The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: bodysurf

A Surfboard Made from John Steinbeck’s House? Ventana Surfboards and Supplies Brings Historic California Back to Life in Their Upcycled Products


Ventana’s stunning 6’0″ Cannery Row – made from wood that once adorned John Steinbeck’s cottage in Pacific Grove. Image courtesy Ventana Surfboards and Supplies.

I was first introduced to Ventana Surfboards and Supplies when they contacted me to be their November featured author for The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival. The company is located in Santa Cruz, California – near my old Monterey Bay stomping grounds; a place near and dear to my heart.

When I started poking around their Web site, I was floored by the stunning beauty of their surfboards. All wood, with intricate designs, alternating inlays and a spot of pearlescence, from abalone shell. But quickly I learned that Ventana, is far more than a simple surfboard and supplies manufacturer. They’re bringing new life to old wood, through upcycling – an ecofriendly use of materials that have already served another purpose and would otherwise be thrown away. As an example, check out their recent show-stopper board made of wood panels, from the cottage of famous Cannery Row author, John Steinbeck.

Ventana Surfboards is the brainchild of Martijn Stiphout and David Dennis, who built the company with sustainability at its heart and a message of eco-responsibility echoed throughout the local community. Stiphout is the master craftsman and board design visionary and David drives sales, marketing and surf supply innovation.

I had a chance to catch up with the busy duo, as they prepare for a full calendar of events leading up to the holidays. Their expanding on-line shop sells not only surfboards and supplies, but recycled and repurposed products ranging from t-shirts to the Save A Surf wax box.  


Handmade handplanes in action. Image courtesy Ventana Surfboards and Supplies.

Carolyn Sotka: How did this John Steinbeck project and product unfold?

David Dennis: John Steinbeck is one of the great American authors. He even won the Nobel Prize for literature. We’re really excited to have old growth redwood from his first house. I was on a panel talking to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Teen Conservation Leaders about sustainable business practices. I mentioned our Upcycle Partner Program and how we’re turning “trash” from local companies into surfboards and surf supplies. One of the adult volunteers at the aquarium, René Gaudette, came up to me afterwards and said he was working on the restoration of Steinbeck’s house with Houstons Home Improvement & Repair. He asked if he could donate the wood to us. I was speechless! We now have a few larger planks and some smaller pieces, even a board from Steinbeck’s bathroom! You can still see the cutout where his medicine cabinet used to be!


Martijn Stiphout at work in the Ventana shop. Image courtesy Ventana Surfboards and Supplies.

Read more»

Shorepound Lost and Found: A Great Highway Exhibition on Shorebreak Archaeology by Mark Cunningham and Jonathan Steinberg


Photo: The Great Highway Gallery.

Shorepound Lost and Found is an exhibition by Mark Cunningham, a veteran lifeguard of Oahu’s North Shore and probably the best–certainly most famous–bodysurfer in the world, and John Steinberg, a New York transplant and Santa Cruz mat-rider of over 20 years.

Over these decades, these two have picked up some junk. Some of it good, some of it not so good. Collectively, their exhibit at The Great Highway Gallery in San Francisco is an anthropology of modern seaside curiosities.

Read more»

The Definitive Guide: The Wirecutter’s Best Summer Gear for Sand, Surf, and Sun. From the Crew of The Scuttlefish.


Photo: Quinn Dixon.

A few months ago, I started working with Wirecutter and Scuttlefish founder Brian Lam – and a slew of talented editors and waterpeople – on an update to last year’s Wirecutter Summer Gear Guide.


Photo: Quinn Dixon.

After a serious expenditure of editorial energy – somewhere around 200 combined hours (at least), we’re proud to unveil the work of authors Jaimal Yogis and Mark Lukach, filmmaker Sachi Cunningham, former Outside online editor Joe Spring, fisherman and Scuttlefish writer Owen Burke, surf Divas Nicole Grodesky, Kate Barattini and underwater photographer Abi Mullens. What follows an editorially unbiased and journalistically pursued summertime gear guide that is frankly, like nothing I’ve ever worked on, and nothing I’ve ever seen.

Read more»

‘The Real Local’ and Other Entries from National Geographic’s 2014 Nature Photography Contest

National Geographic’s annual photography contest is underway and you are invited! Browse through NatGeo’s online galleries to judge for yourself or enter to win. Here are a few of our favorites, from the thousands submitted this year by amateur and professional photographers from around the world.

the real local

‘The Real Local’ – Photo and caption by Adam Burke

“New Zealand fur seal giving me a lesson on how to surf. Shot was taken at Waitpinga Beach, South Australia. The seal wasn’t just surfing for the fun of it, there was a school of Australian salmon schooled up in a small gutter in front of this wave, the seal would take off on the wave and then with speed, fly straight into the school and grab a quick feed. Amazing to watch.”

Read more»

Dateline California: Massive Hurricane Swell, Clueless News Man, Praise the Laird!


Late afternoon on August 26, the first waves from Category Five Hurricane Marie began sweeping into the beaches of Southern California. Surf meteorologists who predicted the biggest south swell in ten years, turned out to be spot on, as spots from Orange County to Malibu lit up with surf not seen since the last seriously El Niño-fired summer brought hurricanes Guillermo and Linda back in 1997.

A High Resolution “Rapid Scan” image of Hurricane Marie from NOAA’s GOES 14 satellite.

Image, NOAA

Read more»

Bodysurfing Underneath Banzai Pipeline, North Shore, Oahu


For many years now, the surfing community’s elite have spent their winters congregating on the North Shore of Oahu waiting for the massive winter swells that appear from the north. Much of the winter, however, the North Shore becomes a windy, stormy, tortured body of water not conducive in the slightest to wave riding.

Photographer Morgan Maassen and 5-time world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore decided one day to head out to Banzai Pipeline in some less-than-desirable conditions and shoot some underwater bodysurfing photographs.

Read more»

Life in Salt: An Interview with Author, Freediver and Saltwater Adventurer James Nestor

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 10.37.28 PM

James Nestor diving with the Moken in Thailand

“…the sea remains the final unseen, untouched, and undiscovered wilderness, the planet’s last great frontier. There are no mobile phones down there, no e-mails, no tweeting, no twerking, no car keys to lose, no terrorist threats, no birthdays to forget, no penalties for late credit card payments, and no dog shit to step in before a job interview. All the stress, noise, and distractions of life are left at the surface. The ocean is the last truly quiet place on Earth.”

-James Nestor, an excerpt from Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves


Read more»

Handplanes and Big Waves at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach


“…once I figured out how to use a handplane in big waves, it was all over for me.”

Author, public speaker and Scuttlefish contributor Mark Lukach is well known for his big-wave surfing within San Francisco’s Ocean Beach community, but the Delaware native has a newfound joy in something old: bodysurfing. He’s ditching his surfboard for a small plank of wood the size of his forearm.


“It felt like I was falling and flying at the same time. Wave was my wings. Best bodysurf wave of my life, no question about it.”

-Mark Lukach