For every complicated boat problem, there is a simple and elegant solution – which is almost always wrong. - Mike Bennett, Cupertino
“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:
"I put the following quote from Ella Wheeler Wilcox in a book I published titled Turning Final, A Life Complete," writes Jim Reed.
Sailing Quotes from David R. Allocco:
1. Always keep the air side up and the water side down.
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 Wanderer says "please, no poetry," but I snuck this one in:
"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:
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
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
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.
From a bumper-sticker: "There are two kinds of ships: submarines and targets."
I had a request for this one some time ago - took me a while to find it:
Why Is a Ship Called a 'She'?
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 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 hard core 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
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
Seen by Mike Reed on a T-shirt at Cama Beach, Camano Island, WA:
David Rustigian came across this years ago and still believes it to be true:
"You must have this somewhere, but I didn't find it," writes Justin McCarter:
"I saw this on a bronze plaque in a marine store," says Chris Penn:
"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:
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 a offshore racing catamaran skipper:
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:
"A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree." Spike Milligan, from Ray Thackeray
Wisdom. . . or the lack thereof:
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:
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:
Does your boat leak? Only when it rains.
We discovered the following on a plaque on a wall in the old city section of
Ed of the Tayana T37 Maryann's Majic out of Annapolis attributes the following to renown seafarer Stephen B Luce:
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 Wisdom
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 White
"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.
Jim McEwen, Tequila Chica, Dana
Point, has this Tristan Jones quote on his wall:
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 stink pot 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 Rule
"I remember reading this in Latitude
38 way back in the '80s so it can't be poetry." - Jeff
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 a 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:
Sailing sure beats the hell out of chasing tail pipes 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 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 embarassed 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
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 warrier 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 loose control of your saiboat, aim for the cheapest boat. So says Abilio Ramos of Blanca Rosa.
The last line from Pirates of the Caribbean: Now - bring me that
Only a fool becomes embroiled in an argument on a singlehanded boat. - Skipper Neal
Mark Caplin writes:
"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
"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.
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.
Overheard on a windy day at a crowded anchorage: "You can observe
a lot just by watching." Original
quote is generally credited to Yogi Berra.
"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:
"That packet of assorted miseries which we call a ship." - Rudyard Kipling, submitted by Lee & Jackie Bartl
Advice from a favorite seafaring uncle:
"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:
Shirley Larsen sent us
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
Steve Moore found this
one years ago, but doesn't remember where:
The journey of a thousand
miles begins with a broken main halyard and a leaky toilet valve.
Another comment on the
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.
Everything I need to
know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark:
From a placard my wife
posted in the head: "A gentleman
sailor always sits."
Why sailors love the
sea: Without it
they would have to carry their boats.
Stuart Kiehl sent in this
quote from Charles Schultz:
Adventure is never much fun while it's happening. - unknown (submitted by John Bousha)
The sailors with the most
time get the best weather.
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
These silly thoughts
are by Jim Borgman, Kismet, Catalina 36, Emeryville:
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."
Jerry Mennis writes: A friend of mine was sitting on his 25-ft sailboat at the dock when a dockwalker asked is 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.
"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 occasionaly 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
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 cannon balls 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, cross bar 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:
Bob Bell of Andiamo wrties, "From truth or fiction Web site: 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 simple explanation
of how sailing works from Bill Schafer of the Olson 25 Ohana:
Shari Cottrell sent
this in, and I remember seeing it on a No Fear t-shirt and liking
Patrick Maguire has
"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
Michael Cobbald sent
us these quotes:
While riding on a tortoise,
the snail said "WHEEEE!"
Dick Herman sent us
two very basic rules stolen years ago from the "Hog Log"
at the 512 TFS, Ramstein, Germany:
Nick Rouy submits:
"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, USNMike 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:
Captain Jack Curley
of Trinidad writes:
From Jim and Ann Cate,
William Arthur Ward
From Luis de Camoes,
a Portuguese poet that wrote about the great sea odysseys of the XV century:
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:
Zen Philosophy sent
in by Cathy Paulsen:
Attributed to Sharon
Green, Sailing Photographer:
Want to help with the process? Send Wisdom submissions (sailing subjects only please) to the .
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