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.
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.
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 www.s4cglobal.org In fact, just start building your boat now.] —Nathan Myers