How Captain Liz Clark lived on the ocean alongside her pet cat for over a decade

Liz Clark and her cat Amelia are the sailing duo who have been traversing the seas for a number of years aboard the Swell. The Swell measures in at around 40-feet in length. Liz and Amelia had documented their sailing adventures for the world to see on their shared social media account. With the pair going on wonderful adventures together. How they first met, and all of the amazing places they visited along the way is a true tale of wanderlust, the seven seas, and a treasured furry companion. But first, how did Liz start out as a skipper. It all began when she was a child in San Diego, California, where Liz grew up. Being right next to the ocean it was hard to resist its pull, and obviously, it got its hooks into Liz because once she was on it, there was no getting her off a boat.

Growing Up

Like most seasoned sailors, Liz grew up on the ocean. She was no stranger to the nautical life. Her parents were avid sailors and got her started when she was seven on her first boat, a small dinghy. She quickly learned the ropes and could whip it around the bay all by herself, tacking and jibing all over the place.

However, Liz did not get a taste of the big seas though until her parents decided to take her on a sailing trip for half a year, spanning roughly 5,000 miles.

Catching Some Waves

Now that Liz had a thorough appreciation for the ocean, she decided to get up close and personal with it. At 15, she took up surfing. She was something of a natural when it came to surfing and started to compete, but she knew that she had to make a choice between going to college or having a professional career. Ultimately, she chose a college and began a degree in Environmental Studies.

Her main goal was to preserve the natural environments in all of the countries she had traveled through, and she felt that if she could contribute in some small way then she had to.

The Steps to Becoming a Boat Owner

Liz did not set out with the intent to purchase her 40-foot boat, the Swell. In fact, when she finished college she began crewing on different sailboats so that she could see more of the world and further gauge what she needed to do to help preserve it. She decided it was time to purchase her own boat after feeling that she had enough experience to become a skipper of her own vessel.

That is exactly what she did, with some much-needed funds from her network. She began to pour all of her money into Swell to make her seaworthy.

Getting to Know Swell

Swell was of a classic design, the Cal-40 which was originally designed by Bill Lapworth for Jensen Marine in California. She was a true Californian lady, which was perfect for Liz who is also a Cali native. Overall, Swell was in a racing condition which was not the same for open ocean conditions. It took a lot of work and elbow grease, but after a couple of years, she was ready for the open ocean.

During this time Liz had managed to completely learn the rigging system, and rework everything to her own specifications. But, it still felt like a crucial component was missing. Solo sailing can be a bit lonely after all.

All Aboard

Life on the open sea can get boring for the solo sailor. There is no one to talk to except for yourself, especially if you do not have wind for a few days and find yourself just sitting out in the middle of the ocean. Liz decided it was time to acquire a feline first-mate. Amelia was selected as a kitten for the job, and quickly boarded Swell and made it her home.

Now, that Swell was configured for seafaring, a first mate was procured, and the captain was at the helm, it was time to take her out of port and head for the open ocean.

The Trials and Travails of the Sailor Life

Sailing the seven seas sounds like an adventure, and it is, but it is not without its own ups and downs. Liz spent around 12 years collectively sailing around the world, and in her book Swell, she details some of the most difficult parts. Some of the hardest things she had to deal with were lightning storms, tropical illnesses, and boat malfunctions.

On top of all of that, she had to do everything solo, with her first mate on hand to lend a helping paw.

A Cat’s Life

Amelia loved living aboard Swell and wandering from the deck into the galley. But, there was one activity that she loved above all others, it may not come as much of a shock – fishing! At often times Amelia would enjoy a good ocean gazing session.

But she absolutely adored sitting on her own personal raft being pulled by Swell while she dipped her paws into the ocean to catch fish. There is nothing better than an ocean as your own personal fish bowl.

Learning Curve

Even though Liz new Swell pretty well from taking her out and getting to know her ropes inside and out, there was still a period of learning once they hit the open ocean together. She admitted that she learned a lot once it was just her, Amelia and the boat.

You cannot practice for all weather types or emergencies that will occur until you are right in the thick of things and Liz new this. She openly admits that as a sailor, she has room for improvement.

Alone on the Sea

While Amelia made an excellent companion during the 12 years they spent sailing together, Liz admits that human companionship was often lacking. For legs of her voyages friends and family would sometimes come and join, but mostly she was solo.

When some bad weather would blow in and she would have to batten down the hatches she would often find herself wishing there was another human crewmate to lend a hand. Around the end of her 12 years of sailing, she met her partner.

Write About It

Liz devoted a lot of time to uploading content onto multiple social media channels so that people could follow her on her ocean adventure. In fact, she gained such a large following, with over 100,000 people on her pages and she was quickly offered a book deal to write about it all in a print capacity.

Her book was an instant bestseller and won many awards. Naturally, Amelia featured as a prominent character throughout.

Keeping In Touch

While social media makes it easier than ever to stay in touch with people, it is not the same as physically being the same room as them. Liz always had a close relationship with her parents, and in 2016 when her father became ill due to a poor fitness and eating regime, she returned to teach him how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

When it was time for her to leave, he vowed to continue working on his health, and he has maintained that to this day.


While Liz has always been hyper-conscious about the environment and preserving what we have, she has also had to have some income. With that in mind, she has begun endorsing eco-friendly products such as sun lotions and other items. The reason she chose this product was that she felt as though she would be happy to endorse something where the packaging was entirely made from recycled materials.

She is very conscious of working to reduce her own carbon footprint in any way possible.

Yogi at Heart

One of the way Liz managed to occupy her mind while sailing, was through yoga. Liz is an experienced yogi who often makes time on the foredeck of Swell to get some oms and namastes in.

Not only does it calm the mind, but it also keeps her in peak physical condition which is what she needs so that she be ready for any storms that might blow in requiring some muscle.

Vegan Living

Amelia enjoyed her fish and opted for a pescatarian lifestyle, and Liz leads a vegan one. She does not eat vegan because she is against consuming animal products but because of the impact, the meat industry has on the environment. She is particularly fond of the hashtag #endanimalslavery, and you can see that her posts on social media are peppered with it.

Liz makes sure she always has enough plant and grain sustenance to make it until her next destination.

Walking the Cat

Since Amelia was raised on a boat, she did not lead a conventional life meaning she was not your typical cat. She definitely had some doglike characteristics and enjoyed going to shore and prancing around next to Liz as they explored new locales together.

Liz trained her to understand when something dangerous was around (like a dog that might hurt her) by picking her up. Amelia knew that she should just sit calmly in Liz’s arms and not make a fuss and then she would be let down, to avoid any disasters.

The Loss of Amelia

Sadly, at the beginning of 2018, Amelia passed away after receiving an injury for a stray dog while off the boat. Her passing was devastating and Liz took to social media to explain her passing and how she was coping.

She wrote Amelia a beautiful letter and started Amelia’s Animal Welfare Fund in her honor to help animals procure vet services such as spaying and neutering in French Polynesia. Amelia is missed, but not forgotten.