Originally a song by the Sutherland brothers (Arms of Mary) three years earlier. It failed to get the attention it deserves. Rod Stewart made it a huge hit in 1975, as part of his farewell to England project. His album Atlantic Crossing was all about his recent tax flight to America.
The Sutherland brothers were singing about fighting to get close to God (or some other supreme being). Sailing to be close to you is not referring to getting to some girl, as we always thought! And according to Rod Stewart’s publisher you have to do it like this. No better way to reach God than with weapons, right?