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Favorite Quotes about sailing and the sea...

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea..."
- Antoine de Saint Exupery

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."
- Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows a children's book by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932).

Onyx sleeping

A sea captain when he stands upon the bridge, or looks out from his deck-house, thinks much about God and about the world. Away in the valley yonder among the corn and the poppies men may well forget all things except the warmth of the sun upon the face, and the kind shadow under the hedge; but he who journeys through storm and darkness must needs think and think. One July a couple of years ago I took my supper with a Captain Moran on board the s.s. Margaret, that had put into a western river from I know not where. I found him a man of many notions all flavoured with his personality, as is the way with sailors. He talked in his queer sea manner of God and the world, and up through all his words broke the hard energy of his calling.
- William Butler Yeats, The Celtic Twilight

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

I just thank God I don’t live in a trailer.
- Jimmy Buffet , Son of a son of a sailor

The house was built on the highest part of the narrow tongue of land between the harbor and the open sea. It had lasted through three hurricanes and it was built solid as a ship.
- Ernest Hemingway

Sailing is just the bottom line, like adding up the score in bridge. My real interest is in the tremendous game of life.
- Dennis Conner

Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure
- Bob Bitchin

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
- Old Norwegian Adage

Any fool can carry on, but a wise man knows how to shorten sail in time.
- Joseph Conrad

I cannot not sail.
- E. B. White

The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.
-  Dom Degnon

There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.
-  Joseph Conrad

The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails.
-  Joshua Slocum

At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.
-  Robin Lee Graham

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

The sea hates a coward.
-  Eugene O’Neill

To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go.
-  Joshua Slocum

Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
-  R. D. Culler

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

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits.
-  Bernard Moitessier

Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.
-  Donald Hamilton

The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.
-   Edmund Gibbon

The chance for mistakes is about equal to the number of crew squared.
-  Ted Turner

If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.
-   Pete Goss

Do or do not.  There is no try.
-  Yoda

The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.
- John Rousmaniere

Prevention is, as in other aspects of seamanship, better than cure.
-  Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

If you can’t repair it, maybe it shouldn’t be on board.
-   Lin and Larry Pardey

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
-  John Masefield

Mackerel skies and mares tails, soon will be time to shorten sails.
-   Old sailors proverb.

A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s.
-   Bernard Moitessier

“Chaunt in his ear delusions magical,
That he may fight the horses of the sea.”
The Druids took them to their mystery,
And chaunted for three days.
Cuchulain stirred,
Stared on the horses of the sea, and heard
The cars of battle and his own name cried;
And fought with the invulnerable tide.
-  W.B. Yeats

…arranging the journey was so difficult.  Getting home again was much easier.
-Thor Heyerdahl  (aku-aku)

Man marks the earth with ruin – his control stops with the shore.
-  Byron

…surely these victims of the sea…had rushed willingly down the hills to the water, only to find themselves caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who should judge whether they were there for the wrong reason?
-  John Rousmaniere (Fastnet, Force 10)

And after two days in civilization we realized we could never stay for long and started to plan our next adventure.
-  Bob Bitchin (Letters from the Lost Soul)

The planning stage of a cruise is often just as enjoyable as the voyage itself, letting one’s imagination loose on all kinds of possibilities.  Yet translating dreams into reality means a lot of practical questions have to be answered.
- Jimmy Cornell (World Cruising Handbook)

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

If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot. 
- Motto of a representative of the Winslow Liferaft Company

There is nothing like lying flat on your back on the deck, alone except for the helmsman aft at the wheel, silence except for the lapping of the sea against the side of the ship. At that time you can be equal to Ulysses and brother to him.
- Errol Flynn

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Give him a fishing lesson and he'll sit in a boat drinking beer every weekend.
- Alex Blackwell

Don't worry about the world ending today. It's already tomorrow in Fiji.
- Daria Blackwell
(variation on quote attributed to Charles Schultz's which references Australia.
Fiji just happens to be exactly halfway round the world from here.)

"Not all who wander are lost."
- JRR Tolkien

There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea.
- Old Capstan Chantey attributed to Anacharsis, 6th Century BC

Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
H. Melville, Opening Line from Moby Dick

Now - bring me that horizon.
The last line from Pirates of the Caribbean:

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
-William Arthur Ward

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

"Without patience, a sailor I would never be."
-Lee Allred

"The sea finds out everything you did wrong."
- Francis Stokes

“I start from the premise that no object created by man is as satisfying to his body and soul as a proper sailing yacht.”
- Arthur Beiser 1978, The Proper Yacht

"He who lets the sea lull him into a sense of security is in very grave danger."
-Hammond Ines

"It's out there at sea that you are really yourself."
-Vito Dumas

"Whenever your preparations for the sea are poor; the sea worms its way in and finds the problems."
- Francis Stokes

"I was born in the breezes, and I had studied the sea as perhaps few men have studied it, neglecting all else."
- Joshua Slocum

"When I forget how talented God is, I look to the sea."
-Whoopi Goldberg

" A tourist remains an outsider throughout his visit; but a sailor is part of the local scene from the monent he arrives."
- Anne Davison

"Men in a ship are always looking up, and men ashore are usually looking down."
- John Masefield

"To young men contemplating a voyage I'd say go."
- Joshua Slocum

"At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much."
-Robin Lee Graham

"A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind."
-Webb Chiles

"Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world."
- Nicholas Monsarrat

"Only fools and passengers drink at sea."
-Allan Villiers

"Out of sight of land the sailor feels safe. It is the beach that worries him."
-Charles C. Davis

You'll take from life just the life you live...
- Henry Irla

All who wander are not lost
- JRR Tolkein

Sailing unties the knots in my mind
- Al Noble

Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.
- Charles Cook

However bad the storm you are in, there is still sun somewher over your horizon
- Ken Nutt

Pull that thing
Pull that other thing
Sail faster
- from the movie The Princess Bride
Cobtributed by Grant Headifen

If you're not getting close to capsize, you're provably not pushing hard enough
- James Spithill, ORACLE Racing Team USA.

Sailing - The fine art of slowly going nowhere at great expense while being cold, wet and miserable.
- Irv Heller

Sailing - The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill while slowly going
nowhere at great expense.
- from "Sailing" by Henry Beard and Roy Mckie

Sailing - The art of slowly going nowhere at great expense.
- Pirate Batey

To sail is human... to power divine!
- Preben Sejer Kristensen

Life's roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors.
- unknown

On the Trans-Atlantic Single-handed Race Mr Owen Smithers has been disqualified for using both hands.
- Heikki Luoma

The difference between a fairy tale and a sea tale? A fairy tale starts with "Once upon a time". A sea tale starts with " This ain't no $hit"!
- Edith Widder

I need the Sea because it teaches me
- from THE SEA by Pablo Neruda

"I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth, a nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea."
- Bernard Moitessier

"The best bilge pump of all is a bucket in the hands of a frightened man"
- Butch Dalrymple-Smith

The right of way goes to the vessel with the least competent crew
- Mike Baiocchi

To my crew:
Please be reasonable and do it my way.
The Captain
- Rusty Mills

With crews like this, no wonder they race round the world single handed.
- Howard Wilks - Cowes week Start Line

Court of Inquiry - Church House - London
Barrister: Were you surprised when the lights turned from red to red and green?
Lookout: Surprised! Christ you could have buggered me through me Oilskins.
Judge: What did the Witness say?
Barrister: He said he was taken aback My Lord.
- Howard Wilks

Time and Tide wait for no man..
- St. Marher, 1225

Time and tide wait for no man, but always stand still for a woman of thirty
- Robert Frost

There are more sharks on the land than in the sea
- Neil Wheatley

"I'm telling you that India is that way, now set my course."
- Christopher Columbus

My wind is turned to bitter north, That was so soft a south before; My sky, that shone so sunny bright, With foggy gloom is clouded o’er My gay green leaves are yellow-black, Upon the dank autumnal floor; For love, departed once, comes back No more again, no more.
- Arthur Hugh Clough

Remember 'It was a professional who built the Titanic, It was an amateur who built Noah's Ark
- Vanessa Linsley

Can we go downwind now please. I've been hit in the face by a grill pan.
- Julian Megson

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

When the draught of your vessel exceeds the depth of the water, you are most assuredly, aground
- Ian Walsh

A Smooth Sea NEVER made a Skilled Sailor
- John George Hermanson - English Proverb

One hand for the ship and one hand for you
- Jim Jensen

A ship is safe in harbor but that's not what ships are for
- William G.T. Shedd

Received from Jennie Gist

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
- Louisa May Alcott in Little Women

If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it.
- Jonathan Winters

Everyone must row with the oars he has.
- Dutch proverb

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for
- John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic (1928)
- or Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (it's uncertain which)


On Boats:

"There is little man has made that approaches anything in nature, but a sailing ship does. There is not much man has made that calls to all the best in him, but a sailing ship does."
- Allan Villiers

"The perfection of a yacht's beauty is that nothing should be there for only beauty's sake."
- John MacGregor

"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

"There are only two colors to paint a boat, black or white, and only a fool would paint a boat black."
- Nathanael G. Herreshoff

"For one thing, I was no longer alone; a man is never alone with the wind-and the boat made three."
- Hilaire Belloc

"If you can not arrive in daylight, then stand off well clear, and wait until dawn. After all, that's one of the things God made boats for- to wait in."
-Tristan Jones

"There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity."
- Thomas Gibbons

"A small craft in an ocean is, or should be, a benevolent dictatorship."
-Tristan Jones

On Engines:

"Long ocean passages usually don't require engines; it's the ports and headlands at each end that may demand some expert sailing."
- Hal Roth

"At last, the god-damned engine is quiet!"
- William Snaith

"He was now convinced that the most valuable sail on board was the diesel."
- Ray Kauffman

"The only reason that Uldra's engine never failed was because she did not have one."
- Dennis Puleston

"I can't wait for the oil wells to run dry, for the last gob of black, sticky muck to come oozing out of some remote well. Then the glory of sail will return."
-Triston Jones

On Weather:

"Headwinds are sore vexations and the more passengers the sorer."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

"I once knew a writer who, after saying beautiful things about the sea, passed through a Pacific hurricane, and he became a changed man."
- Joshua Slocum

"The pleasures of being becalmed became threadbare; there is a limit to untutored star gazing."
-Charles Landery

"Off Cape Horn there are but two kinds of weather, neither one of them a pleasant kind."
- John Masefield

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes."
-Old Norwegian Adage

"I loved cruising the coast of Maine . For one thing, it helped me conquer my fear of fog. Not that I have learned to feel secure in the fog, but at least I have learned how to grope without panic."
-Herb Payson

"Below 50 degrees south there is no law. Below 60 degrees south there is no God."
-Old Sailors Adage

"I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits."
- Bernard Moitessier

"It's scary to have a 30 foot wave chasing you. If you are steering, you don't look back. The crew looks back for you, and you watch their faces. When they look straight up, then get ready!"
- Magnus Olsson

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

"I don't know who named them swells. There's nothing swell about them. They should have named them awfuls."
-Hugo Vihlen

"It's remarkable how quickly a good and favorable wind can sweep away the maddening frustrations of shore living."
-Ernest K. Gann

"A tradewind starts gently, without gusts — a huge ocean of air that slowly and resolutely begins to move with ever-increasing strength. Suddenly everything comes to life. Spirits rise as the sails fill. The boat heels slightly and moves ahead. The almost oppressive silence gives way to the sound of the bow cutting through the water. Gone is the sea’s glassy surface, and with it the terrible glare. Close the hatches and ports! We’re sailing again!"
- Jim Moore from By Way of the Wind, 1991

On Anchoring

“Anchor as though you plan to stay for weeks, even if you intend to leave in an hour.”
- Tommy Moran

“Your vessel should always be ready to clear out at a moment’s notice, so have your exit strategy well prepared.”
- Dr. Philip Meakins

One of man's greatest inventions was the plough. Then some eedjet made an anchor out of it.
-Alex Blackwell
Attributed to Nathanael G. Herreshoff, but unconfirmed

"The single commandment of anchoring is "thou shall create scope."
- Reese Palley

More on Boats:

"Boats, like whiskey, are all good."
-R.D. (Pete) Culler

"A ship is always referred to as "she" because it costs so much to keep her in paint and powder."
-ADM. Chester Nimitz

BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand
-Alex Blackwell

"I want a boat that drinks 6, eats 4, and sleeps 2."
-Earnest K. Gann

"It looks like frozen snot."
-L. Francis Herreshoff, looking at a Herreshoff Bullseye built of fiberglass.

"If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most."
-E. B. White

"You have no right to own a yacht if you ask that question."
-J. P. Morgan Sr., in answer to a question by Henry Clay Pierce on how much it costs to own and run a yacht.

"Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made."
-Robert N. Rose

"The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat."
-L. Francis Herreshoff

More on Sailors:

"Bad cooking is responsible for more trouble at sea than all other things put together."
- Thomas Fleming Day

"To the question, "When were your spirits at the lowest ebb?" the obvious answer seemed to be, "When the gin gave out."
- Sir Francis Chichester

"When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land."
- Dr. Samuel Johnson

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

"The art of the sailor is to leave nothing to chance."
-Annie Van De Wiele

"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk."
-Sir Francis Chichester while loading his boat with gin.

"It isn't that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better."
- Sir Francis Drake

"The only way to get a good crew is to marry one."
- Eric Hiscock

"A sailing ship is no democracy; you don't caucus a crew as to where you'll go anymore than you inquire when they'd like to shorten sail."
-Sterling Hayden

"I know who you are, but you'll have to wipe your feet."
- Capt. Richard Brown of the schooner America to Prince Albert of England, 1851

"Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.
- Don Bamford

"We had twelve hours of daylight, and if we did not sight the coast, I should conclude that Brazil was merely a geographical expression."
-Frank Wightman

On the Sea:

"The sea hates a coward."
- Eugene O'Neill

"The ocean is an object of no small terror."
-Edmund Burke

"The sea drives truth into a man like salt."
- Hilaire Belloc

"I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea."
- Alaine Gerbault

"Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear."
-Buzzy Trent

"The ocean has always been a salve to my soul...the best thing for a cut or abrasion was to go swimming in salt water. Later down the road of life, I made the discovery that salt water was also good for the mental abrasions one inevitably acquires on land."
-Jimmy Buffett

"The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats."
- Ernest Hemingway

"The cure for anything is saltwater — sweat, tears, or the sea."
- Isak Dinesen

On Sailing:

"To be successful at sea we must keep things simple."
-R. D. ( Pete ) Culler

"One of the best temporary cures for pride and affection is seasickness."
- Henry Wheeler Show

"The thing I realized this last few days is that the earth is a big place."
- Paul Cayard

" Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit."
- Brooks Atkinson

"Never a ship sails out of a bay, but carries my heart as a stowaway."
-Roselle Mercier Montgomery

"Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters."
- Howard Bloomfield

"Our voyage hade commenced, and at last we were away, gliding through the clean water, past the reeds. Care was lifted from our shoulders, for we were free from advice, pessimism, officialism, heat and hot air."
- K. Adlard Coles

Translation: "To sail is necessary"
- Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Roman Consul, V century A.D.

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