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Seafaring Quotes

Below are some of my personal favorite seafaring quotes.

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
~Water Rat, Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

To desire nothing beyond what you have is surely happiness. Aboard a boat, it is frequently possible to achieve just that. That is why sailing is a way of life, one of the finest of lives.
~Carleton Mitchell

All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.
~John F. Kennedy , Newport dinner speech before America's Cup Races, Sept. 1962

That's what a ship is, you know - it's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs. But what a ship is,... really is, is freedom.
~Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.
~Bible, Psalms 107:23-24

If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. If it happens to be an auxiliary cruising boat, it is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man--a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than like a fish or a girl, and in which the homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to take them, close hauled or running free--parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive.
~E. B. White

The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The cure for anything is saltwater sweat, tears, or the sea.
~Isak Dinesen

The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective.
~Henry David Thoreau

He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.
~Thomas Fuller

No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned. A man in a jail has more room, better food and commonly better company.
~Samuel Johnson

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient.
One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth;
whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul;
whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet...
I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
~Herman Melville from Moby Dick

My soul is full of longing
For the secret of the Sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sailors work like horses at sea and spend their money like asses ashore.
~Anonymous

Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.
~Saunders

Sometimes we are lucky enough to know our lives have been changed, to discard the old and embrace the new and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me... on that summer's day when my eyes were opened to the sea.
~Jacques Yves-Cousteau

Never go into strange places on a falling tide without a pilot.
~Thomas Gibson Bowles

There was a grandeur in everything around, which gave almost a solemnity to the scene; a silence and solitariness which affected everything. Not a human being but ourselves for miles; and no sound heard but the pulsations of the great pacific.
~Richard Henry Dana

It was with a happy heart that the good odysseus spread his sail to catch the wind and used his seamanship to keep his boat straight with the steering-oar
~Homer

Why is almost every robust, healthy boy with a robust, healthy soul in him, at some time or other, crazy to go to sea? Why, upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land?
~Herman Melville - Moby Dick

To insure safety at sea, the best that science can devise and that naval organization can provide must be regarded only as an aid, and never as a substitute for good seamanship, self-reliance, and sense of ultimate responsibility which are the first requisites in a seaman and naval officer.
~Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made, for somewhere deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid.
~Robert N. Rose

O Captain! My Captain ! Our fearful trip is done, the ship has weathered every rock, the prize we sought is won, the port is near, the bells i hear, the people all exulting.
~Walt Whitman

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking, And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.
~John Masefield

Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean. Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The sea - this truth must be confessed - has no generosity. No display of manly qualities - courage, hardihood, endurance, faithfulness - has ever been known to touch its irresponsible consciousness of power.
~Joseph Conrad

The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.
~Joseph Conrad

The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place.”
~Arthur Ransome

Confronting a storm is like fighting God. All the powers in the universe seem to be against you and, in an extraordinary way, your irrelevance is at the same time both humbling and exalting.
~Francois LeGrande

“Men go abroad to wonder the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
~St. Augustine

The sea speaks a language polite people never repeat. It is a colossal scavenger slang and has no respect.
~Carl Sandburg

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.
~ Syrus Pubilius

Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time. Ten icebergs so far today ...
~Ellen MacArthur

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
~William A. Ward

Ships that pass in the night and speak each other in passing;
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The sea finds out everything you did wrong.
~Old Norwegian Adage

Wind is to us what money is to life on shore.
~Sterling Hayden

One ship sails East, And another West, By the self-same winds that blow, Tis the set of the sails And not the gales, That tells the way we go. Like the winds of the sea Are the waves of time, As we journey along through life, Tis the set of the soul, That determines the goal, And not the calm or the strife.
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"I wiped away the weeds and foam,
I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore,
With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar."
~Emerson

Anyone who would go to sea for enjoyment,
Would go to Hell for a vacation!
~ Old Idiom

"The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides."
~Jules Verne

Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.”
~Robert Henri

You can sit here in my cockpit and argue philosophy, politics or religion all week long and in the end it doesn't matter. None of it matters a whit. What matters, what really matters, is that we sailed today and now we sit here with a full belly, a drink in our hands and friends to share it with. And Life is good, this I know.
~Tim Fuhrmann Labor Day, 1999 after winning the Deal Island Skipjack Race Phrf.




For my daughter, Rebecca:

"Girls are like apples...the best ones are at the top of the trees.

The boys don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples that are on the ground that aren't as good, but easy.

So the apples at the top think there is something wrong with them, when, in reality, they are amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who's brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree..."
~Pete Wentz






Unskilled and Unaware

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