Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Fair Winds and Following Seas

USS Sterett
These last few weeks have passed in a blur.  With the exception of blogging Thirty Days of Thanksgiving the business of photography has largely been ignored as Les and I prepared for his deployment. The weeks leading up to his departure were fun, busy and extremely emotional.  Yesterday, amidst hugs, kisses and a few tears we said our goodbyes and I watched his ship pull away from the pier. Although I miss him terribly I am so proud of him!

For other military families out there here are a few of my observations about preparing for deployment:

  • An impending separation forces priorities into place - Les and I focused on letting the little things go and enjoying our time together.  We had a fabulous time!
  • Plan ahead - We had list upon list of things to do before he left and we steadily marked everything off.  It was a wonderful feeling to be prepared and to just relax the night before he left.
  • Live in the moment - It was easy for me to think ahead and get emotionally overwhelmed knowing that we would soon be saying goodbye. However, I constantly reminded myself to be present and focus on the "now" and enjoy it! Deployment would happen, but there was no sense fretting about it weeks (or days or hours) before at the expense of enjoying the time we had together.
My Sailor
I pray that my sailor has a safe journey and returns to me soon!

For more photos of the USS Sterett's departure please visit my Facebook page at

If you'd like to know more about the USS Sterett here are a couple of links to recent news stories:
USS Sterett Departs San Diego, Heads to Middle Ease - Video
USS Sterett Deploys to Western Pacific

About the title of this post:
The origin of the quote "Fair Winds and Following Seas" is unknown. It is often said to have been lifted from a poem, phrase, or literary work, but to the best of this researcher's knowledge, it wasn't. Over the last century at least, the two quotes "Fair Winds" and "Following Seas" have evolved, by usage, into a single phrase which is often used as a nautical blessing.
"Fair Winds": The Dictionary of American Regional English defines "Fair Wind" as "safe journey; good fortune." An early example of the phrase's use is in Herman Melville's Moby Dick,published in 1851, where it says near the end "Let me square the yards, while we may, old man, and make a fair wind of it homeward." In other words, let me square the yards (add on all sail) and make a safe journey home.
"Following Seas": Defined by Bowditch's American Practical Navigator as "A sea in which the waves move in the general direction of the heading." It further defines "Tide" as "the periodic rise and fall of the water resulting from gravitational interactions between the sun, moon, and earth. . . . the accompanying horizontal movement of the water is part of the same phenomenon." In simple terms: the movement of the water, the waves, and the surface, correspond with the movement of the tide.
"Fair Winds and Following Seas" is really two quotes originating from different sources. The two quotes are a nautical phrase of good luck--a blessing as it were--as the person, group, or thing it is said to departs on a voyage in life. It is often used at a "beginning" ceremony such as a commissioning ceremony of a ship or people, as well as in retirement, change of command, or farewell ceremonies. (Naval Historical Center)

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