The Coast News Group
The Moose in his Oceanside ding repair factory. Photo by Chris Ahrens

Waterspot: The Moose is loose, again

The wind has blown out every surf spot south of Point Conception like an 11th Egyptian plague. Rain leaves deep pockmarks on the surface of the sea, inviting reflection on the hot, glassy, lazy, crazy days of summer. There’s enough water in the streets of Encinitas to ride down the gutter from Swami’s to Seaside Reef. Faced with a choice between the library and having 10 years’ worth of dings repaired, I call The Moose.

Moose, which is the only name I know him by, is a surfboard builder, the inventor of the modern wakeboard and a ding repair expert with few equals. Once the arrangements have been made, I deliver my most valuable possessions: a Frye Fish given me by the master himself on the occasion of my 55th birthday, a Hynson pintail gifted me by Ocean Magazine’s Rob Wald and my Ekstrom Asymmetrical to his door. These boards, which may not be worth a fortune on the open market, are priceless to me. Each has a story to tell about great waves and failed attempts ending in collisions with rocks or other surfboards. My dings shout about abuse through their shattered fiberglass mouths. Like seeking a babysitter for my grandchildren, there are few people I would trust them to.

In the mid-’70s, Moose did what most every aspiring board builder did to learn the craft — he turned the family garage into a surfboard factory. He was 13 years old at the time and quickly found he had an aptitude for the work. Once his skills were perfected a few years later, he began teaching a class in surfboard building in his hometown of Huntington Beach.

By age 23, he had completed a solar engineering course and began a career with Hughes Aircraft. He enjoyed the work but was called back to his first love when the Sunline Surfboard factory came up for sale. The price was an unbelievably low $2,000. According to Moose, “It came with a shaping bay, a glassing area where I could laminate 10 boards at a time, and all the tools necessary for making boards. That was over 40 years ago, and I still use the sanders and the Skill 100 power plainer I purchased then.” Moose had only made 25 or 30 boards when he began his business, but he was a quick study, and he quickly began business in earnest.

But there were no rose petals sprinkled along the path leading to his latest shop on Oceanside Boulevard. It’s been just over a year since he moved in, and for him, it is something of an anniversary, calling for celebration. Not long ago, Moose was recovering from twin hip surgeries when he was nearly run down by an out of control van that placed him back on the injured list. Rehab was slow and painful and, lacking the funds to kick back in a plush facility, he spent his convalescence in his Ram Van, parked in the Carlsbad Campground. For months he hobbled and survived on meals brought to him by his many friends.

Moose handled this like he does most everything, with his trademark hearty laugh and stoked attitude. He is, after all, in the business of fixing things. Surfers who show up at his shop to have the holes in their boards repaired might also receive a tune-up for their souls.


Andrea Robinson March 7, 2020 at 12:25 am

I too have known Murray Lea a long time. In fact we lived across the alley from each other back in 1982 and I consider him a true friend. His work is impeccable. Thank you Chris, for putting it out there because it was indeed Moose who invented the Wakeboard and although he did not get the credit for it, the idea and design was his alone. Hang Loose Moose! Your friend always! Cowabunga, Andrea Robinson

Woody Resin December 25, 2019 at 6:19 am

I have known the moose for so many years I can’t even count. he has fixed board after board for my company and for my personal use. He always has the boards finished on time and in perfect repair . Whenever I have the time to sit and listen I know that he will have more fascinating stories . Moose is the guy.

Paul Giberti December 18, 2019 at 10:19 am

Hey Moose, you are the man, that truly can! I have had Moose repair every board I own. Some , that I thought were ready for the surfboard graveyard in the sky! I have seen boards broken in half in his place, put back together when I came back in. You would never even notice anything ever happened to it. Seriously amazing at his art,& trade. Beyond gifted, it is obvious , it is calling. So if you need a new board , or need a repair? There is no other place I would go! Look up the Moose! He is always been too fair , as far as I am concerned. Prices are so low for the quality work he does, I automatically throw him an Xtra 20.00 bucks. I still feel like I am robbing him, he is the man! Thanks Moose!?‍♂️??

Dave Lucas December 9, 2019 at 6:33 pm

Moose thank you for everything. Great work always.

Guy M Donnell December 8, 2019 at 7:41 pm

Moose did an excellent job on my board and I learned some local history I didn’t know… Definitely going back. Thx Moose, Guy

murray lea December 8, 2019 at 12:39 pm

GREAT STORY Chris ,I Thank ya ,,,if anyone need there board fixed ,call me @ 760-809-2980 0r check out

MaLaCoiD December 7, 2019 at 5:32 pm

Stoked to have my board fixed by the master, and glad others feel the same.

Jeff Trout December 6, 2019 at 6:42 pm

Thank you Moose for fixing my favorite board a couple weeks ago, great job buddy and to anyone who needs a repair I gave Moose more than he asked me to pay his prices are truly the best.

Cameron trickey December 5, 2019 at 9:00 pm

Great stuff mate . We love the moose

Comments are closed.