…is one who settles the matter.” So, or also so similarly. Variations of the popular saying there are many. But not only this saying accompanies sailors on board. SeaHelp has compiled 10 sayings, wise quotes and wisdom with interpretations, for which there is always a suitable use on board. Some rather funny, others with so much philosophical depth that you can also use them during small talk on land.
Sayings, Quotes and Wisdom for Sailors
“One yacht is one yacht, two yachts are one regatta”
(Sailor’s wisdom, author unknown)
This situation has probably experienced everyone at sea. No sooner does a potential opponent appear on the horizon, the performance of the ship is worked on. The sails are trimmed, the comfortably dozing in the sun crew to actively ride out or at least hang on the edge asked. The fully battened furling mainsail is turned into a hard sail, the position of the worn-out furling genoa is carefully checked. Maybe a little more tension on the forestay? Even the patiently steering autopilot has to take a break; now steering is clearly a matter for the boss. And it does not rest until the opponent in the wake becomes smaller and smaller. Only then is it allowed again to continue the leisurely ride with a little twist in the sheets.
The pessimist complains about the wind,
the optimist hopes it will turn,
the realist adjusts the sail.
(Sir William Ward, 1837 – 1924)
A life wisdom that applies not only at sea, but as an ideal companion for life. Because: life is neither a wishful thinking nor a pony court, so better to accept everything pragmatically, as it is, instead of lamenting or indulging in “what if dreams”. And on board? You should adjust your sail position to the current wind conditions as much as possible, otherwise you will at least lose the regatta to the second touring ship that happens to cross your path (see saying 1). And if the planned destination can no longer be reached due to wind shifts, it is necessary to spontaneously head for another port.
“If the sun shines on the sword, the sailor does something wrong”
(dinghy sailor’s wisdom)
The maritime answer to “He who has the damage does not need to provide for the ridicule”. Who capsizes with his dinghy and sticks the sword in the direction of the sun, knows without a doubt, even without this mocking saying, that the capsize would have been avoidable. But – and here we are already at the next saying still adopted by the grandparents for all such mishaps: “No master has yet fallen from the sky”. To it follows “practice makes the master”.
In 20 years you will be more disappointed
About the things you didn’t do,
Than about the things you did.
So untie the knots, run out of your safe harbor
and catch the trade winds with your sails.
(Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910)
Sounds rapturous and dreamy, what the inventor of Tom Sawyer and his best buddy Huckleberry Finn wrote down. But has a very true core, which can also be summarized briefly and succinctly with “Carpe Diem”: Sailing travel plans and great excursions should not be postponed to an indefinite someday, but rather the next opportunity should be seized and used. We all don’t know what the future will bring. And no one can take away from us all the wonderful memories and travel experiences for which we can make a happy checkmark on the bucket list of life. And if it is a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on the legendary barefoot route in the trade wind that drives you steadily towards the Caribbean.
Back when every smartphone couldn’t tell you exactly where you were, there was the joke about bread bag navigation. If you did not know exactly in which port you had moored in the evening in the dark, you looked after the morning shopping at the bakery on the inscription of the bag. But even today, in the age of digital maps, GPS and autopilot, correct navigation is sometimes more than a matter of luck. Above all, because it is all too easy to forget to use the zoom function. With too small a setting, not only do stones suddenly grow out of the seemingly deep blue water and dangerous shallow spots disappear altogether, but anchor bays and romantic little harbors can no longer be recognized.
There is no favorable wind for the one who does not know in which direction he wants to sail.
(Wilhelm of Orange-Nassau, 1533 – 1584)
There the Dutch statesman and general, also known as “William the Silent”, coined a very true phrase that applies to all of life. Who does not know what he wants and what goals he pursues, can still so eagerly zuppeln the sails, he will not succeed. So: First chart your course, then set the sails. And decide whether gennaker or storm jib are appropriate.
“There has been no man of note who has spent his entire life on dry land.”
(Herman Melville, 1819 – 1891)
With this clever sentence, Hermann Melville, spiritual father of Moby Dick, has provided everyone who is drawn to the sea and who is looking for argumentation aids at home, with a steep template. Because how, darling, are you supposed to be (professionally) successful if you’re not allowed to go on a cruise (with the boys)? Who quotes Melville, has the free ride ticket for a short trip or even a sabbatical under sail, can come there to rest, organize his thoughts and get times so properly the head clear.
“Wind and waves are always on the side of the better sailor.”
(Edward Gibbon, 1737 – 1794)
This can explain any defeat in a regatta. Not only can the other sail well, no, the wind and waves have moved only to his advantage. So actually you can nothing at all for his poor performance. In addition fits that also on different districts and with different weather conditions consistently the same names stand on top on the result lists.
“About the wind we can not determine, but we can direct the sails”
(The Winkinger, or perhaps Aristotle after all?)
No matter who can now actually claim the copyrights for this saying, the Greek philosopher Aristotle or yet the intrepid sailors – more wisdom in a sentence hardly goes. And it can be applied to almost all areas of life. Because if we can’t change the external circumstances, we have to do more than just come to terms with the situation. We have to make the best of it, re-set the course and re-trim the sails for maximum speed.
“On every ship that floats and sails,
is one who rules the roost”
The versions of this saying are varied and not always youthful, but it is virtually part of the basic linguistic training of every water sportsman. And makes it clear that it is often like on land in a cheerful vacation crew: one takes care and has all the organizational strings in hand. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the skipper. You just have to be careful that one person doesn’t do everything while everyone else has long since been dozing comfortably in the sun. Otherwise, the caretaker finally has the opportunity to bang out his favorite saying: “I like to do something for everyone, but please not alone.”
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