Dave Morgan: California Waterman

Dave Morgan is a waterman. He and his girlfriend, Silvia Kohler, love the ocean and spend as much time in and around it as possible. They are both avid bodysurfers and surfers, and we've made some our most beautiful and storied Ventana handplanes especially for Dave and Silvia. We're proud to have Dave join the "Ventana Adventurer" family!

Tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from and how did you get into ocean sports?

I grew up in Santa Cruz, learning how to surf at the Cement Ship. Back then, I rode my bike from Rio Del Mar to Pleasure Point as much as possible.  I took six months off from Aptos High School and was an exchange student to Australia’s Sunshine Coast.  Two return trips to Oz, many to Maui and Kauai, and a college semester in Mexico and Costa Rica were all enriching experiences. I did some homework at Ocean Beach while going to UC Berkeley, then explored the Central Coast beaches while I was getting my master's degree at Cal Poly.

My daughter is starting high school and son junior high. My girlfriend Silvia teaches at Morro Bay High School, and we surf, bodysurf, and paipo together. Labrador retrievers, cats and fish complete our wild kingdom in Los Osos. 

What is it about the ocean that attracts you?

Dave Morgan surfing Honolua BayBesides the refreshment of ocean water and proximity to a great variety of mostly friendly sea creatures, I would have to say shared experiences.  When I see my kids, my girlfriend Silvia, or her kids, catch a good wave, I enjoy it more than my own. Many of my best memories with old friends took place in the water or on surf trips.

There’s a small crew of bodysurfers who dawn patrol on the Central Coast, and getting worked and tubed together is more fun than whomping the same waves alone. Also, I’ve appreciated the amazing people we’ve gotten to know through longboarding with the Estero Bay and Santa Barbara County Surf Clubs, the Dewey Weber Surfboards Competition Team and Surfing for Hope.

Tell us about what you do for a living and why it inspires you 

I’ve enjoyed being an employee benefits advisor at Morris & Garritano Insurance Services for over fifteen years. I’m inspired by the agency’s family atmosphere and my friends there. Employee benefits insurance is constantly evolving—plan design, regulation, and healthcare itself— and that keeps me challenged. I really value getting to know my diverse clients and their employees, as well. 

What is it about Ventana that’s appealing to you? 

First, I’d say function.  My Ventana handplanes have the width to cruise on smaller days or flatter sections. On larger days, the shape of the rail and weight of the wood help me Ebony Pearl Handplanehold a line. Of course, there's also the unique combination of art and nostalgia. The planes are definitely "pass-them-on-to-your-kids-or-grandkids" quality art. That one of my planes combines bench wood from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where I have some great memories with my kids, and redwood from a house of John Steinbeck, my favorite author, enhances the stoke. 

What’s your favorite break in California and why? 

For longboarding, Second Peak at Pleasure Point. I spent so much time there when I was young, so it has a good deal of nostalgia and familiarity for me. Also, the wave is perfect for noseriding. For bodysurfing, it’s a tie between Pismo and Avila; they both have their magical low tide moments. For shortboarding, I like the Central Coast. Our collection of breaks, from southern Big Sur to Pismo, are quite a puzzle but some memorable pieces have fallen into place for me at most of them over the last twenty years. I'm very grateful for the general friendliness of the folks with whom I’ve shared these waves, as well. 

Tell us about an amazing adventure that you’ve had.

My friend Scott and I spent a college summer on Kauai sleeping in a ’76 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. We helped with re-building after Hurricane Iniki. Scott knew what he was doing on the construction front, and I did my best work digging and moving woodpiles. Getting to know the island and the people there stuck with me in a valuable way. 

What’s your dream adventure?

Dave Morgan and Silvia KohlerEnjoying whatever the Central Coast has in store for us is a dream adventure every week, but we're planning a trip to Costa Rica for next summer. I really appreciate being able to plan one or two adventures a year with Silvia and the kids. We had a wonderful time taking the crew to El Salvador, where Silvia grew up. Her family and friends, K-59 and Sunzal and ceviche made for some great memories.