Adventures by Wave Trek and HBSA Surfers
From the 1960s and 1970s
Reprinted excerpts from the original stories by Bruce "Snake" Gabrielson
Everyone remembers their most interesting surfing stories, many of which relate to trips to other areas. Gas was cheap in the 60s and 70s so the length of a trip was usually determined after figuring out how much money we had. These few stories, good and bad, were selected from the many in two pamphlets, "WaveTrekking" and "WaveTrekking II" written by Bruce Gabrielson for Wave Trek team riders and friends in 1971 and 1974. The stories feature some of the snakeís most interesting trips around California and Mexico. All names are included in the original text but some have been deleted here.
I case these stories seem "far fetched" to you, those named are for the most part widely known surfers still in the Huntington Beach area. They can likely add much more about the stories then included here.
If any of the old Wave Trek Team members or other friends would like some of the other stories added, please let the author know.
The Trestles Challenge - 1968
On this trip we decided to walk in and float down the river to surf Trestles. Four of us parked the car in San Clemente early one morning and started walking down the hill towards the river. We were wearing trunks, T-shirts, tennis shoes, and carrying boards. Our leggs got trashed from brush along the trail, but we made it to the river, and then carefully made our way to the beach. Things went well until the Marines showed up and quickly confiscated our shoes and shirts on the beach. With nowhere else to go, we paddled north (against a slight drift) with Marines following and pointing guns at us, and cursing all the way. We paddled way beyond Cottons Point with the Marines finally giving up before coming into the beach. Then it was another long walk back to the car.
When we got to the car, there were the marines waiting with the local sherrif. We got tickets for trespassing but at least we didn't have our boards taken. Our feet were trashed, we were sunburned, soar, and we still had to pay a fine.
Trip to Mexico, Christmas, 1968
This trip was a disaster. Four of us went down over Christmas break planning for a few days of what we thought would be perfect surf. Instead, the waves werenít breaking and two of us came down with Montezumaís Revenge from eating at Half Way House the first night. After laying flat on our backs and suffering for two days, we headed home, only to have the motor in the old station wagon blow about 6 pm near Cardiff Reef on Christmas Eve. Leaving boards with some locals, We had just enough money to buy bus tickets for that last bus north that night. This was the end for the wagon and the beginning of the van.
Trip to San Miguel, 1969
This was another one of our early trips to Mexico. On this one, we put a group together and headed down to San Miguel for the annual surf contest. However, we picked the wrong weekend and didn't find the contest. Instead we settled for surfing at Cannery. Early in the morning about an hour after we went out, a shark decided to make a pass just outside the surfline. We paddled in and then spent the next few hours watching this shark circle around while we missed some tremendous waves. Never got out all day plus we never saw a shark down that way before or since.
Trip to K-39, Mexico, 1969
Bruce and Carl Gabrielson, Raul Duarte, Bryan Taylor, and Banning Bayless were along. The trip was uneventful except for getting a traffic ticket on the way down and our food problem. Bruce was driving the Wave Trek van and got stopped just after driving over the train tracks into Cantamar. The Federalies said they were going to take us in if we didnít come up with the money for our fines on the spot. Funny that it worked out our fine was just about all the cash we had with us. Being almost broke, we surfed for the day then headed back through Tijuana later in the evening. We were starved so stopped in town to get something to eat. After walking along the street we came to a taco stand where the guy working was cooking some tremendous smelling steak for the tacos.
Raul was our interpreter, so ordered the tacos for us. Little did we know that Raul told the guy to make ours hot. Raul got his first and started to wolf it down as fast as he could in front of us for emphasis. I remember taking one bite and all of a sudden I couldnít breath. The pepper beads and chili peppers were so hot that we all dropped our food (except for Raul) and ran to the fruit stand next door. While we tried to stop the fire and breath again, Raul and the taco stand guy rolled on the street laughing. Our stomachs burned for at least an hour after.
Trip to Ensenada, Mexico, 1970
On this trip to Mexico Bruce and Carl Gabrielson, Bryan Taylor, Charley Ray and maybe two others headed south for another planned weekend of surfing and fun. We found some very large waves breaking on an outside reef just before making the turn into the Ensenada Bay. †† A magazine photographer came by and shot some good pictures from the cliffs. Later that night we went a little ďnutsĒ at Housongs and got kicked out.
The trip wouldnít be of much note except for another incident in Ensenada similar to the taco stand joke. We were starving again and a couple of us stopped in a restaurant to get hamburgers. The restaurant wasnít busy but it still took over 20 minutes to get served. In the meantime, we sat next to a guy who kept eating carrots and little red peppers out of a goldfish bowl on the counter. After watching this for awhile, and continuing to starve, Bruce decided to try one of the innocent looking carrots. About 15 seconds after the first bite the heat hit and that was the end of this meal. Someone else ate Bruce's hamburger while he drank water and tried to douse the flames.
Trip to Seaside Reef, 1970
This was a pain in the ass trip. Several members were along with boards piled high in back of the van. We ran over something in the road just after leaving the break that punched a hole in the gas tank. We tried taping it but the tape kept falling off and the gas kept leaking out about as fast as we drove from one off ramp to the next. Finally, someone (probably Bruceís brother Carl) had the bright idea to get a piece of garden hose and siphon gas from a bottle through the hose to the carburetor while we drove. The motor was inside the van in the front upright next to the driver. Surprisingly, even though it looked funny and we had a lot of wind blow up into the van from under while driving, it worked and we made it back after only two more stops. In looking back, we are all lucky to be alive.
The "Great One" - the 1970 HBSA Party
3-M Tent Disaster, 1971
A bunch of us headed to 3-Ms for the weekend. We decided to take a large crew in the WT van since we were also pulling Bruce's parent's wind-up camper tent. Boards were piled high on racks on top of the van and there was little room to sit inside. After a long cramped drive we finally arrived, pulled off all the boards and spent a couple of great hours in clean peeling waves. Finally, we all came in tired but happy and decided it was time to set up camp for the evening. That's when the "S hit the Fan." The handle on the windup tent broke off after the tent was just starting to unwind. There was no way to fix it and dark was fast approaching. After alot of squabbling, a few lucky ones got to sleep inside the van. The others spent a cold, damp night either sleeping under the van, under the camper, or out on the ground. Some unhappy campers the next day. Also, since the camper top was up slightly, we had to get some rope and tie it down before we could drive back.
Trip to Santa Barbara, 1971
For a summer job one year, John "Whitney" Guild came down from Hermosa to live at the Wave Trek shop in Huntington Beach and learn/make surfboards. Although part of the Hermosa crew, John was a student at UC Santa Barbara during the school year. The next fall, a few HBSA and Wave Trek members went up to the UCSB campus to visit John and surf the local breaks. John promised us it would be an experience we wouldn't forget and he wasnít exaggerating. We got there early Friday afternoon and managed to get in some good surf at the point before hanging around town and looking for parties. Two WT team members (no names here) met a couple of girls who invited them to a quieter party in the girlís dorms. Little did they know that there was a lockout in the dorms at 10 pm plus a room inspection. A few minutes after ten there was a knock on the door followed by an announcement to open up. Both immediately grabbed their cloths and jumped from the second floor windows into the rose bushes below. The next morning there were too many scrapes, cuts, and sore joints to surf. The waves were great but not everyone could take advantage of the very good session at the local beach break.
Trip to K-39, 1972
I can't tell everyone all that went on during this trip but some of it is included here. Several Wave Trek team members used to meet up at a friends vacation house in the community overlooking K-39 for weekend surf trips. One weekend, the van headed down full of members, but our friend didnít show. We pulled into his backyard under the patio cover and held a party in back all weekend. Someone finally opened the back door and we moved the party inside. In all there were about 7-8 surfers plus lady friends along, including Bruce Gabrielson and Jeff Smith, plus a couple of other friends we met along the way. We cleaned everything up before we left so you couldn't tell anyone had been there. A a couple of weeks later when we went down again, no one said anything and we acted like we hadnít been there in awhile. The friend who lived there never knew.
Trip to Santa Cruz, 1972
This was a fun weekend trip with several Wave Trek team members going up to Santa Cruz for a surf contest. The contest was sponsored by Lucky Draft, and if you were old enough (sure) you got to drink all the draft been you wanted. We were hosted by Pat OíNiel, who had a big party for us and a few of the other contestants at his parentís house on Saturday night. After partying all day, we were a little partied out, but some of the local ladies decided to have fun with us. They managed to talk one of us (no name here) into stripping down inside the van parked on Pat's front driveway for a little fun and frolic. Somehow our team memberís cloths got thrown out the window, followed shortly by the lady in question opening the side door for all who had assembled to see. It was an interesting party, especially for the locals.
Trip to Hollywood by the Sea, 1972
Just mentioning this trip will bring back memories to the 20 or so of us who went on this one. No one but Bruce seemed to have any money so he rented a motel room and then everyone snuck in. It was very crowded with boards, gear and bodies. I won't mention what happened but you can ask Charley Ray, Bruce James, Jeff Smith, Lonnie Buhn, or any of the others about it. Enough said.
Trip to 3-Mís, 1973
This was a combined HBSA, Wave Trek, and HBHS trip. Encinada Surf Club held an annual club contest at San Miguel each year. In those days ESC often won the contest, except for the few times when it was won by South Bay SC. The year HBSA won, the HBSA/ESC competition created so much friction, that a challenge match, one on one, was held at the 3-M break. A large number of Wave Trek Team members and HBSA club members, who were also members of Huntington Beach High School's first varsity surf team, went on this trip. Besides Bruce Gabrielson, some of those on the trip included Bobby Nishi and Mike Downey. This isn't all that happened, expecially the "makeup artist" that worked on Nishi, but you will need to ask him to find out more.
We easily won the competition but just after dark on Saturday night, some of "local" ESC campers at 3-Ms decided to shoot a rocket over our bonfire along the cliffs. Little did they know that during the day we all went into town and bought a large amount of fireworks for later that evening. We waited until everything had settled down around 9pm or so. Then we took our biggest rocket and aimed it across the 50+ yards towards the tent of those who took their shot at us. The rocket took off, hitting their tent flap dead center, and then started flopping around inside the tent. The campers had put up a big group tent and when the rocket blew we could see human shadows on the walls from where we were at outside. They all ran out screeming and cursing. We decided we might get into some serious trouble from the Federalies, so packed up immediately and headed down the road.
Horrible Trip to the Ranch, 1973
Someone told one of our WT team members about how great surf at the Holister Ranch had been during a recent trip and also how easy it had become for surfers to hike in. They also gave him great directions on where to park so our car wouldnít get hassled. We found the spot, hiked in with our boards for a good two hours, surfed a few fun but not so great waves, then hiked back out to find our car gone. It had been towed. We walked another half hour or so towards the ranch until a jeep drove up to run us off. It was then we got picked up by the sheriff who took us in to where our car was impounded. We didnít get the car back until about 11 pm that night after having another friend drive up to bring us money for the towing. We all got into trouble the next day for coming back broke, plus we were very tired. Good thing the guy who told us how easy it would be was along with us. He caught a lot of flack over that one.