Wisdom from the water

 
 

If you, like me, have a soft spot for pithy comments and words of wisdom, you may enjoy these that struck my fancy:

DISCLAIMER! - Some of these are a bit tacky.  I would take them down, but they are the most entertaining ones!  Vos es praecipio (you have been warned)


  1. Great men always have too much sail up.
    - Christopher Buckley, about his dad, William F. Buckley

  2. “Everything should be made as simple at possible, but not simpler.”
    - Albert Einstein

  3. If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you are right.
    - John Otterbacher, author of Sailing Grace, who sent to sea after eight heart surgeries in eight months. 

  4. As she rode at her ancient, rust-eaten anchor, she sat upon the water like a swan.
    – Joshua Slocum, talking about Spray

  5. With repetition comes good habits, with good habits comes good seamanship, with good seamanship comes security, and with security comes enjoyment. And after all, isn't that what we're looking for in the first place?
    - John Rousmaniere

  6. “Most people have a boat larger than they need or want”
    - MacPhail’s variant on the Peter Principle, eloquently articulated here

  7. The Big Boat Rule:  If the other boat is bigger than you, and you can't harm it, it is not going to give way to you under any circumstance so you may as well just get out of its way.
    - Jerry Powlas

  8. Smaller boats get sailed more often
    - Bret O.

  9. There was a captain sailing at night who saw lights ahead and told his mate to radio the other boat to change course. The reply was, "No you change course". The captain told his mate to tell the other boat, "We are a battleship, change your course!" The reply came back, "We are a light house...your call.”

  10. Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.
    - August Hare

  11. "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” - Albert Einstein

  12. Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind.
    - Chinese proverb

  13. A man’s home is his castle...a man’s boat is his hassle.

  14. Anything you’ve got stored on deck is sacrificial . . . including your motorcycle.
    - Larry Pardey

  15. Comfort and safety do not equal freedom and adventure.
    - Larry Pardey

  16. One thing I’ve learned about boats in 45 years is that speed is expensive.
    - Larry Pardey

  17. If you really feel that you don’t want to leave your cockpit, maybe you should stay on your couch.
    - Larry Pardey

  18. Americans make a huge amount of money selling other Americans fear.
    - Lin Pardey

  19. There are many points on the compass rose. I had to locate the few that were meant for me and head for those that summoned me with a passion, for they were the ones that gave meaning to my life.
    -- Richard Bode

  20. "A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble.”
    - E.B. White

  21. Until you do it all yourself, you cannot have any idea of the innumerable minutiae to be attended to in the proper care of a yacht.
    - John MacGregor

  22. "The man who would be fully employed should procure a ship or a woman, for no two things produce more trouble."
    - Plautus (254-184 B.C.)

  23. Sailing is the second sexiest sport.
    - Dr. Ruth Westheimer, 1998

  24. Men often ask when it is time to reef. It is always time to reef when you think it is. The moment you would feel easier and your boat handles better by having less sail spread is the time to shorten down.
    - Thomas Fleming Day

  25. Sailing is a good sport. You don't have to beat up the other guy, like you do in boxing or football; you just try to outsmart him, and outsail him, and then you go out and have a beer with him.
    - John Kolius

  26. A knot is never "nearly right;" it is either exactly right or it is hopelessly wrong, one or the other; there is nothing in between.
    - Clifford Ashley from The Ashley Book of Knots

  27. “If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is a good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble.”
    - E.B. White, The Sea and the Wind That Blows

  28. Deep water is blue;
    Shallow water is green;
    and when it’s brown, you’ve run aground.

  29. Get what you can afford,
    sail what you can handle,
    and love what you're doing
    - Jim McEwen

  30. "Never approach a dock faster than you are willing to hit it."
    - Ted Cornnault

  31. "If you get embarassed easily then sailing's not for you."
    - Paul Miller

  32. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down...so be the hammer.

  33. "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." 
    (a little tacky...sorry....)

  34. "In rough and rolling seas all good sailors sit to pee,"
    - Mr. Thomas 'T-Bone' Whatley

  35. In sailing, "adventure" is what happens to the ill-prepared.

  36. "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."
    - OSCS Sailing School Instructor

  37. "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

  38. Earl's Rule #1 of sailing: "Don't spit, pee, puke or anything else off the windward side."

  39. One should never enter a life raft except when steeping up from the masthead. - Ann Trautwein, Redemption

  40. Only a fool becomes embroiled in an argument on a singlehanded boat. - Skipper Neal

  41. "Sailing is like being in jail, but with the possibility of drowning!"
    - Sara Dornsife

  42. "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    - generally credited to Yogi Berra

  43. “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

  44. Only sailors are blown offshore.
    - J L Kangleye

  45. 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."

  46. In what other sport can you be wet, cold, hungry, happy, seasick, and scared - all at the same time!
    - Mike Bennett, Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in San Francisco

  47. "If it flys, floats, or fornicates it's cheaper to rent."

  48. "There is always a guy with a bigger boat and a prettier wife."

  49. "Be careful who you talk to about your sailing plans. Those who have abandoned their dreams will try to destroy yours."

  50. 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.
    - Jeremy Walker

  51. “Pray to God, but row for shore."

  52. “If you have to be somewhere by a certain date, you aren't cruising, you're racing.”

  53. "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia."
    - Charles Schultz

  54. Adventure is never much fun while it's happening. 

  55. The sailors with the most time get the best weather.
    - Padre Timo

  56. “In all systems, as complexity approaches infinity, mean time between failures drops to zero.”
    - Stephen Streib

  57. "Sailing: the art of getting wet and becoming ill while slowly going nowhere at great expense."
    - Niel Calvert

  58. I’m too seasick to die!”

  59. "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."

  60. 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."

  61. "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."

  62. "Money can't buy you happiness. But it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it."
    - David Lee Roth

  63. "Not all who wander are lost."
    - JRR Tolkein

  64. “When I die, I want to go quietly, in my sleep; like my grandfather.
    Not screaming in terror like his passengers."

  65. "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
    - Napoleon Bonaparte

  66. A successful docking is one that you can sail away from.

  67. The ease and success of launching and docking is inversely proportional to the number of witnesses.

  68. When sailing, the number of dockings should equal the number of launches.

  69. The motor, if it starts, always runs while the boat is tied to the dock. If it doesn't start, there's people watching.

  70. If anything is dropped on the dock, only the most expensive or irreplaceable items will fall into the water [like your keys!].

  71. How do you instantly draw a large, impatient crowd of motor boaters at a launching ramp? Bring a sailboat.

  72. Docking under power in a motorboat is normal. Docking under sail is an adventure.

  73. The frequency in changes in the wind is inversely proportional to the proximity to the dock.

  74. If there are any children or PWCs in the area, they will all congregate at the dock as you approach.


  75. If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space!

  76. "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from from bad judgment."

  77. While riding on a tortoise, the snail said "WHEEEE!"

  78. "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

  79. "There is never any excuse to put the comfort of the crew above the safety of the vessel."

  80. "Remember, paradise is exactly like where you are right now; only much, much better."

  81. "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - J.V.

  82. "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.

  83. "Never test the depth of the water with both feet."

  84. Aristotle was asked, "What things should an intelligent person acquire?"

    He replied, "Those things which will swim with you when your boat sinks."

  85. "Them that dies'll be the lucky ones." - Long John Silver in Treasure Island

  86. "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things 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

  87. "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 and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
    - Robert Heinlein

  88. "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
    In practice, there is."
    - Mike Bennett

  89. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

  90. "Money is not the only thing one has to spend; the other thing is life. The difference is that you never know how much is in the bank, or what your balance is. Your life is your inheritance. As soon as you realize this, you start trying to spend your life wisely."
    - From "Advice to the Sealorn" by Herb Payson.

  91. A small boat and a suitcase full of money beats a 40-footer tied to the Bank every time.

  92. My greatest fear in life is not death, but waking up some morning ordinary and predictable."

  93. "There are three kinds of people in the world,
    Those who can count and those who can't."

  94. "Working on the boat is the reason for owning a boat. Going on a voyage is only to ensure that there will be something to work on when you get back." - spotted in 48 North by Bob Beda, LaBoo

  95. "Life's a reach...Then you jibe."

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

  97. EXPERIENCE, is what you get . . . about 5 seconds after you need it.

  98. Experience is that what you got when you didn't get what you wanted.

  99. The difference between power boaters and sailors: power boaters want to BE somewhere; sailors simply want to GO somewhere.
    - Steve Gray, Weymouth, England

  100. How can we miss you if you don't sail away? - Bill Schmiett

Collected Sayings and anecdotes -

Attitude is everything. While cruising the South Pacific, there was a gentleman 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.”