In Search of Captain Zero by Allan C. Weisbecker

In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road is a bodacious account of Weisbecker's slow-travel South, from Mexico to Costa Rica, in search of a vanished surfing buddy. Comprising a hybrid of the movie Point Break and the book Mr Nice, spliced with a touch of gonzo travelling for good measure, this book proves beyond doubt that the surfing gods truly do exist.

Having had no communication from his best friend Christopher Conner (aka Captain Zero), apart from a postcard received 3 years previously, Weisbecker decides to travel down to Central America to try and find him. Packing his possessions and dog, Shiner, into his house, La Casita Viajera (the little house that travels), which is mounted on the back of an F350 4x4 Ford pick-up, Weisbecker heads down the Baja Peninsula with only one rule - never drive away from good surf.

On his journey down South, Weisbecker's search takes him a long way off the grid to surfing spots accompanying simple fisherman camps and villages with little in the way of electricity and infrastructure. He is able to vividly describe the beauty and simplicity of the places he visits where life can be enjoyed with little more than a good cup of coffee, raging surf, interesting people and listening to the sounds of Chopin. Along with an ex-pat scene consisting of drug runners, brothel owners, spooks, travelling surfers and even the real low lives, real estate agents, it ensures a fascinating journey full of adventure and tension.

However, In Search of Captain Zero is more than just a travelogue and surfing diatribe, as it also doubles up as Weisbecker's memoir. With an extremely colourful past as a screenwriter (including writing some of the early episodes of Miami Vice), ex-commercial fisherman and nihilistic marijuana smuggler, there are plenty of hair raising tales that make this an authentically, amusing tale. Which warrants its own cautionary note. There are plenty of drug references. Wesisbecker really did smuggle drugs, although these are beyond the statute of limitations now, and there is also some low level references to violence and sex.

For anyone who surfs, this is a tsunami of a story written with intensity and large doses of primal surfer philosophy, that is sure to appeal. Having discovered surfing in 1966 at the age of 17 via the documentary movie, The Endless Summer, Weisbecker's lifelong devotion to this calling enables him to write passionately about the allure of surfing and the irresistible urge to seek the perfect moment. However, it is also not in the slightest bit necessary to know the first thing about surfing, as Weisbecker's surfing descriptions of surf lore and law is poetically rendered for us all to enjoy.

In Search of Captain Zero is a book that will sweep you away and one where the writing is of such high quality writing, that each word needs to be tumbled around in your mouth before being cerebrally consumed. This is a funny, bittersweet, mystical and gripping book that can be enjoyed by one and all and which serves as a reminder to lead a life lived to the full.

5 stars out of 5