20 wonderful quotes for those aspiring to be sailors

by | Jul 22, 2019 | Seafarers' Rights and Welfare

Isn’t it sad? Many young men and women are responding, not to the lure of the sea, but to the siren call of the dollar. Surely, there is more to seafaring than just money or the chance to travel the world. A sailor’s life can be fulfilling in many ways, but it is also fraught with hardships and danger. I hope the following quotes will serve to enlighten and inspire maritime cadets and others who aspire to work at sea.

The Sea

New Jersey Beach,1901
by William Trost Richards (American, 1833–1905)

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

~ John Masefield, from Sea-Fever

But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean.

~ H.P. Lovecraft, from The White Ship

For all that has been said of the love that certain natures (on shore) have professed to feel for it, for all the celebrations it had been the object of in prose and song, the sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.

~ Joseph Conrad, from The Mirror of the Sea

“Would’st thou,”—so the helmsman answered,
“Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from The Secret of the Sea

A person who hates the sound of the sea cannot be a good sailor.

~ Captain Michael B. Cuanzon, a Filipino old salt

Youth and its Dreams

Portrait of Jack Rolling, ca. 1886
by Henry Scott Tuke (English 1858–1929)

What are heavy? Sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief? To-day and to-morrow:
What are frail? Spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep? The ocean and truth.

~ Christina Rossetti, What Are Heavy? Sea-Sand And Sorrow

Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.

~Aristotle, in Nicomachean Ethics

There is a feeling of Eternity in youth which makes us amends for everything. To be young is to be as one of the Immortals.

~ William Hazlitt, from Table Talk, The Feeling of Immortality in Youth

How beautiful is youth! how bright it gleams
With its illusions, aspirations, dreams!
Book of Beginnings, Story without End,
Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from Morituri Salutamus

It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded.

~ W. Somerset Maugham, from Of Human Bondage

Education and Learning

The Black Stain, 1887
by Albert Bettannier (French, 1851–1932)

Learning proceeds until death and only then does it stop. … Its purpose cannot be given up for even a moment. To pursue it is to be human, to give it up to be a beast.

~ Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu), from Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, edited by Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden

The great object of Education should be commensurate with the object of life. It should be a moral one; to teach self-trust; to inspire the youthful man with an interest in himself; with a curiosity touching his own nature; to acquaint him with the resources of his mind, and to teach him that there is all his strength, and to inflame him with a piety towards the Grand Mind in which he lives.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Emerson on Education

Just as eating contrary to the inclination is injurious to the health, study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.

~ Leonardo da Vinci, from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks

Whoso neglects learning in his youth,
Loses the past and is dead for the future.

~ Euripides, from Phrixus

The woodcutter is far better for skill than he is for brute strength.
It is by skill that the sea captain holds his rapid ship
on its course, though torn by winds, over the wine-blue water.
By skill charioteer outpasses charioteer.

~ Homer, from The Iliad

Loneliness at Sea

Moonlight, Wood Island Light, 1894
by Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)


Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.

~ Herman Melville, from Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.

~ Octavio Paz, from The Labyrinth of Solitude

Who knows what true happiness is? Not the conventional word but the naked terror. To the lonely themselves, it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion.

~ Joseph Conrad, from Under Western Eyes

I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.

~ John Steinbeck, from Of Mice and Men

~ Barista Uno

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