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The Search For Fun

The Evolution of “Good Clean Fun”
A Brief Anthology of 73 Years

Good Clean Fun Founder Steve Hennigh - 1974

Good Clean Fun was never a plan, never a childhood dream. I am historically fearful of making a hard choice as to vocation. And the thought of sticking to one forever is even scarier. Committing to a career - doctor, lawyer, banker, even the president - was never my thing. Years of school and vocational training left me cold: I hadn’t the slightest idea of what my future held back then. So I pretty much became that kid with no scholastic goals: to this day I still don’t know
what I want to do when I grow up!

Being born in the fifties was both a blessing and a curse. As a kid in Long Beach during that time, life was free and easy and awesome. I was introduced to the beach lifestyle at a very young age. My parents and our neighborhood was all about the vagabond beach lifestyle!

We spent summers building camps out of eucalyptus stumps (dumped on the beach by the State of California as they cleared land for the San Diego freeway) at Tin Can Beach. That stretch of sand is now Bolsa Chica State park.

Back then, Bolsa Chica/Tin Can was free and we could do whatever we wanted. By eight years old, I was surfing on boards left at our camp by my older brother and other neighborhood kids. We could leave our stuff on the beach for days and nobody would take anything. All I could think about was going to the beach and surfing. Surfing all day everyday didn´t set well with my Dad. He was concerned I was going nowhere, and introduced me to fishing as a diversion.

I quickly embraced fishing as much as surfing, even worked a few summers on half-day and charter boats. Dad gave up on telling me what to do: we had some blowups back then.

Then the 60s settled in and peace and love turned into revolution and rebellion. I graduated high school in 1968 and, like many other young kids, enrolled in college to stay out of the draft and away from Vietnam. The only classes available to me were Police Science and Real Estate. I tried Police Science for a very short time and knew I would be a lousy cop, and soon dropped out of school. Throughout my brief relationship with college I was still surfing a lot, still fishing a lot. I began thinking about places with better waves and warmer water. The beach I grew up with became something akin to a paid parking lot. It seemed to happen overnight, just like the Joni Mitchell song. They paved paradise and there were no more free, fun times. The whole vibe of surfing was changing and lots more people were in the water everywhere, arguing over waves and turf. I longed for empty beach space and warm water.

Around October of 1968, my buddy Ron Metheny and I decided to drive my ‘59 Ford panel truck to San Francisco. He’d discovered Cayucos and was living there, but had some friends living in Haight Ashbury, and we had a place to stay if we wanted to go. He also had a set of plans to build a 31 foot trimaran, and he was looking for places to build it. San Francisco was his choice back then - not much surfing the year I was there, but some really great fun! Worked at a waterbed factory with tons of hot chicks. Music, drugs, sex, and surfing Bodega Bay when I could — not a bad life. But it was cold, really cold, reinforcing my understanding that cold water wasn’t my thing.

I had a chance to leave San Francisco and went to a yoga ashram in New Mexico.  The guest speakers were Baba Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert), Timothy Leary, and a Sufi yogi from India.  The reason I describe this era, this experience, is that it changed my life. Timothy Leary was not really pushing LSD, contrary to popular opinion, but he nonetheless saved me from any potential bad acid trips forever. His message was once you have opened the door of your mind with mind-expanding experiences, the mind remains open and requires no more such stimuli. This made me realize my days in Haight Ashbury were over. I really didn’t like LSD anyway.

Some members of the Ashram were from the island of Maui, and I quickly decided Maui was the next stop. I had a friend who was a drywall contractor on the island and all I had to do was show up and go to work. I’d been to Hawaii several times as a kid and loved the Polynesian Surfing Lifestyle! I knew deep down it was a place I could possibly find roots and settle for a while.

My Maui integration was seamless; within days I was working my ass off learning a new trade. I picked up work fast, and there was lots of opportunity for it, but I quickly realized nobody wants to work on Maui. Everyone wants to be at the beach. I just put my head down for a year and went from the dump truck driver to running several crews and jobs. The owner approached me one day and said he was going to sell his business. He wanted to have me continue on, but I had just been offered my new dream job and took the opportunity to leave the drywall business.

The timing was perfect and I began crewing on a 50’ ketch by the name Sudan. She was a standout sailboat in the harbor at Lahaina, and somehow I was working on her. Seemed too good to be true — dream job for a surfer and fisherman. Within months I’d moved onto the boat and became the owner’s watchdog and first mate. He would leave for the mainland for months and have me live aboard, keeping the boat bristol and ready for charter trips. When we could line them up, we chartered to Lanai and Molokai. Those were a great two years of my life: learned lots about sailing, sport fishing, and surfed my brains out at every opportunity. Maui was bittersweet though - not all aloha, lots of bad vibes. And I was over bad vibes.

By this time my buddy Ron, having returned to Cayucos to build his boat, was close to finishing the trimaran. He built that boat by himself at 24 years old! It was time to put her - Sadhana - in the water. Inspired by Ron, I had decided to build my own boat: I purchased a set of plans for a 31 foot Searunner Trimaran just like his and was on the hunt for a place to build it. I was all fired up about the build and knew change was in the air.  And it certainly was: out of nowhere, the owner of the Sudan showed up one day and said he was going to sail the boat back to Marina Del Ray and then on to Costa Rica. He wanted to know if I wanted to go. So off to California we sailed.

I arrived back in time to help with the launching of Sadhana: Ron was ready to sail off.

While I was in Cayucos helping Ron with his boat, I came upon a barn for rent that was a perfect fit for my build. Within a month, I parted ways with the Sudan and purchased a small 18’ Airstream trailer that I parked inside the barn as a place to live. Rent was $90 a month and I supported my new lifestyle by landing a job at Hearst Castle as a night watchman. Nights on the job, days to work on the boat and surf. Sleeping on the job cost me that position, thank goodness. I started glassing surfboards on the side for extra cash. I had dabbled in making surfboards ever since my younger days, and in Hawaii had worked part time glassing, sanding and repairing boards. Now I had a shop where I could do anything I wanted to make money. Surfboards started showing up daily. I found I was pretty good at the craft of surfboard building; they were just small boats to me. Cayucos was a dream come true for a surfer back then. People went out of their way to be friendly there, as opposed to Hawaii, and my faith in humanity (and surf culture) was restored.

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