DAVID “DC” CHALMERS
1945 – 2007
“I trust the process of life.
I’m on an endless journey through eternity,
and I have plenty of time!”
— Dave Chalmers
David Chalmers, known as “DC” to his friends, didn’t
work. He didn’t have a mortgage or a credit card. He had no computer
or cell phone. And typical of so many from his generation, surfing
was the primary motivation in his life.
“I trust the process of life.
I’m on an endless journey through eternity, and I have plenty of time!”- Dave Chalmers
And yet, people will be talking about him for generations to come.
Dave Chalmers was half of the surfing team of “DC & Max.” With his
terrier mutt he surfed every major point and reef break from Long
Beach to Cabo San Lucas, sharing his philosophy and homegrown wisdom
with everyone in his path.
In the 1970s the story of “DC & Max” was captured on film by the crew
of “Those Amazing Animals,” a national television show featuring cute
pet tricks. They were recognized everywhere as surfing ambassadors,
and Max was voted by the show’s audiences as one of their “ten
favorite amazing animals.”
Unexpectedly for DC and Max it meant their simple lifestyle was
thrust into the public spotlight, and a form of immortality no one
could have imagined would ensue.
Surfer, gardener, surfboard repairman, poet S Dave Chalmers died
peacefully May 3 following a long bout with cancer. His family was
with him and he was happy. He was 62 years old.
David Gordon Chalmers was born in Montreal, Canada in 1945. Two years
later his family moved to San Diego. Dave and his sister attended
Hilltop High School in Chula Vista.
For a time his life could be considered “normal.” He married his high
school sweetheart, had a son, held down a good job at Rohr, and even
ran for Coronado City Council.
But the call of the sea and a less demanding lifestyle nagged at him
constantly. He left his job. He and his wife separated. He devoted
his time to the beach, and then one day a scruffy mutt with a bad
over bite named Max entered his life.
Max was a Terrier mix that, according to one account from DC, was a
gift from his wife in 1973. During their time together, DC & Max were
the subject of two Surfer Magazine Extra features (’77 and ’83), they
were written about in Surfing Magazine, and Wind Surf Magazine.
The duo were also featured in the National Enquirer, San Diego
Magazine, Coronado Magazine, the San Diego Union, Evening Tribune,
the San Diego Log, and the Coronado Journal. Their picture adorned
the cover of Visitor Magazine, and they made several appearances on
local television news shows.
Along the way they were featured in a half-hour Mexican film, a Fruit
& Berry Punch TV commercial, and the surf film, “A Matter of Style.”
During their five-minute segment in the surf film the crowd howled
For another decade after the release of “Those Amazing Animals,”
syndicated reruns would air in places like Japan, Australia, Israel,
and Mexico. DC would continue to receive mail all during that time
period from people who had seen the show.
DC claimed he and the dog had surfed every point and reef break from
Santa Barbara to Cabo San Lucas.
They surfed Rincon on an overhead day (six-foot-plus) and traveled
across the border to Mexico more than 100 times. Twice DC let Max
steer his father’s sailboat from San Diego to Catalina.
Being with them in the water was an amazing adventure in itself.
Chalmers’ timing and agility on a big wave were well respected among
his peers. He had great knowledge of the sport’s history, the
technique, and the “old school” approach to surfing often referred to
today as “soul surfing.”
He would spot a peak on the horizon before anyone else, paddle into
the right spot, drop to the bottom of a sizeable wave, hit the
drop-knee turn, and then join Max on the nose.
Max would hang on throughout, eyes focused on the wave the whole
time. If the wave started to shut down, DC somehow would have one
hand for the dog’s scruffy neck, and another for his board (DC never
wore a board leash) as he performed one of his patented “squatting
There were times DC couldn’t afford to put a good meal on his own
table, but he always made sure Max had food to eat. In better times
DC would roll ginseng, vitamins, and bee pollen into Max’s dog
biscuits to keep him healthy.
DC never tired of sharing Max with the kids, whether it was one or
two on the street or at the beach, or entire classrooms.
When speaking to young students in the classroom, Max would stamp his
“mark” on photos of the famous surfing couple. Coronado photographer
Steve Ogles captured a perfect photograph of the two surfing in
Coronado, of which 15,000 postcards were made. DC and Max were always
equipped with a stack of postcards for curious children.
The simple life was what Dave Chalmers craved, and he did a pretty
good job of capturing that dream up until the very end. Nothing made
him happier than surfing point break waves, working in his garden, or
hanging with friends.
His gardens were works of art, adorned with smatterings of flotsam
and jetsam he retrieved from the beach — lobster floats, nets, old
signs, pieces of broken surfboards, and the like.
Part of a poem he wrote more than 30 years ago, called “Happy Simple
Life,” seems to sum up his lifestyle:
“My time is not of money, but of living and giving what I have
learned in life, to those good friends of mine who have the time to
David Chalmers is survived by his son Scott (and Shawna) Chalmers,
two grandchildren (Tyler and Summer Chalmers), his sister Stephenie
(and Tom) Garrett, and ex-wife Candy Aegerter. He is pre-deceased by
parents, Raymond and Dolly Chalmers.
A paddle-out will take place Saturday, May 19, 9 a.m., between Gator
Beach and Shipwrecks, near the Coronado Shores. The paddle-out will
be followed by a Celebration of Life from 1-3 p.m., at Tent City
Restaurant, 1100 Orange Avenue, Coronado. The family invites his many
friends to participate at both events, and request that all donations
be made in lieu of flowers to the San Diego Hospice (4311 Third
Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103) “in memory of David Chalmers.”