A fair complexion is unbecoming to a sailor: he ought to be swarthy from the waters of the sea and the rays of the sun.

—Ovid, c. 1 BC

I never even saw the use of the sea. Many a sad heart has it caused, and many a sick stomach has it occasioned! The boldest sailor climbs on board with a heavy soul and leaps on land with a light spirit.

—Benjamin Disraeli, 1827

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

—Publilius Syrus, c. 30 BC

The most advanced nations are always those who navigate the most.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1870

But look, our seas are what we make of them, full of fish or not, opaque or transparent, red or black, high or smooth, narrow or bankless—and we are ourselves sea, sand, coral, seaweed, beaches, tides, swimmers, children, waves.

—Hélène Cixous, 1976

The bathing was so delightful this morning, and Molly so pressing with me to enjoy myself, that I believe I stayed in rather too long, as since the middle of the day I have felt unreasonably tired. I shall be more careful another time, and shall not bathe tomorrow as I had before intended.

—Jane Austen, 1804

It is He who has subdued the ocean so that you may eat of its fresh fish and bring up from its depth ornaments to wear. Behold the ships plowing their course through it. All this, that you may seek His bounty and render thanks.

—The Qur’an, c. 625

Being thus arrived in good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stale earth, their proper element.

—William Bradford, 1630

He who commands the sea has command of everything.

—Francis Bacon, c. 1600

Ashore it’s wine, women, and song; aboard it’s rum, bum, and concertina.

—British naval saying, c. 1800

The sea yields action to the body, meditation to the mind, the world to the world, all parts thereof to each part, by this art of arts—navigation.

—Samuel Purchas, 1613

He that commands the sea is at great liberty and may take as much and as little of the war as he will.

—Francis Bacon, c. 1600

In all the ancient states and empires, those who had the shipping, had the wealth.

—William Petty, 1690

Seamen are the nearest to death and the furthest from God.

—Thomas Fuller, 1732

The Mediterranean has the colors of a mackerel, changeable I mean. You don’t always know if it is green or violet—you can’t even say it’s blue, because the next moment the changing light has taken on a tinge of pink or gray.

—Vincent van Gogh, 1888

And to our age’s drowsy blood / Still shouts the inspiring sea.

—James Russell Lowell, 1848

Of all objects that I have ever seen, there is none which affects my imagination so much as the sea or ocean. A troubled ocean, to a man who sails upon it, is, I think, the biggest object that he can see in motion, and consequently gives his imagination one of the highest kinds of pleasure that can arise from greatness.

—Joseph Addison, 1712

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.

—Zora Neale Hurston, 1937

The sea hath no king but God alone.

—Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1881

Seafarers go to sleep in the evening not knowing whether they will find themselves at the bottom of the sea the next morning.

—Jean de Joinville, c. 1305

The sole business of a seaman onshore who has to go to sea again is to take as much pleasure as he can.

—Leigh Hunt, 1820

The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.

—Edward Gibbon, 1788

The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea.

—James Joyce, 1922

Take back your golden fiddles, and we’ll beat to open sea.

—Rudyard Kipling, 1892

The sea receives us in a proper way only when we are without clothes.

—Pliny the Elder, 77

Without a decisive naval force, we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.

—George Washington, 1781

All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full.

—Book of Ecclesiastes, c. 250 BC

The sea hath fish for every man.

—William Camden, 1605

As to the sea itself, love it you cannot. Why should you? I will never believe again the sea was ever loved by anyone whose life was married to it. It is the creation of omnipotence, which is not of humankind and understandable, and so the springs of its behavior are hidden.

—H. M. Tomlinson, 1912

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea—whether it is to sail or to watch it—we are going back whence we came.

—John F. Kennedy, 1962

Tomorrow we take to the mighty sea.

—Horace, 23 BC

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.

—John Paul Jones, 1778

Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so shall you come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1838

The legislator is like the navigator of a ship on the high seas. He can steer the vessel on which he sails, but he cannot alter its construction, raise the wind, or stop the waves from swelling beneath his feet.

—Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

We are as near to heaven by sea as by land!

—Humphrey Gilbert, 1583

I am ill every time it blows hard, and nothing but my enthusiastic love for the profession keeps me one hour at sea.

—Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1804

The life of a sailor is very unhealthy.

—Francis Galton, 1883

I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.

—Anaïs Nin, 1950

The power which the sea requires in the sailor makes a man of him very fast, and the change of shores and population clears his head of much nonsense of his wigwam.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1870

You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars.

—Thomas Traherne, c. 1670

Never trust her at any time when the calm sea shows her false alluring smile.

—Lucretius, c. 60 BC

Seaward ho! Hang the treasure! It’s the glory of the sea that has turned my head.

—Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883

Why is a ship under sail more poetical than a hog in a high wind? The hog is all nature, the ship is all art.

—Lord Byron, 1821

The wonderful sea charmed me from the first.

—Joshua Slocum, 1900

What will not attract a man’s stare at sea?—a gull, a turtle, a flying fish!

—Richard Burton, 1883

Ocean. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man—who has no gills.

—Ambrose Bierce, 1906

I’ve been bathing in the poem / Of star-infused and milky sea / Devouring the azure greens.

—Arthur Rimbaud, 1871

The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.

—Vladimir Nabokov, 1941

He who travels by sea is nothing but a worm on a piece of wood, a trifle in the midst of a powerful creation. The waters play about with him at will, and no one but God can help him.

—Muhammad as-Saffar, 1846

Many, many steeples would have to be stacked one on top of another to reach from the bottom to the surface of the sea. It is down there that the sea folk live.

—Hans Christian Andersen, 1837

Alone, alone, all, all alone, / Alone on a wide, wide sea!

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798