A friend at the community swimming pool recommended Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Discovery when she heard I like to review books that relate to the ocean. (See the complete list of “Oceana” books here.) In many ways, Swell is a typical memoir with a lot of inward thought. But author Liz Clark is refreshingly honest with herself and her story.
In 2006, at the age of twenty-five, Liz set sail, alone, from Santa Barbara to the South Pacific. Her memoir spans the next ten years of sailing and surfing and is delineated by time, place, and nautical miles traveled.
Liz intentionally leaves out many location specifics “because I believe the greatest inspiration comes not from a road map or waypoint, but from igniting the imagination to what is possible.”
As a young female captain, Liz often faced physical risk in unknown and male-dominated ports. She tried to ease her loneliness in many ways, and often in failing ways. Her pursuit to be loved, and to share her sailing and surfing life, leads her to make some devastating choices. Readers might even recognize Liz’s flaws before she does—but we also get to see her strengths first.
When the memoir ends, readers appreciate how far Liz has come, both physically and emotionally. We also see that she still needs to grow—and we’re confident that she’s on a promising path.
This is a long book, so I skimmed over much of it. But I really enjoyed it and I’m glad my friend recommended it to me.
Swell is inspiration for all of us to take on what feels impossible.
Here with you,
P.S. If you’re not sure you want to tackle the entire book, you can watch a four-minute YouTube video of Liz Clark sailing, surfing, and reading from her memoir here.