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  • Being on a ship is something like being pregnant. You can sit there and do absolutely nothing but stare at the water and have the nicest sense that you are accomplishing something.

  • Boats, like pet dogs, were leashed to the docks, and one little tug looking like a spitz growled at our side, sticking its nose out of the green, loose water as though it were trying to bite.

    • Djuna Barnes,
    • "The Hem of Manhattan," in New York Morning Telegraph Sunday Magazine ()
  • A ship is a beauty and a mystery wherever we see it ...

  • A ship-building, a ship-sailing community has an unconscious poetry ever underlying its existence.

  • In the shortest sea voyage there is no sense of time. You have been down in the cabin for hours or days or years. Nobody knows or cares. You know all the people to the point of indifference. You do not believe in dry land any more — you are caught in the pendulum itself, and left there, idly swinging.

  • The week's ocean voyage went by like a year. The silly waves dragged on the steamer like a tired child on the skirts of its mother. Haste raged in your veins like a fever. You wanted to throw all the fat, heavy passengers overboard. You wanted to swim ahead with a towing rope in your teeth. You wanted to kill the Captain when he stuttered. You wanted to flay the cook for serving an extra course for dinner.

  • The two places one should always go first class are in hospitals and on ships.

  • I never liked the landsman's life, / The earth is aye the same; / Gi'e me the ocean for my dower, / My vessel for my hame. / Gi'e me the fields that no man ploughs, / The farm that pays no fee ...

    • Miss Corbett,
    • "We'll Go to Sea No More," in Mary Russell Mitford, Recollections of a Literary Life, vol. 2 ()
  • ... the only thing a canoe really demands of you is a nice sense of poise, and a getting back to those antique laws of equilibrium, laws that get lost in the hurrying world of today.

  • There's no place where one can breathe as freely as on the deck of a ship.

    • Elsa Triolet,
    • "Notebooks Buried," A Fine of Two Hundred Francs ()
  • [Aboard the Queen Mary:] When does this place get to England?

  • I had always paddled canoes, but a kayak is different from a canoe. You get into a canoe. You wear a kayak.

  • Cruising sailors are boat owners who like to do their repairs in foreign ports where the supplies they need are unavailable or excessively expensive.

  • Grampie's boat was a little double-ender, a model not built nowadays. She was narrow, so that she pitched and rolled something wicked in almost any sea. He could handle her, but he said she was probably the boat Christ got out of and walked away from on the water.

  • I always say that a girl never really looks as well as she does on board a steamship, or even a yacht.

  • It's especially fitting that they call a cruise ship 'she,' for she is pregnant with a thousand adult embryos who long to stay forever warm and sheltered in this great white womb.

  • It's hard to explain or believe how male-dominated, male-oriented, and generally misogynistic the world of elite sailing is. I've never experienced anything like it.

  • Sculling is the closest I'll ever come to being a ballerina, to creating visual music. A good rowing stroke is fluid, circular, continuous. It is unmarred by pauses, hitches, arm yanks, or back heaves.

  • Zen is a stroke without beginning or end. It is a sensation of being completely connected and disconnected in the same moment ... the oars are just extensions of my arms, and my legs seem to grow out of the boat. ... I am a marionette, the boat is part of me, the water is air, the journey the ultimate magic carpet ride. Or maybe I am the boat — its heart, its motor, its spirit. My legs are pistons, I could row forever.