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..but of all these water was held the fairest and most goodly and most greatly praised. Indeed there liveth still in water a deeper echo of the Music of the Ainur than in any substance else that is in the world, and at this latest day many of the Sons of Men will hearken unsatedly to the voice of the Sea and long for they know not what.

Could this explain why the sea has such a powerful attraction to both elves and men apart from it being the barrier to the Undying Lands?

Well if I lived in Middle Earth that sure would attract me!!! It sounds so beautiful!! Where did you find it?? The Return of the King perhaps?? The Silmarrillion?? What chapter?? I'm on Minis Tirith in The Return of the King and I'm going to start reading the Silmarrillion after so I don't know but I would like to!!
The quote was fromHOME, Book of Lost Tales Vol 1 - The music of The Ainur. Anyone wanting more detail on the creation should read this chapter at least.

The seas were between ME and anywhere else and Men were unable to sail West to the Undying Lands and many were drowned trying to sail those seas. So they are a barrier of sort controlled by Ulmo with a little help from his friends.

There is also an interesting quote in the same chapter about the 'gifts' to men. The Eldar would be the fairest and the most lovely of all things but Iluvatar gave a new and greater gift to men...

Therefore he devised that Men should have a free virtue whereby within the limits of the powers and substances and chances of the world they might fashion and design their life beyond even the original Music of the Ainur that is as fate to all things else. This he did that of their operations everything should in shape and deed be completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest. Lo, even we Eldar have found to our sorrow that Men have a strange power for good or ill and for turning things despite Gods and Fairies to their mood in the world; so that we say "Fate may not conquer the Children of Men, but yet are they strangely blind, whereas their joy should be great".
Rumil to Eriol - The Music of The Ainur

It is however of one with this gift of power that the Children of Men dwell only a short time in the world alive, yet do not perish utterly for ever, whereas the Eldar dwell till the Great End unless they be slain or waste in grief..... and dying they are reborn in their children...

There is so much more detail given here about the creation, the relationship between elves and The Valar, the minds of men....... fantastic stuff......... I'm going to burst!

Men hearkening to something they do not know i find a bit weird,

Eternal Longings (or so I know this as) like looking up at the stars as a child and although not understanding the universe, wanting to go there, to see beyond the confines of this mortal world, to be a part of this great creation, not understanding but knowing the wonder.

as a vetinary surgeon, i have something to say about that. when a calf is born (alive and well) it will get up and imediatly go to nurse. it is a magical thing that never grows old. Eru, Allah, God or whatever you belive in is truly wonderful
That is beautiful. It is the same after child birth. My babies all lifted their heads moments after their births when they heard my voice alone even though many doctors and nurses were speaking at the same time(I had horrible and dangerous births)
And then they would always turn their heads the minute they were laid against my body and start to nurse , just like that. The wonder of that is beyond amazing.
Good question vee.
Now we need a good answer Big Smile Smilie
As to Men I have not heard, correct me if I am wrong, that water had such an attraction for them - at least not as a race (some individuals mayhap did).

Elves at least we know did. That is the Eldar who went across the Sea and the Sindarin (who probably got there longing for the sea by accounts from the Eldar). Of the Avari I doubt there was much attraction to the Sea - I imagine they prefer the trees and stars more.

But yes the reason for the Elves having an attraction to the Water was for 3 reasons:

It reminded them of the Blessed land beyond the Great Sea,

It had most of all the encapturement of the Music of the Ainur in it (this was probably taught as lore to the Elves by the Valar, if the Elves could not detect it themselves),

Finally they awoke by the Shores of Helcar so the sound of waves was ever in the minds, as was the Stars of Varda, hence there reference to her.
The wonder of that is beyond amazing.

And yet, what a sad and horrible thing it is that so many people throughout the world, miss that wonder or destroy it through their own choice, because they think that that wonderful gift and blessing would only be a trouble.
I know, I have cried myself to sleep worrying over that.
you sound so very sweet and sensitive.I am in fact adopting though I am not married (but worked with children who were battered and abused and abandoned) a little girl that was not wanted. I honor her mother though for having her. She came to me when she was six months.So beautiful. It is she who, even when she hears water running will close her eyes and begin to dance. She hears music in the water.
Strangely she has huge eyes and pointed eyebrows just like an elf, is tall and slender and people always stop and look at her and say that she looks like an elf or faerie. That is so wierd but true.
Perhaps she can hear the music of the Ainur, I would not doubt it.