John Muir


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our deck was white with broken wavetops. “You had better go below,” said the Captain to me, “The Gulf-stream opposed by this wind is raising a heavy sea and you will be sick. No landsman can stand this long.” I told him that I hoped the storm would be as violent as his ship could bear - that I enjoyed the storm scenery of such a sea so much that I could not be sick - that I had long waited in the woods for such a storm and that now I would remain on deck and enjoy it. “Well,” said he, “if you can stand this you are the first landsman that I ever saw who could. You would make a good sailor.” I remained on deck watching the Belle as she dared nobly on, but mostly my attention was outwards among the glorious fields of foam-topped hills. The wind had a mysterious voice and carried nothing now of the singing of birds or of the rustling of palms and fragrant vines. Its burden was gathered from a stormy expanse of crested waves and briny tangles. I could see no striving in those magnificent wave motions - no raging. All the storm was inspired with Nature’s perfection of beauty and harmony - every wave obedient and harmonious as the smoothest ripples of a forest’s lake, and all the water was phosphorescent like silver fire, a glorious sight. Our luminous storm was all too short for me. Cuba’s rockwave loomed above the white waters, the sailors, accustomed to detect the faintest land lines, pointed out a well known guiding harbor mark back of the Morro Castle long before I could see it through the flying spray.

Date Original

July 1867


Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist