Setting Sail

You see it etched upon his face as he looks out across the seas.

With the thirst for far horizons in his eyes.

He is watching from the shore like so many times before

Where he hears the wandering seabirds’ haunting cries.

And while he pulls his collar tight against the salty on-shore breeze

He is staring out beyond the windswept bay

Where across the white-capped waves rides the vision that he craves

Of the ship that’s going to carry him away.


Right then his heart starts pounding harder as he sees her tops’ls furled,

The t’galants, royals and courses gathered in.

With the stays’ls, fore and main, she falls off the wind again

So the reach toward the sea buoy can begin.

Then she’ll be making for the waterfront from half way round the world

Laden down with spices, cotton, tea and gold.

With her voyage almost run and the captains work but done

All that’s left is for her cargo to be sold.


Then she’ll replenish and set sail once more to seas and countries new.

There to open up more distant lands for trade.

And with her he must sail where the tropic winds prevail

And the tales that filled his childhood all were made.

Now he’s been waiting nine long days for her with nothing else to do

Since the owners said they’d sign him on next trip.

But now she’s come in sight as she sails across the bight

And by evening he’ll be safe aboard that ship.


So now the man upon the shore starts striding back toward the town

To the tavern by the dock where she’s to berth.

And he orders there a beer while his ship is drawing near,

Caring not how much he pays above its worth.

He sees the pilot climb aboard, the jibs and mains’ls taken down,

While the crew prepares the dock lines, bow and stern.

Once the channel marker’s passed then the tugs start making fast,

And he watches as she makes her final turn.


And then the heaving lines are thrown and all the ropes are hauled ashore

Then the ship is winched in snug against the quay.

With his kit bag in his hand he looks back upon the land

And then turns to breath the fragrance of the sea.

He then calls out to the Mate and tells him what he’s come there for.

Then he asks that he might be allowed to board.

And he’s shown where he’s to go to the quarters down below

Then they tell him where his kit should all be stored.


Now he can feel the subtle motion of the deck beneath his feet.

As he smells the pitch and linseed on the breeze.

He can hear the timbers creak and his fellow sailors speak

In the language of the people of the seas.

He feels a glowing deep inside himself, contentment now complete,

For he knows he’ll soon be ocean bound once more.

Where horizons never show of the next place he’s to go

Where no other ships have taken him before.


For he’s returned to live the life to which his vagrant soul was born,

Seeking each new land and ocean he can find.

Where the whims of wind and tide will his destiny decide,

And he’s no regrets for what he’s left behind.

So now he’s casting off the lines and heading out to meet the dawn.

Hoisting every sail to catch that morning breeze

And he turns to see the shore where he stood and watched before

Then he turns back to the freedom of the seas.

For his spirit’s now at rest as he steers toward the west

Where the calls of life and destiny prevail

Where the winds of fate and fortune and adventure never fail

In the isles beyond his farthest dreams where now his ever wandering soul may sail.