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Old 01-17-2014
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Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

If you google sailing and philosophy a lot of links show up. What about your own personal experience....Do you feel like a zen like state while sailing?
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

Absolutely!
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

Great question. I feel (usually in this order)
nervous- getting to the boat, looking for unexpected problems
anxiety- water low in the marina, leaving the dock while not hitting my neighbor on the way out
FEAR- when something goes wrong, like an unforecasted winter-like squall that hit me the Saturday before Thanksgiving
exhausted- mentally
But you are right- sometimes it is just perfect, and you are there where you can leave it all behind, and it is worth all of the stuff that you had to go through to get to that point.
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

Yes indeed.

The importance that sailing played in the advancement of mankind coupled with the opportunity it gives you to commune with the splendor of nature makes it a very philosophical experience for me.
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by rishi851 View Post
Do you feel like a zen like state while sailing?
As usual, I'd say the answer varies somewhere between "Sometimes", and "It depends"... :-)

Of course, on a day like this, there's nothing finer than being at one with nature and your boat, while under sail... Seems a pity that feeling doesn't appear to be more widely appreciated, at least among the majority of East coast snowbirds... :-)

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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

I would not call it a philosophy but certainly a life style related with it. There are many types of sailing from racing to day sail to cruising and they all are connected with somewhat different life styles.

Certainly those that day sail or race do it because they like particularly sailing, those that cruise, as Jon pointed out, can have different approaches from the ones that like sailing as much as racers (that make it as a sport) to the ones that are a bit indifferent about that and just use wind as a cheap alternative to move the boat around.

For the ones that take sailing as a pleasure in itself certainly that relates with a life stile and personal choices regarding what we like and don't like but a philosophy? That seems a bit far fetched to me, not different then the ones that consider Surfing a life philosophy.

For me sailing his part of a life style but not a life style in itself. Probably for a professional sailor it can be a life style in itself.
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

Very much so. The simple connection of water, rudder, sails, wind, especially in quiet calm conditions where you can hear sailing, can put me in a peaceful state of mind.

Sailing is a physical motion, especially on/in a small boat, that is unlike anything else I can think of.
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

There is a tendancy sometimes to think of sailors as being like-minded on questions like this. After all, if not philosophical by personality, why would someone pursue a sport that normally happens at a speed somewhere between a geriatric walk, and a brisk run. And you would think that with all of the seemingly leisure time afforded by this slow progress across the face of nature, there would be vast opportunities for deep philosophical thinking.

But in reality, sailors are just like any other segment of society, each with their own level of sensitivity to what is happening around them, and each with their own innate thoughtfulness or lack thereof.

Even as individuals, our experiences and mental engagement varies from sail to sail, moment to moment. In my case, there are days where I am in tune with broad spectrum of natural beauty which surrounds me, seemingly acting as a bridge between the force of the wind and water, and the boat's responses to them; in essense the boat perceptably an integral part of the natural world, and myself, a part of both.

Other times, I am no more aware of the boat, or the beauty of my surroundings than an electronic autopilot. Perhaps my mind is on topics a thousand miles from the deck of the boat where I sit, or engaged in conversation so lively, that I am navigating and steering by instinct and experience, with only a primitive and unconscious portion of my brain keeping us on course, adjusting to the wind, and avoiding collisions.

There are times, like when racing or fighting bad weather, when I am hyper-tuned into the science of what I see with my eyes, and straining to see more and analyze more. These are cold dispassionate moments; the mind is flying but there is nothing philosophical about it.

But even within these times, I may have detours in thought when I am aware and contemplative (at least for a few moments) of the beauty and majesty of the micro and macro environments surrounding me.

And between all of those differing moments, there are those moments, which a approach a Zen-like ideal of living in the moment, which might be seen as a philosophical goal, but during which, there is no sense of any overt philosophical thought.

As my astute colleague and good friend Jon so rightly said, "the answer varies somewhere between "Sometimes", and "It depends"... :-)" and as he might also have also said at this point, *Grin*.

Jeff
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

I found a few words by great men:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

“There's no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there's no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you never thought you'd make” - unknown

I don't know who named them swells. There's nothing swell about them. They should have named them awfuls. -Hugo Vihlen


Red sky by morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, sailor's delight. - Anonymous


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 Wendel Holmes
Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made. Robert N. Rose



There is NOTHING--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Kenneth Grahame


Boats, like whiskey, are all good. Culler


A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say 'How to Build a Boat Stephen Wright


The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. William A. Ward


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


I must go down to the sea 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


"The ocean has always been a salve to my soul...the best thing for a cut or abrasion was to go swimming in salt water. Later down the road of life, I made the discovery that salt water was also good for the mental abrasions one inevitably acquires on land." Jimmy Buffett



"The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats."
- Ernest Hemingway


The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.
- Dom Degnon


There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.
- Joseph Conrad


"Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters." Howard Bloomfield


Mackerel skies and mares tails, soon will be time to shorten sails. Old sailors proverb.


There is nothing like lying flat on your back on the deck, alone except for the helmsman aft at the wheel, silence except for the lapping of the sea against the side of the ship. At that time you can be equal to Ulysses and brother to him. Errol Flynn


"One of the best temporary cures for pride and affection is seasickness."
- Henry Wheeler Show


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


A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s. Bernard Moitessier


The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails. Joshua Slocum



"The sea finds out everything you did wrong." Francis Stokes



“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 (The Proper Yacht)


"The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective."
- Henry David Thoreau


"Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit." Brooks Atkinson


"Not all who wander are lost." JRR Tolkien



There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea. - Old Capstan Chantey attributed to Anacharsis, 6th Century BC



The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears, or the sea. Isak Dinesen



The sea hates a coward. Eugene O’Neill



To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go. Joshua Slocum



A tourist remains an outsider throughout his visit; but a sailor is part of the local scene from the moment he arrives. - Anne Davison
"Men in a ship are always looking up, and men ashore are usually looking down."
- John Masefield



"A small craft in an ocean is, or should be, a benevolent dictatorship." Tristan Jones



Any fool can carry on, but a wise man knows how to shorten sail in time. Joseph Conrad


"It isn't that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better." Sir Francis Drake



"He who lets the sea lull him into a sense of security is in very grave danger."
-Hammond Ines



"It's out there at sea that you are really yourself." Vito Dumas



"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk."
- Sir Francis Chichester



"Whenever your preparations for the sea are poor; the sea worms its way in and finds the problems." Francis Stokes



When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land. Dr. Samuel Johnson



Bad cooking is responsible for more trouble at sea than all other things put together.
- Thomas Fleming Day


"To the question, "When were your spirits at the lowest ebb?" the obvious answer seemed to be, "When the gin gave out." Sir Francis Chichester


"The art of the sailor is to leave nothing to chance." Annie Van De Wiele


Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.
- Donald Hamilton



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


Off Cape Horn there are but two kinds of weather, neither one of them a pleasant kind.
- John Masefield



A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Webb Chiles



"There are only two colors to paint a boat, black or white, and only a fool would paint a boat black." Nathanael G. Herreshoff



"For one thing, I was no longer alone; a man is never alone with the wind-and the boat made three." Hilaire Belloc



"If you can not arrive in daylight, then stand off well clear, and wait until dawn. After all, that's one of the things God made boats for- to wait in." Tristan Jones


"Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world." Nicholas Monsarrat



"Without patience, a sailor I would never be." Lee Allred



The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.
- Edmund Gibbon



The chance for mistakes is about equal to the number of crew squared. Ted Turner


"I was born in the breezes, and I had studied the sea as perhaps few men have studied it, neglecting all else." Joshua Slocum


"When I forget how talented God is, I look to the sea." Whoopi Goldberg


"If you can't repair it, maybe it shouldn't be on board." Lin and Larry Pardey



"There is little man has made that approaches anything in nature, but a sailing ship does. There is not much man has made that calls to all the best in him, but a sailing ship does."
- Allan Villiers


"The perfection of a yacht's beauty is that nothing should be there for only beauty's sake."
- John MacGregor


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


"Out of sight of land the sailor feels safe. It is the beach that worries him." Charles G. Davis


The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.
- John Rousmaniere


Prevention is, as in other aspects of seamanship, better than cure.
- Sir Robin Knox-Johnston


Wind is to us what money is to life on shore. Sterling Hayden


I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits. Bernard Moitessier


"My experience with engines is that if you depend on them they fail you, but if it just doesn't matter, they serve you." Frank Wightman


“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks” Warren Buffett


"Ships are the nearest thing to dreams that hands have ever made." Robert N. Rose


"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm." Syrus Pubilius


The water is the same on both sides of the boat. Finnish Proverb


“The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.” Dale Carnegie


“Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.” - Jean-Paul Sartre
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Re: Do you think there's a philosophical aspect to sailing

and some more:


"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.""

Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932).

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea..."

- Antoine de Saint Exupery

I just thank God I don't live in a trailer.

Jimmy Buffet , Son of a son of a sailor

"Not all who wander are lost."

- JRR Tolkien

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

- William Arthur Ward

The house was built on the highest part of the narrow tongue of land between the harbor and the open sea. It had lasted through three hurricanes and it was built solid as a ship.

- Ernest Hemingway

Sailing is just the bottom line, like adding up the score in bridge. My real interest is in the tremendous game of life.

- Dennis Conner

Any fool can carry on, but a wise man knows how to shorten sail in time.

- Joseph Conrad

I cannot not sail.

- E. B. White

There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.

- Joseph Conrad

The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails.

- Joshua Slocum

At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.

- Robin Lee Graham

The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears, or the sea.

- Isak Dinesen

The sea hates a coward.

- Eugene O'Neill

To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go.

- Joshua Slocum

Boats, like whiskey, are all good.

- R. D. Culler

Wind is to us what money is to life on shore.

- Sterling Hayden

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits.

- Bernard Moitessier

Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.

- Donald Hamilton

The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.

- Edmund Gibbon

The chance for mistakes is about equal to the number of crew squared.

- Ted Turner

If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.

- Pete Goss

The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.

- John Rousmaniere

Prevention is, as in other aspects of seamanship, better than cure.

- Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

If you can't repair it, maybe it shouldn't be on board.

- Lin and Larry Pardey

I must go down to the sea 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

Mackerel skies and mares tails, soon will be time to shorten sails.

- Old sailors proverb.

A sailor's joys are as simple as a child's.

- Bernard Moitessier

…surely these victims of the sea…had rushed willingly down the hills to the water, only to find themselves caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who should judge whether they were there for the wrong reason?

- John Rousmaniere (Fastnet, Force 10)



The planning stage of a cruise is often just as enjoyable as the voyage itself, letting one's imagination loose on all kinds of possibilities. Yet translating dreams into reality means a lot of practical questions have to be answered.

- Jimmy Cornell (World Cruising Handbook)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

- Mark Twain

If you can't tie a knot, tie a lot.

- Motto of a representative of the Winslow Liferaft Company

There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea.

- Old Capstan Chantey attributed to Anacharsis, 6th Century BC



Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

H. Melville, Opening Line from Moby Dick

Now - bring me that horizon.

The last line from Pirates of the Caribbean:

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

- Thomas Fuller .

"Without patience, a sailor I would never be."

-Lee Allred

"The sea finds out everything you did wrong."

- Francis Stokes

"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, The Proper Yacht

"He who lets the sea lull him into a sense of security is in very grave danger."

-Hammond Ines

"It's out there at sea that you are really yourself."

-Vito Dumas

"Whenever your preparations for the sea are poor; the sea worms its way in and finds the problems."

- Francis Stokes

"I was born in the breezes, and I had studied the sea as perhaps few men have studied it, neglecting all else."

- Joshua Slocum

"When I forget how talented God is, I look to the sea."

-Whoopi Goldberg

" A tourist remains an outsider throughout his visit; but a sailor is part of the local scene from the moment he arrives."

- Anne Davison

"Men in a ship are always looking up, and men ashore are usually looking down."

- John Masefield

"To young men contemplating a voyage I'd say go."

- Joshua Slocum

"At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much."

-Robin Lee Graham

"A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind."

-Webb Chiles

"Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world."

- Nicholas Monsarrat

"Only fools and passengers drink at sea."

-Allan Villiers

"Out of sight of land the sailor feels safe. It is the beach that worries him."

-Charles C. Davis

On Boats:

"There is little man has made that approaches anything in nature, but a sailing ship does. There is not much man has made that calls to all the best in him, but a sailing ship does." - Allan Villiers

"The perfection of a yacht's beauty is that nothing should be there for only beauty's sake." - John MacGregor

"The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place." - Arthur Ransome

"There are only two colors to paint a boat, black or white, and only a fool would paint a boat black." - Nathanael G. Herreshoff

"For one thing, I was no longer alone; a man is never alone with the wind-and the boat made three." - Hilaire Belloc

"If you can not arrive in daylight, then stand off well clear, and wait until dawn. After all, that's one of the things God made boats for- to wait in." -Tristan Jones

"There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity." - Thomas Gibbons

"A small craft in an ocean is, or should be, a benevolent dictatorship." -Tristan Jones

On Engines:

"Long ocean passages usually don't require engines; it's the ports and headlands at each end that may demand some expert sailing." - Hal Roth

"At last, the god-damned engine is quiet!" - William Snaith

"He was now convinced that the most valuable sail on board was the diesel."- Ray Kauffman

"The only reason that Uldra's engine never failed was because she did not have one." - Dennis Puleston

"I can't wait for the oil wells to run dry, for the last gob of black, sticky muck to come oozing out of some remote well. Then the glory of sail will return." -Triston Jones

On Weather:

"Headwinds are sore vexations and the more passengers the sorer." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Confronting a storm is like fighting God. All the powers in the universe seem to be against you and, in an exraordinary way, your irrelevance is at the same time both humbling and exalting." - Franciose LeGrande

"I once knew a writer who, after saying beautiful things about the sea, passed through a Pacific hurricane, and he became a changed man." - Joshua Slocum

"The pleasures of being becalmed became threadbare; there is a limit to untutored star gazing." -Charles Landery

"Off Cape Horn there are but two kinds of weather, neither one of them a pleasant kind." - John Masefield

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes." -Old Norwegian Adage

"I loved cruising the coast of Maine . For one thing, it helped me conquer my fear of fog. Not that I have learned to feel secure in the fog, but at least I have learned how to grope without panic." -Herb Payson

"Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know." - Donald Hamilton

"Below 50 degrees south there is no law. Below 60 degrees south there is no God." -Old Sailors Adage

"I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits." - Bernard Moitessier

"It's scary to have a 30 foot wave chasing you. If you are steering, you don't look back. The crew looks back for you, and you watch their faces. When they look straight up, then get ready!" - Magnus Olsson

"I don't know who named them swells. There's nothing swell about them. They should have named them awfuls." -Hugo Vihlen

"It's remarkable how quickly a good and favorable wind can sweep away the maddening frustrations of shore living." -Ernest K. Gann

"A tradewind starts gently, without gusts — a huge ocean of air that slowly and resolutely begins to move with ever-increasing strength. Suddenly everything comes to life. Spirits rise as the sails fill. The boat heels slightly and moves ahead. The almost oppressive silence gives way to the sound of the bow cutting through the water. Gone is the sea's glassy surface, and with it the terrible glare. Close the hatches and ports! We're sailing again!" - Jim Moore from By Way of the Wind, 1991

"A ship is always referred to as "she" because it costs so much to keep her in paint and powder." -ADM. Chester Nimitz

"I want a boat that drinks 6, eats 4, and sleeps 2." -Earnest K. Gann

"It looks like frozen snot." -L. Francis Herreshoff, looking at a Herreshoff Bullseye built of fiberglass.

"If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." -E. B. White

"Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made." -Robert N. Rose



"The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat." -L. Francist Herreshoff

"A sailing ship is no democracy; you don't caucus a crew as to where you'll go anymore than you inquire when they'd like to shorten sail." -Sterling Hayden

"We had twelve hours of daylight, and if we did not sight the coast, I should conclude that Brazil was merely a geographical expression." -Frank Wightman

On the Sea:

"The sea hates a coward." - Eugene O'Neill

"The ocean is an object of no small terror." -Edmund Burke

"The sea drives truth into a man like salt." - Hilaire Belloc

"I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea." - Alaine Gerbault

"Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." -Buzzy Trent

"The ocean has always been a salve to my soul...the best thing for a cut or abrasion was to go swimming in salt water. Later down the road of life, I made the discovery that salt water was also good for the mental abrasions one inevitably acquires on land." -Jimmy Buffett



"The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats." - Ernest Hemingway

"One of the best temporary cures for pride and affection is seasickness." - Henry Wheeler Show



" Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit." - Brooks Atkinson



"Never a ship sails out of a bay, but carries my heart as a stowaway." -Roselle Mercier Montgomery



"Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters." - Howard Bloomfield



"Our voyage hade commenced, and at last we were away, gliding through the clean water, past the reeds. Care was lifted from our shoulders, for we were free from advice, pessimism, officialism, heat and hot air." - K. Adlard Coles



"The single commandment of anchoring is "thou shall create scope." - Reese Palley
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