Liz Clark’s life changed forever when her mentor and friend, Dr. Barry Schuyler, offered to help her purchase a Cal 40 sailboat. It was a dream come true for Clark, who had learned to sail at seven years old and at ten had spent six months sailing with her family around Mexico. Now, at last, she could finally be her own captain and live a life of adventure.
That serendipitous moment to purchase the boat, which she eventually christened Swell, came after Clark had graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in environmental studies. Clark’s existence at that time consisted of working as a bartender, surfing, and crewing other boats, and she was looking for a “way out.” Fortunately, Swell was it.
After more than two years fixing Swell for the journey, and learning the necessary skills to captain the sailboat solo, Clark said goodbye to family and friends inn October 2005 to set off on a journey across the Pacific Ocean. Covering over 18,000 nautical miles along the way, she visited ports from Costa Rica to the Galápagos Islands.
But it wasn’t all fun in the sun. Indeed, everyday Clark had to attend to the maintenance of her boat and endure the lonely reality of life at sea.
That all changed in 2013, however, when Clark landed in French Polynesia. While exploring an island, Clark made a chance encounter with a feral kitten, and it was pretty much love at first sight.
Describing their first fateful meeting, Clark wrote on her blog, “It felt fairly clear that we were meant to be together. She was a skinny little adolescent then – about six months old and hungry for food and love. Something about her commanding lioness air and carefree bravado made me want to give her both.”
Clark vowed to take care of the kitten until she could find her a more suitable home. She named her Amelia, and the cat became Clark’s unlikely sea companion.
At first, it seemed that Amelia found it hard to adjust to Clark’s aquatic lifestyle, and she even had a few tumbles overboard. However, she adapted quickly and soon got used to exploring the boat, stalking fish and enjoying cuddles with Clark.
Whenever possible, the pair would venture ashore to spend time on solid ground. While Clark practiced yoga, Amelia would play in nearby trees.
Sometimes they would even visit friends and attend parties together, and soon enough the duo were inseparable. In fact, Amelia got used to life both onshore and offshore.
Their adventures continued like this until a turn of events struck in February 2015. As they had done countless times before, the pair boarded a canoe to take them surfing on the windward side of an island, directly opposite from where they were safely harbored.
During the journey, Amelia fell overboard twice. Although the cat was visibly shocked, Clark thought nothing of the incidents, and even laughed at the sight of her sodden fur. After making it to shore safely, then, Clark dropped Amelia and their belongings off on the beach and paddled out for a quick surf.
Upon returning to the beach, however, Clark was horrified to discover her furry friend not curled on the blanket or climbing a nearby tree. Clark continued to search the island for days, but it was no avail. Amelia was gone.
Chronicling the heart-breaking incident on her blog, Clark reflected, “Part of me is stunned by the loss I feel without my beloved little companion, but another part of me knows that, like me, she needs to feel free.”
Clark turned to pet psychic Jonquil Williams, who told her Amelia was simply enjoying some “land time.” Propelled by the hope of reuniting, Clark camped out on the beach, calling for Amelia at every opportunity.
During a further Skype session with Jonquil, he confirmed that Amelia “was in high spirits and ready to come home to her ‘best friend.’” Bizarrely, through the medium, Amelia also warned Clark that she’d like another island-based adventure at some point, but would let her know by “tapping on the porthole with her paw.”
And, amazingly, it wasn’t the end for Clark and Amelia. In a plot twist that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster, they were finally reunited.
After 42 days in the wilderness, Amelia found her way back to Clark, as she had done so many times before. “It’s ironic how often – when we stop trying to control things, accept, and trust the Universe – beautiful surprises are in store,” Clark told her fans on her blog.
Clark and Amelia have continued traveling the ocean together ever since. But Clark has admitted that their relationship has changed somewhat.
“I appreciate her more and take her needs more seriously. I’ve promised her we’ll camp out on land more often,” she wrote. She also reassured Amelia’s fans that there would be “no porthole tapping.” Phew!