. Don’t forget that the Velcro needs to be on opposite sides since the piece will be wrapping around a cylinder.
 
Finished!
Now, I’ve got to cut the foam noodle. I’m cutting it to 26″ inches. I mark the point with a pen.
For cutting foam of any kind, I use a electric knife like for cutting turkeys. Yep, they work great. They cut though foam like butter and make a mean turkey sandwich (well, when I used to eat meat).
 
I need to cut the foam noodle down the center (but not all the way through, just to the hole in the center). To help keep it straight, I chocked the noodle with a couple of heavy books:
 
Once the noodle was cut lengthwise, it was placed into the yoga mat pocket.
 
With the noodle cut side up, I tucked the flag fabric into the slit. I did not close the Velcro yet until I got the pads over the rail.
Slip the pads over the rail slit side down and with the fabric tucked in. Close the Velcro around the rails. The nice thing about these pads is that they have a slight sticky quality, which helps to keep the board from moving around.
Here they are installed over the rails:
 
Spiffy! Now my rail pads match my seat covers. I’m officially a total kook. Here’s to sorta keepin’ it real….kinda.




Last Minute Surfer Gifts

Good job. You waited until the last minute. I had a grown cousin who waited until the last minute to get Christmas gifts, and I ended up with a Jesus Portrait Paint-by-Number. Not kidding. Wonder where they got the original portrait?
But I digress…
If you want to look like you might give a damn about your friend or family member who is a surfer, consider these ideas instead of the 6 pack of Wine Spritzers you saw at Publix.
ALL of these projects take 2 hours OR LESS!!!

DIY Personalized Surf Wax
Fin Screw Keychain
DIY Wetsuit Wash
Surf Pic Magnets
Triple Stringer Picture Frame
DIY Surf Wax Candle
Surfer Necklace
Sex Wax Magnet
Blank Surfboard Shapes for Coloring
Save a Surf Kit
Surf Photo T Shirt
Mini Emergency Kit
DIY Wax Comb

Take just a few moments of your time, and you’ll have a thoughtful gift on your hands.
Ok, ok, you can do the booze gift thing….just get Crown Royal so they get the drawstring bag to make a craft with while sloshed. Christmas Time!!! YAY!

Easy DIY Sunscreen Safe

Here’s a simple little hack to keep your things safe on the beach from prying eyes that I’ve seen using a wide type of sunscreen bottle like this:

 

You’ll want to keep things like you’re keys, money, etc., but, the opening is usually pretty small:

so by taking an Exacto knife and cutting away the top except at the lip where it can still attach at the original top:

you can make a wide mouth safe to put your stuff in that nobody will suspect.

If you have trouble keeping the top on, just use a hair elastic, no one will think anything of it:

Super easy!!

Surfboard Contact Info and Protection

We’ve been fortunate to have a week’s worth of actual waves around here, but that also brings out the not so savory types who like to take others’ boards while they’re out enjoying the swell. Usually, the thieves who take these boards are not the most surf savvy- they just quickly drop them off at the nearest pawn shop, collect a paltry sum of cash, and go pay their expensive tuition. Well, okay, maybe the last part is a stretch.
Anyway, not all of us have custom boards we worry about being stolen or lost. I have a Stewart Hydro Hull I bought with my very first job bonus for making a software program, so it’s extra special:

Stewie!

It has a serial number that’s kind of in a readable scrawl by the shaper, and I have pictures, but that won’t necessarily bring Stewie back. That’s when I thought it might be helpful to put a contact number on it, but I didn’t want to put it out in the open. Also, I didn’t want something permanent in the case that it NEEDED to be sold (and I mean NEEDED to be sold- knock on wood that never happens!!).
That’s when I thought of my little digital label maker. They run about $25-$30, but it’s a great investment, and I use it for everything, not just for surf stuff. I buy the 3/4″ tape in waterproof, which you can pick up at an office supply or a big box store. Using a large font (you never know who’s going to be reading the number) I printed out a phone number- not really mine for the example, of course. 🙂

Go ahead, call it.

Next, I needed a place to put this that wouldn’t be open but that could be accessed easily. I decided to put it on the inside face of the center fin box. You can also put it on one of the side bite fin boxes, but keep in mind that someone will need an Allen wrench or a fin key. I figured a thief is not going to take the time to take the fin off and remove your number, but once it gets to the pawn shop or a fellow surfer finds it, this may catch on enough that you can put the notice out to remove the fin and say “Call Me!”
First, I cleaned the inside of the fin box very well to remove any sand, dust, or debris or the label won’t stick:

Clean out that fin box!

Next, I removed the backing from the adhesive label and used tweezers to help me place the label inside the inner face of the fin box:

Using the tweezers, I pressed down the label well against the side of the box to ensure good adhesion:

Replace the fin, and now, you have a little peace of mind that all you have to do is tell the local pawn shops and local surf forums to remove the center fin on a Stewart Hydro Hull and call the number without going into a lot of descriptions the pawn shop guy probably won’t comprehend.