Three of the best …
Crossing the Bar
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
Ably explained in this series of lectures, a "bar" is a submarine dune and the currents running over it are the most dangerous storms a traveller can meet.
It may surprise you to realise Tennyson's grasp of the physics involved but in his day the only shipping safety regulations were the Plimsole Line and lighthouses. There were no mandatory Life Boats on board and even life jackets were rudimentary cork vests that few had and would as easily drown you as save you.
Every day somewhere in Great Britain or the Empire, there was news of a drowning. Small boats HAD to go out to sea, not necessarily very far, to make a living every day. Once out, they couldn't stay out the way trawlers can these days.
Large ships, relying only on sail, once committed, had to push on to anchorage. In the days of sail you could only ride out a sea in safe places called "roads" the equivalent of a motoring "lay-by" or "hard shoulder" these days.
If you hit trouble on the way into a river mouth, with no engine and precious little steering, there was nothing you could do.