Liz Clark

Liz Clark
Pacific Oceani
When Liz was nine, her family spent a year sailing the Mexican coast. “That trip inspired my dream of sailing around the world,” she said. After college she turned her dream into reality, leaving Southern California in her 40-foot sailboat, Swell. Now, when not surfing perfect reef passes in the South Pacific, she’s working to raise environmental awareness through writing and photography.
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Liz Clark

Photo: Tim Davis


Born in San Diego, California, Liz Clark grew up on and in the ocean, fishing, diving, and sailing. Most of her childhood weekends and vacations were spent on her parents’ sailboat. When she was 9, the Clark family left land-life behind and sailed the coast of Mexico for a year, a life-changing experience for Liz.

“That trip inspired both my environmentalism and my dream of sailing around the world,” she recalls.

A few years later, Liz started surfing, another life-altering experience.

“I rode my first wave in 1995. My family had just moved close to the beach in Del Mar, California. I started surfing every day. I excelled in school, but all I really wanted to do was excel in surfing.”

After high school, Liz moved to Santa Barbara to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies, a passion she had maintained since that first sailing trip to Mexico. While she attended UCSB, she also surfed for the school team. She competed for three of her four years at USCB, finishing her 2002 season with a win at Nationals, making her the 2002 NSSA College Women’s Nation Champion.

“That win seemed to put out most of my competitive surfing fire. After that, I shifted my focus back to surf traveling,” says Liz.

After crewing on various boats, Liz gained enough confidence to want to captain her own. After purchasing Swell in early 2004 with the help of a private sponsor, Liz spent two years overhauling the 40-foot sailboat, apprenticing with various marine mechanics, rigging, and sail experts, while preparing both the boat and herself for an extended voyage.

According to Clark, “This was a very busy time. I worked 5 nights a week in a restaurant and spent my days working on the boat and learning everything I could. I had to know about rigging, electrical systems, plumbing, long distance radios, first aid, engines, carpentry, fiberglass and epoxy work, navigation, storm tactics, and weather forecasting and prediction, just to name a few! Sometimes it was too overwhelming, so I’d grab my surfboard and go find some waves.”

Recent Projects

I left California in January of 2006 aboard Swell, and I’ve been sailing to various surf spots down the coast of Central America and in the South Pacific ever since. I plan to continue sailing west around the world through New Zealand, Southeast Asia, down around South Africa, and eventually through the Panama Canal.

Environmental Projects

I’m working to spread environmental consciousness through writing and photography via my Web site I try to inspire people to live closer to nature and to reduce their ecological footprint by living an example of a low-impact lifestyle. My focal points include global warming, alternative energies, sustainable living, and the general health of the oceans, but I write about examples (both good and bad) of environmental happenings I come across out here in the world.
Every day, I consciously try to minimize my impact on the earth. I do my best to eat and live sustainably by utilizing the resources that are closest to me. I use mostly solar (and soon wind) energy to supply my electricity. I pull up my sails and use the wind to push me around the world rather than jet fuel.
Seeing places that are still largely unaffected by human impact has made me realize just how much of the earth we have altered. It is my hope that through my travels and writing, I can help people understand why we must fight to preserve what’s left of our environment and invest our collective human genius to work towards implementing sustainable solutions for humanity to live in harmony with the earth.

Recommended Products

My Rain Shadow Jacket protects me from the sun as well as from the whipping winds and ocean spray. It also doubles to protect my camera gear in case I’m caught out in a downpour! I LIVE in the Adour Bikini Bottoms!

Favorite Web Sites (under construction) – the link to my website on with updates on my travels, photos, and more about my trip aboard Swell. I don’t have access to the internet aboard the boat, so unfortunately I’m not up to speed on all the latest Web sites.

Recommended Reading

Paddling My Own Canoe by Audrey Sutherland

Dove by Robin Lee Graham

Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins

The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder

We the Navigators by David Lewis

Fatu Hiva by Thor Heyerdahl

Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron

The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu

Radical Simplicity by Dan Price

Typee by Herman Melville

The Four Agreements by Don Luis Miguel

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Magazine articles

“The Climate of Man” by Elizabeth Kolbert (The New Yorker, 2005)

“Blue Mountains Constantly Walking” by Liz Clark (Surfer’s Journal Volume 18 No.5)

Supporters of my trip

J7 Surfboards, A-frame Surf Shop, SeshAir, Wend Magazine, Latitude 38 Magazine,, Prolite Surf Accessories, Surf-Vival Reef-friendly Sunscreen, and all my readers and friends and family!

Favorite Quotes

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble
“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” – Thoreau
“Action expresses priorities.” – Mohandas Ghandi
“And tell me, wasn’t that the best time? That time when we were young and at sea, young and had nothing, on the sea that gives nothing except hard knocks and sometimes…a chance to feel your strength.” – Joseph Conrad
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
“I am I plus my surroundings and if I do not preserve the latter, I do not preserve myself.” – Jose Ortega Gasset
“The more you know, the less you need.” – Yvon Chouinard
“Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. Every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state…for it is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm with five hundred men to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific of one’s being alone.” – H.D. Thoreau
“I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.” – Jimmy Buffett
“If you are facing the right direction all you have to do is keep walking.” – Buddhist Proverb
“For all at last returns to the sea – to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the everflowing stream of time, the beginning and the end.” – Rachel Carson

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