SWELL

A Sail­ing Surfer’s Voy­age of Awak­en­ing

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Travel & Adventure -

Liz Clark, Daniella Manini (Il­lus­tra­tor), Patag­o­nia (APRIL) Hard­cover $35 (320pp), 978-1-938340-54-3

A se­ries of serendip­i­tous events, a gen­er­ous men­tor, and lots of hard work made it pos­si­ble for young Liz Clark to ful­fill her child­hood dream of sail­ing and surf­ing around the world. But sail­ing Swell out of San Diego and watch­ing her loved ones blur into the hazy win­ter sky­line, she ques­tioned the wis­dom of un­der­tak­ing a jour­ney that would test her on all lev­els, and maybe even break her.

On dark nights alone at sea, Clark was of­ten saved from a de­scent into de­pres­sion by the beauty and sa­cred­ness of the life around her—in the poor fish­er­men who shared their catches with her, or a group of dol­phins trail­ing phos­pho­res­cence in their wake. Phys­i­cal, men­tal, emo­tional, fi­nan­cial, and re­la­tion­ship dif­fi­cul­ties would bring her near col­lapse, but then her spir­its would be lifted by the sea’s vast hori­zon, the amaz­ing rush of surf­ing, the smile of a friend, or the be­lief that she could some­how make a dif­fer­ence. She who used to panic at the thought of spend­ing a Satur­day night alone came to find soli­tude de­light­ful, sat­is­fy­ing deep hungers.

There were vi­o­lent storms with wind, waves, and light­ning that rocked her to her core; she cooked at a 65-de­gree an­gle while stuck on a sand­bar; she sur­vived a scary, abu­sive re­la­tion­ship; she strug­gled with boat re­pairs; she pan­icked at the end of her spon­sor­ship agree­ment; and she had a near run-in with Colom­bian drug run­ners in Panama. Ma­te­rial poverty was ev­ery­where, as was pol­lu­tion amidst the beauty; she pon­dered the abil­ity of hu­mans to de­stroy that which sus­tains them. In mas­ter­ing the dis­ci­pline needed for a jour­ney where “one lazy de­ci­sion can mean los­ing ev­ery­thing,” Clark came to love her­self just as she was, and to know that, in

choos­ing love, she would never feel lack.

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