As a surfer and environmentalist enchanted by foreign waves and cultures, I left California aboard my 40-foot sailboat in early 2006. The world has since shown me more amazing people, waves, adventures, natural beauty, personal insights, and alternative ways to living than I ever dreamed possible!! Swell serves as my floating home and transportation. I travel at a pace not much faster than you can run. The weather, swell, and tides dictate my days. This isn’t just a surf trip, it’s a lifestyle.

I’ve reduced my daily impact on the earth. I live closer to nature. Solar and wind power provide my electricity. I use less, need less, and want less, yet have never felt more fulfilled. At times the work seems endless and the uncertainties too daunting, yet without these the rest would never be as sweet. That’s the give and take of adventure. I enjoy, but don’t exploit the waves I find, leaving out their location so that those who get inspired enough to go looking might still find places without surf camps or crowds and experience the sensation of venturing into the unknown and being rewarded-a feeling that is, for me, as precious as the empty waves.

The voyage evolves as I continue to learn. I spent the first year and a half gaining confidence as a captain, with different friends as crew, while traveling down the western coast of Mexico and Central America. After announcing that I intended to sail to the South Pacific alone, my mother volunteered to accompany me, an offer I gladly accepted. We spent 22 unforgettable days sailing across the largest expanse of open ocean on the planet. With the mysteries of blue water sailing behind me, I spent the next year exploring French Polynesia and eastern Kiribati mostly on my own. I take more time in each place now, after realizing that if I don’t, I end up just fixing the boat in every port and missing out on what I sailed all this way to discover. I now prefer to travel alone, indulging in the freedom of solitude and making choices based on weather and swell forecasts rather than itineraries. And so I continue west around the globe with no real ‘plan’, only the intention to positively impact the world, better myself, and cherish each glorious, bizarre, painful, and unbelievable experience that makes simply ‘living’ on this planet the unavoidable adventure that it is.

A WHALE of a THANKS to all the people and companies who have contributed to my journey in SO many ways, and to YOU, the reader, whose support gives me strength through the toughest times. I write these blogs to give you a portal into the experiences I’m so fortunate to be having and hopefully provide encouragement for anyone looking to overcome fear and follow their heart.


Be Sociable, Share!


  1. jason

    Like many, I heard about your departure soon after you left the states a few years back. I have been following at a distance, reading, and wondering. For some reason I chose today to say “hi”. Coming from someone who has directly and indirectly devoted himself to openness of spirit and body through the pursuit of waves and has spent more than his share of time “sleeping in the dirt” through the pursuit of various disciplines, I respectfully take my hat off to you. Thanks for showing some how to breathe and for taking those of us who presently are walking a different path, to the place we know all too well. Be safe… j

  2. lizzy

    Thanks Jason…truly a pleasure to serve the world this way. wishing you the very best, Liz

  3. Don Rogers

    Lizzy, I just started working with your dad a couple of months ago and think he’s a great guy. We were having dinner in Chicago with a bunch of colleagues tonight and he told some great Lizzy stories. I have a daughter also and have
    a very special relationship with her too. Good luck on your voyages

  4. lizzy

    Thanks, Don! My dad is my hero and my dearest friend. I’m so glad you’re enjoying some time with him! thank you for the well wishes. much love to you and your daughter! :) Lizzy

  5. Kyle

    Hope you made some time to have a wicked awesome International Surf Day, keep up the stoke and inspiration!

  6. Hood

    Your pictures of your trip rock

  7. BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS – Live and Be Well

    [...] Check out her pics and great words of description and wonder at http://www.swellvoyage.com/about/. [...]

  8. Rafael

    Get well soon Liz, the post you wrote about your recovery experience was very powerful, your attitude and perspective is pure inspiration.

    Kind regards,

  9. Dave

    Nov. 12, 2012
    Following your adventure from Gig Harbor, WA.
    Discovered your site from Totem, hails from nearby Bainbridge, WA in Puget Sound near Seattle.
    Smooth sailing!

  10. Giulia

    Hey lizzy !! Im from Brazil and i love all the stories that you share with us!! Thank you for sharing!! Btw.. When is book gonna come out?? I cant wait for that!! :)
    Thank you again for sharing with us all these amazing stories!!
    Bye and kisses from Brazil !!

  11. Kurt Gurtuna

    Hello Again,
    Just checked out your site after posting my first comment. Very Cool! You have Swell (“Maria”) as your friend. Since 1967 I’ve held a very special place for her.
    I hope we connect sometime.
    When Maria had a bowsprit, 70-72, we were the first with a partial asymmetrical spinnaker that had a full-length zipper, was 2oz. Dark blue and only got pulled on deck if it was blowing in the upper 20′s to high 30′s. A real “Ride”.
    Cheers to you,

  12. David Pangburn


    I’m 73 and for years I have dreamed of going to French Polynesia, especially after I read Fatu-Hiva Back To Nature back in 1974. I recently resurrected this book from my library and reread it. I have been an admirer of Thor Heyerdahl since I was a very young man and had read about his voyage across the Pacific on the raft, Kon Tiki. I’m an aspiring writer and have been planning for some time now to retrace Thor and Liv Heyerdahl’s voyage to the Marquesas and try to see and experience as much as possible what is chronicled in the Fatu-Hiva book. I have done a lot of research to date and just happened to stumble upon your blog while trying to determine whatever hapened to Liv Heyerdahl.

    I still want to go to French Polynesia but now must put aside my Return To Fatu-Hiva adventure and documentary. While I am saddened to have to cancel my plans to retrace Heyerdahl’s adventure on Fatu-Hiva, I admire you for what you have accomplished in doing what I wish I could have done.

    Dave Pangburn
    Lake Oswego, Oregon

  13. Crystal

    You are living my greatest dream! Such a blessing and you so sincerely appreciate it, leaves me teary :-D I hope one day we cross paths.

  14. Aaron Fink


    I just met your dad on a plane to New Orleans. Turns out we are both involved with the same company. When he shared your story, I was immediately intrigued given our passion for the ocean, as well as scuba diving and underwater photography. Thanks for all you have done in support of worlds’ oceans.

  15. Casey Bell

    Dear Ms. Liz Clark,

    I’ve already sent you a couple emails and just to be honest I probably will send you more, since you don’t have a real email adress. My name is Casey Noel Bell, I am 16, a sophomore in high school, and I am currently living on the east coast in a town called Alexandria, Virginia. I don’t have much to say about this town, except the closest beach to me is three hours away in a place called Newport News, Virginia, which has a beach that is known as Virginia Beach. On that note I just wanted to say that high school could be better, althought there are not too many things offered that spark my intrest, and my friends are in love with things such as singing so they do choir or the sport lacrosse so they are on multiple club teams and spend more than 10 hours a week playing. I am interested in film, and something else that I haven’t ever tried. Any guesses Ms. Clark? Well if you haven’t figured it out it’s surfing. When I was 10 I saw a movie about surfing and I became obsessed with it. Just watching the wave barrel over someone was simply refreshing. It looked as if that person were reaching some new depth of peace or nirvana. I told my dad about it, he kinda laughed and I put that dream aside for a long time. Until, recently, as in 2012, I saw a documentary called White Wash, it explains the history of surfing and touches base on the fact that there are no black professional surfers. And I would just like to mention that I am black and female. Anyways, this film gave me some kind of hope, “Wow, Casey maybe you aren’t crazy, maybe if you put your mind to it, this dream of your could happen.” And so here I am, frantically emailing you, hoping and expecting for my dreams to come true. Well I understand you are a busy lady, and I don’t see any harm in letting you know that I want to learn to surf, actually I just want to surf period. I don’t care what I have to sacrifice I want this so bad. People have always called me a quitter, but I don’t want to quit I want to try. If you respond to this email I might scream my head off for a few days, haha, but then I will come to a realization. One that I have been telling myself for a long time, When you see the goal, the goal that you have been dreaming about since you were young. The goal that everyone said was impossible, when you see that, and when you focus, nothing else matters. Liz, I hope you took the time to understand where I am and where you could help me. I don’t want to go on vacation to hawaii and get some guy at the resort to give me a $500 dollar one time only surf lesson and then I move on with this life, never experiencing something that captures my intrest fully. I will pay you, or work for you, or anything just to get a chance for this summer, summer 2013 to learn how to surf. I’m not the prettiest, or smartest, or even most confident person (actually lacking this), but I want to try this so bad, every night I dream about it. I recently told my dad again, and he said if you want to do this send those letters, make those calls. He could tell I was already getting passionate about something, and don’t get me wrong there will be times when I give my hopes up. But please just consider what I am asking. You decide the month, there are three months of summer, you decide the place, you decide everything, all I’m asking is for you to teach me the art of surfing, and also if you don’t mind, I’d like to understand a lifestyle different from the ones I am used to that means no shopping, no expensive hotels or resorts no private islands for rich people, and I can tell by reading your blog that that isn’t what you’re about. If you take me up on this favor I will never stop thanking you ( I swear!). And I don’t know if you believe in anything, but I believe in this and I also believe in God, and I think he is behind me, even with my decision to randomly send this email to you. And if you can’t teach me, I might be sad, or I might keep sending emails. Unless you tell me to stop. I just really want this. And hopefully you reply to my awfully long email. If you say yes, you have my promise that I will follow any directions that I can, and help you with anything that I can aid you in. Thanks for being who you are Liz. You are truly my inspiration, I never knew what I wanted to do after high school, but reading about you made me realize there is a job that I can relate to and possibly have when I am older. Thank you for your time.
    Kindest Regards,

  16. Scott

    Thanks for all the adventures you’ve shared. Many years ago I read Kon Tiki, Fatu Hiva, and many more adventures. You are to be congratulated for keeping the dream alive. I will be back to your blog again and again.

    Best Wishes!

  17. Surf Matt

    Liz, I just found your blog a couple minutes ago. I’m so stoked to see someone living the dream! Sailing the world finding surf breaks along the way. Can’t wait to catch up on all the previous posts and follow along on your journey.

  18. Tommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Lizzzzzz- YO! Greetings from the Jersey Shore.
    Hope you are well…
    Chongo says meowww. He is feisty as ever.
    Did some chainsawing. I cut the tree down.
    Happy sailing!

  19. Brent Swanson

    Hi Liz!
    Happy new year !I hope peace and love finds you well! You remain an inspiration to my surf travels!now that I can duck the galloping giant white horses! Thanks to you my friend! Hugs and stellar snowflake kisses!
    Siempre pada siempre

  20. Captain lizzy

    Yea Snowflake!!! You tamed the white horses!!! i knew you could do it!! Yeeeeee haaaaaaaaaa!!! Keep on riding amigo… abrazos from the salty she pirate :)

Leave a Reply