Issue: September 2003
Eileen Quinn: Stage Center

She makes me laugh. She makes me cry. She makes me sing along. (She tried to get me to dance once, but I declined.) Most of all, she makes me dream about the cruising life - about the day when Clint and I can shove off for points undetermined, destination unknown. And now she has yet another raft of tunes ready for public consumption on her new CD, Not to be Used for Navigation.

    Singer-songwriter and liveaboard sailor Eileen Quinn has built her reputation on lyrics that speak frankly about the cruising life, from the pitfalls of boat repair to the pleasures of a long passage. Not to be Used for Navigation, her fourth compilation, is her best yet, in my opinion, offering a broader range of emotional material than ever before. Those familiar with Quinn’s work know she’s funny - very funny. And this album doesn’t disappoint. Ditties like “Working on My Boat” and “He Don’t Love Me (Like He Loves His Boat)” are pure Quinn. But this album gives us even more. “A Sailor’s Daughter” made me think of my own father, patiently teaching me how to sail and beaming when I brought home my husband-to-be: “That’s a fine boat he has.” The song tells of a daughter who goes to sea, leaving an elderly parent behind, torn between the life he taught her to love and the sense of responsibility that comes to aging children. “Drunken Sailor” offers up a thoughtful look at the pervasive abuse of certain substances on the coconut circuit. “Ask Me” is a sweet story of dockside courtship. And then there’s “Friends,” which talks about what’s left when the wind dies down for good.

    Quinn’s music is sui generis. She’s neither bluegrass nor bluesy. You can’t really call her a folksinger (she uses a drum machine, after all) and she doesn’t rock - much. She calls herself a bluewater musician, and that’s fine with me. She’ll be back on the Bay this month, performing at the Southbound Cruisers’ Reunion on September 9, the Annapolis Maritime Museum on September 20 and at Trawler Fest, September 24–27 (see Cruiser’s Calendar for details). You can hear snippets of Quinn’s music at, and you can buy the new CD there, or from CD Baby (800-Buy-My-CD).