Lowry appears to have been an avid reader of sea stories before he went to sea in 1927. It is easy to see why Lowry would identify himself with Bill Adams who had gone off to sea himself at 17 as had Lowry at the same age in 1927. Bill Adams also used his sea experiences as a source of inspiration for his writing. Similarly, Lowry used his experiences from his Far East voyage in 1927 for his early short stories 'China', 'Port Swettenham' and later his first novel Ultramarine.
His early sea stories were collected in Fenceless Meadows (1923), and he published a volume of sea verse, Wind in the Topsails, in 1923. In the late 1920s and early 1930s he published several good sea stories. Although they appeared in such excellent magazines as The Atlantic Monthly and Esquire, and there were enough for another volume of stories, he never collected them. At least three of his stories appeared in O. Henry collections of best short stories of the year: 'Jukes' (1927), 'Home Is the Sailor' (1928), and 'The Lubber' (1933). 'The Foreigner' appeared in Best Short Stories of America (1932). As ex- pressions of his socialist values, his stories often celebrate the lives of working sailors, and they are notable for their frequent inclusion of sea songs.
Many of his poems were previously published in magazines such as Adventure, The Outlook, Pictorial Review, The Saturday Evening Post, Short Stories, McCure's, Premier, London, Neptune's Log, Hearst's International and Blue Peter.