Pleasure Point: Key characters and famous folks

Jay Moriarity on a big wave
This classic shot of Jay Moriarity, captured by Santa Cruz photographer Bob Barbour, graced the cover of Surfer Magazine and made the 16-year-old famous.
(Via JayRace Instagram / Bob Barbour)

Jay Moriarity

My old neighbor and idol, Jay Moriarity showed a lot of patience with me. A world-renowned Mavericks charger and waterman by the time he graduated high school, he was one of my favorite people to surf with, especially when the waves picked up. He never barked at me for tugging his wetsuit sleeve, asking him everything possible about surfing big waves, especially Mavericks.

Kim Moriarity, surrounded by hundreds wha paddled out for Jay, prepares to spread her husband's ashes off Pleasure Point.
(Via Boots McGhee)

To the horror of the Pleasure Point community, Moriarity died while free diving in the Maldives in 2001. During a Team O’Neill photoshoot, Moriarity went off to free-dive solo and never came back. His teammates were devastated when the 22-year-old was found dead due to drowning. His death was a devastating blow to the entire surf community, especially his longboard crew, big wave brethren and new bride, Kim.

A big-budget Hollywood film based on his life filmed in the area came out in 2012, “Chasing Mavericks.” They did a decent job capturing Moriarity’s inspirational tale, yet it still kind of felt like a cash grab to many who knew him well.

Ashley Lloyd

Ashley Lloyd Thompson, surfer, shaper, artist, musician and mom, is another one of Pleasure Point’s MVPs. She’s made a name for herself as a surfboard shaper in an industry almost entirely dominated by men and can be found surfing all types of surf craft on any given day at the Point.

Lloyd is a highly skilled surfer in her own right, and competed at the professional level for a number of years, but nowadays directs her focus on having fun with friends and family. By the looks of the smile that’s permanently plastered on her mug, it’s safe to say she’s found her sweet spot.

Marciano Cruz, aka “Chango”

Cruz has been living in Pleasure Point for the past 20 years. If you surf the Point regularly, you’re bound to spot him in the lineup, with his dark brown Mayan features, loud laughs and piercing whistles of excitement. Despite learning the sport in his 30s, the native of Oaxaca, Mexico, has honed his longboarding technique over the years, becoming a very skilled and valued member of the Point’s surfing scene.

Cruz has competed locally and up and down the California coastline and has been involved in volunteer work at the Resource Center for Nonviolence and in the Beach Flats neighborhood.

Grace and Darshan Gooch

Two positive lights in the Pleasure Point community, Grace and Darshan are skilled surfers and ambassadors of stoke. Darshan had a knack for shredding at a young age, earning sponsorships and success as a professional surfer. After extensive tutelage from the late, great Jay Moriarity, “Darsh” — as many call him — matured into a man of positivity and stoke in and out of the water. He began mentoring me at 10 years old and continues to inspire me and many others to this day.

His wife, Grace, who works as an esthetician, is equally sweet, and can be found surfing the Point with a giant smile on any given day. The two met in the early 2000s, eventually getting married and now have two children, 11-year-old Jaya and 7-year-old Raea.

James Antonelli

Known by his alias, “The Mayor,” Antonelli has been an integral member of the Pleasure Point surf scene for decades. Nicknamed due to his dedication and time spent surfing the breaks around 26th Avenue, Antonelli is an expert tube rider. With lightning-quick humor, Antonelli can be counted on to leave the lineup in stitches with his comedy. He’s also infamous for delivering the bad news, real or fake, to surfers entering the lineup: “You shoulda been here yesterday!”

Over the past 25 years, “The Mayor” has been using old maps and residential blueprints to sniff out excavation sites all around the county. His collection of bottles is remarkable, with some very rare, expensive and beautiful finds.

Manu Koenig

Koenig left his role as CEO at Greenway after he sought, and won, the seat of longtime Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold in 2020. He ran on an agenda that prioritized the Greenway trail-only plan then watched the Greenway-led Measure D get handily defeated by county voters in the June primary election. Koenig learned the hard way about Pleasure Point’s vigor to keep the status quo when a temporary change to Portola Drive was met with overnight anarchy — newly installed pylons separating bike lanes from traffic were ripped out of the road and chucked all about.

Manu Koenig.
(Jason Smith / For Lookout Santa Cruz)

Koenig, 36, represents a changing of the guard in Santa Cruz politics. And while he’s got a lot more dancing to do in order to convince Pleasure Point neighbors that their area must grow and help absorb some of the county’s absurd housing deficiency, supporters seem to love his progressive agenda and youthful vigor. He even surfs, so that can’t hurt his cred in this neighborhood.

Dave Nelson

“Nelly” is a man who cannot sit still. This legendary surf photographer is constantly in motion and his body of work reflects this force of nature. Nelly got his big break being hired as a senior photographer at the internationally published Transworld Surf magazine. On assignment, he traveled around the world documenting the best surfers in the world on the best waves in the world. He also helped launch many surf careers, working with pro surfers such as Matt Rockhold, Bud Freitas and Austin Smith-Ford, to name a few.

Transworld Surf left the print world in 2014, yet Nelson’s work continues to proliferate on the web and hangs as prints within many local restaurants, coffee houses and people’s homes. He’s still swimming out into frigid, shark-infested waters to capture surfers threading through giant, neck-breaking tubes.

When he’s not shooting photos, you’re most likely to find him skating, playing golf or spending quality time with his wife and daughter. His latest accomplishment, “Dual Perspective,” is a giant coffee table book full of his decades-spanning work. If you look hard enough, you might even spot a photo of me.

Buzz Anderson

Buzz Anderson owned Mid County Auto Supply for years, supplying auto parts all over town. Along with his wife Jenny, Anderson raised his three boys on 16th Avenue, just a pebble’s toss from the sand at Sunny Cove. With a sweet pool table in a garage with a fridge stocked with sodas, Anderson always allowed his sons’ friends to congregate at their surfside A-frame home in between surf sessions and beach hangouts.

A father figure to many, he’s also a volunteer and staunch supporter of the well-being of our community. His son Blake is the current harbormaster, while his middle son, F.J., makes his living creating hyperrealistic oil paintings. His youngest, Kyle, is an architect in San Francisco.

Anderson also has a way with the written word. He recently completed work on a 749-page historical fiction novel entitled “Five Hundred Moons,” which uses the missionary days of Santa Cruz as a setting to tell a fine tale of romance and action.

Marty the Mechanic

To anyone who knew Martin Schreiber, they saw an eccentric and cheerful soul who never had a foul word to speak about anything or anybody. He was relied on as a trusted mechanic for the Pleasure Point neighborhood and far beyond. In his retirement years, Schreiber was a fixture down on the concrete slab at the bottom of the Rockview staircase.

The memorial for Marty The Mechanic sits below the stairs at Rockview.
(Mark Conley / Lookout Santa Cruz)

He became infamous for his early-morning, wetsuit-less surf sessions, when he would paddle out on his foamie board, donning only his trunks and a wetsuit hood, no matter how cold the water got. In 2017, Schreiber went out doing what he loved, suffering a heart attack while surfing Sewer Peak. A memorial plaque was set into the concrete slab, renaming the area “Marty Mechanic Beach.” It’s not rare to see surfers pat the plaque as they walk by, or to decorate it with flowers and driftwood, honoring the humble and loving soul.

Charles Paulden

Charles “Every-day Chuck” Paulden, my next-door neighbor, has fought long and hard to preserve the Pleasure Point community for decades. The bearded, pony-tail-rocking yoga instructor earned his name for his commitment to surfing Sewer Peak as much as humanly possible, and can be spotted bicycling around town in his signature look: sweatpants, a hooded sweatshirt and leather jacket, rain or shine.

Charles Paulden, aka "Everyday Chuck."
(Via Neal Kearney)

Paulden wanted to keep the sleepy and rootsy nature of Pleasure Point intact and saw the outside interests of wealthy real estate owners as writing on the wall. For years, he made this point abundantly clear during town hall meetings. Despite his efforts, which included trying to keep the Roadhouse intact as a historical site and community center, most of his visions for the preservation of the Point have failed.

He even planted the seeds for a campaign against John Leopold for 1st District Supervisor, yet that failed to gain traction. With such a strong passion for the Pleasure Point area, Paulden’s presence became abrasive to many, but I can guarantee that a good portion of those folks wished now that they’d have heeded his warnings earlier.

James Durbin

As James Durbin’s eighth-grade history teacher, my mom could see a charismatic kid full of energy. Little did she know that he’d go on to finish an impressive fourth place on the 10th season of “American Idol” in 2011. The hugely popular musical talent search unearthed worldwide stars such as Kelly Clarkson and remained at No. 1 in the ratings for an unprecedented eight years.

James Durbin.

Durbin was such a fan favorite he received a homecoming previously given to only the top three contestants, a first for the show. His homecoming, dubbed “Durbin Day,” was shown briefly on the top-three performance show. He then went on to appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” just to name a few.

He’s still making music to this day, most recently releasing a 2021 heavy metal album entitled “The Beast Awakens,” and performing all around town with his band, The Lost Boys. Durbin is now married with two children.