“There’s the smoke from the fire right there.”
Ryan Harris, the South Bay’s resident eco-board guru, is pointing his iPhone toward shore from the lower deck of Matt Meistrell’s boat as it hums along off the coast of Malibu. “That’s Latigo, and we’re headed there,” says Ryan as he points the camera north toward Point Dume.
Ryan, if you haven’t heard or crossed paths with him before, is a fucking go-getter. On Monday morning, he and a crew of South Bay residents left the Redondo Beach Harbor on a 40-foot sport boat replete with supplies ready to offer aid to Malibu residents for the second time.
Since it ignited on Thursday, the Woolsey Fire has scorched over 91,000 acres in North Los Angeles and South Ventura Counties. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Gerard Butler, Miley Cyrus, Caitlyn Jenner, and Strider Wasilewski are among the many who have lost their homes. The blaze is only 20 percent contained.
As Santa Ana winds howled late last week, fanning the flames in the Malibu hills, many residents flouted evacuation orders deciding to defend their homes themselves. Some with water from their pools. Among them: Laird Hamilton. According to Ryan, when he saw Laird’s Instagram post, he knew in his heart he couldn’t stand by and watch friends lose everything.
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Now I know why I learned at an early age not to mess with mother nature. There is too much ground to cover for the brave firefighters so many of the members of the community are doing their best. I want to thank my dear friend @elijah_a.b who stayed behind with me and fought the fire at my house and my neighbors. For now he helped me keep the home standing. Most importantly is that the humans are safe. First video is all around our home and the second video is what we saw as we were exiting PCH just north of Pepperdine.Aloha
Through the brokerage of a mutual friend, Ryan reached out to Laird with plans to drive supplies up to the affected area. But Laird told him that with road closures he likely wouldn’t get far. He was much better off by boat.
Over the weekend, Ryan posted across social media to rally the troops and encourage donations of some much-needed supplies. Then, on Sunday morning they launched from Redondo Beach Harbor on a guerilla aid mission. Once they got as far as Paradise Cove, they anchored the boat offshore and paddled an inflatable SUPsquatch to shore with supplies.
“I didn’t realize how bad the devastation was until I saw it with my own eyes,” Ryan tells me over the phone. “The campground at Leo Carrillo is gone. [Surfers] will literally not recognize some of these places they love to surf.”
On Monday, Ryan posted an impassioned call to arms for anyone able to help in the relief effort – he and the Meistrell family, of Body Glove fame, plan to use the Body Glove boat later this week for another supply drop off. Dive N’ Surf in Redondo Beach is currently amassing donations.
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🚨 LETS ALL HELP!!! 🚨 Malibu Fire GoFundMe Link in bio ☝️ From our founder/owner: Having spent the last 20 years in the SouthBay as an avid surfer and board builder I’m part of the Malibu community. Many of my friends and family don’t just surf here, they live here. Until this past weekend I had no idea how bad the situation is for so many affected by these fires. After seeing some video of the devastation and homes completely destroyed of areas I knew in my heart, I decided to take action. Late this past Saturday night with the help of just a couple other fellow passionate Friends we put our own mission into place. Within 12 hours we organized a supply run of much needed emergency supplies and goods. Many of the residents in Malibu are completely isolated and cut off because PCH is closed and looks to remain that way while the fires continue to burn. We were able to get the use of a friends 40’ sport boat @Matt_meistrell and the mission was on! Yesterday we successfully delivered our first run of emergency supplies to Malibu. My mission is to continue this!! We will be making daily boat trips to deliver the necessary supplies needed to those in need. Yes, There are other ways to donate, but this way the funds raised are immediately put to use helping those in need most! The funds will cover purchases of supplies desperately needed but not already donated, like fuel and horse feed (lots of Malibu residents have horses that are either displaced or running low on food or both). Our South Bay is currently rallying together to help our friends in Malibu. Huge 🙏🙏 to @jamiemeistrell and @bodyglove has stepped up and is even organizing a massive delivery for this Wednesday in their biggest boat. If you want to physically drop off any donations of supplies in The South Bay @divensurf shop is collection donations for the next run up. We’re already on the water for round 2. #firessuck #woolseyfire #gofundme Let’s Do this!!! @sustainsurf @brilliantimages @reginapartin
“Having spent the last 20 years in the South Bay as an avid surfer and board builder I’m part of the Malibu community,” said Ryan in a post. “Many of the residents in Malibu are completely isolated and cut off because PCH is closed and looks to remain that way while the fires continue to burn… We will be making daily boat trips to deliver the necessary supplies needed to those in need… The funds will cover purchases of supplies desperately needed but not already donated, like fuel and horse feed (lots of Malibu residents have horses that are either displaced or running low on food or both). Our South Bay is currently rallying together to help our friends in Malibu.”
Over the weekend, Alex Gray also launched a guerilla relief effort of his own by jet ski. On Monday, both groups linked up – Alex pulling the SUPsquatch to shore with his jet ski.
Production in Ryan’s zero waste board production facility has understandably halted for the time being as a result of his commitment to helping those in need. Still, he says, this is a matter of life and death. “I’ve got boards due, but I told my customers they’re just going to have to be late. We’re talking about human lives here.”
If you live in the region and wish to donate supplies to those impacted by the Woosley Fire, you can drop them off at Dive N’ Surf in Redondo Beach, Calif. A list of items needed can be found here. Ryan Harris has also created a GoFundMe page to raise funds, 100 percent of which will be used to purchase supplies for victims. Learn more here.