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Area Coding

Only in the 808 does such ignoble usage make a haunting sort of sense.

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When approaching the North Shore, your progress is highlighted by old surfboards repurposed as address markers, mailboxes, and signs. These yellowed thrusters bolted to posts, lashed to coconut trees, and adorned with five-digit, stick-on numbers increase in frequency as you cut through the borders of surfing’s seven-mile miracle. 

These boards stand as a proud testament to our enduring appreciation of the craftsmen who made them, and the countless hours spent cutting out blanks, shaving foam, and curing glass that it took to deliver them. They are also vestiges of past glory, a last connection to a bygone session or a memorable ride. 

Once you notice them, you’ll start finding these salvaged markers scattered throughout the rest of Hawaii. They exist as colorful byproducts of the Islands’ surf legacy, a time capsule of yesteryear’s designs. 

Most are from the not-too-distant past, their retro status not yet attained. But how long will it be before these boards are considered collector’s items and not just proud address markers and signage? One day, someone is going to marvel at the audacity to drill holes in a Billy Hamilton semi-gun or a 6’2″ Glenn Pang. They may just be inspired enough to remove the bolts, scrape off the numbers, fix the dings, and paddle it out again. 

Excerpted from the book Surfboards Hawaii, by Jeff Canham and Kanoa Zimmerman. Self published, 112 color pages, woodshopsf.com.