Surfer dude-turned-author uses books to explore weighty topics of the sea
When Brian Jarvis first started teaching people to surf on Galveston Island, he was sick of living at sea; thus the name of his business was coined — C-Sick Surfin’.
Years later, sidelined from the sun by a skin cancer, Jarvis the surfer dude became Jarvis the writer dude, penning two volumes of fictional time travel by, you guessed it, a hippie surfer dude.
Jarvis worked as a merchant seaman the first half of his adult life, traveling the world, sometimes living on a ship four to five months at a time, witnessing manmade environmental hazards that colored his worldview.
“I was sick of going out to sea,” Jarvis said.
Born into a military family, he never stayed in one place, then grew up, became a merchant seaman and worked on commercial fishing boats.
“I wasn’t married, so when I shipped out, I didn’t have anything to get back to,” he said.
But when Jarvis landed in Galveston, he bought a house, started a business and settled down permanently.
He began teaching surfing part-time in 1999, then went full-time in 2002, he said.
C-Sick Surfin’ teaches basic beginner’s lessons: how to paddle out, the basic physics of how to balance body weight on the board, how to do a pop-up and ride a wave in.
Jarvis provides the right size board, a wetsuit during colder months and a staff of well-trained instructors.
“We’ve been doing this so long we’ve basically got it down to a science,” Jarvis said. “We’re gonna show you what you need to be able to do to surf. It’s repetitive motion whether you’re in Hawaii, Galveston or anywhere.”
But a life on the beach has not been without its hazards. A few years back, constant exposure to the sun left Jarvis with a big hole in his forearm where he had a melanoma removed.
“Being a red-headed person with blue eyes, surfing for 50 years, I have bouts with melanoma, have had a lot of stuff cut out of me and frozen off me,” he said. “I have a close relationship with my dermatologist.”
After that procedure, Jarvis was housebound with a computer in front of him, and began translating his life of adventures at sea into fiction. In 2017, he wrote and published his first book, “Adventures of a Time Traveling Hippie Surfer.”
Loosely science fiction, the book explores topics like global warming, plastics pollution and nuclear testing in a tongue-in-cheek manner, relying on facts but delivering them through a fictional persona.
His real-life fascination with nuclear testing began in July 1962 when, at age 12, standing on the roof of the Hilton Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, young Jarvis witnessed a frightening flash of light created by the detonation of a nuclear device 900 miles away in the Pacific Ocean. The explosion blew out street lamps, messed with radio signals and sent a wave of terror through the young boy, he said.
“It made an impression on me that never went away,” he said.
In his travels as a merchant seaman, Jarvis saw up close the pollution of plastics.
“There’s no reason for that stuff to be there,” he said. “People should be screaming about it, but it’s very seldom mentioned.”
These things and evidence of global warming worry him, and putting them on paper in an entertaining way has become an avocation for Jarvis, he said. This year, he released a sequel, “The Continuing Adventures of a Time Traveling Hippie Surfer.”
In the books, the narrator, Brian, a surfer dude, enters a time portal from his present 1974 and travels to 2017 to witness what man has wrought on the planet in the interim.
In a back-to-the-future manner, Jarvis, the surfer-author dude, flags what he believes are the central concerns of the present, especially for those living on Earth’s coastal places.
Jarvis is considering a third volume, he said.
Having had to shutter his business for a time because of the coronavirus crisis, it’s possible a global pandemic might enter the picture in his next book, he said.
Whatever happens, Galveston remains home for Jarvis who, on any given day, can catch a wave and teach somebody else how to ride one.