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10 Best Sailing Quotes of All Time

Updated on December 19, 2013

Top Ten Sailing Quotes Of All Time

Here are the top ten sailing quotes of all time. These are some of the most famous and re quoted sailors quotes ever. Here's my top ten list, why they made the top ten and information about the sailor behind the quote.

These are great quotes from some of the most well known sailors ever.





#10 - Ellen MacArthur

"Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time"- Ellen MacArthur

"The sea finds out everything you did wrong." - Francis Stokes

"The sea has neither meaning nor pity." - Anton Chekhov

"Nothing goes to windward like a 747." - Tracy Ross

“When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.” – Dr. Samuel Johnson

Sailing Documentary - Two brothers sailing a 40' sailboat from Hawaii to Seattle

#9 - Herman Melville

"Yea, foolish mortals, Noah's flood is not yet subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers." - Herman Melville

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

"The sea has neither meaning nor pity." - Anton Chekhov

"The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness." - Joseph Conrad

"There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity." - Thomas Gibbons

Herman Melville's books about the ocean are must read

#8 - Kenneth Grahame

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

"Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it." -Uknown - Every Sailor

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

"I can't wait for the oil wells to run dry, for the last gob of black, sticky muck to come oozing out of some remote well. Then the glory of sail will return." -Tristan Jones

#7 - Tristan Jones

"A small craft in an ocean is, or should be, a benevolent dictatorship." - Tristan Jones

"If you can not arrive in daylight, then stand off well clear, and wait until dawn. After all, that's one of the things God made boats for- to wait in." - Tristan Jones

"Without patience, a sailor I would never be." - Lee Allred

"The chance of mistakes are about equal to the number of crew squared" -Ted Turner

"It isn't that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better." -Sir Francis Drake

#6 - Edmund Gibbon

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

"Off Cape Horn there are but two kinds of weather, neither one of them a pleasant kind." - John Masefield

"It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage." - George William Curtis

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

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

#5 - Bernard Moitessier

"I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits." - Bernard Moitessier

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

"The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats." - Ernest Hemingway

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

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

#4 - Dennis Conner

"My goal in sailing isn't to be brilliant or flashy in individual races, just to be consistent over the long run." - Dennis Conner

Probably one of the best known sailors of our generation. He became a household name for his involvement in Americas Cup racing and his drive to win.

"Design has taken the place of what sailing used to be." - Dennis Conner

"Protesting the New York Yacht Club is like complaining about your wife to your mother in law." - Capt. Angus Walters

"The Americas Cup is a race of management, money, technology, teamwork and, last and incidentally, sailing." - Bill Kock

#3 Eugene O'Neill

"The sea hates a coward." - Eugene O'Neill

"The sea finds out everything you did wrong." - Francis Stokes

"The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"He who lets the sea lull him into a sense of security is in very grave danger" - Hammond Ines

"Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know." - Donald Hamilton

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

2nd Greatest Sailing Quote Ever - Sir Francis Chichester

"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester

"To the question, "When were your spirits at the lowest ebb?" the obvious answer seemed to be, "When the gin gave out." - Sir Francis Chichester

"Only fools and passengers drink at sea." - Allan Villiers

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

#1 Sailing Quote of all time - Joshua Slocum

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

This is the man who invented cruising and sailing around the world for sport as we know it today. This is some of the best advice a young person could get.

"I was born in the breezes, and I had studied the sea as perhaps few men have studied it, neglecting all else." - Joshua Slocum

"I once knew a writer who, after saying beautiful things about the sea, passed through a Pacific hurricane, and he became a changed man". -Joshua Slocum

Moving in Stereo - Sailing Video

Joshua Slocum Quote

Photo © Lance Gettler
Photo © Lance Gettler

Inspirational quote about sailing and adventure by Joshua Slocum.

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    • profile image 

      2 years ago

      There is a quote from captain of SS PIONEER that goes somthing like this. Till you have been in this situation, you don'dont know what you would have done.

      IS there anyone who knows the real quote?

    • Jim Houston profile image

      Jim Houston 

      4 years ago from Wilmer, Alabama

      "Beer for your women mate"


    • Guy E Wood profile image

      Guy E Wood 

      5 years ago from USA

      Great lens! Thank you for capturing and sharing these quotes.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      All I need is a ship and a start to sail her by...I just finished reading this lens and I anm knocking off early, going to the boat...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      It's hardly a quote, but I've always liked the statement hjat only one boatbuilder finished a boat on time and that was Noah.

    • NibsyNell profile image


      5 years ago

      I love your number 1 and 2 choices especially! Great list! :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Enjoyed my visit here!

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 

      5 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      "Sailing takes me away

      To where I've always heard it could be

      Just a dream and the wind to carry me

      And soon I will be free..."

      From "Sailing" by Christopher Cross

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I love the quote: The sea hates a coward. Eugene O'Neill

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 

      5 years ago from Ozun

      i was quite angry with the sailors, because of their saying about woman on the bord is bringing unfortune, but now i changed my opinion because of these beautiful sayings...sailors are human after all...

    • AdamzPg profile image


      5 years ago

      An excellent collection of quotes. can't wait to do some sailing!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great list of quotes, Congratulations on making the latest 'MonsterBoard: 50 Lenses â well done!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      With an Open mind, many of these saying kinda make sense!! :)

      I really want to learn to sail now, nicely done!! ;D

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      What an adventure sailing must be. Love the quotes.

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting and nice lens. Enjoyed the visit and reading all of the quotes. Appreciate your sharing. Thank You for stopping by my "Beer" lenses and giving them all a "thumbs up"! I appreciate it. HNY 2013!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      What a wonderful lens this is. The very notion of sailing makes me feel such a yearning. I love the ocean.

    • Timewarp profile image


      5 years ago from Montreal

      Great lens, reminds me of when I took sailing lessons years ago, such a great feeling.

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image


      5 years ago

      Is on my bucket list... just a bit more cash and a boat and I'm gone...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These are very interesting quotes, loved all of them; very inspiring for all the sailors.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Fantastic lens, but what went through your mind when you first sailed alone on the oceans without much experience, if at all?

    • TapIn2U profile image


      5 years ago

      "Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time". Just what I thought.Sundae ;-)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Greatness is not where we stand but in what direction we are moving. We must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it. But sail we must, not drift nor lie at anchor.

      Oliver Wendell Holmes

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Someone asked me where there are only two serious ocean sailors in India. My reply was,"because the sea doesn't accept bribes".

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      "The sea always wins when it wants to"

      Captain Robin Walbridge

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Because something is possibly possible,

      It doesnât follow that it is necessarily necessary.

      There are sea-going Folk and then there are

      Those shore Bastards.

      Tomas E Colivn

    • cryptid lm profile image

      cryptid lm 

      6 years ago

      My favorite aspect of sailing quotes (or just quotes related to the sea or water in general) are how they can be interpreted in so many ways. It's not like you have to be a sailor yourself to appreciate them. Life is sort of like a voyage, and we're all just sailing by. That almost sounds like something Bob Dylan or some other folk songwriter would say. But, it's pretty much the truth in so many ways. On the topic of music, it is one thing I have noticed in a lot of music, whether it's underground or more mainstream: the topic of the sea and especially "sinking ships." It's almost bizarre how the ocean is one of the few natural features on the Earth that gets so much attention in art and poetry. Just reading these quotes is reminding me to go read Moby Dick, a book I've had sitting around my apartment for the past few years since it was given to me. Great list by the way!


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