Why You Need to Read Blue Water Gold Rush

Tom Kendrick — a former Santa Barbara resident and graduate of
San Marcos High — is coming to town on October 5 to talk about his
maiden book, Blue Water Gold Rush: The Odyssey of a California Sea
Urchin Diver, which chronicles his ups and downs as a sea urchin
diver from 1978 to 1996. The book is a must-read not just for those
who lived through those years in S.B., but also for those who
appreciate the sweet smell of an ocean breeze and the timeless
appeal of a life based around the sea. If that’s not enough of a
reason, here are five more.

1] Jim “Weener” Robinson:
Tragically taken from this world all too soon by a shark attack
just off San Miguel Island in the mid ’90s, Weener was an absolute
legend and is perhaps the most colorful character in a book full of
vivid personalities. The proud owner of an Egyptian mummy and a
wicked sense of humor, Weener was a beloved member of S.B.’s
tight-knit commercial fishing community; stories of his exploits in
surfing, diving, and drinking are still told today over rounds of
beer and tequila at Brophy Brothers. And for Weener neophytes, the
book explains the hilarious and well-hung origins of Jim’s

2] Adventure: It’s a
well-written wild ride of high seas adventure. From scoring surf at
Hollister Ranch and capsizing off Santa Rosa Island, to facing down
death at the Farallon Islands and making heaps of cash harvesting
urchins, Kendrick’s tale is a complete celebration of the good, the
bad, and the magic that surrounds a life spent on the California

3] Celebrity praise: Though only recently
released, Blue Water Gold Rush is already getting the thumbs up
from heavy hitters in the ocean-going community. Patagonia owner
Yvon Chouinard read the book in one sitting and immediately decided
to sell the book in his stores nationwide. Gerry Lopez—arguably the
world’s most stylish surfer—also enjoyed the tale as did collector
of all things Californian Huell Howser. The latter liked it so much
that an upcoming episode of his PBS show will feature Kendrick
urchin diving off the Channel Islands.

4] Locals: A majority of the book takes place
in Santa Barbara and the ocean that lies at our doorstep. From
Radon boats and Don Duckett’s Wetsuit Factory to Jim Marshall,
Jerome Betts, Jim Cotton, and Andreas “the Spaniard” Martinez, this
book is jam-packed with some of our most notorious old salts from
the past and the present.

5] Watermen Matter: In the day and age of a
chain store-dominated State Street and the associated über-marketed
glitz of being America’s Riviera, this book serves as an essential
reminder of S.B.’s history as a seafaring community. It is easy to
forget that for many years the harbor was the main landing port for
California’s abalone and sea urchin fisheries, but this book brings
the story of those times to life. With any luck, it will serve as a
reminder to future generations about the historic and rich
tradition of surfing, fishing, diving, and innovation that once
defined Santa Barbara.

4•1•1 Tom Kendrick will give a
talk and sign copies of Blue Water Gold Rush on Thursday, October 5
at 7 p.m., at the S.B. Maritime Museum, with 20 percent of sales
going to the museum. He will also sign copies at the S.B. Seafood
Festival at the harbor on October 14. For more info, see bluewatergoldrush.com.


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