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Nautical Quotes

Note - Photo is a Falmouth Oysterman.

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

It was JRR Tolkien who said, "Not all who wander are lost."

How can I get lost? I don't know where I'm going!

We are all HERE, because we are not all THERE.

Cruisers don't have plans, just intentions.

It is infinitely easier to shake out a reef when one is bored, than it is to try to tie one in when one is scared.

There are three sorts of people;
those who are alive, those who are dead,
and those who are at sea.

There is not anything in all the earth as wonderful as that first scent of shore to sailormen come in from deep-sea voyaging - except it be a woman's kiss, she the right woman.

"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

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

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

"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 seas glassy surface, and with it the terrible glare. Close the hatches and ports! Were sailing again!" - Jim Moore from By Way of the Wind, 1991

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

"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

"If you can't repair it, maybe it shouldn't be on board." -Lynn and Larry Pardey

"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. Francist 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

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

"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 aquires 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

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

"Sign on, young man, and sail with me. The stature of our homeland is no more than the measure of ourselves. Our job is to keep her free. Our will is to keep the torch of freedom burning for all. To this solemn purpose we call on the young, the brave, the strong, and the free. Heed my call, Come to the sea. Come Sail with me." -- John Paul Jones

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John Little 01-Mar-2010 14:29
Wpnderful quotes, every one; from Drake to Whoopi. Here's one of my favorites:

"Sign on, young man, and sail with me. The stature of our homeland is no more than the measure of ourselves. Our job is to keep her free. Our will is to keep the torch of freedom burning for all. To this solemn purpose we call on the young, the brave, the strong, and the free. Heed my call, Come to the sea. Come Sail with me." -- John Paul Jones

John Little
purser19-Aug-2008 04:03
A wonderful collection of extremely wise saying. Love the photo of the oyster boat too.
jOHN 31-Oct-2005 17:07