5 questions with... Margaret Seelie

When we joined the zine community, we knew we were among good company! Find out more about Margaret Seelie, founder of Other Side of Surfing and curator of Seawitches



Margaret is one of the many wonderful women we’ve befriended as begin our journey into the creative world of zine making. We can’t identify with her shark dodging life in Northern California, but just like us she’s passionate about equality, diversity and creating communities. And like the many other women we’ve featured on our #ColdWaterWomenSeries, she embodies what it means to be a feminist and a wave addict. Enjoy!

1. Hey, Margaret! It’s so cool to join the surf zine community and meet like-minded people like yourself! Tell us a bit more about who you are and what you do…
Hi! Well, I'm a writer, artist, and feminist living in San Francisco, California. In 2015, I founded the Other Side of Surfing, a project that creates community around diversity in surfing and skating. I curate events, publish a magazine, and host a podcast. In 2017 I launched a zine for waterpeople called Seawitches

2. That’s so cool. We like to dip into skating now and again too! How did you get into surfing? 
Growing up land-locked in Ohio, my bedroom walls were plastered with surf ads. After moving to California and seeing the film Dear & Yonder, I bought a wetsuit at a second-hand shop, started riding the bus to the beach and renting a board.

The first few years of surfing were lonely. Eventually, I bought a car and my own board. People started saying hi in the lineup and showing me where the channels are. Now I have a crew of wave-riding friends who I catch waves with both locally and abroad!

Cold water means mornings pulling on your damp wetsuit before dawn, and numb fingertips and toes. In Northern California, it also means sharks. My home break is in the ‘Red Triangle’, which is a great white shark breeding ground.
— Margaret Seelie

3. And now that you’re fully immersed, what does being a cold water surfer mean to you? 
Cold water means mornings pulling on your damp wetsuit before dawn, and numb fingertips and toes. In Northern California, it also means sharks. My home break is in the "Red Triangle", which is a great white shark breeding ground. Some of the female sharks can grow to be eighteen feet (about 5 meters); they're basically the size of a school bus. Friends have seen 'landlords' in the line-up, but you're more likely to get in a car accident on your way to the beach than attacked by a shark. 

4. That’s a pretty crazy idea for us in ‘shark-free’ Wales. Do you have any favourite spots in winter? Presumably ones without sharks?
In Northern California, swells can get huge. When locals are frothing for big waves at Ocean Beach or legends like Bianca Valenti are charging monsters at Mavericks, I like to sneak away to a little hippie town north of San Francisco. It's a feral place with rocky cliffs and long peeling rights and lefts. 

5. Long lefts… that sounds like a goofy footers dream. Do you have a pre & post surf routine?

When I enter the sea, I ask for patience, passage, and protection. It's a ritual that honors the power of the ocean and acknowledges the frailty of my humanity. A reminder that I am a guest in this place. 

When I get out, I run across the freezing sand and grab the "upgrade" (as my fiancé and I call it). It's a big jug of hot water wrapped in neoprene that we pour down our suits; a major upgrade after a frigid session. On weekends when I have more time, I get a day-pass to my favorite surf club, Traveler, and treat myself to a hot shower and a sauna. Stop by next time you're in Northern California and say hi!

We most certainly will! Thank you so much for taking your time to talk to us, Margaret!

Thanks for having me, Daughters of the Sea. Stoked to see another voice joining the conversation and honored to be your seaster. 

If you want to find out more about Margaret & her projects:

Daughters of the Sea