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In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,306 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
In 1996, Allan Weisbecker sold his home and his possessions, loaded his dog and surfboards into his truck, and set off in search of his long-time surfing companion, Patrick, who had vanished into the depths of Central America. In this rollicking memoir of his quest from Mexico to Costa Rica to unravel the circumstances of Patrick's disappearance, Weisbecker intimately desc ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 16th 2002 by TarcherPerigee (first published 2001)
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Liquid Comfort - A Surf Story by Cheryl Lee PetroTapping the Source by Kem NunnCaught Inside by Daniel DuaneIn Search of Captain Zero by Allan WeisbeckerThe Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson
Best Books on Surfing for Surfers
4th out of 75 books — 60 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckFear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. ThompsonZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Great Road Novels
7th out of 59 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 13, 2007 lisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: who haven't I recommended this book to?
If they decided to hand out prizes for the individual who bought the most copies of this book, I would win, hands down. For many years, I prodded every single one of my friends, relatives, Romans, and countrymen, to read this, and if they didn’t start reading it that very instant, I managed to foist my copy on them, and of course bought another, and the whole cycle started over. Weisbecker captures something so compelling throughout this book, and being broken down in an end of the road Central ...more
May 05, 2008 Elena rated it really liked it
As a recent convert to the love of surfing, I practically devoured this book for it's "On the Road" with a surfing twist story. It was a great memoir with great surf descriptions, I could practically feel the waves under me as I read some of his prose. For those who don't surf, it's as close as you can get without actually getting wet and for those that do surf and are as landlocked as I am . . . it's the next best thing.
Jul 18, 2016 Cherie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-audio
I actually spent a week listening to this audio book. It was quite the road trip. I enjoyed the scenery, the places the author visited, and the people he met along the way. I didn't understand some of what happened to his friend. I liked the information on surfing and the beach life. I always wondered how it felt to "hang ten".

I had a good time listening to the story, narrated by Joe Barrett. If I had not been looking for books narrated by Joe, I would probably never have come across this book.
noah herrera
Nov 10, 2011 noah herrera rated it really liked it
In Search of Captain Zero by Allan Weisbecker is a true story about Allan and his venture of finding his best friend Christopher. Before he leaves he sells his house and takes his dog and his truck with a camper he calls “La Casita” through Mexico and Central America. His story is told from his perspective and uses a lot of surf slang.
He spends a lot of time surfing while on the way to Costa Rica. But his trip isn’t all smooth sailing though. His truck breaks down multiple times and ends up ha
Darrell Reimer
May 26, 2010 Darrell Reimer rated it it was ok
Allan C. Weisbecker’s memoir In Search Of Captain Zero is the latest addition to my surfer’s library. For reasons that didn’t become clear to me until the very end of the book, Weisbecker is keen, almost desperate, to relocate an old friend and former drug-running partner who’s disappeared in South America. Weisbecker throws his surfboards into a camper, calls his dog and drives down the west coast right into Costa Rica looking for his friend, catching more than a few bitchin' waves en route.

Mar 01, 2009 E. rated it really liked it
I wish I could review books by genres. I actually wish I could review everything by genre. When someone asks me my favorite burrito place my first question in response is always "what sort of burrito?"

I mean, do you want greasy authentic burrito, or are you talking california style grilled chicken and black beans on a wheat job. I'm not implying one is better than the other, just that they are very different things. Depends on what you are in the mood for.

Captain Zero could easily get 5 stars in
James Klueber
Apr 08, 2012 James Klueber rated it really liked it
In the book "In Search of Captain Zero",Weisbecker uses characterization, alliteration and setting to turn this book into a page turner. The story is about Weisbecker's search for lost friend who he believes is in Mexico surfing. The whole story is about his journey to look for his friend and the surf, drug trafficking and other exciting events they shared together.
His use of characterization is really important to this story's development because it gives the read an idea of what the people
E. C. Koch
Jan 26, 2016 E. C. Koch rated it really liked it
Recommended to E. C. by: R J Mark
When a certain kind of friend (intelligent and cool with her politics and philosophy in line with your own, you know the type) recommends a book to you you are at once forced to purchase the book and to then cower in fear because maybe you're not ready or maybe you're going to let your friend down with your reaction to the book etc., etc., and so the book sits unread on your shelf collecting dust looking at you as you select other newer books while it waits like a burden guilting you like an unc ...more
May 21, 2014 Aubrey rated it it was ok
I usually don't read memoirs or autobiographies so this was the first in a genre that I am currently exploring. My dad is an avid surfer and lent me the book not for that fact, since I have really no interest or experience with the sport, but because he thought I would enjoy the accounts of drug smuggling that the author was involved in that acted as a means to finance his surfing excursions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his adventures in South America and shady dealings with Colombian dru ...more
Andy Theyers
Sep 03, 2008 Andy Theyers rated it it was amazing
In Search of Captain Zero is Allan C Weisbecker's second novel, and a considerably different work from the first gonzo/physics/pot smuggling affair, Cosmic Banditos.

He used to be an Internet sensation. Back in 1989 (ish) he wrote his first novel - Cosmic Banditos - a riotous tale of quantum physics and marijuana smuggling. It didn’t sell in either the US or the UK and, in a fit of generosity, the author sent all of his copies to the soldiers on active duty in the first Gulf War. Slowly but surel
Andrea Blythe
Oct 02, 2013 Andrea Blythe rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
3 and 1/2 stars.

This is a book that I've had on my bookshelf forever, which I picked up because I have a fascination with surfing. I love the idea of it, of standing up on a board and letting a wave carry you. I can imagine the joy of it, can imagine finding what Weisbecker describes as The Glide. (I've only tried it once on a water logged board and it was miserable just trying to just keep the nose of the board above water.)

This book begins with Weisbecker dropping everything and abandoning h
Nov 10, 2011 Hung rated it it was amazing
In Search of Captain Zero by Allan Weisbecker is a very suspenseful book that has problems and fun in every chapter. Written in parts, Weisbecker writes about his journey to Central America in search of Captain Zero, his best friend. Thinking that his journey was going to be a quick and safe one, he didn't expect the many twist and turns that confronted him. From there, Weisbecker was forced to fight for his own safety and quickly find his best friend.
The one and only character in this book tha
Sep 14, 2008 Ted rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: travelers, surfers
Recommended to Ted by: Ama, Ron, Sven, Regina, Surf magazines, etc
2008/09/07: I'm almost 1/4 done, and so far it is holding up to the numerous recommendations to read it that I've been given over the last couple years.

Some of the descriptions are a little too-flowery and lengthy for my taste, but not too much. It still reads pretty fast and interestingly.

Woven into the plot, characters, observances, commentaries and conclusions, there is also a good amount of history of surfing, its lifestlye, and the technicalities of surfing - so that's pretty cool, too.

Dec 03, 2008 Garen rated it really liked it
Mr. Weisbecker is a strange fellow indeed. A man's man if ever there was one. This is a tale of his trip down the entirety of the American continent in search of, what else, perfect waves and his long lost buddy. Accompanying him on this journey is none other than his faithful dog Shiner, who is about as good a dog as ever was. Part Heart of Darkness, part Endless Summer, this novel transcends the act of surfing and ends much like Melville's Moby Dick - empty, yet wholly real.

This guy has lived
Theo Logos
May 26, 2012 Theo Logos rated it really liked it
First let me say that I have never surfed, and other than watching Point Break, am ignorant of surfing culture. Likewise, I have never journeyed south of the border, and I certainly never was an international drug smuggler (though I have been known to inhale). That said, Mr. Weisbecker's writing put me right there, and made me feel that I was participating in these adventures. He vividly and viscerally described surfing to the point that I felt the rush, and almost tasted salt water. His recreat ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Irott rated it it was amazing
This was the perfect book for me at this point in my life.
Having been thrust into a world of no responsibilities, I found myself somewhat lost and confused as to what I should do. Luckily, the world is what it is and I embraced it. Learning to surf and to take life as what is in front of me, right now, has opened my eyes to the miracle of everything and anything.

Life is an adventure.

This book only reaffirmed that notion. "The only constant is change"; "anything can happen"; "you never no whats a
May 12, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adventurers, surfers, and journey enthusiasts
Recommended to Brian by: IAN!!! (thanks buddy!)
To make this drink:

1 oz Hunter S. Thompson (preferred gonzo style)
2 oz Joseph Conrad (either/or Lord Jim & Heart of Darkness)
1/2 oz Jack Kerouac
1 oz Jimmy Buffet lyrics
Shake well with ice and pour into a highball glass. Sip and enjoy.

This book was so enjoyable for a myriad or reasons. The author is a phenomenal writer and keeps the pages turning. If you are into "journey" stories this one is up there with any of the best. The author constantly flatters Conrad with blatant imitations to "He
Jul 04, 2009 David rated it did not like it
This is what I tried to read when Twilight turned out to be horrible and this ended up being pretty bad too. It is the non-fiction account of the author’s journey from New York to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica in his truck (he’s looking for a friend he hasn’t heard from in a while). The problem is that he surfs along the way and can’t stop saying how great he is. So there are endless and mind numbing descriptions of waves and how incredibly great and important surfing is. But once he gets out of Mexi ...more
Otis Chandler
Jan 09, 2007 Otis Chandler rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: surfers
Almost every surfer I know has recommended this, so I finally read it. I've never really found a surf book I liked, but this was closest. I'm not sure if the author and I would have been surf buddies (he's 50, a longboarder, picks fights, and used to run drugs), but he's definitely a great story-teller. And his adventures traveling from Mexico to Costa Rica are a trip. He does a great job weaving in stories from his younger days, stories of his pot smuggling days, and stories of his journey to m ...more
Mar 10, 2010 Tom rated it liked it
Surfing, drug-running, high seas adventure. I'f you've never been into surfing, this book probably won't interest you much. The quality of the writing is a bit patchy - downright awful at the beginning. But there are depictions of some very dangerous situations that have a lot of punch, suspence, and humor.

The episode about an ocean rescue during a major storm is a highlight. The narator's arrogance and casual attitude undergo a radical change when reality finally hits and his cr
Apr 07, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it
This book was a romp through the life of a madman, more or less. Crazy life of surfing, following that dream and living it to the fullest, drug smuggling in order to support the surfing life, travel. No fear.Sort of a gonzo expedition. I enjoyed it and could relate to the draw of the sea and the travels through Mexico and Central America at an unsettled time.(Which is always, I suppose.)
Sep 13, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
One of those rare books where I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. I have never surfed and as I approach 50 in three months I probably never will, but to enjoy this book you don't have to have surfed. The writing is poetic without being wordy, and the experiences that the author has had prior to embarking on the travel/life experience this book describes, is amazing.
Tim Jin
Dec 06, 2013 Tim Jin rated it liked it
You don't have to be a surfer to enjoy "In Search of Captain Zero." Think as if you are watching "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and you don't have to be a drug addict to enjoy the movie. By all means, I'm not a surfer, but I like watching people taking barrels, catching waves and wiping out. The book is not all about surfing because that would make a boring read, but it's about going on a surf trip and meeting all kinds of people along the coast.

The action thickens where the characters gets i
Matthew Klobucher
Jul 29, 2012 Matthew Klobucher rated it really liked it
This book is a heartfelt memoir, filled with enough casual explanations of various surf spots and techniques for a non-surfer to enjoy the deep and detailed enjoyment of the author for the sport (hobby? lifestyle?). In the author's trip from Montauk Point in Long Island down to the West Coast and then into Central America, he shows us the sometimes forced gaiety of the surfing community, the clash of practicalities with the surfer community, his own love of surfing, and he even delves a bit into ...more
Mar 24, 2011 Matts rated it it was amazing
I have recommended this book countless times to travelers and friends alike in the past number of years.

Allan Weisbecker tells the autobiographical tale of his search for an old friend who has disappeared without warning, leaving his whole life behind in the US. With a trailer full of supplies, his faithful dog and an array of surfboards, A.C. embarks on his midlife odyssey from Montuak, New York and through Central America in search of his lost companion.

Weisbecker's take on life and loss coupl
Oct 09, 2012 Dale rated it really liked it
I read this book several years ago and enjoyed it. I like the travel log style of writing and the stories of surf spots in central America. The surfing culture has always interested me ever since the mid 60's. Maybe growing up listening to Jan&Dean or the Beach Boys has had something to do with it. I remember going to the "cult movie" Endless Summer at the Playboy Theater in the summer of 1967. This past summer, 2012 I was in New Buffalo, Mich. and saw a surf shop that advertised Lake Michig ...more
Apr 18, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
A memoir worth reading -- original surfer culture, drug running up from Mexico, the journey this author travelled is unmatched in any memoir I've read to date in its flaunting of the status quo.
Aug 20, 2011 Melody rated it it was ok
I might have liked this book more if I was more into mana. It's a surfing book and I knew that going in, and the descriptions of great surfing were intriguing but to feel sympathetic with the narrator, you need to be a bro-bra. Because, surfing can't be just everything, dude. The tales of travel were good and his stories about the drug trade were crazy! And some of the episodes had some good humor, but I was also reading David Sedaris short stories at the same time, so I might be giving Weisbeck ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Danm rated it really liked it
It's very wordy and drawn out in the beginning. Definitely not for the casual reader. If it weren't for the ending, I would rate it a 3, but the ending is powerful and memorable.
Dan Wool
Aug 03, 2014 Dan Wool rated it really liked it
A little "On the Road". A little "Heart of Darkness". A little "Fear and Loathing..." All punctuated by some beautiful surfing non-fiction. Wild, poignant and ultimately a little tragic but a lot of fun.
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