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Sailing Quotes About Navigating the Sea of Life

Sailing quotes make great metaphors for life. Even the popular way of wishing a sailor good luck, “may you have fair winds and following seas” sounds like something we could all want in life.

However, the beauty of many of these sailing quotes, and life itself, is that sometimes we get neither. In those situations, when the wind changes and the sea is rough, it comes down to the skill of the sailor. These unexpected rough waters improve our skills and teach us valuable information.

Our life skills like resiliency, goal setting, and our ability to reflect and adapt can help us weather the storms. These skills and a positive attitude make all the difference in “steering our ship.”

Let these sailing quotes inspire you to spend some time on the ocean, or give you the motivation to discover some uncharted waters in the metaphorical sense! There are also sailing quotes from song lyrics and some that will make you laugh. Enjoy!

Inspirational sailing quotes about life

1. “Have an anchor so that life doesn’t toss you around.” ― Debby Ryan

2. “If one doesn’t know to which port one is sailing, no port is favorable.” ― Lucius Annaeus Seneca

3. “‘Tis the set of the sail that decides the goal, and not the storm of life.” ― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

4. “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May AlcottLittle Women

5. “Sail through the good days, and on bad days pick a spot of blue sky to steer toward.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

6. “Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” ― Fitzhugh Dodson

7. “One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.” ― Andre Gide

8. “Sometimes there is no time for the sea to calm down! If you have to reach your target, let your voyage start and let the storm be your path!” ― Mehmet Murat Ildan

9. “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” Hellen Keller

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10. “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.” Mark Twain

Sailing quotes about the wind

11. “Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― Mark Twain

12. “A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind.” — Webb Chiles

13. “The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.” ― Edmund Gibbon

14. “On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open, and the world is full of beauty.” — Rumi

15. “Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” ― Augustus Hare

16. “The only ship you can truly steer in this ocean is the one you’re sailing. Quit trying to alter the winds; harness them.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich, ‘Making Wishes’

17. “We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.” ― Aristotle Onassis

18. “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ― Jimmy Dean

19. “It’s remarkable how quickly a good and favorable wind can sweep away the maddening frustrations of shore living.” — Ernest K. Gann

20. “To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sailing quotes from song lyrics

21. “Just sailing, just sailing. I’m growing stronger every day.” — Richard Orlinski, On My Way

22. “Sailing away today, I’ll sail today. Should I come back to stay.” — Peter Frampton, Sail Away

23. “Big ship sailing on the ocean. We don’t need no commotion.” — Roots Radics, Big Ship

24. “I’m sailing. Never coming back threw my dreams in the trash and that’s that.” — Caleb Johnson, Sailing Away

25. “My lover stands on golden sands. And watches the ships that go sailing.” — Robbie Williams, La Mer (Beyond the Sea)

26. “We be sailing at first light, come gather. Set our course for the crossing together.” — John Fogerty, River is Waiting

27. “Your love is like sailing away to a distant ocean. ‘Cause all I need in my life is your love and devotion.” — U.R.R., Sailing

28. “And we’re just kids we’re just sailing. Spirits never failing, expectations nailing. When we were younger all our days were smooth sailing.” — KLB, Smooth Sailing

29. “Now I’m smooth sailing. Oceans clear and blue. Now I’m smooth sailing. Sailing away from you.” — Elizabeth Gerardi, Smooth Sailing

30. Now he’s sailing in the sky, beyond the clouds. Oh so high. Yes, he’s sailing, sailing in the sky. Wish I would have had a chance to say goodbye.” — Yurgen, Sailing in the Sky

Sailing quotes for funerals

31. “Our country is in mourning, for a sailor died today.” — A. Lawrence Vaincourt

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32. “So welcome, Old Sailor. Now the tide’s on the ebb. And it’s an honor to have you aboard.” — Richard John Scarr

33. “How still, 
How strangely still 
The water is today,
It is not good
For water
To be so still that way.” — Langston Hughes

34. “When I put out to sea, but such a tide as moving seems asleep, too full for sound and foam.

When that which drew from out the boundless deep turns again home.” — Lord Tennyson

35. “There’s a wondrous Golden Harbour, far beyond the setting sun. Where a gallant ship may anchor when her fighting days are done.” — Captain Ronald A. Hopwood

36. “All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.” — John Masefield

37. “The full sea rolls and thunders in glory and in glee. O, bury me not in the senseless earth

But in the living sea!” — William Ernest Henley

38. “The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, from fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.” Walt Whitman

39. “With close eyes I clear my mind. Alone I sit by the seashore. The fragrant salt in the wind

I inhale as it gently blows ashore.” — William Bonilla

40. “And the stately ships go on to their haven under the hill: But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand, and the sound of a voice that is still!” — Lord Tennyson

Funny and witty sailing quotes

41. “Nothing comes sailing by itself.” — Alexander Dale Oen

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42. “It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.” — Sir Francis Drake

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

44. “There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.” — Joseph Conrad

45. “Out of sight of land the sailor feels safe. It is the beach that worries him.” — Charles Davis

46. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” ― William Arthur Ward

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

Sir Francis Chichester

48. “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

49. “Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.” — Don Bamford

50. “Sailing—The fine art of slowly going nowhere at great expense while being cold, wet and miserable.” — Irv Heller

The sad depth of some of these sailing quotes

Sadly, sailing can also be used to metaphorically depict death. Many of these sailing quotes about death come from poems.

In these poems, you can almost see the ships sailing away from the shore of life and heading toward the distant, unknown harbor. In some of the other poems, the sea is grey and sad—misty and hidden.

A tradition of sailors is the burial at sea. Sometimes, the body is placed in a coffin or sewn in a sailcloth. If someone is cremated, they may be placed to rest at sea within an urn or have their ashes scattered. It is normally the captain of the ship or religious representative who performs the service. It is an interesting concept with varying rules and regulations.

What do you think about sailing, and having the sea wind blow through your hair? You can share any other sailing quotes and sayings with us in the comment section below, whether they be sad, funny, or inspirational.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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