The story of this woman is really intense. Liz Clark, 34 years old, has been sailing the Pacific on her 40-feet sailboat since 2005. It’s the story of a normal life spent in uncommon way and context but without anything theatrical. It is indeed not the story of a woman who gave up everything to leave. It’s the story of a woman who has decided that it’s better not to have anything to give up.
Liz sailed off with no plans since, as she says, “plans are almost as useless in sailing as they are in surfing (surfing is her other passion). Both require adaptability to be enjoyed to their fullest. I’ve learned that the more flexible I am, the more I luck into a good surf and find a rhythm with the right winds and weather for passages. Naturally, that way of thinking and flowing has spilled over into the rest of my life decision-making. Always trying to flow versus force things”.
Liz must have made her decision since she was child, when she dreamt about a boat trip with her parents, but she took things slow: first, she learned to sail, she graduated from university and then she left. She spent the first year and half hugging the coast, from California to Mexico and Panama: she wanted to gain confidence as a captain, know her boat and understand how things really were. Then, she announced her family that she intended to sail to the Pacific, the Galapagos and Marquesas Islands alone: her mother immediately volunteered to accompany her (some things never change, whatever we choose to do) and they sailed together to French Polynesia. Finally alone, Liz spent the next year exploring many atolls and Kribati until she was forced to stop for some maintenance works and general checks.
After two years of works ( in addition to some sponsors, she paid them working as a bartender) she sailed off again: from 2011, she sailed other 2,500 miles in the Pacific. “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. I eat and shower under the sky and stars. The warm clear Pacific never gets boring — exploring remote islands, surfing uncrowded waves, playing in coconut trees. Aside from boat work, missing family and the occasional food craving, it’s pretty dreamy”.
And over time also a general plan comes. Liz is currently a writer, she collaborates with schools on environmental education projects, she documents her voyage, in the hope of inspiring other people to live their passions, face their fears and discover the advantages of a deeper self-awareness.
She’s conscious of her luck, especially because she strongly believes that “gender rules” don’t exist and everyone can chooses what to do and what to learn. In the video below, she tells that her father has always supported her since she was child and he pushed her to learn to do repairs, maintenance, to fish and feel free from any stereotype. Sailing alone, this certainty can only get stronger: the beauty of being alone (and maybe the most difficult thing to accept) is that other people’s judgements and expectations don’t exist – what comes first is your instinct, your decision-making capacity, your will to grow (no one won’t sneer or wink at a woman steering a tender).
Liz gives us four precious tips that can probably help you even though you aren’t going to sail the Pacific. Just few little rules of good sense.
One step at a time– if Liz had thought about her full voyage, how to finance and take it, she would have probably given up immediately. One step at a time is undoubtedly a more efficient strategy.
Face your fears– it doesn’t mean not to be afraid! It means to do things despite your fears and stop your inner voice saying “no” and telling about storms and squalls. After all, it’s good to be scared.
Trust your instinct– that’s a thing easy to learn when you sail. It’s generally sufficient to interprete some few signals to understand that something is getting wrong…
Ask for help: for repairs, to understand courses, for anything else: we are not expected to do everything alone.