A couple of weeks ago, a photographer from Hawaii named Doug Falter shared an incredible story on his Facebook page. According to Doug, back in 2018, he lost his surfboard in the ocean while surfing in Hawaii. He got wiped out, his leash got detached from his ankle, and big waves took away his surfboard. He tried to swim for it but was unsuccessful. Back at shore, he even searched for a good view point to keep an eye out for his beloved surfboard. He posted about it online, too, hoping someone had spotted it and return it to him. But even after months of hoping, Doug heard no news about his board.
“The leash just came undone, but the board was not damaged. It just floated away out of my reach. The ocean current just took it away and I couldn’t catch up to it because the waves were just too big,” Falter recalled the event in an article published on VICE. That board meant a lot to him, he explained, as he had used it for surfing big waves and even at a major surf contest in Hawaii.
Below is Doug’s Instagram post in February 2018 after losing his board:
But two years after the incident, Doug got the surprise of his life when the creator of his surfboard, Lyle Carlson Surfboards that’s also based in Hawaii, contacted him and told him that someone had found his surfboard…in a little town in the Philippines.
It looks like, after two years being lost at sea, the surfboard found its way to the Philippine waters and eventually landed on the shores of Sarangani Bay in Mindanao. A local fisherman found it, who reportedly said he first thought the board was from a boat wreckage. The surfboard, which was originally light blue in color, had turned yellow from its journey across continents, but it was still in one piece. The fisherman eventually sold it to public school teacher Giovanne Branzuela who lived in a neighboring island.
Giovanne wanted to buy the surfboard so he could learn to surf. He shared that, initially, the fisherman didn’t want to sell it, but eventually agreed to part with it for P2,000.
Seeing the brand name printed on the surfboard, Giovanne got curious of the board’s origin and looked it up online. This led him to Lyle Carlson, creator of the board, who then contacted the owner Doug Falter to relay the news and connect the two.
Doug wrote on his Facebook post, “As bummed as I was when I lost it, now I am happy to know my board fell into the hands of someone wanting to learn the sport. I couldn’t imagine a better ending to this story than to see the sport of surfing begin in a place where nobody surfs.”
After being connected, Giovanne shared that Doug’s story moved him, so he offered to give the surfboard back to its original owner. In return, he just made a special request to Doug if he could help gather reading materials for his students and encourage them to try surfing.
“If it weren’t for travel restrictions I would have raised money to bring boards for learning and surf supplies and be on a plane to go and visit Giovanne. I could teach him how to surf and hopefully a few of his 144 students. He is in charge of a school on the islands where my board is and I’m sure some of the kids would love to learn,” Doug wrote.
For now, Doug has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for donations to send Giovanne a package with surfing supplies, as well as books and learning materials for his students. He also aims to buy surfboards to give to Giovanne and the kids.
Doug ended his Facebook post with this note: “At the very least for now I want to send the necessities.” He continued, “Every penny will go to this cause and I’m so excited to put a package together! Thank you to everyone who has donated. It means so much!”
As of writing, Doug Falter’s GoFundMe page has already raised over P100,000 ($2,000).
You can read Doug Falter’s Facebook post of the story here.
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What do you think of this incredible story? Share your thoughts in the comments!