PIER RATS is a comic adventure that follows thirteen-year-old Lance Stratton through his first year of surfing. In his single-minded effort to learn to surf, Lance finds himself distanced from his old friends and scoffed by the surfers at the beach. Despite their reluctance, Lance is eventually accepted as a Pier Rat, setting in motion a surf-obsessed journey of self-discovery. The story takes place in Ventura, California, 1972-73, a time when a wipeout means swimming for your board, the local Surf Shop is more clubhouse than business, and growing crowds are generating hostility in the water. Lance plunges into the culture, joining in surf sacrifices, pillaging for food, and harassing Southers. But, when his antics land him in hot water with Surf Shop owner/mentor, Dennis, he is banned from the shop. Attempting to sort things out, Lance heads on a surf trip with some friends in a VW bus they call the Turd. A chilling encounter with a tarantula has them believing they've been cursed, and sure enough, bad things happen, including Lance's new surfboard being swept to sea. Now board-less and trying to earn back Dennis' trust, Lance learns his board's been spotted in Hobo Jungle. He goes there and is at first intrigued with the lawless bums and their carefree lifestyle. But when the hobo's demands for his surfboard rise, so do Lance's fears.