The 74 Best Sailing Quotes

Paul Stockdale Author Avatar
Written by Paul Stockdale | January 1, 2023
Sailing Quotes

Ever since its inception, sailing has been linked to a sense of freedom and drive for adventure out on the sea. For many centuries, sailors were considered to be bold and courageous people willing to risk their lives for fortune and honor.

Many people have tried to express the freedom and enjoyment of sailing through words and quotes.

Many great men and women have fallen in love with sailing over the years, giving birth to a practically endless series of funny, happy and inspirational quotes.

Below you will find a comprehensive list of our personal favorites.

Inspirational Sailing Quotes

Our favorite inspirational sailing quotes to get you inspired and motivated are below.

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

‍-Mark Twain
“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”

‍-Christopher Columbus
“Sailors, with their built-in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

‍-Nicholas Monsarrat
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

‍-William Arthur Ward
“A bad day sailing is 100 times better than a good day at work.”

‍-An Unknown Sailor
“Who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little”

‍-Paul Carvel
“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”

‍-Willa Cather
“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”

‍-John Masefield
“To be successful at sea we must keep things simple.”

‍-Pete Culler
“The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats.”

‍-Ernest Hemingway
“Nothing comes sailing by itself”

‍-Alexander Dale Oen
“The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself”

‍-John Rousmaniere
“Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.”

‍-Charles Cook
“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.”

‍-William Sheed
“To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go”

‍-Joshua Slocum
“To desire nothing beyond what you have is surely happiness. Aboard a boat, it is frequently possible to achieve just that. That is why sailing is a way of life, one of the finest of lives.”

‍-Carleton Mitchell
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”

‍-Thomas Merton
“I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea.”

‍-Alain Gerbault
“There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.”

‍-Joseph Conrad
“To reach a port we must set sail - Sail, not tie at anchor - Sail, not drift.”

‍-Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

‍-Vincent Van Gogh
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

‍-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

‍-Fitzhugh Dodson
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”

‍-Syrus Publilius
“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

‍-African proverb
“Can't control the wind but I can adjust the sail.”

‍-Ricky Skaggs
“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn topsail in high winds.”

‍-Aristotle Onassis
“He who lets the sea lull him into a sense of security is in very grave danger.”

‍-Hammond Ines
“Sailing is just the bottom line, like adding up the score in bridge. My real interest is in the tremendous game of life.”

‍-Dennis Conner
“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.”

‍-Augustus Hare
“No literature is richer than that of the sea. No story is more enthralling, no tradition is more secure.”

‍-Felix Riesenberg
“The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even at a calm sea.”

“There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity.”

‍-Thomas Gibbons
“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.”

‍-Robin Graham
“The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.”

‍-Dom Degnon
“I cannot not sail”

‍-E. B. White
“The art of the sailor is to leave nothing to chance”

‍-Annie Van De Wiele
“When all seems to be against you, remember, a ship sometimes has to sail against the current, not with it.”

‍-Matshona Dhliwayo
“In a calm sea, every man is a pilot.”

‍-John Ray

Happy Sailing Quotes

Below are our favorite sailing quotes that will make you happy.

“Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time.”

‍-Ellen MacArthur
“The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails.”

‍-Joshua Slocum
“Mackerel skies and mares tails, soon will be time to shorten sails”

‍-Sailors Proverb
“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
“Success soon palls. The joyous time is when the breeze first strikes your sails, and the waters rustle under your bows.”

‍-Charles Buxton
“Instead of sailing off into the sunset, he hopes to sail into the next century.”

‍-Dave Anderson
“I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth, a nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea.”

‍-Bernard Moitessier
“You haven't lived until you've sailed.”

‍-David Sedaris
“It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.”

‍-Sir Francis Drake
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

‍-Jacques Yves Cousteau
“The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.”

‍-Edmund Gibbon
“Sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway.”

‍-Webb Chiles
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”

‍-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

‍-George William Curtis
“For the most part, a sailboat navigates through its world of wind and water not leaving a single trace of its passage. Nothing is consumed. Nothing is altered. The winds and the water are left in exactly the same condition for the next user. Sailing is forever.”

‍-Michael B. McPhee
“Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than the power that crosses the white sea, driven by the stormy wind, making a path under surges that threaten to engulf him.”

“The planning stage of a cruise is often just as enjoyable as the voyage itself, letting ones imagination loose on all kinds of possibilities. Yet translating dreams into reality means a lot of practical questions have to be answered.”

‍-Jimmy Cornell
“The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat”

‍-Francis Herreshoff
“The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.”

‍-Dom Degnon
“And after two days in civilization we realized we could never stay for long and started to plan our next adventure.”

‍-Bob Bitchin
“Sail Now, Work Later”

‍-An Unknown Sailor

Funny Sailing Quotes

Below are our favorite funny sailing quotes that will make you laugh.

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Give him a fishing lesson and he'll sit in a boat drinking beer every weekend.”

‍-Alex Blackwell
“Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk.”

‍-Sir Francis Chichester
“When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.”

‍-Dr. Samuel Johnson
“The cure for anything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.”

‍-Isak Dinesen
“Out of sight of land the sailor feels safe. It is the beach that worries him.”

‍-Charles Davis
“Sailing – The fine art of slowly going nowhere at great expense while being cold, wet and miserable.”

‍-Irv Heller
“The only way to get a good crew is to marry one.”

‍-Eric Hiscock
“Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.”

‍-Don Bamford
“Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit.”

‍-Brooks Atkinson
“Thing about boats is, you can always sell them if you don't like them. Can't sell kids.”

‍-Lin Pardey

Sad Sailing Quotes

Below are our favorite sad sailing quotes that are deeply thoughtful.

“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”

‍-John Masefield
“As we sail through life, don't avoid rough waters, sail on because calm waters won't make a skillful sailor.”

“The ocean has taken everything from me and yet I still love her.”

“Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.”

‍-Jean-Paul Sartre


These are our favorite sailing quotes to get you inspired, motivated and happy.

Some of these quotes are deeply thoughtful whilst others are more light- hearted and funny.

What's your favorite quote?