Wisdom...where and what would sailing be without it? As we see it, our job here at Latitude 38 is not merely to entertain and inform, but also to educate. To that end, we devote this section. Last updated: January 15, 2018.
Quotes and Comments: Most of the items in this section are submitted by readers. We generally add new ones to the top of the list - but sometimes you'll find new comments on old topics farther down, or on the older Wisdom Archive page.
"The difference between a power boater and a sailor: When a power boater steps aboard, he is in a hurry to get somewhere; when a sailor steps aboard, he's already where he wants to be." - author unknown
How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is clearly Ocean. - Arthur C. Clarke
When the challenges of intermittent dirt dwelling (or the most recent lightning strike) weigh heavily, I keep this on my desk to remind me of why I need to get back on the water as soon as possible. "It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit." Unfortunately, I don't recall the author; Joseph Conrad perhaps?- John Lubimir, s/v Patriot (awaiting repairs) & s/v Flight Risk (2012 Solo TransPac and 2013 & 2015 Bermuda 1-2)
Regarding the item above, Marcy Zimmerman writes: I submitted a Classy Classified this morning and was lamenting the idea of selling our boat. So I went to the Wisdom section for solace. One quote particularly appealed to me, but when I Googled it, it turns out that it's a variation on a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson about the forest (not the sea). The actual quote is: "It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit." I'm going to put it up on my wall anyway.
Rob Murray submits the following: "Those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards." Robert Pirsig (author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), in a 1977 Esquire magazine article.
"I have always said that one of the reasons I love the sport of sailing is because you can do it in your pajamas." John Nebilak, Indigo, Cape Dory 36
Uncle Carl (a powerboater): "You sailors have chosen to race the slowest means of transportation ever devised by man." Dad: "What's your point?" – John Reinhart
My nephew Bobby told me about his first overnight up the Coast around Point Conception. He said, "My dad told me when I went on watch, 'DON’T HIT CALIFORNIA!'" – Steve Jennings
Bob Reney of Alameda submitted these quotes:
"With which stars do they go on speaking, the rivers that never reach the sea?” – Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions
"Si todos los rios son dulces de donde saca sal el mar? (If all rivers are sweet where does the sea get its salt?)” – Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions
Seen on the back of a shirt at Tinsley Island: "There are two kinds of people in the world. The haves, and the have yachts." – Dennis Deisinger
From Bob Reney of Alameda: "Sailing a boat calls for quick action, a blending of feeling with the wind and water as well as with the very heart and soul of the boat itself. Sailing teaches alertness and courage, and gives in return a joyousness and peace that but few sports afford." – George Matthew Adams
"There are but two ways to learn to sail, trial and error." – Robert Pickett, by way of Joel.
Those who go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for a pastime. (From a reformed merchantman, stolen of course, from who? Who knows!) – Judy Dundon
There is only one rule on my boat, no number two. – Markwesti aboard Patricia A
For every complicated boat problem, there is a simple and elegant solution – which is almost always wrong. – Mike Bennett, Cupertino
Sailing experience is a quality that one acquires just after one really needs it!
When a yottie with some money meets a broker with some experience, soon the broker has the money and the yottie has some experience.
So it seems that wisdom and experience are related in an unfortunate manner, temporally speaking. Cheers, Jim and Ann Cate, s/v Insatiable II, lying Port Esperance, Tasmania
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
The ultimate in wisdom from David Allocco: If you die at sea, your friends may say, "At least he died doing what he loved."The problem, of course, is that you’re still dead. So, try not to do that.
"I put the following quote from Ella Wheeler Wilcox in a book I published titled Turning Final, A Life Complete," writes Jim Reed.
One ship drives east and another west with the self-same winds that blow.'Tis the set of the sails and not the gales which decides the way to go. Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate as we wander along through life 'Tis the set of the soul that decides the goal and not the calm or strife.
Sailing Quotes from David R. Allocco:
1. Always keep the air side up and the water side down.2. What goes down, sometimes comes back up.3. Sometimes it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s dead calm, or it’s too windy, but it’s always just right.4. A sailor is never a victim.5. When you’re heading home, the dock is a long way away, but when you’re close to the dock, you’re closer than you think, and you’re going too fast!
This quote is usually applied to flying airplanes, but it works for boats too: Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself. – Bob Wassam, Oregon Coast
"When I was about 13, my Dad turned over the helm to me sailing up-bay at night. His instructions: "If you see the lights of a ship, turn the boat away from it, then wake me up." Dad's 93 now. My brother took him for a nice sail recently." – Scotty, Catalina 34, Paradise
When I got my first ocean capable sailboat, a seabird yawl, my friends and I drank beer. A lot of beer, in bottles. So not knowing better we took beer in bottles aboard. We spilt a lot of beer but luckily never broke any bottles. So we never learned the lesson that bottles are a no-no aboard boats. But one thing I did learn, at least on that seabird yawl, is that when the beer bottles start to whistle, ye best be reefing the main. Colvin, s/v JauderaColumbia 36Titusville, FL
The Wanderer says "please, no poetry," but I snuck this one in: To my eye, Heaven is in the sky short of that, Heaven is on the sea short of that, Heaven is on the shore short of that, Burial at sea would be 'my way'to say Good bye.– OG
"Reading the clock aloft," is a lovely turn of phrase, writes William M. Cunningham II, who sent us this quote from Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World:"I sailed with a free wind day after day, marking the position of my ship on the chart with considerable precision; but this was done by intuition, I think, more than by slavish calculations. For one whole month my vessel held her course true; I had not, the while, so much as a light in the binnacle. The Southern Cross I saw every night abeam."The sun every morning came up astern; every evening it went down ahead. I wished for no other compass to guide me, for these were true."If I doubted my reckoning after a long time at sea I verified it by reading the clock aloft made by the Great Architect, and it was right."
From Hugh Field of San Francisco: "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester, an early circumnavigator, spoken whilst loading his boat with gin. And one of my own… You'll know that sailing has overtaken your life when, while driving your car around a tight hairpin turn. You find yourself wondering why the boom hasn't jibed.
There is something magical about the dance that occurs between the ocean and the sky - with the wind as your partner. Whether it is under a bright blazing sun, or a star-filled sky - the rhythm of the ocean, the surge of the vessel, the sound of the wind, and the splash of the waves. In all my wanderings and adventures, I have found no tonic stronger to restore my soul, replenish my spirit, and brighten my outlook on life. - anonymous (submitted by Kelvin Meeks)
Red dress in the morning… sailor take warning. – Mike Coller, Short Wave II, Kent WA
3 Basic Rules: Keep yourself in, the water out, and the stick in the air.
From a Tuna boat captain, Lau Group, Fiji: "I believe in two things - Caterpillar and God, in that order." - from Quadrifolia
1. On fog: When God was making the earth, one day he made fog. He soon realized his mistake and to atone for his sin he gave man the inspiration to invent the anchor.2. On maneuvering: Use slow when you think you need half, and half when you think you need full. If you need full, you are going too fast.- Gregg Waugh, s/v Rochambeau, Beneteau 49
"A strong, reliable engine is - in many cases - an adequate substitute for seamanship." - Eric Slosser
Although now a liveaboard cruiser on the East Coast, I was once a Radio Officer on merchant ships. One day a grizzled old Third Mate gave me a most valuable piece of advice: "Sparks, whenever you do something in command of a vessel, think about how it would sound on a witness stand."
"The superior seaman will use his superior judgment to avoid having to use his superior skills." - Norm, s/v Bandersnatch, Gloucester, MA
From Dave Barry (humor columnist): "Sailboats get to their destination primarily due to continental drift." That's not an exact quote, but it conveys his message.- Craig Scott, Columbia, SC
From a bumper sticker: "There are two kinds of ships: submarines and targets."Perhaps a not-so-friendly warning for Channel Island Harbor sailboats straying too close to the neighboring naval base. (Love your wisdom page, webmistress: breezy and disheveled, just like sailors!) - Steven R. Van Hook, PhDAw shucks!
I had a request for this one some time ago - took me a while to find it:A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. – Robert A. Heinlein, from Time Enough for Love: "Notebooks of Lazarus Long"
Why Is a Ship Called a 'She'?A ship is called a 'she' because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about; she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good-looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable; she shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys. – Robert Young That one's a classic, sexist yet with a certain old-fashioned charm.
When asked where I am headed, my only answer is that I place my index finger in my mouth and when I take it out, I head the opposite direction from whichever side is cold. – Capt. Buzz, Yacht Taaroa
When I was working on a radar for a sailboat in Sausalito the owner asked me what other electronics experience I had. I told him I had worked in Aerospace on projects for NASA. He said, “That is amazing," and that marine work should be easy. I told him that it was the opposite. He said, "How can that be?" I told him that when you make a mistake in aerospace there probably is not going to be anyone coming back and looking for you. In marine work a mistake might put a crew in the liferaft and there is a very good chance that they are coming back to meet you! – Dave Angelini from Astraea the Ketch
Imagine2frolic says, "Sailing isn't always a slick magazine cover."
"I speak from experience here, MUCH EXPERIENCE," exclaims Mike DeLury: A BOAT IS BUT A HOLE IN THE WATER THAT YOU ALWAYS TRY TO FILL IN WITH MONEY.
From Bill Nokes: While racing my cruising boat offshore of Brookings, Oregon, I became concerned we had up too much sail for the wind. A hardcore racer aboard said, "Don't worry about gear breaking. If it doesn't break, it was built too heavy!"
"Something about sailing a boat brings so many senses and sensations into play that it's very difficult to pinpoint what it is specifically that makes me like it so much: the sight of sails and sheets overhanging the water; the foam and spray flying as the bow cuts the water; the motion of the boat; the physical and mental ballet necessary to handle the boat correctly. A sailboat might just be the most beautiful, sensuous and intelligent blend of man/machine/and elements that exists in the world today. The relationship between the three is the most harmonious I have experienced so far. Besides you can have a beer while you do it." - anonymous, submitted by Craig Russells/v Addiction 1981 Newport 30 MK IIIEmeryville
The only difference between prison and a ship at sea in the Navy is prisoners generally have more hot water and space! Rich Slayden
"I'm not sure of the origins of this quote," writes Yinka Tuakli, "but it was definitely written so that I would find it."A ship in the harbour is safe... but that's not what ships are made for.
Seen by Mike Reed on a T-shirt at Cama Beach, Camano Island, WA: Is it better to be lost at sea or found at work?
David Rustigian came across this years ago and still believes it to be true: Without passion, it's just wind and water.
"You must have this somewhere, but I didn't find it," writes Justin McCarter: I spent all my money on booze, boats and broads. And the rest of it, I wasted. - Elmore Leonard We have it now!
"I saw this on a bronze plaque in a marine store," says Chris Penn:Definition: The Superior SailorThe superior sailor is one who uses his superior judgment to avoid the use of his superior skills.
"I ran across this Robert Burton quote over 30 years ago when I was setting off to sail around the world. It has always stuck with me: The winds are mad. They know not whence they come, nor whether they would go. And those men are maddest of all who go to sea. Hope you like it."Lon Bubeck, CF-37 Shaka
When you are sailing your piece of Tupperware across the bay, and the ships are coming from one way and the tugs with barges are coming from another, just remember what a frog looks like in a blender. GET OUT OF THE WAY! - from Susan-Marie Hagen
Jeff Berman says, "To make your sailing weekends last longer, take your dentist sailing. As having him aboard will make time pass much slower."
Life is a voyage in which we choose neither vessel nor weather, but much can be done in the management of the sails and the guidance of the helm. - Author Unknown, sent in by Dave Mather
A quote from an offshore racing catamaran skipper: "How can you break records with lead on your keel?" Good question. Gregory Clausen Santana 30/30, Wisdom (see photo above) Corte Madera
Chris Larsen writes: "I believe the following quote is from Bernard Moitessier in The Long Way. From Garry Willis of Breezn from Marina del Rey: I don't know the source but I keep it on my desk as a reminder. Sailing alone soothes me because the sea is fair, not cruel. It judges only your ability. It does not care who or what you are. It does not ask your age, color, sex, address, sexual orientation, education or IQ, but only your competence. It requires only that you can sail. If you can, you survive. If you can't, better stay ashore. That's fair, more fair than most of us experience on land...and refreshing."
"A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree." Spike Milligan, from Ray Thackeray
Wisdom. . . or the lack thereof: One member in my coastal cruising sailing class said after our instructor asked what the hell he was thinking when he drove our boat into the path of a harbor cruise boat, "I just wanted to get into a situation to see if I could get out of it." Needless to say he failed the class. - Paul Clausen, San Diego
Life's too short to sail an ugly boat! Cheers from an Alberg 37 owner (Jack Vanderloo, Ottawa, Ontario)
A rebuttal to the above comment: I may not own an ugly boat, but in agreement with the sentiments expressed by 'the Wanderer' in Latitude nearly every time someone asks, "What boat should I buy?" Buy the boat that meets your needs, not your wants (sorry if the attribution is inaccurate). My opinion, if you can't afford an Alberg, buy that ugly boat, get off the dock and go sail. - Dave Dodds
Also from Canada, Jay and Anita Bigland wonder, "How come all rocks that boaters collide with are referred to as 'uncharted'?"
Jim Revard saw this in the Hole in the Wall Bar and Marina, Ketchikan, Alaska: May the breeze be fresh and a fair oneMay your life be long and a good oneMay your death be easy and a quick oneMay your beer be cold, Let's have another one
Does your boat leak? Only when it rains.“There are three types of water, freshwater, seawater and rainwater. Rainwater will go where no other water can find to go.” - Jeff Berman (we know it's true!)
We discovered the following on a plaque on a wall in the old city section of Mazatlan: "As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." Herman Melville, In Mazatlan, March 28 - April 16, 1844from Jimmie Zinn, s/v Dry Martini, Point Richmond
Ed of the Tayana T37 Maryann's Majic out of Annapolis attributes the following to renown seafarer Stephen B Luce: The Sea is selective, Slow in recognition of effort and aptitude, BUT, Fast in sinking the unfit!
A foreman mechanic at a boatyard I worked for, Richard of Richmond Boat Works, said to me once that, "Sailing is hours of mild boredom with interrupted moments of sheer terror." J. Richard MB
Dave Jackson delivers the following: "We had shaken out all reefs, and now tore along at full speed, with the spray-drift sparkling in the sun, and a frolicsome jubilant sea. The delights of going fast when the water is deep and the wind is strong - ah! These never can be rightly described, nor the exulting bound with which your vessel springs through a buoyant wave, and the thrill of nerve that tells in the sailor's heart, 'Well, after all, sailing is a pleasure supreme.'" - from The Voyage Alone in the Yawl Rob Roy by John MacGregor, 1867
John Forsyth says, "If you don't know where you are going, then don't complain when you get there."
Over the rapidly missing rum, we thought this was WisdomMaster the boat, be not mastered by it. Voice your skill with your ability, but always speak sternly to the stern peak pointedly to the bow, Speak deeply to the keelSpeak loftily with the sails, And always speak soberly over the radio!- Mark Allen Brady, S/V Immortally Insane; Yorktown 41, Mad Captain Mark; Meghan Flannegan, S/V Rhiannon, Yorktown 39, Dread Pirate Flannegan
Frequently heard during the last 40 years of Frostbite Dinghy Racing in Belmont Harbor, Chicago: Upside down is slow. - Rick Van Mell
I'm not sure if this is printable. With much hesitation I submit, "If it flys floats or fornicates it's cheaper to rent." (source unknown) - Richard WhiteRichard, I'm not sure it's printable, but then this isn't print.
"There is always a guy with a bigger boat and a prettier wife." Once you accept this the happier you will be (and also the wealthier you will be). - B.G.W.
Attitude is everything. While cruising the South Pacific, we had a friend, Werner on Columbine, who would always say when the weather was rough (or anything else was not going well). "I'm glad there is a gale, because if I weren't glad, there would still be a gale." Bill Christoph, yacht Hubba Hubba
I'm quite certain time travel can be achieved by installing fluorescent lights on a sailboat. I've come to this conclusion based on how time seems to pass at a snail's pace when at the office and exponentially when sailing. Kenneth J. Newell, Ph.D.Vice President, EngineeringUltraCell CorporationS/V Trim
Jim McEwen, Tequila Chica, Dana Point, has this Tristan Jones quote on his wall: get what you can afford, sail what you can handle, and love what you're doing
Applies to lots of things in life including yacht refits: Good, fast and cheap. Pick any two; you can't have all three. - Capt. H. J. Earl, USCG Master, Sausalito
My stinkpot mechanic, Ted Cornnut (sp?) here in Flagstaff once told me, when asked what is the single best piece of advice you can give me before I launch my boat? He said; "Never approach a dock faster than you are willing to hit it." It works. - John Bachrach (Hunter's brother), Flagstaff, AZ
Jay's Right of Way RuleThe bigger the boat the more the right of way. Jay + Anita Bigland
"I remember reading this in Latitude 38 way back in the '80s so it can't be poetry." - Jeff RossHere lies the body of Micheal O'dayWho died maintaining his 'right of way'.He was right, dead right, as he sailed along, But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.
When Humperdinck Jackman entered the U.S. Navy he was taught: "There's a right way, a wrong way, and the Navy way."
Despite his wife's disapproval, Paul Ouellette quotes an unknown author: "Sailing is like a bad relationship...the costs are high in terms of aggravation, time, and money...but when she's wet and you're riding her...it all seems worthwhile."
John Reinhart writes: When people ask the question, "Aren't boats expensive?" my reply is, "not as expensive as a house... and you know a house is just a badly built boat. It won't hold water and when the neighbors get ugly you can't move it." Stolen from a Roberts boat building manual I carried around with me from my teens till I was 30 and could afford to buy one. [A house or a boat?]
This is an old one, from Gregory Clausen: "The two happiest days a boat owner has are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it."
Just two items for a section I hesitate to name, for reasons of modesty:1) Sailing & Spending I am now gaining a better understanding of sailboat and sailing terminology: One can have a day spender and do day spending. One can have a coastal spender and do `coastal spending. One can have a bluewater spender and do bluewater spending. Of course, I guess some of us can even have double-spenders . . .2) "There are at least two sides to every island." - David Stephens
Sailing sure beats the hell out of chasing tailpipes down freeways. - Walter Lockhart, s/v ISHA, a trailerable boat
I loved your wisdom section, maybe because I think that while sailing can be a serious venture, there is no need to be funereal about it. I don't recall the sources of these one-liners, but they seem to be in keeping with the spirit of the column: In sailing, "adventure" is what happens to the ill-prepared. Life at sea can be hell, but it sure beats the shit out of the alternative. Tom Scott, Nepenthe, Langkawi, Malaysia
In my life, I have lived on three different shores, swum in every ocean, trod every continent. It still astounds me that the only time I feel as though I have arrived, is when the final dock line is cast off. - Bill Fortner, Merchant Mariner, Chesapeake Bay, VA
When fog descends, the anchor is a navigational aid: It finds you a place where you are not sinking! - Gene Walker
Most memorable advice from my first instructor at Tradewinds Sailing School: "If you get embarrassed easily then sailing's not for you." - Paul Miller
Earl's Rule #1 of sailing: "Don't spit, pee, puke or anything else off the windward side." (Our instructor Earl to a crew of 4 guys taking a 5-day liveaboard class.) - Peter Howson
One should never enter a life raft except when steeping up from the masthead. - Ann Trautwein, Redemption
Saw this quote on a crew t-shirt in Solomons Island, MD, after a race: "Second place is the first loser!" - John Rader, Cohabit
Kevin Meeks of Renaissance sent in this quote by Sir Francis Bacon, "They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea."
Said by the late Sid Bryant, an old salt and former commodore of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club to his son Dal, who was planning to purchase a liveaboard sailboat for his young family. "Son, you have to remember that people like terra firma - the more firma, the less terra." - Dal Bryant
From Jeff Ross: My friend Tom, at the age of 35 and about to embark on a lifelong cruise replied to a question about his finances, "I have enough money now to last me the rest of my life... All I have to do is not spend any of it."
After 30+ years of sailing, (some in Star boats), one of the best pieces of wisdom I have learned (the hard way) is, DUCK! - Tom Walchli
"Nothing goes to windward like a 747." - Andrew Haslam, Auckland, NZ
At sea one time, after several days of miserable weather, our Chief Cook said to me... "There are only two types of people who go to sea: Cooks and Diners." - Jimmy Langton, PO1 Cdn Navy from his lifelong bud "ffronk"
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy shit… what a ride!" Our Chartering Editor suggested this quote but we weren't sure to whom to attribute it. If you know, Webmistress We've had some responses:
"I originally read the quote in Dean Karnazes book, Ultramarathon Man," wrote Chuck Fiorentino. He is a Bay Area resident and ultramarathon runner. The quote in the book is: Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"
Cory Layne of Tampa, FL, attributes the quote to Peter Sage, international entrepreneur and business development consultant.
Mark Wieber suggested that the actual author is Mavis Leyrer, age 83. "I have yet to find it in a book, and I hold Internet information to be highly suspect." That does seem wise.
But wait! Mark writes again: "Just stumbled across this reference: 'Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a Ride!' � Hunter S. Thompson
A Google search of Hunter S. Thompson quotes seems pretty conclusive. Google (life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely and Hunter S. Thompson)Sorry Mavis!
According to Ron Perkins, the exact quote is as follows: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'" – Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo. "The book Gonzo was published in 2007," writes Ron, "however it is a collection of Thompson's 'Gonzo Papers', which he authored between 1979 and 1994."
"They also attribute this gem to his wit: 'It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.' " – Mark Wieber, Slocum 43 Goliard, Emeryville, CA
When people asked me, "How could you give up this great job/life and go sailing?" I said, "The truth is I don't have long to live." After a pregnant pause, I'd say, "In ten, twenty or thirty years, I'll be dead and I won't be able to do this!" - John Gambill, S/V Hotwire, St. Petersburg, FL
It's a little more than 20 years that as a young man I sailed around the Caribbean with Mr. Thomas 'T-Bone' Whatley, a seasoned old warrior who taught me a lot about being a mariner. He had sayings that have been proven to be so true: "In rough and rolling seas all good sailors sit to pee," Salud, Augusto Villalon S/V Gaucho
When you lose control of your sailboat, aim for the cheapest boat. So says Abilio Ramos of Blanca Rosa.
The last line from Pirates of the Caribbean: Now - bring me that horizon.Sent in by Daryl Yeakle, s/v Q
Only a fool becomes embroiled in an argument on a singlehanded boat. - Skipper Neal
Mark Caplin writes: Some of the best sailing advice I ever got was from an OCSC sailing instructor. He said. "If you're about to back into a dock, don't put it in forward and give it full throttle. You'll still hit the dock, but now you have a bunch of people watching you."
"To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go. The tales of rough usage are for the most part exaggerations, as also are the tales of sea danger. To face the elements is, to be sure, no light matter when the sea is in its grandest mood. You must then know the sea, and know that you know it, and not forget that it was made to be sailed over." - Joshua Slocum Sent in by Eric White, Columbia 40 #10, Pelago, sailing out of Galesville, MD
"Sailing is like being in jail, but with the possibility of drowning!" - Sara Dornsife sent in by Richard Finlayson
"I thought of this one years ago, working in the depths of a very deep bilge. Applicable as well, to hanging over the stern, up in the rig." Hold the nut, turn the bolt. Aloha, Tom Warren, Lahaina
A guy and his wife hop aboard the jitney outside Mystic Seaport. He tries to pay his fare when he discovers that the coin channel on the meter is clogged. Calmly, without oath, he takes a pocket knife out of his trousers, clears the jam, pays his fare and sits down."Are you a plumber?" the driver asks."Sailor," the guy responds.
Overheard on a windy day at a crowded anchorage: "You can observe a lot just by watching." The original quote is generally credited to Yogi Berra.- Steve Harrington, Morning Calm, Pacific Seacraft 34
"When I was teaching boat handling in the Coast Guard we had a saying: Approaching a dock with a boat it is like approaching a woman in a bar - very seldom is a slow approach a poor approach." - Denis Mahoney
Only sailors are blown offshore. (Hey, I didn't say it - give JLKangley the credit for that one!)
In The Tao of Sailing, Ray Grigg writes: "Wind blows in one direction, but we want to go in another; wind blows there, but we want to stay here. Wind keeps getting in the way of made-up mind. So...change made-up mind to unmade-up mind."
Mike Bennett, Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in San Francisco, writes: In what other sport can you be wet, cold, hungry, happy, seasick, and scared - all at the same time!
"That packet of assorted miseries which we call a ship." - Rudyard Kipling, submitted by Lee & Jackie Bartl
Advice from a favorite seafaring uncle: "Be careful who you talk to about your sailing plans. Those who have abandoned their dreams will try to destroy yours."And a more practical suggestion when I got my first skipper's job: "There are three unbreakable commandments: First, never mess with the owner's wife. Second, never ever mess with the owner's daughter. Third, never ever ever mess with the crew's paychecks."Cheers, Jeremy Walker, Palo Alto
"I have a great medallion (on a chain) acquired somewhere long ago. It has a sailboat on the front and the back advises Pray to God, but row for shore." Mark Wieber, Emery Cove
Joe Rockmore sent this in: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood or assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint Exupery
Doug Brown of the s/v Arwen Evenstar of London heard this quote 30 years ago "from a guy in MDR who was the biggest sailing BS'er in the marina: 'If you have to be somewhere by a certain date, you aren't cruising, you're racing.' It has proven to be 100% true."
"After a beach party in Isla Mujeres, I wrote this: Anchor tales, sailor brags. Wind blows, sailor drags." - Eldon McMullen
The ocean has the conscienceless temper of a savage autocrat spoiled by much adulation. - Joseph Conrad (sent in by Joe Rockmore)
From Garry Willis of Breezn from Marina del Rey: I don't know the source but I keep it on my desk as a reminder."Sailing alone soothes me because the sea is fair, not cruel. It judges only your ability. It does not care who or what you are. It does not ask your age, color, sex, address, sexual orientation, education or IQ, but only your competence. It requires only that you can sail. If you can, you survive. If you can't, better stay ashore. That's fair, more fair than most of us experience on land...and refreshing."
Shirley Larsen sent us these: For cruisers: Try to keep yourself at the top of the food chain. - Author unknown.A sure cure for seasickness? Stand under a tree. - Robert Orr, Seattle.
Also on the subject of seasickness from WG Nokes: "Seasickness is the only malady from which you must recover to die." Evolved from "I'm too seasick to die."
"There is more to sailing than ropes and winches, cleats and bulging sails. There are faraway places and the ever-changing light, and the silence, and a great peace at the bottom of your soul." - Ferenc Maté "Dreams rarely come true in exactly the fashion hoped for. They usually don't come true worse - just different. It behooves all dreamers to be flexible." Latitude 38, March, 1992 "I have been dreaming about cruising for many years and getting close. I am looking forward to the 'just different' part."Jay Ailworth, Strange Bird, Catalina 42 #692, www.strangebird.usHow circular; our print publication has been quoted by a reader in our cyber-publication.
Steve Moore found this one years ago, but doesn't remember where: Let those who know not how to pray go to sea.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken main halyard and a leaky toilet valve. It's always darkest before dawn, so if you're going to sneak out of port without filing a float plan, that's the time to do it. If at first you don't succeed, singlehanded round-the-world ocean racing is not for you. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day. The above were sent in by Phil Collins.
Another comment on the latter subject: Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Give a man a boat, he can not afford to eat again. - Capt. Perseverance
Dan Spradlin on confusion: I have only one real caution to the folks I bring onboard: I say, "If it CAN get fouled, it WILL get fouled." This is in hopes that I can get the crew to clear the decks of effluvia. Sounds like you could equally be referring to the marine head.
Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark:One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.From Dominic Haigh
From a placard my wife posted in the head: "A gentleman sailor always sits." From Burt McChesney, Chief of Staff, Lt. Governor Cruz M. Bustamante
Why sailors love the sea: Without it they would have to carry their boats. Submitted by Ottar Friis "non-sailor - almost too old to get started"
Stuart Kiehl sent in this quote from Charles Schultz: "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." Sounds like something Linus would have said. Writing 'Lectronic Latitude news stories about events down under always presents a temporal syntax challenge.
Adventure is never much fun while it's happening. - unknown (submitted by John Bousha)
The sailors with the most time get the best weather. From Padre Timo, doing The 'Baja Bash'
As an engineer and a sailor I came up with this about 30 years ago and kept it posted on my office door for years. It certainly applies to sailboats and anything else! 'In all systems, as complexity approaches infinity, mean time between failures drops to zero.' - Stephen Streib
After taking a lightning strike while below deck, and two feet from the keel-stepped mast, I offer these words regarding lightning: 'If you can hear it, fear it. If you can see it, flee it'. - Evan Williams, Sur Lees
I once knew an old gent who had had quite the illustrious life. I asked him what he'd done with his money. He immediately said: "Most of my money I spent on boats and women. The rest I squandered." - Roy Myers, s/v Minx of Fairhaven, currently in Newport Beach
Quoth Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, "Professor, I'm not what you call a civilized man. I am finished with society for reasons I alone can appreciate. I don't obey its laws, and I suggest you never again refer to them again in my presence!" (Thanks to Mark Ramos)
From Jim Leech of Neil Pryde Sails: One of my favorite Irish proverbs is "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." And for those considering lending tools to the guy down the dock, "A borrowed saw cuts anything."
These silly thoughts are by Jim Borgman, Kismet, Catalina 36, Emeryville: If it falls out of the bird, it will land on your deck. (Or, put another way, physics cannot explain the powerful gravitational attraction between fiberglass and birdshit.)Sailors do it between the sheets. Borgman's Head Motto: If you didn't drink it, don't flush it. Nothing Lasts. Borgman's Proofs: Mylar headsails. Varnish. Beer. Borgman's Contraries: Your first overnight sail. Your last place finish. Your first wife's name on your transom. Borgman counted 15 blackbirds frolicking noisily upon spreaders from which dangled a menacing plastic owl.
A sailing rockstar? Attributed to David Lee Roth by David Paul: "Money can't buy you happiness. But it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it."
The definitive quote about boating comes from Rat in Kenneth Grahame's Novel, Wind in the Willows: "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." Thanks to Sanders LaMont for reminding us of it.
While we're quoting the literati, it was JRR Tolkien who said, "Not all who wander are lost." - Submitted by Richard Finlayson
Calvin Chase quotes a PT boat skipper on Tulagi: "We have done so much with so little for so long we can do anything with nothing."Brian Mitchell says the full quote is: "We the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long with so little that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing." Brian adds that it's been attributed to everyone from mercenaries in Africa during the '50s to Mother Theresa. "It is pretty safe to assume the original author probably will never be known."
Jerry Mennis writes: A friend of mine was sitting on his 25-ft sailboat at the dock when a dockwalker asked if he ever takes his boat out of the marina and over the bar. My friend said 'yes' and the d.w. asked, "How far do you go?" My friend said, "Till half your beer is gone!"
From Gary Scharf: "When I die, I want to go quietly, in my sleep; like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers." - Author unknown
"I don't drive another man's car, boat, or wife." That philosophy has kept me alive and still friendly with many a good friend over the years. I still recall some advice given about how to make it feel that your drink is cool when there is no ice when down in Mexico. Just plunk some nuts and bolts in the drink and occasionally shake it up for the ice-like clinking sound. - John Perkins, Daytona Beach, FL
Could apply to yacht racing: "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte (sent in by LS from the Delta)
From one of my favorite Antigua Sailing Week t-shirts: "My drinking team has a sailing problem!" - Greg Sherwood of 'Imi Loa in SF I think we ran a photo of that shirt in Latitude somewhere, but don't ask me when.
EtymologyNAVIGATION: Check into the roots of the word - one root translation reads, Navigation: "Sacrifices to the Sea" - Mark Brady, Humboldt Bay, S/V Synapse
CANNON BALLS: In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon, but prevent them from rolling about the deck. The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of thirty cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem - how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey," with sixteen round indentations. If this plate was made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys." Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!" - via friendly spam
In an effort to debunk the 'brass monkeys' story, Ralph Ahseln of Gresham, OR, writes, "There are NO references to 'Brass Monkey' in any nautical reference book available today. There are no words even close to it. Therefore, assume it never existed as a nautical term. The device that held ammunition on board was most likely wooden, sometimes rope. A BRASS device would be unlikely to be placed on the decks of a fighting ship. Brass would have been a poor choice of materials. The 'holders' were called many things, primarily a 'shot garland', sometimes called a 'shot grommet'. Which brings us to the real problem with the Brass Monkey story: Ammunition aboard those vessels was called either 'bombs' or 'shells' if they exploded, or 'shot' if they didn't explode. There was round shot, bar shot, chain shot, case shot, crossbar shot, langrel shot . . . So the old silly saying would have been 'It was cold enough to freeze the round shot off a wooden shot garland.' Kind of loses something in the translation, doesn't it?"
In an effort to debunk Ralph's debunking of the 'brass monkeys' story, Gregory Sherwood of s/v Imi Loa writes, "Page 43 of Robert McKenna's book The Dictionary of Nautical Literacy states: Brass monkey, a metal frame laid on the deck of a ship to help contain the bottom layer of a stack of cannon balls. The phrase 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey' meant that in extremely cold temperatures the brass frame shrank more than the iron cannon balls, and the stack would collapse. Sorry Ralph!"
Bob Bell of Andiamo writes, "From truth or fiction Website: According to the United States Navy Historical Center, this is a legend of the sea without historical justification. The center has researched this because of the questions it gets and says the term 'brass monkey' and a vulgar reference to the effect of cold on the monkey's extremities, appears to have originated in the book Before the Mast by C.A. Abbey. It was said that it was so cold that it would 'freeze the tail off a brass monkey.' The Navy says there is no evidence that the phrase had anything to do with ships or ships with cannon balls."
On docking and launching...A successful docking is one that you can sail away from. The ease and success of launching and docking is inversely proportional to the number of witnesses. When sailing, the number of dockings should equal the number of launches. The motor, if it starts, always runs while the boat is tied to the dock. If it doesn't start, there's people watching. If anything is dropped on the dock, only the most expensive or irreplaceable items will fall into the water [like your keys!]. How do you instantly draw a large, impatient crowd of motor boaters at a launching ramp? Bring a sailboat. Docking under power in a motorboat is normal. Docking under sail is an adventure. The frequency in changes in the wind is inversely proportional to the proximity to the dock. If there are any children or PWCs in the area, they will all congregate at the dock as you approach. Respectfully submitted by Lee Högman of the Mac 21 Cool Change
A simple explanation of how sailing works from Bill Schafer of the Olson 25 Ohana: "I am an engineer by training, and a sailor at heart. We have trained many crew on Ohana. When trying to explain how sails work and get across the concept of the sail shape needed, I often retort with, 'Sails don't blow, they suck!' This usually gets the point across for why we need to optimize the wing shape for lift, and they seem to remember it."
Shari Cottrell sent this in, and I remember seeing it on a No Fear t-shirt and liking it then: If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space!
Patrick Maguire has observed that, "Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, much of that comes from bad judgment."
"Enjoyed the few postings I read so far; here is something I often tell myself when I get stuck: There is no shortage of solutions, just a shortage of imagination."- Dave Yearsley, the Petaluma Riverkeeper
Michael Cobbald sent us these quotes: "Loneliness is the penalty of leadership, but the man who has to make decisions is assisted greatly if he feels that there is no uncertainty in the minds of those who follow him, and that his orders will be carried out confidently and in expectation of success."- Sir Ernest Shackleton, from the journals of his last expedition to Antarctica
While riding on a tortoise, the snail said "WHEEEE!"From Joe on Bondo Tram
Dick Herman sent us two very basic rules stolen years ago from the "Hog Log" at the 512 TFS, Ramstein, Germany:1. The important things are always simple. 2. The simple things are aways hard.
Nick Rouy submits: I was so sick I thought I was going to die. I then became terrified I wouldn't.
"Never worry about stepping on anyone's toes. People who get their toes stepped on are standing still or sitting down on the job." - Admiral Arleigh "31 knot" Burke, USN
Mike Geer of s/v Michalla reminds us that, "Girls don't lay down in boats they can't stand up in." Chuck Hawley agrees: "Richard claims that I said this in about 1982…while living aboard an Olson 30 in Clipper Basin 2. 'Do not expect a woman to lie down in a sailboat she cannot stand up in!' That did help explain a particularly rough patch in my love life in the '80s…"
From Joseph Conrad: "The true peace of God begins a thousand miles from the nearest land" For one that goes back a few centuries, from Lecky's Wrinkles: "There is nothing so distressing as running ashore, unless there is also doubt as to which continent the shore belongs."W.H.Tillman has many good ones. Some of my favorites can be found in his Sailing/Mountain Exploration books. "To furnish a wife will cost you much trouble, but to fit-out a ship the expenses are double." Perhaps no longer PC, but being non-PC in this day in age can be a lot of fun. While Tillman was trying to find crew for a sailing/climbing expedition to the Kerguelen Islands in 1959, he had this to say, "Why attempt to drag five other misguided men halfway across the world when it is obvious that most of our present-day troubles come from men not staying quietly in their room at home? But upon visiting Mischief to see how things are going, such weak thoughts are speedily banished. She and her kind were never built so that men should stay quietly at home. She breathes sturdy eager confidence, a living embodiment of the truth that the sea is for sailing, that strenuousness is the immortal path and sloth the way of death"! Oh Baby, I just love that last sentence. - Courtesy David Eberhard S/V Valkyrie
Captain Jack Curley of Trinidad writes: I am... slave to a 41 foot ketch in which I set sail for oceans west in 1982 from Santa Barbara. I have been collecting "quotable quotes" for many years and was pleased to learn of your Web page from my former First Mate, now Captain of the ketch Tevake. Here is Kulkuri's (my magic carpet) motto, which I copied from an article in a glossy yachting mag more than 20 years ago and which I write at the opening of each year's new log: "There is never any excuse to put the comfort of the crew above the safety of the vessel."And from Tevake in Jacksonville, FL: "Remember, paradise is exactly like where you are right now; only much, much better."Fair winds and foul friends - J W CurleyI love Captain Jack's closing salutation - sure beats "Sincerely"!
From Jim and Ann Cate, s/v Insatiable: Want to make Neptune laugh? Tell him your cruising plans!
William Arthur Ward said: "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - J.V.
From Luis de Camoes, a Portuguese poet that wrote about the great sea odysseys of the XV century: Original - "Navegar e preciso, viver nao e preciso"Translation - "Navigation is necessary, life is not."- Luiz Schechter
Stan Wieg writes about the above quote: "I think maybe that translation should be 'Navigation is precise; life is not.' - it certainly describes my life if not my navigation."
Luiz Schechter replies: "About the second translation, Stan Wieg is 100% correct. Both translations deserve to be mentioned side by side, for the double meaning was certainly Luis de Camoes' actual intention."
Tami Shelton sends in quotes from a coupla Davids: "It ain't sailin' if ya ain't breakin' shit." - David Beale, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on racing beach catamarans."Prepare to mount the mark!" - David Tilley, Franklin, Louisiana, during a race when he looked up to realize they were headed straight for a rounding buoy.
Zen Philosophy sent in by Cathy Paulsen: "Never test the depth of the water with both feet."
Attributed to Sharon Green, Sailing Photographer: "Sailing is not carried out against the elements, but because of them."
Want to help with the process? Send Wisdom submissions (sailing subjects only please) to the editors at [email protected].