Joe Bark does not tire easily. The Palos Verdes shaper / firefighter / freediver / spearfisher / father / surfer / paddler / boardbuilder / husband / harbor patrolman is a study in fusing work and life and passion into one all-day marathon of doing what you love. And what Joe Bark loves is the ocean. Everything flows from there.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, a place teeming with surf and ocean history, Joe took his cues from surfing's "Greatest Generation" of boardbuilders, paddlers and shapers, salt-of-the-earth pioneer types from the '50s and '60s who cut the example the rest of us should follow. In 1983, intrigued by a small group of paddlers bent on resurrecting the then-defunct Catalina Classic (which had been dormant for 20 years), Joe paddled the race, and hasn't missed a crossing since. He won the event twice, in 1988 and 1989.
But to focus on the crossings is to miss most of the Joe Bark story. He made himself his first paddleboard in 1976, and today, Joe Bark Paddleboards is widely recognized as the leading brand in the burgeoning ocean endurance community. He has a long and storied history as a surfer, riding big days at coveted and historic spots in Los Angeles, and when he's not paddling or surfing, he's diving for lobster, spearfishing off Catalina, doing Harbor Patrols in King Harbor, and raising his own children to embrace the waterman ethos he's been so integral in establishing in Southern California.
For Joe, it's not work, it's a life. When he's not on duty at the station, he's up at three (that's a.m., to the rest of us), heading to his shop in Los Angeles, crafting some of the finest paddleboards, the most versatile surfboards, and the most cutting edge, long distance stand-up paddleboards on the planet. And then he's on the water all day, doing what he loves.