SWELL-ing!! Accolades & the Story of the Cover Photo.

Swell’s cover photo by Jianca Lazarus.

The out-pour of love for my book, Swell, has my heart soaring! After giving everything I had into sharing my story with the world, it’s been so rewarding to receive all the wonderful positive feedback via messages, emails, comments, and awards since it’s release. Swell sold out of it’s first round of printing in less than four months! It won GOLD in the Living Now Book Awards for Inspirational Female Memoir AND was hand selected by Amazon Books in the Best Books of 2018 AND Best Memoirs of 2018. Wow!? I couldn’t be more thrilled. Thank you all for the support, it’s amazing to see Swell’s ripples of inspiration turning into swells of humans living more inspired, courageous, and environmentally-aware lives!!

For those who couldn’t make it to one of the book tour events, I wanted to share the story behind the cover photo. In July of 2017, I’d just finished the last round of editing on the book, and it was time to shift focus to the book’s photography. I offered thousands of photos from the duration of the voyage, but there were a few gaps that needed filling, since not all of my photos as a jane-of-all-trades single-hander were worthy of making the book. So I called my sea sister and magical photographer, Jianca Lazarus, whose photography work is brilliant. She was up for the adventure, and flew down to meet Tahui and I on a remote atoll in the South Pacific. We spent 3-weeks and 750 nm touring through some remote outer islands. Jianca shot every imaginable Swell task, angle, sailing life activity, in and out of the water. She has endless energy for her passion and I love working in her bright, inspired presence. For the cover, Patagonia Books and my beloved photo editor, Jenning Steger, had given us minimal guidelines with which to be creative: “We need to see Liz and the boat”. We’d tried several ideas but all came out looking rather cliché. Until… An hour before Jianca had to catch her plane home, she had an idea.

“Get in your swimsuit, and meet me in the water!” Jianca said as she loaded her camera into its water-housing. I was exhausted. We’d lost the self-steering on the final passage, and Tahui and I had traded off steering for 3 days straight in strong trades to get Jianca back to where she could catch her plane. Making this trip was already a stretch for me after being so heavily focused on finalizing the book’s writing for the first half of the year. Swell’s maintenance had been pushed down on the list, and we lost the starter motor on the first passage, as well as the transmission control!? It was the wrong time of year to be going against the trades, plus Swell’s short-wave radio was not working properly, EPIRB battery and liferaft packing well out of date…but there was no time to get everything perfect, we buddy boated with some friends to increase safety, but it was definitely an adventure!

Anyway, back to the cover shot… So Jianca had a vision … she asked me to put on a weight belt and stand under Swell’s hull underwater. I didn’t really get it, but I followed instructions. We both took a deep breath and went under. Somehow in that moment she captured the essence of all that this sailing dream has given me–strength, confidence, humility, my own unique femininity, the courage to rise again, and the knowledge that anything is possible when you truly believe in it.

Thank you, Jianca and Patagonia Books, for believing in my story, and giving your all to this book.


The book’s designer, Mary Jo Thomas, even had a dream that I looked like Venus in the classic “Birth of Venus” painting by Botticelli in the cover photo.


Swell underway with her new 3di North Sails , shot by Jianca Lazarus, from the s/v Moondog, thanks for the escort, Quintin & Macy!


Tropicat and me in our happy place. Photo by Jianca Lazarus


After 3-days of hand steering in heavy trade winds. Taped hands and weary eyes on the approach to landfall. Photo by Jianca Lazarus.


Swell wins GOLD Living Now Book Award!!


Speaking about my journey on the Swell book tour in Torquay, Australia. Photo by Jarrah Lynch.

Posted by The Sailing Traveller