Liz Clark’s dream of sailing around the world started at a young age. Growing up, she spent her time sailing & surfing Santa Barbara’s big blue backyard. In 2006, she set sail from Santa Barbara aboard her 40-foot boat, Swell. Before her voyage began she spent much of her time in the Santa Barbara Harbor preparing her boat for their journey ahead. Now, nearly 12 years later, we had the chance to check in with Liz and her boat Swell and see what they are up to.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your sailing background & your start in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
A: I grew up on sailboats with my family, and learned to sail sabots and lasers as a kid in San Diego. As I was finishing up college at UC Santa Barbara, I had a serendipitous encounter with a retired professor in my field who invited me to sail out to the Channel Islands on one of the boats at the Santa Barbara Sailing Center. I had a fantastic time with Professor Barry Schuyler and his crew of wonderful and interesting friends, and when I crossed paths with Barry a year later, he offered me the use of his Contessa 26, Freya, to sail around the world. After dreaming of an extended sailing trip during my youth, I couldn’t help but take him up on the offer. Our arrangement evolved and I ended up on a bigger boat that is now, Swell, and for two and a half years Barry and I overhauled Swell in the SB harbor into the sea voyager that she is today.
Q: How did sailing in Santa Barbara prepare you for your voyage?
A: The Santa Barbara Channel can give you a bit of everything, so it was great training grounds. I realized after leaving, that Santa Barbara has some of the most beautiful sailing in the world.
Q: How has your sailing vision & goals evolved since you left your home port in Santa Barbara Harbor?
A: I was given an extraordinary opportunity when Barry and Jean Schuyler offered to help me realize my sea-faring dream. Years of sailing and living close to nature have instilled a sense of responsibility in me to protect our Mother Earth and carry on Barry’s legacy of environmental advocacy. I’m currently living on the hook in the South Pacific, doing less sailing and more activism, but it feels right for now.
Q: Can you share one of your ‘Holy Ship’ moments with us?
A: One time Swell was tied to a mooring in front of a friend’s house in Tahiti. I was ashore repairing my dinghy and doing laundry when I looked up and saw Swell drifting away across the lagoon on her own! My dinghy was deflated and I didn’t know if I could get to her before she drifted onto the reef. Luckily, some guys helped me borrow a jet ski to go chase her down and we caught up with her before any damage was done. The mooring line had come unscrewed from the cement block below and off went Swell without her captain!
Q: Do you have some inspiring encouragement for other water enthusiasts who have crazy dreams?
A: I believe that following your dreams, no matter how big or crazy, is what we are here on Earth to do. Taking on those dreams, no matter what they are or how far along the path you get, is the most fulfilling and important thing anyone can do with his or her life. It doesn’t matter if you don’t succeed at the original goal because the person that you will become in pursuit of that goal is what really matters. Self-love and a connection to your personal power come from not being afraid to say yes to what makes your heart leap, again and again and again.
Q: Is there anything in particular that you would like to share with us or let our readers know?
A: I’d like to thank Skip for hosting Swell at the Santa Barbara Sailing Center for many months during the refitting process back in 2005. I didn’t have a slip in the harbor and Skip made it possible for Barry and I to keep Swell there while we finished up the remaining projects so I could sail away safely and well-prepared. I’ll be forever grateful for his support!
Also, my book comes out in March of 2018!
Pictured: Liz aboard Swell in front of the Santa Barbara Sailing Center to sailing somewhere in the South Pacific…
To follow Captain Liz’s journey, follow her blog: http://swellvoyage.com/