Lessons from the sea: Sailing quotes and songs

The sea is a big part of life for people who love sailing. Their connection is unique. Their life is filled with citing sailing quotes and humming songs about sailing. We are the same in all regards, so we give you some of our favourites.

Lessons from the sea: Sailing quotes and songs


We have mentioned several times that sailing is not just a sport or a fun recreational activity - it's a way of life. In our years of experience with yachts and sailing, we have come across people who described sailing as a magical, one-of-a-kind experience similar to flying.

So, not to get too much philosophical, we know how sailing experience can change our lives; truth be told, we aren't into sailing and charter business for nothing. We know that it can significantly impact people's lives and how all the quotes we know (and sometimes use) can be incorporated into everyday life.

One of the most precise quotes we found about the sea and sailing says that "The sea is the most powerful and enduring force on earth. It shapes the land, it shapes the people who live by it, and it shapes the stories that are told about it." by an unknown author.

Yes, the sea is a powerful and enduring force that has shaped the land, the people, and the stories of countless civilizations throughout history. It has shaped the way people live and work, and it has also shaped the way they think and view the world. The sea is a vast and mysterious place, full of beauty and danger, and it has always had a profound effect on those who have encountered it.


Jacques Cousteau and his spell casting sea

We have all heard of Jacques Cousteau, the famous filmmaker and author best known for sea exploration and conservation work. Highly influential and respected figure, Cousteau is considered one of the founders of modern oceanography.

One of his most famous quotes “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”, is also considered to be one of the most romantic quotes about the sea. The sea is often seen as mysterious and powerful, and this quote suggests that once someone has experienced its beauty and grandeur, they will never be able to fully shake off its influence.

One thing is sure, Cousteau was right in this – the sea is magical, and once the love and connection are formed between a man and the sea, once sailing is discovered - there is no going back. Once the spell is cast, it’s a point of no return.

Ships are not built for staying safe in port

Grace Murray Hopper, the woman behind this quote, was a computer scientist and US Navy rear admiral. Hopper was one of the first programmers, a trailblazer in computer science, and a leader in the development of modern computing. She also coined one of the most popular sailing quotes.

Her quote “A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for” is often used to encourage people to take risks and pursue their goals, even if it means leaving a safe and comfortable situation.

The quote suggests that a ship is designed to venture out onto the open sea and that its true purpose is to explore and discover new things rather than to stay safely docked in a harbour.

In this context, the quote can be seen as a metaphor for the human desire to seek new experiences and challenges and make the most of our lives. To pursue our dreams and ambitions, even if it means leaving behind the safety and security of our current situation.

Nicholas Monsarrat’s quote says sailors should rule the world

Nicholas Monsarrat said “Sailors, with their built-in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world” and to be honest - we truly love this quote, and it's not so hard to see why. As seasoned sailors with years of experience in the yacht charter business, we concur – sailors really should rule the world.

We think that Mr Monsarrat, a novelist, a soldier and an experienced sailor, meant that military discipline and sailing life have abundant qualities. His quote says that these qualities would make sailors well-suited to lead society.

Yes, sailing is charming and romantic but also demanding and requires vigilance and discipline of mind and body. The world would really and truly be a better place if ruled by sailors who see the beauty and value of what’s surrounding them.

The quote may be meant to be taken literally, or it may be used as a metaphor to describe the importance of these qualities in leadership more generally. Ultimately, as with any other, this quote's meaning depends on the context in which it is used and the perspective of the person who is speaking or writing it.


Jules Verne quotes that at sea a man is never lonely, and we agree

Jules Verne, a French novelist, poet, and playwright, wrote an often-cited lines: “The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides”.

This quote appears in Verne's novel "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," and it speaks to the ocean's vastness, power, and mystery. It suggests that the sea is an integral part of the natural world and has the ability to sustain and isolate us.

So, in many ways, sailing also can be seen as a great metaphor - just as a sailor must navigate the challenges of the sea, they must also navigate the uncertainties of life.

Sailing also requires us to be adaptable, make quick decisions based on the information given or the environment surrounding us, and take risks. It needs us to be mindful and in tune with our surroundings. All things considered, sailing can teach valuable lessons about living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

What stranger miracles are there besides sea, Whitman asks us

This quote from Walt Whitman's poem Miracle “To me, the sea is a continual miracle, the fish that swim-the rocks-the motion of the waves-the ships with men in them, what stranger miracles are there?” is obviously about the beauty and wonder of the sea.

In the quote, Whitman marvels at the miracles that can be found in the sea, such as the fish that swim, the rocks, the motion of the waves, and the sailors. He seems to be expressing a sense of awe and appreciation for the natural world and all of the fantastic things that it contains.

This quote rings true – the sea is awe-inspiring, and with all the life and underwater landscapes, it invokes a sense of balance. The question is, what stranger miracles are there? The answer is "none".

As a metaphor for the way that the sea represents the vastness and complexity of the natural world and how it can both nourish and destroy, there is no more wondrous thing than the sea.



Sailing Through the Soundtrack of Our Lives

And now that we have numbered our favourite poetic sailing quotes, we will also list some of our favourite songs about sailing and the sea. Most of them are pretty popular but a bit older, so to speak.

Deservedly so, as we do think the oldies are goldies. Here are a few popular songs about sailing and sea life that are close to our hearts:

Sailing - Rod Stewart
(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
Orinoco Flow (Sail away) - Enya
Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
Jugo - Giuliano and Marijan Ban


Setting sail with Rod Stewart’s “Sailing"

"Sailing" is a ballad that tells the story of a man who reflects on his life while sailing. It has a nostalgic feel and has been covered by many artists over the years. It's one of Rod Stewart's most popular and enduring hits.

The lyrics, such as "I am sailing, home again, 'cross the sea", describe the peaceful and serene feeling of being out on the open water and the sense of freedom it can bring.

The song speaks of the man's desire to leave the worries and troubles of the world behind and find a sense of contentment in being on the sea. The lyrics speak of the past, the memories the man holds dear, and many of us grew up with this amazing song and the artist's unique voice.

Docked at the bay with everlasting Otis Redding

(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding is said to be a true ode to changing times, but also about finding beauty wherever possible.

“I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh
I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time”

Lyrics such as these bests describe the need of a man to find peace after a long day, take a breath and just watch the tide.

Have you ever watched the tide rolling in or away?

It's truly a magical experience, one of the Earth's most beautiful moments caused by the "simplest" of things - the Moon's pull.

The Dock of the Bay is a relaxed and introspective song that speaks of the singer's desire to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find peace and solitude on the water. The song's signature whistle gives the song a nostalgic feel, and to this day, it remains one of the most popular and enduring songs in the history of soul music.



Navigating the melancholy waters with Enya's Orinoco Flow

Orinoco Flow, also known as Sail Away by Irish singer-songwriter Enya, is an upbeat and catchy song with a strong and driving beat and features Enya's signature ethereal vocal.

Her vocals give us this song in a light, airy, and otherworldly way. All of Enya's songs seem dreamy, almost ghostly, and like they are coming from another realm or dimension.

Orinoco flow is the best example of how a song with simple lyrics creates a sense of mystery and a unique atmosphere with outstanding vocals.

The lyrics describe a journey to a distant and exotic land, with the repetitive refrain "Sail away, sail away, sail away", inviting the listener to come along.

Beyond the Sea: Bobby Darin's timeless classic

The song Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin is a love ballad and tells the story of a man longing for his love who is "beyond the sea." Many artists have covered the song over the years, and it has become a classic used in popular series and movies.

This song and its remakes are still possible to hear often, even today, almost 80 years after its release, but one of the most popular versions is sung by Darin.

“Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin'”

These upbeat lyrics tell a tale about sailing and love, mainly about a man thinking of his loved one and how she's waiting for him. This beautiful tune, in the end, says how once he is in her arms, he'll never sail again.



Journey on Croatian shores with Giuliano and Marijan Ban

And how it would be if in this list we didn't include Croatian songs on this list. It was hard, but we chose one of the saddest and most melancholy songs about the sea, love and loss. Jugo is sung by Giuliano and Marijan Ban, and the lyrics rhyme in Croatian, but the rough translation goes something like this:

“I sail now over the distant sea
I forget our dawns
all I have left is the sea
and the wind that blows in my face and my soul”

This is really one of the most beautiful modern songs about the sea and sailing. And the Croats have such songs in abundance. So why this song? Be sure to listen to it; the music and the vocals alone will make you want to cosy up on a rainy day with a cup of tea (or something heartier) and look out over the open sea.

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