When the Volcano Blow
Everything Happens for a Reason.
Jimmy and Timmy Waiting For a Set
Of all the people that Jimmy Buffett spent time with while on Maui, he spent the most with a young surfing couple and their circle of friends. Tim Sherer and his girlfriend Monika Sarrazin run the Goofy Foot Surf School in Lahaina and seem to lead a life straight out of one of Jimmy's songs. If you want to know more about a person, sometimes all you have to do is meet the people he hangs out with. So, while hanging out on the beach one day, I fired up a tape recorder and had a chat with Jimmy's young surfing partners. From an early encounter on St. Barths, Tim has come full circle as a modern day Parrothead.
CD: Tim, I first wanted to ask you about your first encounter with Jimmy.
Tim: My first live encounter with Jimmy happened on the island of St Barths back in early 1984. I used to live on St. Thomas and work on sailboats down there. I finished up a job on a sailboat and on that day, one of my best friends, who worked on another boat invited me to hop aboard for another 24 hours until I figured out what I was going to do next. We left at about 6PM and we arrived the following morning for sunrise in St. Barths. It just worked out that Jimmy was playing a concert at Le Select -- the infamous Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant -- that evening.
We didn't even know that he was going to play until an hour before the show. We'd been by Le Select that day and had read a sign that was all in French. All we could make out was Le Jimmy Buffett. And we sincerely thought that it had something to do with him writing a song about it -- like some special cheeseburger they had on the menu. So when we learned he was playing, we kind of came out of our skin. We had our boat drinks early and then headed over to see him play for about 3 to 500 people at this little bar right on the corner in this little town. We recorded it for our friends back in California and took pictures and just proceeded to get as loose as one could get.
CD: Was it just Jimmy?
Tim: He was playing with the whole Coral Reefer band. It was just an amazing time at a tight little bar. The crowd just spilled out into the street. It was standing room only and we were dancing from begining to end.
CD: Were you guys Buffett fans before seeing the show?
Tim: Sure, but nothing like I was after the show. I was a diehard Parrothead from that moment forward. I had lived in the Caribbean for about 6 months up until that point and that was about how long I had heard of Jimmy Buffett. Being from California, at 17, I thought he was country western for a long time. But every single boat I went out on had Jimmy Buffett music on it, and I started getting more and more introduced to him as I spent time on the water.
After the show that night, I knew I didn't have a place to stay as of sunrise the next morning. And that Sunday morning I was invited to crew on a 70 foot ocean racer called the Southern Cross that night to sail back to St. Thomas. So we left the show, I got back on that boat and we sailed back all night long with Jimmy Buffett songs going off in my head and a little bit of rum mixed in there too.
CD: So you really had a serious early encounter, and then a later one as well. You've traveled a lot of places in between.
Tim: Well, you could say that since I was introduced to Jimmy Buffett music, he's definitely been an ingredient in the formula that I've followed ever since.
I've done a transatlantic crossing on a 62 foot Gulfstar. We sailed the whole Mediterranean, hitchhiked Europe through 18 countries, came back to California to start school -- that lasted for six months. After that, I got on another 62 footer and sailed down through Mexico. Then I did go back to school and got a degree in marketing, then I traveled for another year and went to Indonesia, Australia, India, Nepal and Thailand. When I got back to California, all I wanted to do was procrastinate a real job again -- my Jimmy roots are deep.
So I came over to Hawaii and landed on Maui. And if you've ever been to Maui, you know how good she can be to you -- Maui just opened her arms to me and I took a job teaching surfing for lunch money - til I got my real job. I lived out of my van for a year. And in a period of eight months, I taught about 3000 people to surf for another school. Then I ended up starting up Goofy Foot about a year into being on Maui. Since 1994, the school has taught approximately 40,000 people how to surf, and I've personally taught around 30,000 of them.
It's a complete priveledge and blessing to be able to teach the sport of kings here in Hawaii and to be a maker of dreams come true. Because that's what we do. We take people out in the ocean and show them that they can do something that most people thought they couldn't do. And we get to make a living at it.
CD: Does it ever get old watching the faces of people when they catch their first wave?
Tim: Not for a second. That's why we do it.
CD: So tell me how you guys hooked up with Jimmy this time around.
Tim: In October of '98, I was down in Bali for 5 weeks surfing and traveling, and Monika was working at a restaurant in Lahaina and Jimmy went in there to eat.
Monika: He came in with some friends, and I started talking to him about surfing here and about Goofyfoot, and gave him a brochure. I thought he was such a cool guy. And afterwards I couldn't wait to tell Tim about it down in Bali -- I said, "you'll never guess who I just met!" Because I knew how much Tim loved him.
Tim: I almost got on a plane and came home. She was talking about Jimmy's son coming down for a lesson, and it was soooo tempting.
Shortly after they were all out, Jimmy's trainer and friend, Charlie came out and spent about two weeks here. We ended up really connecting with him and surfing with him every day. Over the last year and a half, we've been keeping in touch.
M: Charlie would sometimes call us up from backstage with his cellphone and he'd just hold it up and not even say a word.
Tim: So I never actually got to meet Jimmy until this trip. They were here for the last show of the tour. So with Charlie being here, and Jimmy loving to surf, we got together to go surfing. I asked permission to kind of coach him and he said ok. And we just had like, a two hour session -- just had an awesome time. Then we proceeded to surf about 5 or 6 sessions over a five day period -- culminating with the surf at Waikiki. Which just, was more than words can say.
CD: In getting to meet and hang out with this guy you've had this connection to for so long, were there any surprises -- like, is he who I expected him to be?
Tim: For me, there were no surprises at all. He was as down to earth as I felt he would be from listening to his music. Even more so. I mean, he walks his talk. He perpetuates the thing that his lifestyle is so much about -- to a T. The reverence we give him is well deserved. And he surfs! Well!
M: I agree with Tim, but the one thing I could add is that I've really liked to see is him interacting with his fans. I hadn't been able to see that before, but being able to see people come up and approach him and tell him how much they appreciate him and his music and what it's done for their lives. To see his response to them, and to think of how many years he's been in the business. For him to still have that Aloha in him and his everyday being -- that's really cool to see. Because I'm sure it's hard to be humble when you're known by everyone.
CD: And there you guys were -- a bunch of surfers hanging out in Waikiki with him.
Tim: It's funny, after the concert, we're sitting with him in the VIP lounge of this beautiful club in Honolulu, which we bypassed a 300 person line to get through. We're feeling like kings, and there's the Pharoah. I sit down in the booth with him, right after the last show of this huge tour -- and I say, 'I don't know what the heck I'm doing here next to you!' And he looks right at me, smiles and says, "everything happens for a reason Timmy. Have a drink."
Contact Tim, Beth or Monica at the Goofy Foot Surf School on Maui at 808-244-WAVE.