How to Live your Adventure Dream!
We all harbour fantasies of taking off on a great adventure. Some of us keep dreaming others make it happen; a bartender sails and surfs around the world, an office manager takes a trans-Atlantic road trip and British businessmen race to the South Pole.
There are people who can prove that your wildest notions are more realistic than you think.
Here is an inspiring article of a young lady by the name of Liv Clark. A 26 year old bartender who braved her decision to sail around the world in search of the best surf breaks on the Planet.
“The waves down here have been huge, scary-big, actually, so—”
There’s a sharp squeak and then outer-space static. The phone goes dead for the second time, just as Liz Clark is recounting the surf action off the Mexican coast. I ring back her small hotel in Puerto Escondido, and we try again. The San Diego native raves about an isolated, left point break that she and sailing mate Shannon Switzer, 22, had to themselves for ten days off the state of Michouacán.
“It was so cool! Double overhead. I really challenged myself,” she says. “I’m living the dream I’ve thought about for—”
Squeak. Dead again.
Since the fifth grade, Clark has been sticking pins in a world map to mark ports of call for an epic global voyage. Her father, Russell, a lawyer and sailing enthusiast, raised his three kids aboard the family’s ocean RV, Endless Summer, a Gulfstar 50. While a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she had the boat to herself and used it to ferry friends to breaks off the Channel Islands. Honing her own board skills on these safaris inspired her with a new purpose: to circumnavigate the globe in search of the world’s best breaks. “By land, surfers have scoured a good portion of the world’s coastlines, but by boat there are still so many waves to be found,” she wrote to me later via e-mail from her onboard laptop.
Clark trained seriously for the mission. For six months she crewed on a mega-yacht, then a sailboat, cruising the waters off Mexico and Central America. Then, while mixing drinks at a dock party in Santa Barbara, she met Barry Schuyler, a founder of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and UCSB’s environmental studies program. He had a similar dream—and a boat—but at 83 was looking to sail vicariously through a younger adventurer. He became her chief sponsor. Clark’s dad chipped in as well, and she suddenly found herself captain of a 40-foot (12-meter) sloop, Swell.
On January 30, 2006, Clark, accompanied by friend and photographer Switzer, embarked for points known and unknown. Their route continues from Panama to the Galápagos Islands, across the Pacific Ocean to the Tuamotu Islands and Tahiti, on to New Zealand, through the Coral Sea, along the southern edge of Java and Sumatra to Madagascar, and around the Cape of Good Hope. Clark admits to a healthy fear of the voyage, but every time she weighs anchor, she overcomes one of the main obstacles to making big dreams come true: the flotsam and jetsam in your own head.
The expedition has already had its tribulations: A Mexican Navy ship nearly collided with them one night; they ran aground on a sandbar in a lagoon at Barra de Navidad; and Clark has had to fix a slew of engine problems. But, as evidenced by her expedition blog (www.swellvoyage.com), the payoffs come daily. In one posting she’s kind enough to warn surfers with day jobs not to read on, then details a glassy break in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, with wave after perfect wave.
“I could put ten turns on,” she writes. “They’re out here if you are.”
Stay In The Moment
“For two years I rebuilt my boat by day, bartended by night, squirreled away paychecks, and pitched private donors and company sponsors. I learned a key strategy: You have to break your dream down to avoid being broken. The only way I could do it was one step at a time. If I thought about the whole trip, it was too overwhelming.”
Face Your Fears
“I’ve heard every horrible sea story on record. But I’m strong—small, but strong. Of course, I do get queasy now and then when it’s rough. And I’m always a bit afraid of the wind, the waves, lightning, bad people, you name it; it’s scary out here. You’ve just got to override the internal noise and act, not because you have no fear, but in spite of it.”
Trust Your Gust
“I had just woken up for my watch when a gust filled the mainsail from the north. Within minutes we got slammed by a 30-knot blast. I turned the boat into the wind, secured the reef, and we huddled in the cockpit with waves smashing over the side and drenching us down to our underwear.”
Ask for Help
“At the Puesta del Sol Marina, in Nicaragua, I took my broken windlass motor to the dock. I looked up and saw a man on a Powercat yacht. ‘Any windlass mechanics aboard?’ I yelled up. ‘Well, yes,’ he replied. I followed him to his engine room. He pushed down on the brushes and sprayed parts-cleaner into their grooves. It worked. It hadn’t been four minutes and it was fixed!”