Surfing has a way of consuming our lives. But while it consumes us, it can also
show us a lot of new things we would never have thought to look at before.
For Tom Kendrick, the quest for waves led him to a career as an urchin diver,
and now, as an author.
Tom is the author of Blue Water Gold Rush.
An excellent book describing his life as an
urchin diver from 1978 to 1996. His initial
motivation was to get out to the Channel
Islands to surf, but urchins led him North to
the Farallon Islands to make a living.
This book is an adventure you should take,
and now there’s talk of a movie deal!
What makes the book even cooler is Tom’s a Goleta boy, he even mentions
Haskells in it. He moved here from Hawaii in his junior year at San Marcos.
Tom remembers lugging his Weber Performer up to Poles from Goleta Beach,
then when the shortboard revolution hit, he took a saw to it.
Here’s Tom dropping into a La Conchita beauty in 1977. This was back when
you’d just walk out on the pier, toss your board and jump in!
This is an illustration from his book by Tom Rissacher.
These were the days the urchin divers dreamed of. South swells
unnoticed in Goleta, but pounding the Channel Islands.
Tom describes the early urchin divers as cowboys in the wild west. Not a
lot of rules, but plenty of egos and greed. Makes for a great story.
Here’s Chris Vanderee hanging five mid channel circa 1978.
This would be Mr. Tim Johnson, taking a little ride on a bull elephant seal. Notice
the focus on not spilling the Budweiser. Tim holds the one day urchin picking
record; 9,000 pounds at Gull Rock. Needless to say, he was a bit of a wild man.
This photo was on San Miguel island around 1980.
A key character in Tom’s book is Jim “Weener” Robinson. Here he is
with a healthy load of urchins at San Miguel island, 1993.
This is Tom jumping off the front side of Santa Cruz island in 1984.
He survived, but he bruised a kidney and pissed blood for a week.
OK, that’s a fat frickin’ white shark.
The guy with it is Andy Smith, aka Chongo, a good friend of Tom’s.
He died just a couple of years ago in a diving accident.
Here’s the author with the boys from The Surfers Journal.
Steve Pezman, Scott Hulet and Jeff Divine.
Tom, on the right, with Don Radon, son of boat building pioneer
Don’s still cranking out about ten Radons a year. From the
boatyard in Goleta, to harbors all around the world.
Another illustration from the book by Tom Rissacher.
This shows how the Radons would get up on a plane with a deep-vee
shaped hull and lifting chines, helping it cut smoothly through the
rough seas of the channel.
Notice the “flotation device” on top of the cabin.
Tom’s passion for surfing lives on, despite his busy speaking schedule,
and his love for Goleta is still obvious. Especially when he reminisces
about camping in the bushes at S-tubes with a gallon of Red Mountain
and surfing morning perfection at Picnic Tables.
Check out Tom’s website at www.bluewatergoldrush.com.
You can see where he’s speaking next and buy a copy of his book.
Thanks for sharing Tom, and good luck with the movie.