BioCape Point 2/75

47 years ago, I started my travels after finishing college with a BS in Biology and a teaching certificate.

I couldn’t wait since 2 years before I caught the travel bug and started to map out my journey.  Sure it matched the Endless Summer movie I’d seen 14 times---really and with 2 friends, 2 surfboards, a trusty super 8 movie camera and plenty of film, we flew out of Philadelphia on September 25th, 1974.  I still, to this day remember looking back at my dad and seeing his worried face as we walked through the gate to get on our flight---Pan Am to Paris.

So on the morning of September 26th, 3 tired travelers plus surfboards got off the plane in Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, quickly purchased tickets to Biarritz (our destination to surf in France), and happily rushed to catch the morning flight only to find out that the flight was out of Orly Airport (20 miles away) on the other side of Paris. Remember this was before INTERNET!  So with luggage and surfboards in hand, arm, neck, we road an airport bus across the city of lights morning rush hour to the other airport to find out the next flight was at 6 or 7pm…., they couldn’t check the bags and boards early so we had to sit in the airport with our luggage all day, jetlagged   (6 hour difference I think).

Eventually we flew into Biarritz, got a taxi (no surfboard racks so the boards hung out the trunk to our prearranged hotel on the beach—Le Flos Bleu.

My abundant grasp of the French language---fromage, 1,2,3,4,5, did not help us explain why we were standing at the desk of the hotel/restaurant, but I was able to secure our room once I saw the letter George Gerlach had sent for us hanging up over the office, then it was all hugs and kisses---phew. rtw35

The room was above the restaurant with a great view down to the ocean on the Côte des Basques that I ended up occupying for the next 6 weeks.



Being my first real surf trip out of the US, it was exciting to surf more powerful waves, experience a 20 foot tide difference, and walk around a foreign town exploring its shops. rtw2


Over the next weeks, more friends arrived from the US until the dinner table in our restaurant was sitting 8 Americans loving the French food and many smoking those nasty Gauloise cigarettes with me usually stuck in the inside corner of the table.  Dinner usually lasted at least three hours. rtw10

Fortunate for us, George showed up and we were able to meet his local buddies who lent us a Renault 5 with a tweety bird painted on the hood. rtw3We were now able to explore around the SW of the French coastline, rtw17surfing at the river on the border with Spain (Hendaye )and up to La Bar for a giant swell.  We used this vehicle well after most of the group had returned to the US until Jon Claude, the owner, needed a part for his car and just left the tweety bird car parked in a side street! rtw24One of his friends, Mike, (and ours now) “borrowed” a rental car from his work and drove three of us down to Spain. France had a postal (telephone) strike on so we wanted to mail stuff from Spain.  When we arrived in San Sebastian, it was noon and siesta started till 4pm so Mike drove into the mountains somewhere to a small village, found a restaurant who agreed to open and feed the 4 of us a 4 or 5 course meal, complete with wine for about $3 per person.  We eventually go back to San Sebastian to mail letters, buy trinkets for the 2 guys going home, and return back to our restaurant/hotel in Biarritz.  Our hostess thought we would be hungry so had prepared an off-menu lasagna for us and piled it up on the table to eat. Though we were full from lunch, we HAD to stuff ourselves some more.  [Timestamp]-Ali beat Foreman in the rumble in the jungle the night before…we celebrated with some $1 bottle of vintage Spanish wine we purchased in San Sebastian that afternoon. Michael also took us up into the mountains nearby (he called it Basque Country) to watch the sun go down and all the sheep and cows with bells around their necks waddle back to the farms.

One interesting thing that happened once the entire group of friends left for the states, I started to meet all the traveling surfers in the area.  It’s easier to meet people on your own sometimes than if you with a group.

I sold one of my boards to a New Zealand guy and met a bunch of Auzzies that had driven overland from SE Asia. They were flying back and gave me a contact number for when I passed through Australia.*

In my typical surfer mentality, I wasn’t very interested in seeing much of Europe in case the surf got good. But I did need to get a visa for Australia in Paris, and one of the guys, Jimmy, was going home so after a great send off, he got on the midnight train to Paris and Kevin and I joined him.  The train was crowded but we found an empty compartment and took it to sleep. At 3am, the conductors opened the door and checked our tickets and started screaming at us –apparently we were in 1st class, made us pay “French money” and left us alone the rest of the trip. We found the hotel George once again told us about, checked in and then explored Paris…..McDonalds, Eiffel tower,  Louvre (Mona Lisa) and a sidewalk café for pizza dinner and watched the cars try to  drive around the Arc de Triumph.

We jammed Jimmy and his surfboard in a cab to the airport early the next morning and set off to find the Australia embassy which issued me a visa with just enough time to grab the last train back to Biarritz. 

All too soon, the group got smaller as they headed back to the states leaving me as the last of the group alone, but with lots of new friends I’d met along the way.


Eventually it was time to say goodbye to my hostess/hotel keeper and pseudo mom for 6 weeks, Mame’ and I flew back to Paris to catch either a plane to South Africa or back to the USA.  As I sat in the airport listening to the flights being called, I hear the last one to the USA and realized there would be another chapter in this journey.

  I still remember the South African 707 left Paris at 5pm, with a stop in the Canary Islands and nonstop to Johannesburg. It was a long flight because in those days SAA couldn’t fly over the African countries and had to swing around the horn of Africa.



South Africa

In May 1974, I helped build a surfboard for Bill Lacovara to use in the Gunston 500 being held in East London South Africa.  When he returned he showed me the movies he took of Nahoon Reef (in East London) and Jefferys Bay.  When I told him I was going to go there, he gave me a piece of paper with the name of the hotel (Woodholme Hotel)  he stayed in and the manager.  That is what I traveled to South Africa with! rtw62


George had given us great information to live with before we started travelling.  Never get upset with delays or hassles while in airports….that got us through Paris on the way in….


On November 7 1974, I flew over Johannesburg but didn’t land because of a rain storm and ended up landing in Durban instead (along with all the other flights supposed to be landing in Johannesburg.)

In 1974 Durban airport was small.  Jets were parked, lined up along the runway.


The did let us get off and I guess I went through immigration there but suddenly I saw them close the door of my plane, asked the gate hostess what was happening. She said it was to keep the rain out, the plane taxied down the runway and took off with my luggage (surfboard) and not me---she apologized and a said she made a mistake.  Welcome to South Africa!  But with all the confusion, the connecting flight to East London had not left yet so I got on with my camera bag and carry bag of shoes (weight problem).

An hour later I got off in East London, asked about an airport bus into town…no, then asked the car rental girl if I could rent a car---too young—had to be 23. She asked where I was going and said she lived up the street from the Woodholme Hotel and would give me a ride in!  Ha! Welcome to South Africa.

But wait! I walked into the lobby and asked for the manager and was advised he had gone to an army camp for 3 weeks---I was ready to go back to the airport at this point until they learned I helped send Billy over for the contest then it was quite hectic as the porter left and came back with two guys who after I checked into my room with my camera bag and carry on bag of shoes,  took me to their room for a beer and then took me to someone’s house and within an hour I had a job building a bunch of surfboards for a guy who want to sell them over Christmas.

I got to surf Nahoon Reef the next morning on a borrowed board and used a surfleash like I’d never seen before---bungie cord tied to a black sock which I tied around my ankle—it worked!  rtw43My luggage and board were delivered to the hotel that afternoon so I had all my stuff! One of the guys I met the night before, Mike,(used his board) invited me down the coast for that weekend---sure—nothing on so we left for a drive to Grahmstown. Along a detour on the main road---the lights on his car and engine all quit and there we sat in the middle of nowhere about 9:30 on a Friday night.  Having never been there I had no clue what was outside the range of sight of the car. Lions? Who knew but after being passed by about 50 cars, a car stopped to tow us eventually cutting wire off the fence along the road to pull Mikes car.

rtw52rtw51pipThey took us to the next town, Peddie, Mike called his dad who drove from Grahamstown to get us….leaving the car and surfboards behind-never expected to see them again but the next day, there it was untouched! We had a picnic while the car charged up and finally drove back to Grahamstown.  Mike had promised me waves in Port Alfred (a 40 minute drive from Grahamstown) and when we arrived the next morning it was about 15 feet.  We surfed an inside break and then drove back to East London.

So, my life in East London got off to a great start and the friends I made through building the surfboards, picked me up every morning and took me somewhere to surf.  There were more waves than I ever expected, friendly people in the ocean, warm water (it was summer) and before I knew it, we went on a weekend trip to Jefferys Bay, about 250 miles down the coast because some of the guys had to get their Navy physicals in Port Elizabeth only 40 miles from JBay.

We arrived and checked in to a rondovel in town rtw59and since there were no waves, drove the 29 km road to Cape St Francis (home of the perfect wave in the Endless summer).

I was introduced to Seal Point and some fun little waves-I remember sitting in a rock pool water papering a board we built from the batch we made which had some ridges in the finish coat from the roof racks (we did glass it at 4am the morning we left….).tafri142

Of course, being with good South African boys about to go to the Navy, we spent some time in the Cape St Francis hotel pub where I was able to meet the owner who just happened to have his son’s VW van for sale.  We set a price and set up the purchase for the following weekend (these guys had to go back to work in East London!)

Once again, with cash in pocket (about $500) we set out for JBay on the next Friday afternoon, picked up the van and proceeded to use that as out accommodation for the weekend. Of course, the starter motor was shot, the mechanic from the hotel (that was supposed to fix it) only had time to remove it and tape a few wires together so we could push start it and thus ensured we always parked on a slope or hill.


But I had a car! Starter motor between the seats, yes, but there were plenty of hills where we were.

Over the next few weeks in East London, I tried to fix it/get it fixed,  replaced pieces at a time until the mechanic at the VW dealership got fed up with my questions, grabbed it and replaced what was broken, handed it back and said merry Christmas now go away!   I was able to put the starter back in, almost ran myself over when I connected the “live” wires and the van tried to start with me under it—hell I’m a surfer not a mechanic. But what a difference to park on flat ground!

By this time my friend Dave was back from the army camp and started taking me with to surf all around the East London Coast.

Being close to Christmas, we finished up the surfboards to be sold in an empty storefront downtown, and I was once again invited to Port Alfred by Mike to spend Christmas with his family.  But first, let me describe the place we build the boards.   We shaped and glassed the boards in a coffin factory—yes, coffins were built there from Mercedes Benz packing crates (parts imported from Germany at that time). A group of ladies pulled out the nails and the wood was milled and put together, stained and polished right next to our glassing rack—my spot. Oh yeah they made headstones next door and a cemetery was across the street.  It was a challenge to work into the night and I was the last one there one night and made it until I heard weird screams coming from across the street (in the cemetery---then I was gone!

So off to Port Alfred I went---I was told to follow the coastal road….it was tar but turned to dirt for part of the drive.   It was early Christmas eve and a very pleasant drive once the tar ended that cut through farms, had cattle gates with kids operating them (for a tip) and all was well until I headed downhill and noticed a one lane bridge at the bottom….just about standing on the brakes sliding down the dirt road.

This happened a few more times until I got to Fish River and noticed a new tar road –not opened yet-running parallel to the dirt. I found an entrance and drove the rest of the way on a brand new road. Years later, the many times I drove over this road indicated that it was not ideally built!

When I arrived the family celebrated Christmas and to this day I was shocked that there were presents for me! (classy people).  I attempted to call home for Christmas, went to a pay phone (call box) and had to book my call and could only call on the 27th of December. The excuse (real) was that the undersea cable had been broken and all calls were being routed overland through Africa to Europe and then England to North America.  

We had great waves and the evenings were spent in the Grand Hotel pub with many of the East London surfers who traveled there for Christmas playing darts and snooker.

I headed back to East London for the New Year and the first few days of 1975 I got to experience a really good swell that pushed through Nahoon Reef for 4 days.  In the process I also was exposed to something that had an effect on my future studies, my ability to get a job once I returned to the US and be able to teach in a college.

I caught “Reef Fever”, that in those days was something newcomers got when overexposed (like a 4 day swell) to the tiny flicks of toilet paper washing around the point (along with the rest of the stuff) from a sewage outfall on the other side of the point.  Ten years later I earned my Master’s degree studying the Effect of Sewage on Seaweed Distribution at the Bats Cave sewage outfall.  Oh yeah, each time after that I got sick from it, its effects were less and less until it was just a sore throat.

Toward mid-January, I gave a ride to someone starting the University of Cape Town so got to drive (sightsee/explore) down the coast to Cape Town. We met up with some folks that had driven down from Morocco and were heading towards Cape Town to finish the continental taf6drive. Because of them we ended up stopping all along the beaches and other spots I would have missed.

I ended up driving nonstop back to JBay and camped out in the dunes (before development) for about 2 weeks.  We found a source of fresh water and a restroom, visited fictional friends in the JBay




campground to grab hot showers (yea camping).


tafr35(J. Bay Point -imagine camping there in 2021)

tafr24cooking on a tire iron


I had to get back to East London to get ready to leave because I discovered my visa was expiring---when I signed for beers in the pub, they laughed at me because I wrote the date wrong  -Month/ day   instead of day /month---it suddenly hit me that my visa 7/2 was not July.

We sat around the fire at Yellows Sands one night and pondered why I had to leave…and came to a conclusion that I could get a job and work visa. I got a job as a life guard at the beach and a bartender at the local Holiday Inn and most importantly, a temporary work visa.  For the next few months, I saved folks during the day and got em drunk at night.

In preparation for my next jaunt down the coast, I enlisted help from the beach cleaners to water paper my van and prep it to paint. When it was sanded, we sprayed it in a friends driveway, a green color to blend into the bushes better for camping at J bay! tafr58

Before I left, I sent (with the help of the hotel secretary) letters to all the high schools in East London to see if they needed a Biology Teacher.  I’d made up my mind I wanted to stay there after I finished my journey around the world. Someone asked me a few years later if I had my choice of a place to live, where would it be, I said I did and I choose East London.

When I arrived home from the beach (lifeguard) one afternoon, the secretary said the principal of a school wanted to meet me, he arrived and there I sat, wind-blown hair, my shirt and clip-on tie for bartending that night.   We sat in the lobby and when the waiter came up he asked if I wanted something so I ordered a beer and he ordered a coke….strike one!

Anyway his biology teacher had resigned and he wanted me to start right away…I explained I didn’t have proper clothes and the tie I had was borrowed, so how about January—when their school year started.. He was happy with that…so it looked like I had a job—just had to finish traveling the rest of the world!


When I finished working, I gave a guy a ride to Cape Town to surf for his last few weeks until he reported to the Navy.  We surfed the normal spots down the coast but when we got to Cape Town, we decided to keep going.

Two of us drove up the west coast to explore Elands Bay, a left hand wave about 150 miles up the coast from Cape Town on the cold Atlantic side. (no, not Skeleton Bay---I don’t think that point wasn’t even formed in 1975)

We arrive about 2am and parked next to the beach to sleep. In the morning, the fog was so thick I couldn’t see the ocean from the water’s edge.  A fisherman told us it would clear by 10am.  At 9:45 the ocean suddenly appeared with great waves peeling along the point (in kelp). Surfing in kelp was new to me and it took a while to get use to things bumping your legs in the ocean. Especially with only two surfers in the ocean. After a while I got used to it and the second day, a kelp head popped up next to me and exhaled…a seal….

All was great until he straightened out and hit some kelp and snapped the tail of his board off, leaving me to have to surf alone.

I had a pint of resin and some cloth in the van for emergencies and was able to use my board building experience to stick the tail back on using sticks from the beach inserted in the foam to hold it straight.  The next day he was back in the water with it!

My van became infested with flies.  We were parked next to the beach in the campground and couldn’t figure out why there were so many flies…it was cold at night and in the morning we could squash them as they hung to the ceiling.  When I walked around the other side of the van I discovered the source…cow dung that we drove through on the way to Elands Bay.   With a bit of water and—no more flies.

            The manager of the campground gave us access to a trailer with hot water showers that belonged to the company building the railroad down the west coast.  Since there was a tunnel just south of Elands Bay, they had a trailer site for the workers there.  This helped since the water temperature was in the low 60’s if that.

Back in East London with school holidays coming up, my friend Phil, a teacher wanted to go up to the Wild Coast to one of the surf spot he had found while walking along the coast the previous Christmas break. tafr65

After shopping for a weeks’ worth of food, we left East London in Phil’s van and drove up the N2 to a turnoff about 60 km after Idutywa.  After we left the tar road, it was about a 35 mile drive along dirt then track to the coast.  tafr95Besides a great surf trip, this was a spot (not totally new) but no one surfed except on occasions they say.  While it didn’t make things great that it was during the sardine run, the waves were great.  We camped on a little point tafr68on the river and could either walk or paddle to the beach.  We got to surf most of the week though there was one onshore day when we decided to hike in the forest and almost got lost.  One of the houses on the point had a family staying in it and they took us along the coast in a beach buggy—in 1975, there was nothing along the coast. tafr67 They took us night fishing as well, handed us spears and a bag and we drove north on the beach to a river and walked back on the rocks supposedly catching fish in the rock pools. Let’s just say it was good exercise for us and not a great loss for seafood because during the spring tides while we were there, the local kids were selling us lobsters for four cents each.  Once the wild dogs broke into our cooler and ate all our frozen T-bones, this became a main meal, lobster and avocado with onion piled in the avocado skin! There is a clip of us surfing on my you tube page.

Today, this spot is known as a sharky place!




When I got back to East London, Dave’s dad had gotten sick and he needed to take him away for a bit so with a few trips to the produce auction and thank goodness for the staff that worked there for years, left me in charge of the hotel to do his work.  He specifically said after the morning stuff, I was to use the hotel van to go surfing but be back for lunch.

I had a plane ticket from Johannesburg to Sydney for the next leg but learned that as long as I was going east, I could use the ticket to stop along the way.

One weekday morning (everyone was working) I sat in some of the largest waves I’d ever surfed at reef with a newspaper writer named Roger who started telling me about waves in Mauritius---which had been featured in the movie the Forgotten island of Santosha---but I never knew where it was. So I added Mauritius to my itinerary, got a few shots—cholera and yellow fever---there had been a cyclone there a few months before, got a visa and with tears in my eyes, left my friends at the airport and flew to Johannesburg  then to Mauritius.

I sold my van before I left for R650-R200 more than I paid for it.  I saw the van probably 10 years later being used as the milk truck in Kidds Beach!



When I landed I was older so could rent a car, tied my board on the roof and drive out to Tamarin Bay on the west coast of the island.  I booked into the Tamarin Bay hotel ($12/night), right on the beach of the surf spot. tmaa11 Rogers  advice was that the waves were great but not very consistent and I’d be lucky to catch one swell.   I was lucky enough to get two in the 10 days I was there.

There was a mountain overlooking Tamarin Bay and one surf less day a few of us decided that since there was a mountain, we had to climb it. The best part was the photos from the top overlooking the coast. maumt







The only negative part was at the airport leaving heading to Australia when an airline employee wanted to charge me extra baggage charges (though they didn’t do it from Johannesburg) so I argued a bit, told him I hope they took credit cards…he said “you mean you have no cash?”

I did eventually report him to Quantas in Sydney because of a ding they put in my board and claimed for the repairs.



After an unexpected 10 days surfing on an Indian Ocean island, I set my next stop as Perth, then Melbourne then Sydney.  Might as well use the airlines to travel across the continent.  Because of Cyclone Tracy that slammed into Darwin a few months before, the jump from Darwin to Indonesia was not going to happen this year.


I arrived about 3 am at the airport and was singled out and made to sit on the blue chairs because my yellow vaccination card (yes we had to travel with them) had the smallpox vaccine written in the wrong place.  The medical officer must have decided I didn’t have smallpox, asked if I was going to New Zealand and fixed the card for me. As I walked to customs, I asked where do I go and they pointed out the door—to the ocean. The only taxi in the airport took me to the Cottesloe hotel on the beach about 15 miles, where I slept off the jet lag and went downstairs for steak and eggs for breakfast---welcome to Auzzie!

What a great transport system Perth had..walked out, took a bus to downtown, went to the American Express office to collect mail (a box of film) , to the Pan Am office to see about extending my expiring ticket and somewhere rented a car---can’t remember where but rented a 4 door Holden. I checked out of the hotel the next day and drove down to Margaret River (about 150 miles). I checked into the campground-the only one there- built a fire using my best African (Wild Coast) taught camping skills, threw a few potatoes on the fire and started cooking some rice pudding I’d learnt to make on our last camping trip in South Africa.  Everything looked great until a downpour doused my fire and I ended up driving up to a store and having chips and ice cream for my organic dinner.  My accommodation was the back seat of the car and I slept well until early in the morning I looked out the window and kangaroos were munching on my almost baked potatoes.

However, I went to the parking lot at the surf break and a beautiful empty at least 6 foot swell was pouring in, and two of us had it alone for about 3 hours until the crowds showed up---apparently that was the day they had to go collect their dole (unemployment checks) in person.

I drove down the coast exploring the different spots and even toured a cave-Lake Cave. After a few days I drove back to the airport and flew off to Melbourne where this time I rented a station wagon to sleep in.



 I drove down to Bells beach surfing reserve, tauz5parked and climbed in my surfboard bag to stay warm. In the early morning I started the car to put the heater on and heard them say on the radio   its 4 degrees (C) {39F} in Melbourne going up to a big 9 today. But having a good wetsuit, I was out in the surf surfing one of my dream spots, the break I had my board built for using a keel fin (ok too many surf movies) but it was great.  It worked just like I wanted it to.

When I came in there were some locals doing donuts in the mud of the parking lot. We chatted and when they found out I was going to sleep in the car again, one of them invite me to his house—his girlfriend had gone to her family for the week, so no more board bag sleeping bag!  Evenings were spent in the Torquay pub and I met quite a few locals—once again a plus to travelling alone. bells2

We surfed a few spots north of Bells, and I drove down to the site on the south coast where they had a world contest (Johanna). It was a beautiful drive and I’m glad I got to see it.

With a wet wetsuit wrapped around my board in the board bag, I flew up to Sydney.


Directions from two Auzzies in Mauritius---take the airport bus to the key (quay), take the ferry to Manley, walk down the street to the ocean and check in to the Manley hotel on your left.  The first part was easy….the walk down the main street with a duffel bag, surfboard wrapped in a wet wetsuit, long!   I checked in, had steak and eggs again for breakfast and went for a surf.

This was my first time touching the Pacific Ocean, the waves were great and I have no idea how I got so many waves with the crowd. tauzz26

I went through my ritual of the American express office for mail, Pan Am office for my ticket (still too early) and Qantas to report that jerk and get them to pay for the repairs---they said submit receipts, they paid…I fixed---high labor, so got my excess baggage charge back.

I had a phone number of the Australian guy* from France who told me to call him when I got to Sydney.   I did—he gave me directions how to get the train (Newcastle flyer) to Newcastle and said he would see me at the train station.   His friends from France and others were there and I was invited to stay at his house.   His parents were great but as with most travelling surfers assumed I was a bum until I mentioned that I got my BSc before I travelled and that blew their minds.

They introduced me to their friends a John Wayne’s nephew.

We surfed breaks that were working south of Newcastle.

 One of the guys decided that it was vacation time and took two weeks off and we drove from Newcastle all the way to Noosa Heads (at least 600 miles) stopping in all the surf spots I knew from the surf magazines and one other that I’d never heard of…Greenmount Point---tauzz19the middle break at Snapper in Coolangatta on the Gold Coast.   I still remember saying—where are we???

We camped wherever we could hide a tent and the VW Beetle or in tauzz15  auzziemecampgrounds. Locations like Angourie Point, Byron Bay, Noosa Heads, which I knew about-surf movies and magazines from the 60’s and early 70’s- and a number of spots I either didn’t know about beforehand or just cool little uncrowded beach breaks where we may have camped in the bushes!

We spent a few hours with the Cape Byron Lighthouse keeper who besides a history lesson, taught me a lot about predicting the weather. tauzz28

We drove through Brisbane up to Noosa Heads and stayed in a campground that was right on the beach at the end of the point.  It looks (goggle earth) like that campground gave way typical beach front stuff. It was very enjoyable to surf a point break wave over sand—like Byron Bay and for someone from the New Jersey, most relaxing! It was also my first view of shark nets as the dolphins swam along jumping over and back.  At the campground we cooked dinner over a gas stove in front of our tent and a group noosanext to us migrated over to share it (eggplant parmigiana) and invited us to their house to make it again when we came back through Coolangatta.

So that was my trip up the east coast of Australia. It was unplanned and very much a drive and surf vacation.   I’d almost booked a week on Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef to scuba dive and that was the only plan until the guys I met in France came through.  My only regret is when I’m teaching about coral reefs in Marine Biology, I wonder if I should have gone to Heron Island…but then I think about the surf and decide---naah!

So even there is a lot of Auzzie that I didn’t see and as I mentioned flights from Sydney to Darwin were not working   (for the quick jump to Bali), it was time to continue my travels and I flew across to New Zealand.

One of my plans was to scope out Australia as a place to teach and surf and had I not gone to South Africa, my 6 weeks there would have been enough to make up my mind but compared to South Africa, I found Australia to be very crowded with surfers and to be similar to the USA in life style…not that it’s a bad thing but I could stay in New Jersey for that.


New Zealand

When I landed in Auckland, I was advised to take the airport bus to the quay and walk up Queen Street to a hotel they told me about.  At least this time my wetsuit was dry for the uphill walk. I found the hotel, checked in had dinner and passed out.  Of course I repeated my new city ritual of going to the American Express office to check for mail and now to the post office as well where I picked up a big box of super 8mm film.  This time the Pan An office had to help me because my ticket was going to expire (it was good for 1 year) before I left the country.  They started to recalculate the new ticket and price and found that I would not have to pay in but would get money back due to 1) fare changes and 2) a devaluation of the NZ dollar that had not been adjusted yet for the new price-I got money back (I wish I could remember how much). So I left the office with a new ticket from Auckland to Honolulu to Philadelphia and the knowledge that I would no longer have to visit the Pan Am offices around the world.

New Zealand was the best time difference from the New Jersey and I called home one night only to wake everyone up early that morning their time!  With Whats-App these days it’s no big deal but this was 1975.

I was able to rent a car-mini, strap my board on the roof and left to travel around the country.

I only got in the water to surf once at a river mouth break, Kaikoura, tnzea72on the east coast of the south Island—the furthest south (42 degrees) I was ever in the ocean. I camped at Ragland (the one spot I knew of) but there was no one around and the waves were big.

The drive around the south island was just beautiful—someone asked me to describe New Zealand and I said “green”.  The drive along the Buller River tnz3to the west coast and then down the coast , past a few glaciers—drove to Fox glacier—tnzea92was breathtaking and I wasn’t really worried about surfing.  Queenstown was nice tnzea86and then the drive north past Mt Cook was great since I’d heard about skiing down the mountain—getting dropped by chopper and a 12 mile run, a few years ago. I went into another cave with glow worms and you rode around in a boat.  Rotorua tnze10and the hot springs was a great experience and the drive out the Northern Cape, Cape Reinga along the beach was really fun (until I hit the streams that had a cut in the sand).

While I traveled and camped or just relaxed waiting for surf, I was able to read many books.  There seemed to be a revolving library among travelers to trade books.  I did read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy during my journey and I was reading one of the books as I travelled around New Zealand never realizing that they would end up filming the movie there.

On October 14th, I flew out of Auckland at 7:30pm towards Hawaii.

The reason I mention the time is for 45 years I used this example when teaching about time zones.   I left on Oct. 14 at 7:30 pm and arrived in Honolulu at 4:30 am on October 14th! Twilight zone stuff!



In the Endless Summer, Hawaii was their last and most important stop of their journey and for me, it would be my best bet to film great waves and great surfing, not to mention to surf all those spots I’d seen photos, movies etc.

I was back in the USA after more than a year out of the country and eleven months in the Southern Hemisphere and driving on the wrong side of the road!  The customs agent stared at me for a bit (I felt like saying the New Zealand was probably the cleanest country I’d been to as far as what he was searching for but kept my mouth shut) I did ask if he was going to welcome me back to the USA since I’d been gone so long, he looked at my passport and smiled and said “welcome home!”.

I had a friend living somewhere on the north shore though I’m not sure now how I knew where to find him but I did. He had no room for me but told the taxi driver to take me down the road near Sunset Beach to a group of houses where surfers stayed.   I moved in and found a couch and a guy’s room to lock my stuff away and went surfing!

This was the moment of truth…Hawaii waves, Sunset Beach, and would my board work?  The surf was about four feet and I had a blast after I ate my first wave.  The board worked well and after about 3 hours, I went back to the houses to rest.  This was the routine until the first winter swell arrived.  I took off and ate it on the first 3 waves—way more powerful than my week of warm up. I remember going to the beach, taking off the leash and burying in under my sandals. It was a bad session until  I went in and one of the surfers leaving had an 8’6” red gun he want to sell for $80 so with the new board I went back out and I guess a Hawaii board was better for those waves than an east coast board.

It wasn’t that crowded yet and I was able to learn a lot about Sunset waves with the sneaky west set catching us all inside and what to look for.

I was able to move into a house with a mattress on the floor at Velzyland with a path behind it to the beach with a guy named Pineapple.  It was 58-269 Kamehameha Highway—I can write this now since those houses are not there anymore.

Our neighbors invited us for Thanksgiving dinner and with the amount of food we could afford there, it sure sounded great.  That day was one of the funnest (is that a word) days of surfing I ever had. We kept bugging the girls about “what time do we eat” so the one grabbed the keys to her boyfriend’s car, we all piled in and she dropped us near Ke Iki next to Pipeline.  No shoes, towels, shirts, we surfed along the coast until we got back to Velzyland where we lived. We hit all the spots in between, grabbed a few waves and paddled over to the next spot. In all it was 2.6 miles so when we got back the dinner was ready and we ate until we couldn’t walk!

Meanwhile, the fall/winter contest season had started and I was able to watch and film a contest at Sunset Beach with all the top surfers from the world, the pipeline masters which Shaun Thomson won surfing backhand  and the Duke Contest (Now the Eddie) at Waimea Bay on December 18th. Those last two were great, had ABC filming for Wide World of Sports and I was able to get my movies developed quickly and we had a showing in our living room for a few of the guys (the winner!) that were in the contest (Before video). Oh yeah, those two contests are posted on my YouTube site.

I was getting ready to fly home when the news of that big swell circulated along the north shore. I changed my airline flight.  A few days before the contest the surf went flat---I went snorkeling near Velzyland.  That night, the sound of the swell started until in the morning it was booming so it was a lucky call to change my flight.

I did get to surf Waimea that morning of, and late afternoon after, the Duke contest.  I had a 9’2” gun that someone was storing in our living room (said I could use it) and remember standing on the sand debating on going out and someone said “if you’re not going can I use your board?” and with that out I went.  Paddling out a big set came through and started feathering, ready to break across the bay. I got over it and made it out to the lineup.  I sat out and to the right of the impact zone to mainly preserve my life. Every time a set came through I paddled towards the next island and everyone paddled toward the lineup.  One set emerged and I saw everyone paddling towards me.  As I paddled for my life up the face of this mountain, Randy Rarrick (who I’d met in East London) was paddling next to me and I told him that these sizes didn’t calculate for me—he said that set was about 25 feet.  Maybe not such a big thing today but it was then. I grabbed a small 15 foot inside wave and got out to rush to the house to grab my camera gear and get back to film the finals of the Duke contest. After the contest I took my gear home, grabbed the board and stupidly went back out until dark trying to catch a wave to come in on. After getting caught inside by a big set, all alone, in the dark,  I grabbed a small wave got to the shore break and rode the back of the wave washing up the beach up and over the berm and into the bushes.  My new flip-flops were missing so I ended up walking back 3 miles along Kamehameha Highway with a 9’ board in the dark barefoot.

A few days after the contest I was able to get a flight from Honolulu to Chicago and Chicago to Newark instead of Philadelphia so my parents had to drive up to get me right before Christmas.  As I walked to the car it was snowing and my tan fell off!


So there it was 15 months around the world. Not sure what it would cost today, though the tickets range from $2000 (what I paid) and up.  Accommodation, food etc would be way over the budget I was on.  I spent 55 hours in airplanes—today that might be the time spent in security lines. Travelled 30,000 miles by air and eventually put a movie together, never to be seen by the public, except when I posted a crummy copy (videoed off the super 8 movie being shown on a wall in my house then converted to DVD 20 years later and finally .mp4) on YouTube.

That’s the story of my trip around the world surfing.


Post: I spent the next 45 years teaching, some in South Africa and the rest in Florida, have a family and retired.  I wanted to put this on paper/digital before I forgot too much, at least the order—I first left out the wild coast section because I somehow thought it was the next year when I went back to live, but when I checked the photos I fixed it.


Hawaii Photos below..