The Alaia Project, entry two

Engrain Surfboards

Engrain Surfboards Alaia. Check 'em out at

Entry Two from Dan’s journal in his process to build an authentic, fully sustainable Alaia surfboard.

After some inspiration of the wave sliding kind, I decided to put in some real study time. I researched every article I could find on Alaia construction and while I found some awesome information, nearly ever article involved the use of environmentally harmful chemicals (spar urethane, fiberglass resin, epoxy, etc.). Since my goal is to build this board using nothing but what Mother Nature has provided, I was forced to look elsewhere.

My friend and chief editor of this blog forwarded me a link to Engrain Surfboards ( and after perusing their site a bit I found out that not only are they building the kind of board I want to construct, they are doing it in the same manner I am striving for.

Engrain uses Raw or boiled linseed oil (If you are one of Oprah’s army, you may have heard Dr. Oz refer to this as “Flax Seed oil”… they are one in the same). They use Paulownia wood for the actual board which is a fast growing wood which makes it very sustainable with little impact to the state of the forest not to mention they mill the wood right there at their site in southern NC. Engrain uses mostly hand tools during the shaping process which lessens the negative impact their production makes on the environment. I exchanged emails with Scott (one of the owners) and he gave me some great ideas for my board. He even linked me to a Paulownia distributor on the east coast which is a nice Ace to keep in my pocket but my goal is to build this board using reclaimed wood.

So since I aim to use reclaimed wood, I started scouring the roadsides for discarded wood that might be suitable … fence panels? Nah, too thin and weak. Leftover 2”x4” scraps? Nope, not long enough or wide enough.  Palm logs? Too porous. So I swallowed my pride and went to Lowes to look at planks of Pine and Cedar. I found some suitable pieces but I still think I can find the right wood without resorting to the Corporate Machine. So I contacted my friend who runs a tree trimming business and asked if he has any nice pine logs I can have. He said no but he gets them all the time so I am in wait for some choice pine logs.  Then to mill them into a suitable length and width.

Half Moon Bay fully crushes surfer

There’s a reason Half Moon Bay wasn’t surfed for so many years until Jeff Clark. It’s cold, littered with boulders the size of 747s and at times can be one of the largest waves firing on the planet.

I’m willing to bet these guys were fully prepared for the conditions showcased in the video. And the “rogue wave” comment by the CNN news bunny is just plain nonsense. Sure sounds big and scary, though huh? I just hope the guy who got dumped is alright. He was lucky.

Video: Gondolas? Yes. Domed chair lifts? Not so much


In a recent run to Park City, the wife and I just had to try The Canyons Resort’s “Orange Bubble Express,” a heated, aptly-named domed chair lift that is considered one of the highlights of a massive investment made in the facility during the off-season.

We had what could be considered a perfect day for such a mode of mountain ascent but I still couldn’t help but feel a tad uncomfortable about being enclosed within a space as small as a chair lift.

I have no fear of heights. And I love the exposure to the elements that a chair lift affords. You can scope runs, spot signs of wildlife and just take in the views. The Orange Bubble Express, for me, takes all of that away. Sure, I could have simply lifted the lid but then, its purpose of design is rendered meaningless.

I admit the heated seats were a nice touch, especially given the frozen swamp that hung in the sky that day. However, I think there’s a reason we don’t see more enclosed chair lifts.

The Canyons remains my favorite of the Park City resorts. It’s size allows you to escape even holiday weekend crowds and the terrain provides extensive variety.