Surf Kit on a Rope

I’m always into anything that can avoid a ruined surf session. And honestly, most surfy accessories and gear can be DIY’d. Always a good thing, right Martha?

So here’s an easy, cheap DIY in case those Carbon/Kevlar/Titanium/Plutonium fins get busted out by your shred style, brah.

So, you’ll need:

  • Sculpey III, or Premo! Modeling Clay (the clay needs to be a bit on the soft side, unlike a FIMO type clay)
  • A blade to cut the clay
  • Thin Paracord
  • Toothpicks or a heavy duty needle
  • Fin screws
  • Fin Key

Most of these items can be picked up at a craft store, with the exception of the Fin Screws and Key, of course.

I cut off a bit of clay from the block and rolled it into a thick tube. My polymer clay modeling skills are terrible these days, but I’m going for function, not style, like these guys:

I cut off the ends, then screwed one of the fin screws into each end of the approximately 1.5 inch long cylinder using the fin key. I did this when the clay was soft and left them in, even while baking. To screw these in soft clay, go slowly, and apply light pressure. Don’t screw past the top of the cylinder! This is why I hate hard, crumbly clay for this project.

Don’t worry. The screws won’t come out after baking unless you unscrew them using a Fin Key.

In the center, I used my needle to make 2 toggle holes for the Paracord to go through later:

I placed the clay on a silicone sheet and put it in my home oven at 230 degrees F for 80 minutes to ensure it baked throughout the clay.

After it was cooled completely, I didn’t need to do anything to the piece. Since it’s a type of plastic, there’s no need for sealants, and it’s waterproof. You can sand the piece, but I’m still going for function.

I threaded the Paracord through the holes, made a Lark’s Head Knot over the fin key, knotted the ends together, and now I’ve got three handy item types in one:

  • Fin Key
  • Fin Screws
  • Leash Loop (or multiple, depending on how much Paracord you use)

Yes, it screws another one right back in, so you can put replacements on since the threads on one company’s fin system generally stays the same, which in most of my boards is FCS.

You can take this with you anywhere, just be careful making it a necklace to wear while you surf. If it’s too long, it can come up and smack you in da face.

Could happen. To me.

Deep Thoughts on Surfing

Last week at the Pier, it was a fun, warm, glassy day of longboard waves, which, of course, brought out the spirit of Road Rage in everyone. Happy Freakin’ Holidays. Of course everyone’s stressed out. Maybe these dudes are finally getting some time off from work, so that justifies getting aggro, making everyone else’s day worse by jockeying for ALL the waves.

You win, Seabiscuit.

“More waves for me, more joy. Screw the other guy today, I’m stressed out- if I can get the Wave, I’m entitled!”

This mentality permeates the surfing culture. For a sport that is supposed to be so Zen-like, it sure does have its’ unwritten rules, protocols, and hierarchies and a rough enforcement of those policies at times. I’ve slowly learned that surfers do this as an initiation, while strangely claiming to be inclusive the entire time. Helps to keep the surfing lineup freshly culled as well as a bonus.

You’ll often hear words like “Aloha Spirit” or “laid-back” in association with surfers. The only Hawaiian spirit I notice a lot of surfers embrace these days is the Da’Hui. Yikes. I don’t remember that Fun Gang in Back to the Beach.

No wonder this sport is so intimidating and confusing for most to even attempt.

Towards the end of my surf sesh that day, I saw a college-aged guy getting a surf lesson from an instructor on the outside of the main pack of surfers (where I usually like to park it too). He was learning to sit upright on his board in the lineup. To me, that skill can be one of the hardest to master when learning. Most people don’t use those muscles until they try to surf, so it’s a surprise to even the most athletic people I know whom I’ve seen surf for the first time.

The newbie surfer noticed several of us “drifting surfers” moving away from the crowded lineup and towards him, and quickly became self-conscious and embarrassed. While still trying to get his balance, he said apologetically,

“Really, I can snowboard REALLY well, I’m just not USED to this, really…..I AM a great snowboarder back home….”

Being SOOOOO over all the aggro vibe that morning, I thought to myself,

“Dude, what’s with all the puffing? There are plenty of jealous people sitting up on that beach that wish they had the ability and courage to be a Kook- even for just one day.”

10 Tips on Buying Used Surfboards

Although I’m not a Pro, I have bought and sold A LOT of surfboards for an average surfer. I really don’t want to admit how many, but trust me, it would make Wilbur Kookmeyer jealous. (Check out THIS guy’s collection- I can’t hold a candle to it)

Oh, Wilbur! I know how you feel!

I’ve learned a few things, and had my share of victories and losses buying surfboards. Here’s a bit of insight from my experience, hopefully it helps other surfers have more successes buying and selling surfboards right off the bat. In this post, I’ll start off with tips for buying used boards.


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Tips for Buying Used Surfboards

1. BUY a surfboard for NOW, not LATER.

    Don’t let your surfy dreams get in the way of reality. That little used 5’10” Kelly Slater speed thruster may only be $150, but there’s a reason why. The guy selling it couldn’t ride it. You won’t be able to either, bro. Spend a little more on a used funshape, fish, or longboard, and you’ll be surfing a lot more, and getting more for your money. Then, if you want to progress to something shorter like that potato chip, you’ll probably be reselling the longboard, funshape, or fish anyway.


2. BUY a CLEAN used board.

    If a used board you’re looking at is covered in nasty wax and/or stickers, that should be a big red flag. If you can’t inspect for any dings, or repairs to past dings, just walk away. Open, unrepaired, or improperly repaired dings can create more damage later since water can seep into the surfboard foam.


3. BUY a used board WITH FINS.

    I hate it when a seller tries to short me at least a basic set of fins on a board, usually because they want to keep them. It’s a hassle to go hunting for fins to fit a “new” acquisition, and you better believe I will offer a lower price if a seller does this. The exception to this rule is if it is a vintage or antique collectible surfboard.


4. DON’T BUY a surfboard with more than 10% UNREPAIRED damage.

    Yes, you’re going to have to guesstimate this one, but I think you catch my drift. Repairs cost not only money, but time. When you buy a new-to-you board, the last thing you want to do is wait on getting your board fixed until you can ride it.


5. DON’T BUY a surfboard with more than 20% REPAIRED damage.

     Once again, this is an estimate, and the gauge I personally use. Like a car, I figure most of the value of the surfboard goes down once it leaves the surf shop. Because of this, I expect to get a good deal on a used board still in good shape overall, and that includes damage even if it’s been repaired. Repairs are still potentially weak spots in my opinion. I’ll pass on heavily repaired boards.


6. For new surfers, find a trusted local Surf Shop that sells used boards.

    In coastal areas with surfers, a lot of times, local surf shops will carry a selection of used boards on consignment. Yes, the surf shop gets a commission, but they can help steer you in a good direction to make a choice that won’t waste your money in the end.


7. For experienced surfers, use Craigslist (if you live in a safe area).

    Once you are familiar with what you are looking for in a surfboard, Craigslist is awesome. Generally, I find most surfboards listed under the category “Sporting Goods.” Here in Florida, I never limit my searches to coastal areas! In fact, some of the best deals I’ve gotten have been from inland areas like Orlando, or flat surf areas like Tampa. Sites likes eBay are better for Vintage and High End Collectible surfboards.


8. Consider trades.

    If you have a good sized surf community, consider trading a used surfboard you already have for another surfer’s used board. Sometimes, you can agree on an even trade, or a trade plus cash. Our Surf community has a few local Internet forums, which aid in trades with people you already know and surf with regularly.


9. ALWAYS pay in cash.

      If you don’t have the cash on hand, forget it. It’s impossible to negotiate with a credit card, even today. Checks are a hassle for a seller too, which will result in a halt to ANY potential reduction in price of the board for you.


10. Research what you’re looking for.

       Unless you’re completely new to surfing (seek out your local surf shop for help!), you should be able to do your own research before buying a used board. Find out what a similar NEW surfboard costs, and realize that most boards seem to lose 20% of their value (on average) as they walk out the door, even brand spankin’ new. Find out what standard board repairs cost. Compare prices on Craigslist, local Surf Forums, and at your local surf shops. That way, you can make fair offers that won’t cost you too much, but won’t totally offend the seller either. That’s good, since you may see them in the lineup in the future. Yikes.

Next post….Selling a Used Surfboard…

Yup.