Sailing Quotes

A Collection of our Favorite Quotes...


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

"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

"Not all who wander are lost." - JRR Tolkien ~or~ "A man is never lost at sea." - Ernest Hemingway

"To be successful at sea we must keep things simple." - Pete Culler

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

2 FREE sailing courses and free online sailing logbook with NauticEdFree Sail Trim & Nav Rules Courses Two FREE sailing courses and a FREE sailing logbook. Free forever, no obligation, no purchase required.

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

"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." - Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows

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

"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.

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

"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit." - Helen Keller

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

"Behold the threaden sails
"Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,
Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea,
Breasting the lofty surge." - William Shakespeare

"Who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little." -- Paul Carvel

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

NauticEd Skippering a Small Keelboat by Grant HeadifenSkippering a Small Keelboat: Skills from the Masters Sail a small keelboat up to twenty-five feet with ease in all nearshore conditions with this unique book... GO»

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

"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." - William Butler Yeats, The Celtic Twilight

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

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

"Though is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel" - Augustus Hare

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

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

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

"There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm." - Willa Cather

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

"Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the tradewinds in your sails. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER" - Mark Twain

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

"I cannot not sail." - E. B. White

"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

"I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving - we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

"A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." - William Shedd

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

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

"Live in the Sunshine, Swim in the Ocean, and Drink in the Wild Air" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be Pirates" - Mark Twain

"If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out and meet it." - Jonathan Winters

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

"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

"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 way of life, one of the finest of lives." - Carleton Mitchell

"In what rapt ether sails the world, of which the weariest will never weary?" Herman Melville

"You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore" - Christopher Columbus

"Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World." - Christopher Columbus

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast." - Leonardo da Vinci

"He is the best sailor who can steer within fewest points of the wind, and exact a motive power out of the greatest obstacles." - Walter Scott

"'Woudst thou,' so the helmsman answered, 'learn the secret of the sea? Only those who brave its dangers comprehend its mystery!" - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"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

"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 disappointed 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

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

"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." Capt. Jack Sparrow

“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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

"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." Quote attributed to Psalms 107:23-24

"It is our relation to circumstances that determine their influence over us. The same wind that blows one ship into port may blow another off shore." - Christian Nevell Bovee

"On the sea there is a tradition older even than the traditions of the country itself and wiser in its age than this new custom. It is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them accountability...for men will not long trust leaders who feel themselves beyond accountability for what they do...And when men lose confidence and trust in those who lead, order disintegrates into chaos and purposeful ships into uncontrollable derelicts." - On The Collision of Wasp and Hobson, Wall Street Journal - Editorial 14 May 1952

"The safety of a yacht and her crew is the sole and inescapable responsibility of the owner, or owner's representative, the captain, who must do his best to ensure that the yacht is fully found, thoroughly seaworthy and manned by an experienced crew who are physically fit to face bad weather. He must be satisfied as to the soundness of the hull, spars, rigging, sails and all gear. He must ensure that all safety equipment is properly maintained and stowed and that the crew know where it is kept and how it is to be used." - OFFSHORE RACING COUNCIL (ORC), Regulations Governing Minimum Equipment & Accomodations Standards

"For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze." Richard Bode, First You Have to Row a Little Boat

"The humblest craft that floats makes its appeal to a seaman by the faithfulness of her life." - Joseph Conrad

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

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

"A sailing vessel is alive in a way that no ship with mechanical power ever be." - Aubrey de Selincourt

"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

"For will anyone dare to tell me that business is more entertaining than fooling among boats? He must have never seen a boat, or never seen an office, who says so." - Robert Louis Stevenson

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

"The sea is certainly common to all." - Titus Maccius Plautus

click image for full size

Sailing Quotes

Captain Thompson poems & illustrations. San Fransisco Maritime NHP

"With Tyrrell's sneeze, we scorn the breeze,
And fly thro' the foaming spray:
And from all around, long cheers resound
From the crew of The Good Ship 'K'"