Captain Liz Clark and Tropicat

It’s the freedom of this lifestyle that keeps me out here. It’s addicting. There are too many rules back home. I love not having to get into a car and battle traffic.

When Liz Clark 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. You can learn more about Liz and her boat at or follow her on Instagram at @captainlizclark.


I’ve had a few pets on Swell over the last nine years—most of them made their way aboard on their own. I don’t mind the geckos that often show up in a banana stock. They hide, so I rarely get to see them, but they are harmless and make cute coughing noises in the evening. I’ve hosted a wide variety of ants—from teeny fuzzy black ones to enormous shiny red ones. A roving wasp colony lives in my spinnaker pole from time to time, but we tend to give each other our space. Once a cricket turned up out of nowhere. I never saw him, but I adored his evening serenades until the day they were no more. While I was away on a trip to California, a newlywed rat couple from the boatyard where Swell was hauled moved aboard and raised four handsome rat babies who explored, chewed and pooped inside Swell from bow to stern. Their story had a rather gruesome ending … same song for the prolific cockroach family that sailed with me to Kiribati.

Amelia was different. I’m not sure whether I found her or she found me that fateful afternoon in November 2013, but it felt fairly clear that we were meant to be together. She was a skinny little adolescent then—about six months old and hungry for food and love. Something about her commanding lioness air and carefree bravado made me want to give her both. I can’t estimate the innumerable forlorn cats and dogs I’ve longed to adopt over my many years of travel, but it never seemed fair to drag them into my nomadic, non-routine lifestyle. With my captain’s duties, I wasn’t sure I had time to care properly for a pet. I don’t exactly know what got into me that day; I only remember it being unbearable to leave without her. I called her Amelia, after the revered Miss Earhart, sensing right away that we shared a thirst for adventure.


Photos: courtesy of Liz Clark.

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"Don't let what other people think stop you from doing what you love." – Hitler