"On the sea there is a tradition older even than the traditions of the country itself and wiser in its age than this new custom.
It is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them accountability.
...for men will not long trust leaders who feel themselves beyond accountability for what they do.
...And when men lose confidence and trust in those who lead, order disintegrates into chaos and purposeful ships into uncontrollable derelicts."
"On The Collision of Wasp and Hobson"
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE NAVAL OFFICER
He should be the soul of tact, patience, justice, firmness, and charity. no meritorious act of a subordinate should escape his attention or be left to pass without its reward, even if the reward is only a word of approval. Conversely, he should not be blind to a single fault in any subordinate, though, at the same time, he should be quick and unfailing to distinguish error from malice, thoughtlessness from incompetency, and well meant shortcoming from heedless or stupid blunder."
Based on Letters to the Naval Committee
OFFSHORE RACING COUNCIL (ORC)
UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY SAILING PHILOSOPHY
Captain J.B. Bonds, USN
"Victory awaits those who have everything in order?
- People call that luck.
Defeat is certain for those who have forgotten to take the necessary precautions in time ?
- That is called bad luck."
Ronald Amundson 14 December 1911
"The First Rule For Coastal Cruising: start early; finish early."
"Wind and sails were made for each other."
"Sailors work like horses at sea and spend their money like asses ashore."
"He began in a tone of great taste and feeling, to talk of the sea and the sea shore."
"The dolphin wheels, the sea-cows snort,
Thomas Lovell Beddoes
"I start from the premise that no object created by man is as satisfying to his body and soul as a proper sailing yacht."
Arthur Beiser 1978
"For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze."
"Never go into strange places on a falling tide without a pilot."
Thomas Gibson Bowles
"One cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of a swallow."
Sir Richard Burton
"They that go down to the sea in ships; and occupy their business in great waters; these men see the works of the Lord; and His wonders in the deep"
Book of Common Prayer
"Give me a spirit that on this life's rough sea, loves t' have his sails filled with a lusty wind."
"No more beautiful sight can be imagined than a morning at sea, with these magnificent vessels racing in mid-ocean, perhaps two or three of them in sight at one; the sun rising among golden clouds; the dark blue sea flecked with glistening white caps; long, low black hulls cleaving a pathway of sparkling foam; towering masts, and yards covered with snowy canvas which bellies to the crisp morning breeze as if sculptured in marble..."
Captain Arthur H. Clark
A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him to great expense. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms, that it was idle to suppose that she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors. In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales.
William K. Clifford
"A passage under sail brings out in the course of days whatever there may of the sea love and sea sense in an individual whose soul is not indissolubly wedded to the pedestrian shore."
"The true peace of God begins at any point 1,000 miles from the nearest land."
"The humblest craft that floats makes its appeal to a seaman by the faithfulness of her life."
"And biased by full sails, meridians reel,
"There was a grandeur in everything around, which gave almost a solemnity to the scene; a silence and solitariness which affected everything. Not a human being but ourselves for miles; and no sound heard but the pulsations of the great pacific."
Richard Henry Dana
"It is the weather, not work, that wears out sails."
Thomas Fleming Day
"A sailing vessel is alive in a way that no ship with mechanical power ever be."
Aubrey de Selincourt
"No one likes an ugly boat, however cheap or fast."
"The god ship darts through the water all day; all night, like a fish, quivering with speed, gliding through liquid leagues, sliding from horizon to horizon."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Do they ask me what pleasure I find on the sea?
"Of course he doesn't (want to go).
"She had a voice of silver and lips of coral red. She climbed the dolphin-striker and kissed the figure-head."
"I wanted freedom, open air, adventure. I found it on the sea."
"O Mighty God,
Barnabe Googe 1563
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
"Many emergencies involving the crew or vessel can be avoided by preliminary and on-going physical and mental preparation. Before embarking on an off-shore passage, you ought to be in good physical shape, properly garbed, and psychologically prepared."
"It was with a happy heart that the good odysseus spread his sail to catch the wind and used his seamanship to keep his boat straight with the steering-oar"
"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 1858
"You are not going to find the ideal boat. You are not even going to have it if you design it from scratch."
"The acquisition of the knowledge of navigation has a strange effect on the minds of men."
"The clink of an anchor - chain, the 'Yo-Ho!' of a well time crew, the flapping of huge sails - I love all these sounds."
John 'Rob Roy' MacGregor
"It was a strange and pleasant life for me all summer, sailing entirely alone by sea and river..."
John MacGregor 1867
I must go down to the seas again,
"I must go down to the sea again
"We saw her first from the top of the cliff. she turned at her chains to every attack of wind, swaying, airy, and buoyant, as through cut of fragile porcelain on the sea below. She was a two-masted schooner..."
"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp drizzly november in my soul... Whenever I find myself involuntarily passing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand on me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."
"There never was a great man yet who spent all his life inland."
"There is a pleasure unknown to the landsman in reading at sea."
"To insure safety at sea, the best that science can devise and that naval organization can provide must be regarded only as an aid, and never as a substitute for good seamanship, self-reliance, and sense of ultimate responsibility which are the first requisites in a seaman and naval officer."
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
"On the day we lost the cereal account i finally decided to go to sea."
"The ocean... exemplifies the background against which, both at the start and at the finish, we see our lives as cast."
Charlton Ogburn, Jr.
"The expert and prudent navigator will act as his prudence dictates... One is more exposed to have misfortune in navigation than good fortune, due to [the channels'] narrowness and the lack of any way out, or places too difficult to pass, which is the case when within it with the cross winds."
Juan Pantoja Y Arriaga 1782
"Voyager upon life's sea;
Dr. Edward P. Philpots 1844
"A ship is different from anyplace on earth. it's dangerous at sea, as you've surely grasped by now. Dangerous, and separate. A captain has absolute power out there, extending -- and it still does -- to death. To trust a man with the lives of others is a grave thing. Only three principles make it work: authority; responsibility; accountability.
"Authority is the root of command. We delegate it only for a time, only in exercise of an office, only as defined by custom and law. Never as an individual, never for very long, never as if by right, never without bounds.
"Responsibility defines what a man is trusted with, with the ship, with the conn, whatever. So it's all clear, up front, and everybody understands his duty.
"To be accountable means to be subject to justice. To punishment, if you will. If you fail your trust -- are derelict in your duty, misuse your power, make a professional error -- you will pay a price.
"In our profession, this accountability is absolute. When a naval officer accepts authority, he knows he will answer for the actions of his ship, whether or not he is directly and personally responsible in the way a civilian court would understand. For it is his responsibility to know and govern all that goes on aboard her, her flaws, her limitations, as well as her strengths.
"If error occurs, no matter whose, the fault is rightfully and inevitably his. Each commander knows this and accepts it as part of the job. No previous service, however meritorious, can make up for it."
"No matter how important a man at sea may consider himself, unless he is fundamentally worthy the sea will someday find him out."
"No literature is richer than that of the sea. no story is more enthralling, no tradition is more secure."
"Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made, for somewhere deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid."
Robert N. Rose
"And a sailor you must be if you're going to try ocean voyaging. You'll need a modicum of sailing aptitude, some grasp of mechanical concepts, and a willingness to pitch in and work. Most veteran world sailors fall into the classification of restless adventurers who are always looking at distant horizons."
"Men who cannot enter into the mind of the sea, cannot for the same reason enter into the mind of ships."
"...Yet still, even more now, my spirit within me
"The Seafarer" circa 1900's
"To know the laws that govern the winds, and to know that you know them, will give you an easy mind on your voyage round the world; otherwise, you may tremble at the appearance of every cloud."
"Today; Yachtsmen all over the world are perpetuating the traditional skills of the romantic era of sail that are their rightful heritage."
Hervey Garrett Smith
"In splicing, practice makes perfect, and in the doing you will learn more than from reading any ten books on the subject."
Hervey Garrett Smith
"For will anyone dare to tell me that business is more entertaining than fooling among boats? He must have never seen a boat, or never seen an office, who says so."
Robert Louis Stevenson
"I will go back to the great sweet mother,
"...Every master and pilot prided himself on knowing exactly how much way his ship was making. He knew the ship, he considered the wind, he watched the sails, he watched the water. In fact, it was a matter which just could not be explained to the landsman. A good sailor knew his ship, and that was all."
E. G. R. Taylor
"Although it smacks of seamanlike efficiency; to say that we got our anchor and sailed out is not strictly accurate. It leaves much unsaid."
H. W. Tilman
"The sea's most powerful spell is romance."
H. W. Tilman
"There is something about a voyage you are barely aware of while you are making it."
H. M. Tomlinson
"The first lesson a yachtsman should learn is to join the ropes together, sailor fashion."
"Of all the things that man has made, no is so full of interest and charm, none possesses so distinct a life and character of its own, as a ship."
Henry Van Dyke
"Trawlermen have the heart of lions."
"Even now; with a thousand little voyages notched in my belt. i still feel a memorial chill on casting off."
E. B. White
"O Captain! My Captain ! Our fearful trip is done, the ship has weathered every rock, the prize we sought is won, the port is near, the bells i hear, the people all exulting."
"The sea's a rumbistcal place."
"How calm! How still! The only sound the dripping of the oar suspended."
"The charm of singlehanded cruising is not solitude, but independence."
"It is as hard to describe the fascination of the sea as to explain the beauty of a woman, for, to each man, either it is self-evident, or no argument can help him see it."
Claud Worth 1926
We hope that you enjoyed this opportunity to view some traditional nautical thoughts. Our Managing Director, Peter, is always looking to expand his 30 year collection of notable quotations and definitions. Please contact us if you have any additional suggestions to supplement this wonderful treasury of nautical ideas.
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