Honoring A (Another) Classic Waterman

As surfers, we have what should be a requirement, definitely an obligation, to honor those who went before us.  The real surfers of the generation slightly before mine were surfing when that meant no or inadequate wetsuits, heavy and ungainly boards; and one could not even qualify to be counted as anything close to a real surfer if not skilled in body surfing, long distance paddling, and diving.  Fishing skills were also appreciated.  Many surfers increased their time in the lineup (imagine Windansea with three friends out) by fishing and diving for abalone and ‘bugs’ (lobster).

Yes, these things were legal in California until some time in the 60s, and aren’t now.  I have run into other surfers from that era; one who became a builder; another who opened a car dealership.  They had stories.  Stories.  We all have stories, stories with surfing as a recurring theme, hopefully; or, for those who no longer get in the water, a collection of wistful, romantic (in its way) memories.  Some of our best moments are spent in and around the water.

Here, with some minor editing, is what my friend Keith wrote about his father’s passing:

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Douglas Darrock, 1938-2019, passed away on the Winter Solstice near Port Townsend, Washington.  He was 81.  Doug grew up in La Jolla in the 40s and 50s, graduating from La Jolla High in 1956.

He was a waterman in the truest sense.

As a young man, he built his own paddleboards and spearguns to dive the kelp beds and reefs off La Jolla.  He surfed and bodysurfed often.  He later worked as a commercial abalone diver around La Jolla and as a research diver in the Sea of Cortez.

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After serving in the military, he moved north, to Oregon, in the 1960s.  He owned a bar and fished commercially for salmon out of Astoria.  It was there that he met his partner of 45 years, Lorraine Limardi.  They lived for a time in Cannon Beach and Manzanita, and, later, south in Yachats and Tenmile Creek.  It was along this coast that Doug and Lorraine raised their family and made many friends.

Doug loved the adventure of travel.  He took his family on long road trips; south to Baja California, Mainland Mexico, and Central America, escaping the long, wet Oregon winters; camping on the beach, exploring while living in a VW bus.

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The family spent a year sailing to Baja and into the Sea of Cortez aboard ‘Cecilia’, a thirty-four foot Benford Cutter until the money ran out and they were forced to sell the boat and limp back to the Oregon Coast in an old Volvo.

Doug and his family spent many years around Port Townsend, Marrowstone Island and the San Juan Islands.  He loved to sail these waters.  Never a career man, Doug, instead, made money as a farmer and renovating old houses, taking odd jobs when necessary.  His first and last jobs were as a lifeguard in La Jolla as a young man, and as a lifeguard in Port Townsend at the public pool in his 70s.

Life was never dull with Doug.  He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, son Keith Darrock (local librarian and extremely avid surfer), daughters Laura DuPont and Jessica Syska; along with many grandchildren.

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I don’t think I ever met Douglas Darrock.  He was part of the La Jolla crowd that included surfboard makers Gordon and Smith; some famous surfers, including Butch Van Artsdalen; and a non-famous surfer, Bill Irwin; who also lived a surfer/sailor life, and died about a year ago.

I never met the father, but I see him in the son.  Keith (that’s him on the back of his dad’s bike) makes adjustments to his life to include surfing.  I watched Keith recently, having arrived too late to get into my wetsuit and go out before the tight window would close.  He was (his word) gorging on the waves on offer.  When I talked to him on the beach I said the if he (rail thin and determined to stay that way) loved food as much as he loves waves, he’d be soooooooo fat.  Yes, I told him it’d show up here.

Stories.  Peace.

4 thoughts on “Honoring A (Another) Classic Waterman

  1. we had the privilege of knowing Doug and his family for nearly 40 years. We had some wonderful times on the Oregon coast, aboard his sailboat in the San Juans and traveling throughout Mexico in our VWs. He kept us entertained with great stories,made us laugh often, and was always fun to be around, we will surely miss him .
    Steve and Cathy

  2. I miss the Merry Monarch
    and the air in which it flies
    The emptiness surrounding us
    like some ancient mask disguise
    The naked ground below
    an overdressed sky
    Gives the wings some brightness
    that might otherwise be a sigh
    I can mime but cannot mimic
    the love earned in this flight
    I miss the Merry Monarch
    Especially tonight

    Capt. Sanders

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