Pearls of Wisdom

Sailing Quotes

We’ve collected a quantum of beautiful rhymes and quotes on sailing and those inspired by the sea and seafaring.

The brave images of the Age of Sail (and pirates) haunt a boy’s fantasy, and when the boy grows, the same old story happens again and again.

I dare to say, no poet in history, feeling poetry in the heart, has ever missed out on mentioning the sea, seafaring, or sailing in his or her works.

Sailing Quotes sketch

Motivational Sailing Quotes

Motivational Sailing Quotes

Philosophers often use sailing metaphors to express what they wish to express in their motivational quotes. Even though not every author was really into sailing, surely everyone got a small portion of a sailing fever. Mark Twain, however, was a real sailor, as real as only one can be once serving on a river.

If you do not know which port you are sailing to, any wind is favorable.


Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.

William Shakespeare

We are not in the same boat, but we are in the same storm


An amateur built the Ark. Professionals built Titanic.


Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor.

Mark Twain


Mark Twain is the pen-name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and it translates into “mark two” (where “twain” is an ancient way of saying “two”). Before becoming a famous writer Mark Twain served on a riverboat in Mississippi, and they used a rope with marks on it and a weight on the bitter end to measure depth.

Such rope is called a “depth-sounding line.” It is present on the pleasure boats nowadays in some jurisdictions as an emergency device to measure depth. The second mark, mark two, meant 12 feet of depth, safe to pass.

Mark Twain Sailing Quote

Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears, or the sea.

Karen Blixen, a Danish writer, who wrote in Danish, but when she wrote in English her pen-name was Isak Dinesen

One doesn’t discover new lands without losing sight of the shore.

Christopher Columbus

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

Franklin Roosevelt

We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea shall ever rest. We must learn how to sail in high winds.

Aristotle Socrates Onassis, a cargo shipping tycoon

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

Boats in the harbor are safe but that is not what they are meant for.

Zig Ziglar, an American motivational speaker. The quote is also attributed to Grace Hopper, a United States Navy Admiral, and a computer scientist.


Grace Hopper was messing with Mark I computers during the pioneering era of computer science, and she recorded many inventions in high-level programming and compilation.

One of the private transatlantic submarine communication cables, owned by Google, connecting the internet between Spain and America, is named after Grace Hopper.

Grace Murray Hopper quotes about sea and sailing

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

Anacharsis, 6th Century BC

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

Antoine de Saint Exupery

Nae man can tether time or tide.

Robert Burns

Inspirational Sailing Quotes

Inspirational Sailing Quotes

Yet it is hard to draw a line between motivational and inspirational sailing quotes, but we are making a try. We cut them into a separate section, thinking: “motivation” is a general motivation, serving as a metaphor for an occasion unnecessarily related to the sailing affairs, but “inspirational” is to inspire for sailing, which is the very purpose of this website.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

There is nothing absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Kenneth Grahame, a Scottish writer

Sea fever is addictive more than gold, leaving her will drive you wild.

Fay Slimm, a British poetess, and a former health practitioner.

It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.

Sir Francis Drake, an English privateer.


Sir Francis Drake was in command when the English Navy crushed the infamous Invincible Armada of Spain while the attempt to conquer England in 1588. Drake sunk 87 out of the 130 ships in one sitting, also using fire-ships, night attacks, and the advantages of the weather.

A year before, Drake sunk other 39 Spanish vessels during the Cadiz raid he conducted. The Spanish called him ‘El Draque,’ which is a direct translation of “the drake” (male duck) as a word into Spanish.

Sir Francis Drake Golden Hinde
Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whoever commands the sea, commands the trade, the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.

Sir Walter Raleigh, yet another English privateer of the Elizabethan era, who also was there under Drake’s command humiliating the Spanish Armada.

Was it storm? Our fathers faced it and a wilder never blew.

Rudyard Kipling

If Sailing was easy, it would be called Football.


Sailing Quotes on Seasickness

Sailing Quotes on Seasickness

If it wasn’t for seasickness, all the world would be sailors.

Charles Darwin

Only two sailors never felt seasickness: one never left port, the other was a liar.


One of the best cures for pride is seasickness.

Josh Billings

Romantic Sailing Quotes

Romantic Sailing Quotes

We would never make this post comprehensive without a separate set of romantic sailing quotes. It is something bigger than the wind and waves that attract people to rush into the sea – as it once was stressed in the following Ferdinand Magellan’s quote.

The sea is dangerous and its storms are terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore.

Ferdinand Magellan

At th’ twilight of my days I pledge my oath to sea: upon this ship I will remain throughout eternity.

Captain Cur, a pirate, and a poet.

We hardy skimmers of the sea are lucky in each sally. We, eighty strong, who row along the dreaded Pirate Galley.

Victor Hugo

My altars are the mountains and the ocean.

Lord Byron

Now bring me that horizon!

Jack Sparrow, a fictional pirate (“Pirates of the Caribbean”).

Learn the secret of the sea? Only those who brave its dangers comprehend its mystery.

Henry W. Longfellow

Sailors’ Quotes About the Sea

Sailors’ Quotes About the Sea

Sailing — the fine art of slowly going nowhere at great expense while being cold, wet and miserable.

Irv Heller

In sea affairs, nothing is impossible, and nothing is improbable.

Admiral Horatio Nelson

Any damn fool can navigate sober. A really good sailor can do it drunk.

Sir Francis Chichester, a British businessman, an aviator, and a solo sailor.


The English naval tradition for all hands being constantly drunk, so to say, served well for 400 years and was canceled only in the 1970s when complicated mechanisms and weapons appeared, requiring sober attention.

His name was Admiral Edward Vernon, known by his nickname Old Grog as he was keen to wear grogram jackets. Vernon suggested two portions of Grog per day for every soul on a ship (a whole mug, not a shot). The drink was a mixture of water and rum, based on the Pirates of the Caribbean’s favorite drink – bumbo! The latter included water, rum, lime, sugar, and nutmeg.

Admiral Edward Vernon Old Grog

A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind.

Webb Chiles

The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help her to sail herself.

John Rousmaniere, an American writer, and author of 30 books on yachting and yachting history.

The only way to get a good crew is to marry one.

Eric Hiscock, a British sailor and an author of books, who, with his wife Susan, sailed all around, including circumnavigations, during several decades.

The art of the sailor is to leave nothing to chance.

Annie Van De Wiele

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

Boats, like whiskey, are all good.

Robert D. Culler

No object created by man is as satisfying to his body and soul as a proper sailing yacht.

Arthur Beiser

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, a British-Polish writer, and a novelist.

Freedom and Love Sailing Quotes

Freedom and Love Sailing Quotes

To be successful at sea, we must keep things simple.

Pete Culler, a marine designer.

But to-day I leave the galley. Shall I curse her service then?

Rudyard Kipling

The servants of the sweep-head, but the masters of the sea!

Rudyard Kipling

The wind of the land is a hindered thing, but the ocean wind is free!

Lucy M. Montgomery, a Canadian author.

The sea is everything. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life on all sides

Jules Verne

When a man comes to like a sea life, he is no longer fit to live on land.

Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr. Johnson, an English writer.

A merry life and a short one shall be my motto.

Bartholomew Roberts, a pirate.


Bartholomew Roberts, also known as “Black Bart,” is considered the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy among “known pirates,” as soon as some pirates are wiped out of the historical record.

Black Bart took more than 420 prizes (captured ships) which is a great number. He died in battle at the age of 39 against federal forces, who intentionally were hunting especially for him.

He is also famous for establishing the proverbial Pirate Code.

Bartholomew Roberts
Bartholomew Roberts Flag
Orem, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia

I have only one eye. I really do not see the signal.

Admiral Horatio Nelson


During the battle of Copenhagen, on the 2nd of April 1801, Admiral Horatio Nelson disobeyed the direct order of his superior Admiral Hyde-Parker to retreat, went on doing what he was doing, and eventually won the engagement. The battle was supposed to be lost, but Nelson won it.

It is witnessed that Nelson said this phrase as an excuse to a first-mate officer, where the full quote was, “I have only one eye, I have the right to be blind sometimes,” then he looked through the glass with the blind eye, and added, “I really do not see the signal.”

The virtual for-fun organization CANOE, the Committee to Ascribe a Naval Origin to Everything, supports the idea that the idiom “to turn a blind eye” originates from this Nelson’s incident.

Often quoted: “I see no ships”, the same meaning.

Horatio Nelson
Admiral Horatio Nelson

Out there at sea that you are really yourself!

Vito Dumas

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