May 2021

Joni Martin

36 years Surfing

Tell us about an intense or fun surfing memory

When my son was 3 months old and my daughter was five, our family went on an 11 month surf trip through Australia, Bali, Fiji, and New Zealand. For about six of those months we were living in campervans, homeschooling our daughter through kindergarten by teaching her about the cultures, insects, plants, birds and animals we encountered. Our son spent the first year of his life meeting friendly strangers almost every day. We had so many amazing waves on that trip, made lifelong friends in multiple countries, but also had some bizarre and awful moments, including hand-washing cloth diapers in scalding water in a campground laundry room and weeks of breastfeeding my son under a mosquito-netting outfit to keep out the mozzies and biting flies of Australian summer.

What is your occupation

Freelance writer, amateur food grower

Do you have any significant community involvement?

Volunteered in our schools for about 16 years; for 8 years have been helping run the surf club and surf team at San Lorenzo Valley High School.

Tell us something unique about you as a mother who surfs with/without your kiddos

I spent years stacking SO many surfboards on top and inside our vans, taking our kids and their friends surfing as often as they wanted. Also, for years my friend Susie Deutsch and I started our summers with a surf-camping road trip with our kids and their friends, hitting surf spots and skate parks from Santa Cruz to San Diego. Because we live in Felton – not right at the coast – our kids were dependent on us to get to the surf until they got their drivers licenses. We knew those were precious years because we got to surf with them anytime they wanted to go.

What is your most memorable surf moment with your kids?

Two of my most memorable moments were night surf sessions. The first was when I was pregnant with my daughter, April. I had surfed (very carefully!) throughout my pregnancy, and a week before she was born, a group of friends and I paddled out by moonlight to welcome her into the world. The waves were tiny, so I felt totally safe, and as we sat in a circle telling her all the reasons we were excited to meet her, an otter came and hung out right beside me for about ten minutes until finally a small wave came through, and I caught my last ride with her as my inner surf buddy. The second memory was when I took my son and a few of his friends out for a night surf in middle school. The waves were decent size, and I was super focused on keeping everyone safe when all of a sudden one of the kids said, “Joni, is it okay that a cloud is about to cover the moon?” I scurried to get them all in safely right as the sky got totally dark. We still sometimes talk about that session and how lucky we were that Max was so observant.

What are some challenges of surfing related to motherhood?

When the kids were little, the biggest challenge was finding someone to be with the kids when I wanted to surf, but it was essential to my mental health. Planning ahead for a sitter wasn’t a great option because it was expensive, and sometimes we’d pay to spend our whole time driving around finding bad conditions everywhere. Luckily there was a whole cluster of women surfers who had babies at the same time, and we used to do trades at the beach. I remember running my breast pump off of my car cigarette lighter adapter as I got ready to hand off my daughter to Ginaia Kelly, and I remember laughing with Jill Matthies and Julie Malcolm about how our husbands were losing their patience while we made sure the sippy cups and diaper supplies were all ready before we paddled out. After a while we figured out to let the guys have the first session, and we would stretch on the beach and watch the peak while we played with the kids and waited.

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