The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: strange love craft

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.

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Wish You Were Here: Lounging Underwater in Your Private Room off Zanzibar


Photo from The Manta Resort.

My favorite place on earth, now has what hopefully one day, will be my favorite hotel room. Last year,  The Manta Resort added a submerged hotel room to its ‘property’. Located on the remote island of Pemba – an island part of the Zanzibar archipelago just off the coast of Tanzania, the floating structure is Swedish engineered and provides three levels, each an experience in itself.  This is privacy at its finest and from your own bed, you can watch the fish swim by and fall asleep to a real underwater dreamscape.

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Photo from The Manta Resort.

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Seeing Fatima’s Eyes – A New Thomas Campbell Book and Event in Laguna Beach, Friday, April 3.


If I was in Laguna Beach tonight, I would definitely stop into Thalia Street for this. — CD

Seeing Fatima’s Eyes is a new photographic essay by the self-taught painter, sculptor, photographer and filmmaker Thomas Campbell (born 1969), on surfing and life in Morocco. In the early 1990s, just prior to his immersion in the scene around New York’s Alleged Gallery, Campbell would regularly hole up in the North African enclave to produce paintings for solo exhibitions in Paris, New York and Rabat, all the while scouring the coast during the winter months for whatever waves might roll in from the Atlantic. Later, over the last ten years, Campbell brought various surfers of note (such as Dan Malloy, Alex Knost, Craig Anderson, Dave Rastovich and Ryan Burch) to join him there, and to savor Morocco’s glorious climate and stupendous surf. This book, the second in Campbell’s Slide surfing series (following 2012’s Slide Your Brains Out), records these collective Moroccan adventures from the past 20 years, in color and black-and-white images that range from the everyday to the sublime.


Order Seeing Fatima’s Eyes. 

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Strange Love Craft: GoPro Be Damned. Surf Legend George Greenough on the First POV Tube Ride Ever Filmed

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Apart from taking massive strides toward what is now the modern surfboard, we also have George Greenough to thank for filming — with a 17-pound camera on his back, keep in mind — the first first-person point of view barrel ride ever captured on film. Screenshot from George Greenough’s Deep Tube Riding/Patagonia

While in New South Wales and living out of the back of his sedan, Greenough was shooting for his late 1960s psychedelic masterpiece, The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun, and trying desperately to do something no one had ever done before: roll the camera inside a tube.

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Life in Salt: Dimitri Cherny. Thoughts from a Tiny Houseboat – Off the Grid and On the Water


Cherny’s tiny houseboat is 17 ft. long by 8 ft. wide and moored in the Ashley River in Charleston, SC.
Photo: Carolyn Sotka

The full moon lit the sky and the stars winked in unison. Reflections off the late summer waves provided the backdrop. It was a perfect night for a skinny dip. With not a soul in sight, Dimitri Cherny climbed to the roof of his tiny houseboat, stripped down and dove in.

Usually, one would have to pay millions for access to such a secluded waterfront. But Cherny didn’t pay much, in fact – close to nothing. With the tiny house craze spreading across the vast lands of the U.S., he has taken the idea to the coastal waterways of South Carolina.

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Strange Love Craft: Taylor’s Mistake Handski

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“Taylor’s Mistake Handski” was first designed by a few Kiwis in the 1970s on a beach called “Taylor’s Mistake” in Christchurch, New Zealand. Out of production for several years, a couple of Dutch guys have planned to reproduce the design with a few alterations including a more ecologically-friendly design and a recess for a gopro mount.

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Strange Love Craft: The Rabbit’s Foot


With the weight of a feather and the glide of a fish, Ryan Lovelace’s “Rabbit’s Foot” is not a bedroom apparatus but a finless surfboard that he constructed with Dan Malloy.

Careful, that back rail can leave a bruise (or take an eye).

ryanlovelace and surfwanderer

Strange Love Craft: Marion Hyper-Sub

Marion via Seawolf.