You Are Here: Dave Rastovich

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / July 25, 2011

You Are Here, Nathan Myers

There was a Rule in this month’s issue of SURFING: “No one who trashes Rasta has actually met him.”

I didn’t write it, but I was glad to see it. I’d been kinda holding back on posting this interview, worried about the mean commenters taking their daily pot-shots at one of the most sincere, real people I’ve ever come across. I couldn’t bear it.

I understand, of course, why some people might have their doubts. Rasta used to be married to a mermaid. His signature boardshorts are made out of recycled plastics. He’s — get your finger-quotes ready — “saving the whales.” Yeah, on paper, it can all sound a bit corny. A bit eco-tentious, perhaps.

But Rasta doesn’t spend much time on paper. He’s out there actually doing this stuff.

A proper cynic in my own right, I’ve had the pleasure of having Rasta debunk my own doubts over the course of several trips together. In Chile, I watched him lead a crew of 30 surfers, artists, activists and media-ists in a month-long awareness campaign to serve as part of his upcoming movie. In India, I witnessed one of the purest, most expressive solo sessions of my life on a new wave for Taylor Steele’s Castles in the Sky. And in the Mentawais, I saw him hand-shape a driftwood alaia, then do tow-ats on it with Taj, Parko and Andy.

Whatever’s he doing, Rasta is for real.

But, damn, it seems like forever they’ve been making this movie. The protests in Japan. The campaigns in Chile. Adventures with the Sea Shepherd crew. A sailing trip down the coast of Australia. Minds in the Water has been in the works for what seems like my entire life…but is it ever going to actually come out?

When I heard they’d recently shown a test screening in Byron Bay, I gave Dave a call. I caught him eating nuts and berries outside his teepee on the Gold Coast…chatting on Skype.

Rasta in India, with an audience of goats.


SURFING: You and the S4C crew sailed little one-man outriggers down the coast of Australia last year, right?

RASTA: Yeah, we were following the migration of the blue whales, so we were sailing along with whales the entire journey. The project was called Transparent Sea. We’re about to do another down the coast of California this October, following the migration of the gray whales.

So, is that part of Minds in the Water?

Well, there was a separate documentary made about the Australia trip, but we also use it as a narration device to tell the full story for Minds in the Water. Thirty-six days at sea gave us some good time to think over all that has happened in the last few years. But during this California trip, we’ll be showing the movie at a couple of stops.

Why California?

This trip is partly about educating ourselves. I don’t know Californian coastline and issues in a deep way, but I do know that you’ve got an amazing stretch of coastline and incredible amounts of sea-life exposed to danger from human issues. So we’re going down the coast in our kayaks from Santa Barbara to San Diego to physically experience part of the migration that the California gray whale tracks down the coastline. We’ll also smell the water coming out of LA Harbor, see the debris floating on the surface and freak out on the traffic and the amount of human activity there. We realize there are probably other places with more pressing issues, but California is kind of a surfing world nerve center, so part of this mission is about making connections in that part of the world rather than doing something that might perhaps feel really remote and obscure to people.

What goes on when you’re not out on the water?

Wherever we come into the beach we’ll be volunteering with NGO groups who have some planned actions, whether it’s a beach clean-up, water testing of an estuary system or an educational school trip or whatever. We’ll be showing Minds in the Water and I’ll be doing some spoken word stuff with our Band of Frequencies. Basically, just having a banging night where we’ll pull all these things together that we’re interested in and give people the opportunity to learn, have some fun, have some good music, see some great art from their local area, and just have a great experience associated with environmental activism. To see that it’s not all boring stuff that is dirty work, but that it can be a fun collective, social experience.

So are people welcome to join the journey in the water?

Absolutely. It’s totally inclusive. There’s no exclusivity about this. You go to a World Tour event they’re all about exclusivity and fencing off the supposedly better people from the average surfer, putting them in these special boxes with security guards, and they might come out and do a little signing or moment of connection with other people, and the whole energy of that to me isn’t very cool because it’s one of exclusivity. But with these trips one of the core values is that it’s inclusive so when we’re out at sea or on the beach, we’re wanting people to come and join in with the activity. If we’re having a jam then bring your instrument, if we’re painting a mural then get your hands dirty, if we’re signing petitions or going for a protest…it’s all about inclusive action and empowering individuals so it’s like, “Wow, I’m welcome in this circle. Awesome.”

What if it got out of hand and too many people showed up?

We would actually love that. It would be great if it turned into like a Dead Head vibe with people ditching their jobs to go have an adventure down the coast with us for a couple weeks. To me that would be an amazing success of passing on that spark and enthusiasm.



You hear that everyone? You’re all invited to quit your job and follow the whale migrations with Rasta and the S4C crew. No, it’s not quite your Friday night film premiere, but I did it with them in Chile and it turned into one of the grandest experiences of my life. The inclusive vibe was totally in effect. Out of hand at times. And the best part of it all.

Start building your boat and learning to speak in whale calls.

Just one rule: leave your doubts behind.

[Stay tuned for the October Transparent Sea trip and Minds in the Water tour at In fact, just start building your boat now.] —Nathan Myers

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  • Jensen

    Rasta is a legend. Met him once in the Mentawais and he was so down to earth and cool. Nice article. I’d paddle the coast with him if I was in Cali. Sounds fun.

  • DaveO

    Forget the haters, myers. Keep ’em coming. Much respect for Rasta.

  • HATE=ing


    A) jimmicane started the wave of hate with THATS BULLSHIT/I HATE POACHERS


    so get real the hate is great for your webpage veiws.

    PS ( surfers are the more selfconsicous than a female ballarina)

  • nick

    was wondering how one would go about getting on board with all this. any info would be rad. thanks.

  • JonO

    Keep up the good fight Dave.

  • Kevin

    mucho respect!!!! keep it up more of us need to step up like dave!!!! kev- washington state

  • Jeff Knox

    The TransparentSea Voyage was such a great concept: “an awareness campaign aimed at highlighting coastal environmental issues, with particular attention given to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and the waters they inhabit.” ( It has also been a tremendous disappointment. Its organizers and participants squandered a wonderful opportunity to shed light on major problems facing cetaceans and humans along the Southern California coast. Instead of doing so, the voyage went from groomed beach to groomed beach (El Capitan State Park to Mission Beach in San Diego) and party to party at exclusive, elite, and affluent venues (Malibu Inn, Mission Bay Yacht Club), and promoted clean ups at relatively clean beaches. The TransparentSea Voyage appears to have been a project to raise funds, not awareness. Awareness would have meant exposing what is, perhaps, North America’s worst ongoing ecological disaster. Instead of picking up a few cigarette butts and Starbuck’s cups at the Malibu pier and at Mission Beach, the crew could have helped collect TONS of debris and plastic just before winter rains wash them into our beautiful ocean. ( Instead of “peddling” through the relatively pristine waters off the Palos Verde Peninsula, they could have sailed in front of a California river mouth were, during the rainy season, hundreds of millions of gallons of water contaminated with human waste and industrial pollutants flow onto our ocean EVERY DAY, sometimes for months on end, washing those tons of plastics and debris out to sea. ( – check it out after a rain event) Instead of observing dolphins and blue whales living in clear and fairly healthy water near San Pedro, they could have seen a large pod of resident dolphins surfing and eating in the perfect, empty waves of a classic surf spot – empty because the often putrid and chocolate brown water. They could have seen whales swim through this same fetid plume, which extends miles out to sea when the river flows. This unbelievably gross water has driven the local surfers from the lineup of a classic reef break, a reef that is also a proposed MPA! ( ( Unfortunately, dolphins and grey whales can’t avoid the pollution like surfers do. This area is, basically, the Taiji Cove of the Californias. Dolphins certainly don’t suffer the quick, bloody death here that they do in Japan. They merely pass their winter months in an ocean filled with plastic waste, sewage, chemicals, and disease. Grey whales navigate these same poisoned waters twice a year on their annual migration. Who knows what effect it may have on them? The TransparentSea Voyage was informed about the problems this area poses to the ocean, humans, and cetaceans. It was asked to go there for a look, a couple of hours tops, on a tour that would have made their jaws drop. They didn’t come, apparently being too busy at glitzy venues, raising funds, and hobnobbing with the “elite”. This “cove” is the Tijuana River Valley, the Tijuana River, and the reef break known as the Tijuana Sloughs. It needs the kind of international exposure a project like TransparentSea can bring. Once again, an opportunity presented itself. Once again, the surfing community seems to have spent its time partying in beautiful and affluent places filled with beautiful and affluent people capable of giving large beautiful donations, instead of focusing on real problems. The TransparentSea Voyage was such a great concept. It was such a great disappointment.