Popular Maritime Sayings


The sea lore is rich and provides endless inspiration to artists creating memorable nautical prints, writers, artists, filmmakers and even regular people. In fact, although you may not be aware of it, you may be using some saying and phrases in everyday conversations that originated aboard ships. 

While the original context may be lost or irrelevant, these sayings stay fresh and meaningful even today. And so we keep using them. But which one are they, and what is their story? 

1. “Showing One’s True Colors”

We use this saying to describe someone who reveals its true character after playing a role in order to achieve certain benefits (a promotion at work, getting acquainted with an influential person). 

The origin of this saying comes from the days of battles at sea. It was not unheard of for a ship to bear the flags and pennants of the enemy in order to penetrate their harbor and then reveal their true flags (color) and open a devastating attack. 

2. “To Be Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”

This saying describes an impossible situation, where no acceptable solution can be found. For sailors, the devil was the name of the seam at the bottom of the ship, from bow to stern. This seam was prone to breaking and leaking – thus the sailors had to choose between waiting to be drowned by water entering the ship and jumping in the ocean. 

3. “Learn the Ropes”

This is the advice a new hire is given – to become familiar with the work procedures and company culture as soon as possible. For sailors, learning the ropes was very important, because they were used for handling the various types of sails. During a storm, knowing how to handle the ropes properly made the difference between life and death.

Famous Shipwrecks You Might Not Have Heard Of

Whether you are a diving enthusiast, trying to figure the next wreck to explore or you are a history buff, looking for the next seaside destination with some special wrecks to visit, or have a special interest in Great Lakes art, here are some famous wrecks that might not be so widely advertised as others, but are not less exciting either:

-        The MS World Discoverer at Solomon Islands – the Danish cruise ship hit a rock in 2000. The passengers and the crew were rescued, but the ship is still in the warm, crystal waters of Roderick Bay;

-        The Queen Anne’s Revenge – the 18th century warship was the property of Blackbeard, who grounded the ship in 1718 and abandoned it after having used it only for a year. The wreck is located at the shore of North Carolina, at Atlantic Beach and it is included in the list of heritage places as well;

-        The Yongala – the wreck at the shores of Australia is considered to be among the world’s best diving sites, with frequent sightings of manta rays, sharks, colorful corals, turtles, octopuses and sea snakes;

-        The Zenobia at Cyprus – the ferry sunk in 1979 and now she is laying on her side in Lanarka. Fortunately, nobody was killed in the accident.

Why Maritime Prints Make Great Gifts

Maritime prints, whether they depict calming, crystal waters, stormy seascapes, mighty ships or wrecks, make excellent gifts for anyone, not only for boating and diving enthusiasts, for history buffs passionate about pirate ships and battle cruisers or for avid fishermen. Here are some tips for you about getting the most suitable piece:

-        Digital versions or prints on heavy paper for a few dollars – there are many great maritime art websites that offer digital copies of amazing marine artwork created by the world’s most famous artists. You can download the print in digital format or you can order your prints on special paper to be hung on a wall;

-        A calming effect on stressed nerves – seascapes have a calming effect on the nerves. It is surely better to take in the scenery from a shore covered in white powder sand, but having a large marine poster on your wall can also create the illusion of actually being there;

-        Staying focused on goals – if the person you want to offer the gift to is dreaming of owning a private yacht or of buying a small bungalow by the sea, a marine print is an excellent reminder of the goal and a beautiful piece for the wall, too.