More Thoughts from a Thalassophile

A few weeks ago, I shared with you my recent discovery of a new word – a new word for an old salt!  The word is “thalassophile” and it means lover of the sea, one who loves the sea.  While my last blog post on this subject centered on all the fantastic attributes of San Diego, where I lived for many years, I also lived in Virginia Beach, VA for eight years.  While admittedly I don’t love Virginia Beach like I LOVE San Diego, the proximity I had there to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean was still a wellness plan 1.000 times more potent than any “One-A-Day” multivitamin. 

My good friends and family know that I hate commuting – like HATE it more than almost anything – and the longest commute I’ve ever had was from Virginia Beach (Chick’s Beach, to be exact) to Downtown Hampton – about 22-25 minutes total.  Crazy enough, that commute was not only bearable but actually enjoyable and therapeutic.  I got to drive across and through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel twice a day. Seeing the ever-changing surface of the water, watching the reflection of the sky on the water – steel grey like the Navy ships or bright blue like the Twitter bird – well, it just gave me a sense of relaxation and harmony that I’ve never experienced in the mountains or in the desert or in the forest. 

This year, within two weeks of moving to my cherished coastal North Carolina, I had an “Aha!” moment that suddenly explained why the three prior years had been rather unhappy ones.  In Morehead City, North Carolina, I live half a block from Bogue Sound – not “on the water” but definitely with a water view.  I LOVE the Sound.  I love it way more than the ocean.  It’s dynamic and everchanging.  I know the ocean can look different, but there’s soooo much more activity happening on the Sound.  A normal couple of hours looks like this:  Here comes a sport fishing boat, next in line is a shrimp trawler.  There goes a parasailor.  Two stand-up paddleboarders are heading toward the bridge.  It’s raining so hard – I can’t see across the sound, but wait, it’s clearing up!  Yes, there’s the water tower of Atlantic Beach.  For certain, the one constant on the Sound is change.

Watching this endless loop of variety on the water, the abrupt realization that I depend on the sea and saltwater almost knocked me over.  Instantly, I got it.  I understood that a major contributing factor to the prior three years of despondency had been that, for the first time in 25 years, I had been landlocked.  I felt like I could now name that feeling of being trapped, of being isolated, surrounded by and suffocated by… land. 

From the front porch of my Morehead home, I looked around – and felt the wide-open space that salt water -- floating and drifting to every corner of the earth -- offers.  And then I took a deep breath – and exhaled – recognizing that the constant feeling of bands around my chest and rib cage wasn’t there anymore.  I was free.  Free to be me and free to be near the sea and the Sound. 

As does happen in life, about 48 hours later after this personal revelation, I saw the word “thalassophile” for the very first time.  As an avid reader, my vocabulary is fairly robust – but this was a new word to me.  I Googled it – and then leaned back in my chair… stunned.  Thalossophile.  Lover of the sea, lover of the ocean.  “Yes,” I thought, “That’s me.  The sea and me.  I have a name for it now. I know who I am.  And I know where I need to be.”

To all fellow thalassophiles, I wish you well.  I wish you fair winds and following seas.  I wish you many happy days near and on the water. 

Patriotically, nautically yours,

Libby O’Malley


 PS We’re designing several t-shirts celebrating thalassophiles!  If you’re a lover of the sea or know someone who is, be on the lookout for these new designs!  And, if you’re not already on our mailing list, click here to get our newsletter.  It comes out every two weeks and shares new products, offers a few freebies, and keeps you in the patriotic, nautical loop!   No spam -- just great content for people who love boats and who love America!