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What is a Paddleout?

August 6, 2016 , , , , ,

Surf culture is unique and specific to the location.  Surfers know each other by hanging out on the same breaks.  Today I saw a circle of boards out beyond the break.  My friend told me this was a paddleout, a surfer funeral.  As we walked down the beach we saw many others people in attendance for the service.  There was health food catering, Hawaiian music, flowers, leis, and a special place of honor for the deceased guy’s grandmother.  I had never seen anything like this.  The people gathered with a reverence for nature as well as for their dead friend.  The ceremony involved gathering on the boards, perhaps setting a lei or some flowers out to sea.  They may have dropped his ashes.  Then the surfers spread out to catch waves in to the shore to join those on the beach.  It was beautiful.  This was a fitting tribute by his surfer friends, and a perfect way to honor his life.

Surfers are focused. They just don’t mind the hassles or the schlepping it takes to catch a wave. Some devote their lifestyle completely to the sport. Most need to make some money on the side so they can afford to surf the rest of the time. There is a strong sense of community that keeps them all afloat. I feel lucky to have witnessed this sweet and meaningful goodbye. It contrasts sharply with the typical funeral home event. I am considering learning to surf just so I can have one of these when I go.  This sublime symbolic gesture says more to me than any religious ceremony could offer.

Cardiff Beach

Cardiff Beach

surfer memorial

surfer memorial



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Love you

Liked by 1 person


August 10, 2016

I remember seeing this post on FB. It’s typical for a strong local surf culture to do that. It’s also very sad but very much about giving back to the ocean. Particularly South of the OC, this is a very tightly knit community and surf culture is woven into that fabric. I do love your photos. It’s says everything.


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

August 12, 2016

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