When It Is Not Fair Winds and Following Seas

A common phrase heard in the United States Navy is: “Fair Winds and Following Seas.” It carries a lot of meaning in it. In one sense, it is a wish for good weather and safe travels. In another sense, it is a verbal gesture of good luck to those leaving port and heading out into the great and empty expanses of the seven seas. The phrase can be used as a toast or a salutation. Underneath it, though, is a healthy awareness of the inherent dangers that the sea, in all of its moods might bring to those going out into it.

The fact of the matter is that if you are a sailor and spend any length of time at sea, you are bound to run into stormy weather. It takes some time, I’m told, to get your “sea legs” in any case, but when a ship is rockin’ and rollin’ in the big winds and high seas of a heavy storm, the simple matter of walking on board ship takes on a whole new meaning altogether.

Photo: YouTube/All Hands Magazine

In this video, you will hear several young sailors talk about how they deal with the vagaries of everyday life when the seas are pitching their ship from port to starboard and up and down as it rolls over and cuts through the big waves and the heavy winds.

Some sailors seem to roll with the punches without much effect on their equilibrium. Others, who admit to motion sickness in anything that moves, are able to find ways to deal with it as well. As you will see in this short video, there are times when you can be literally walking on the bulkheads, rather than the deck.

Photo: YouTube/All Hands Magazine

Sometimes you have to be out on open decks, for duties that must be performed. When at sea, one would get the clear sense, it seems to me, of one’s smallness in the immensity of the sea, but especially when the wind is up and the seas are angry.

Photo: YouTube/All Hands Magazine

It takes a special type to go down to the sea in ships. And our U.S. Navy is full of men and women who fit that special set of character traits. There is much to the sea that sparks awe and wonder, for sure, but in the end, these are professional men and women who know their jobs as well as the risks. They know their duties well and carry them out with grace, dedication, and skill.

The Veterans Site sends its wishes for “Fair Winds and Following Seas” to all who serve on her many classes of warships. You are the best. Thanks for your service to the nation.

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