Tinker Taylor’s Homepage

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A Page of Salty Quotes and Verse


And the sea will grant each man new hope . . . his sleep brings dreams of home.

Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506) Italian explorer



I have known the sea too long, to believe in its sense of decency.

Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924), [Teodor Josef Konrad Watecz Korzeniowski] Polish-born British novelist



Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.

Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784) British poet, critic, and lexicographer. His "Dictionary" p. 348. 16 Mar 1759



He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.

Thomas Fuller (1608 - 1661) English scholar, preacher



The cure for anything is salt water -- sweat, tears, or the sea.

Isak Dinesen (1885 - 1962) pseudonym of Baroness Karen Christence Blixen-Finecke, née Dinesen. Danish short-story writer



Aren't the artists brave to go out and paint a sea as rough as that? . . . I don't see how he kept his canvas dry?

Ruth Draper (1884 - 1956) US actress



The longest wave is quickly lost in the sea.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) US philosopher, poet, essayist



The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

Edward Lear (1812 - 1888) English poet, landscape painter. "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat"



Praise the sea; on shore remain.

John Florio (1553? - 1625) English translator, lexicographer



There is nothing quite so good as burial at sea. It is simple, tidy, and not very incriminating.

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980) English director



And I'm never, never sick at sea!

What, never?

No, never!

What, never?

Hardly ever!

W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911) British comic dramatist, "H.M.S. Pinafore" (1878)



Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis, E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem.

Lovely it is, when the winds are churning up the waves on the great sea, to gaze out from the land on the great efforts of someone else.

Lucretius (94?-55 BC) Roman philosopher and poet.



We joined the Navy to see the world,

And what did we see?

We saw the sea.

Irving Berlin (1888 - 1989) US composer "We Saw the Sea," "Follow the Fleet."



Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

With a cargo of Tyne coal, Road-rail, pig-lead, Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.

John Masefield (1878-1967) British poet who served in the merchant navy, "Sea Fever"



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.

Prayer Book 1662, 107:23



Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish novelist.



O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

William Whiting (1825-1878), "Eternal Father Strong to Save"



The sea, washing the equator and the poles,

offers its perilous aid, and the power and empire that follow it. . . .

"Beware of me," it says,

"but if you can hold me, I am the key to all the lands."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) US philosopher, poet, essayist



Two Voices are there; one is of the sea,

One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice,

In both from age to age thou didst rejoice,

They were thy chosen music, Liberty!

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) British poet, "Two Voices are there"



The sea! the sea!

Xenophon (430?-355? BC) Greek historian, soldier, and essayist, "Anabasis"



Oh, where are you going to, all you Big Steamers,

With England's own coal, up and down the salt seas?

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) British writer and poet., "Big Steamers"



I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not he denied.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

It is good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where,

Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither nor why.

John Masefield (1878-1967) British poet who served in the merchant navy, "Tewkesbury Road"



The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

The Bible, Proverbs 30:19



Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where.

Nor any drop to drink.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) British poet and critic. "The Ancient Mariner"



Sink me the ship, Master Gunner-sink her, split her in twain!

Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 - 1892) British poet. "The Revenge"



Now, gentlemen, let us do something today which the world may talk of hereafter.

Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood (1750-1810) British admiral. Said before the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 Oct. 1805.



A wet sheet and a flowing sea,

A wind that follows fast

And fills the white and rustling sail

And bends the gallant mast.

While the hollow oak our palace is,

Our heritage [is] the sea.

Allan Cunningham (1784-1842) "A wet sheet and a flowing sea"



Something attempted, something done,

Has earned a night’s repose.

It was the schooner Hesperus,

That sailed the wintry sea.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) US Poet. "The Wreck of the Hesperus"



Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar

When I put out to sea.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) British Poet. "Crossing the Bar"



Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) US Poet. "Tales of a Wayside Inn", pt. III (1874), The Theologian’s Tale. Elizabeth, iv



Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean—roll!

Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) British poet. "Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage"



I've heard your voice, O Lord, my time is near

Well, I am prepared and do not fear

But I do have, O lord, a little doubt

Tell me: are there oceans over there, distant shores and ships to steer…

If not, O lord, let heaven pass

Please leave me here.

Leo Bevsee a calligraphy at the Seamen's Centre - Amsterdam




Lest We Forget


There are no flowers on a sailor's tomb,

No welcome home from Flatholm's loom;

Remember those in Neptune's deep,

On granite symbol for souls asleep.


Hailed in monument on Welsh Back,

Under trees by a harbour track;

To our valiant dead this tribute stands,

--Atop the mast, their ensign fans,


In becalmed and safe repose,

Revere this rock on a compass rose;

Let our mariners find a lee,

Lest we forget - on a Bristol Quay

by Captain Joe S. Earl Retired mariner, and poet.

In war and peace they plied their trade, Over the angry seas...

Bristol Merchant Navy Memorial

Welsh Back - Bristol Bridge



Rule of the Road for Steamers

When all three Lights I see ahead ~

I port my helm, and show my Red

Green to Green ~ or Red to Red~

Perfect safety ~ Go ahead!


If to Starboard Red appear,

It is my duty to keep clear;

Act as judgement says is proper~

Port ~ or Starboard ~ Back ~ or Stop her!


But when upon my port is seen

A Steamer's Starboard light of Green,

For me there's nought to do, but see

That Green to Port keeps clear of me.


Both in safety and in doubt

I always keep a good look-out;

If in danger, with no room to turn,

I ease her! ~ Stop her! ~ Go astern!

by Thomas Gray, December 1877



"Everybody in Liverpool loves the sailor, and is only too anxious to show him how to have a good time and spend his money while he is ashore ...."

J. Johnston Abraham, The Surgeon's Log (1913)



"No Roses On A Sailor's Grave"

(Auf einem Seemansgrab, da bluhen keine Rosen)

On sailor's grave there are no roses,

On a seaman's grave there blooms no Edelweiss.

The only ornaments are the white gulls

And the many tears a girl is weeping.

German Folk Song, sung by German seamen during the war.



"When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land…."

Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1776



The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow of the earth on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church.

Attrib To Ferdinand Magellan (Spring 1480 – 27 April 1521)Portuguese sea explorer who sailed for both Portugal and Spain; the first person to lead an expedition to circumnavigate the earth.



When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident… or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.

Captain Edward John Smith, Royal Naval Reserve (27 January 1850 – 15 April 1912) was the captain of the RMS Titanic when it sank in 1912.



The waters were his winding sheet, the sea was made for his tomb;

Yet for his fame the ocean sea, was not sufficient room.

Richard Barnfield (1574-1627) was an English poet and close friend of William Shakespeare. Epitaph on Hawkins (1595).



Seven sea sick sailors on the ship Shanghai.

Swedish tongue twister



She sells sea shells by the seashore.

The shells she sells are surely seashells.

So if she sells shells on the seashore,

I'm sure she sells seashore shells.

English tongue twister



Earth and Sky, Woods and Field, Lakes and Rivers, the mountains and the seas, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

Sir John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury PC, (April 30, 1834–May 28, 1913), English banker, politician, naturalist and archaeologist was born the son of Sir John William Lubbock, Bart.



There is something about going to sea. A little bit of discipline, self discipline and humility are required.

Prince Andrew 1960 -



What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.

Benjamin Disraeli 1st Earl of Beaconsfield (1804–81) British statesman. Prime minister (1868, 1874–80)



The Laws of the Navy


Now these are the laws of the Navy,

Unwritten and varied they be;

And he who is wise will observe them,

Going down in his ship to the sea.


As naught may outrun the destroyer,

So it is with the law and its grip,

For the strength of the ship is the service,

And the strength of the service the ship.


Take heed what you say of your seniors,

Be your words spoken softly or plain,

Lest a bird of the air tell the matter,

And so shall ye hear it again.


If you labor from morn until even,

And meet with reproof for your toil,

'Tis well, that the gun may be humbled

The compressor must check the recoil.


On the strength of one link in the cable,

Dependeth the might of the chain.

Who knows when thou may'st be tested?

So live that thou bearest the strain!


When a ship that is tired returneth,

With the signs of the sea showing plain;

Men place her in dock for a season,

And her speed she reneweth again.


So shall ye, if perchance ye grow weary,

In the uttermost parts of the sea;

Pray for leave for the good of the service,

As much and as oft as may be.


Count not upon certain promotion,

But rather to gain it aspire.

Though the sight line may end on the target,

There cometh perchance the miss-fire.


Can'st follow the track of the dolphin?

Or tell where the sea swallows roam?

Where Leviathan taketh his pastime?

What ocean he calleth his own?


So it is with the words of the rulers,

And the orders these words shall convey;

Every law is naught beside this one,

Thou shalt not criticize but obey.


Say the wise: How may I know their purpose?

Then acts without wherefore or why;

Stays the fool but one moment to question,

And the chance of his life passes by.


If ye win through an African jungle,

Unmentioned at home in the press,

Heed it not. No man seeth the piston

But it driveth the ship none the less.


Do they growl, it is well. Be thou silent,

So the work goeth forward amain.

Lo! the gun throws the shot to a hair's breadth

And shouteth, yet none shall complain.


Do they growl and the work be retarded?

It is ill; be whatever their rank.

The half loaded gun also shouteth

But can she pierce target with blank?


Doth the paint work make war with funnels

And the deck to the cannons complain?

Nay, they know that some soap and fresh water

Unites them as brothers again.


So ye, being heads of departments,

Do you growl with a smile on your lip

Lest ye strive and in anger be parted,

And lessen the might of your ship.


Dost deem that thy vessel needs gilding,

And the dockyard forbears to supply,

Put thy hand in thy pocket and gild her.

There are those who have risen thereby.


Dost think in a moment of anger

'Tis well with thy seniors to fight?

They prosper who burn in the morning

The letters they wrote overnight.


For many are shelved and forgotten

With nothing to thank for their fate,

But that which on a half sheet of foolscap

A fool "Had the honour to state."


Should the fairway be crowded with shipping

Beating homeward the harbour to win,

It is meet that lest any should suffer

The steamers pass cautiously in.


So thou when thou nearest promotion

And the peak that is gilded is nigh,

Give heed to words and thine actions

Lest others be wearied thereby.


It is ill for the winners to worry,

Take thy fate as it comes, with a smile,

And when thou art safe in the harbor

They may envy but will not revile.


Uncharted the rocks that surround thee,

Take heed that the channels thou learn,

Lest thy name serve to buoy for another

That shoal the "Court Martial Return."


Though a Harveyised belt may protect her,

The ship bears the scar in her side;

'Tis well if the Court should acquit thee,

'Twere best had'st thou never been tried.




As the sea rises clear at the hawse pipe,

Washes aft and is lost in the wake;

So shall thou drop astern all unheeded

Such time as these laws ye forsake.


Take heed in you manner of speaking

That the language ye use may be sound,

In the list of the words of your choosing

"Impossible" may not be found.


Now these are the Laws of the Navy

And many and varied are they.

but the hull and the deck and the keel

And the truck of the law is - OBEY.

Admiral R. A. Hopwood, RN (Ret)



A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

Grace Murray Hopper , American Mathematician, December 9, 1906 - January 1, 1992



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