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The Wisdom of Sailing

Updated: Oct 23, 2019











Whether or not you have ever set foot on a sailboat, you have likely heard the many phrases that draw from sailing themes to illustrate some of life’s timeless teachings.


Some popular words of wisdom include:

You can’t control the wind but you can adjust your sails

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor

A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for

One cannot discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore


Why so many comparisons between life lessons and the sea?


Well it goes without saying that humans have had a relationship with the sea as a part of our collective human heritage for thousands of years. So therefore, it seems rather natural that artists, writers, thinkers, religious figures and other influencers have drawn upon sailing, ships and the sea for inspiration.


In my own life as a sailor, I have always noticed (but often forgotten) the small and big lessons that sailing on the sea can provide. These lessons are essentially guiding principles for living a more joyful and peaceful life overall.


Here are a couple of my favorites.....


Sailing reminds us of the benefits of living in the moment ....

In our current day, sailing is clearly a form of transportation that is much more about the journey than the destination. This is great symbolism for enjoying where we are now and not waiting for arriving somewhere before we start enjoying our lives. As humans we are so focused on getting somewhere, literally and figuratively, that we so often miss out on what today has to offer us. The joy of sailing means tuning into the sights, sounds, smells and beauty of being at one with the elements. In fact, sailing I experience as a form of meditation as it clears my mind of clutter and allows me to relax and settle into the present moment.


Being mindful about our actions….

Being on a boat while under way, it’s so important to be mindful and/or intentional with each action we take. Each step we take on a moving boat, if not intentional, may cause us to lose our balance or even fall overboard. Moreover, if we don't properly secure that mayonnaise jar while making sandwiches for the crew or the winch handle in the cockpit, they could go flying. While not everything on land should require our utmost attention, sailing reminds us to pay attention when it matters. This is a huge one for me, taking time to complete tasks and be mindful about my actions.


So the next time you go sailing or even walk on the beach, consider what the sea can teach us and feel free to share on our Facebook page!


See you on the water.


Capt. James


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