+20 Best Sailing Movies

best sailing movies

A great sailing movie can make your evening enjoyable. What could be better than experiencing the pleasure and positive vibes that sailing provides while sitting at home?

Movies have played a significant role in our lives since since Eadweard Muybridge created the first moving image, “The Horse in motion,” in 1878. We get to enjoy other people’s lives for a while taking a break from our own for a few hours. We may laugh when watching a comedy film with our friends, cry while watching a love film, become temporarily involved in an intense thriller, or become children once more while watching an animated film. While some viewers might love watching scary movies, others could appreciate unwinding with vintage films.

For those who are attracted by the beauty of the water, sailing movies are ideal. Beautiful landscape, the sound of the waves, excitement, romance, camaraderie, bravery, and the willingness to persevere in the face of adversity can all be found along with tragedy, heartbreak, loss, and dread as the sea’s fury destroys the boat.

If you’re excited to watch a sailing movie, check out the top 20 movies below:

Best Sailing Movies

1. The Old Man and the Sea (1958)

Starting with a classic, the movie “ The Old Man and the Sea” is the cinematic adaptation of the same-named book written by Ernest Hemingway in 1951 and published in  1952. 

Both the book and the movie portray the story of Santiago, an  old Cuban fisherman who was struck by bad luck leading him to not be able to catch a fish in 84 days. 

Santiago makes the decision to try fishing in the Gulf Stream waters in an effort to change his luck, and succeeds in hooking a large marlin. After he succeeds in tying the fish to his boat, he must use all of his strength to haul the marlin back to land while defending his catch from the jaws of several sharks.

In his struggle against all odds, the human spirit’s ability to persevere in the face of hardship is revealed.

2. All is Lost (2013)

Another excellent sailing movie that you can watch on Netflix is “All is Lost”. 

This movie is about an experienced sailor (Robert Redford) and about his solo trip in the Indian Ocean. 

Crisis breaks out as his 39-foot yacht collides with a cargo container that was left floating in the water, causing a crisis. After successfully repairing the hull, the sailor finds himself in a dangerous storm that nearly kills him. In the hopes that the ocean currents will move him into a shipping lane where he can be saved by a passing ship, he must endure a number of adversities like the sun, a shortage of life-saving supplies, and sharks.

When everything goes wrong, the sailor must face his own mortality. Captain Ron (1992)

3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

The film, directed by Peter Weir, was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won for best photography and sound editing. Adapted from Patrick O’Brian’s historical novel, this film chronicles the return of adventure to the high seas. The film is filled with battle sequences that will keep you guessing as an egotistical captain pushes his people to their breaking point.

4. Dead Calm (1989)

Another interesting psychological thriller on Netflix is “Dead Calm”. It tells the story of an Australian couple who goes on a sailing trip in the Pacific to forget about a recent tragedy.

They come across a weird boat and a strange man while they are in the middle of the ocean, and the man reports that his crew died of food poisoning. 

They soon discover that the man is not who he seems to be and that the calm before the storm is over.

5. Adrift (2018)

This is the true story of a happy couple formed of Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp who are in love with adventure and gets lost at sea after a hurricane hits their yacht.  After the storm has passed, Tami finds Richard badly injured and must do everything in her power to save herself and the man she loves. 

It appears difficult for sailors to foresee sailing directly into a major hurricane, especially when they do not consult weather apps.

This movies portrays the resilience of human psychic as well as the power of love.

6. Captain Ron (1992)

For the viewers who enjoy comedy movies, this one is a hit! 

The movie is about an important businessman from Chicago (Martin Harvey) who inherits a yacht and takes his family on a month-long sea trip in the Caribbean. He hires Captain Ron to teach him and his family how to control the boat. 

The fun begins when the captain starts doing what he knows, from flirting with the wife and the daughter of Martin Harvey, to teaching his son how to drink and gamble to pushing the boat to the point of breaking apart.

If you love family comedies and beautiful scenery, this movie is for you!

7. Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

Another classic adventure movie is “Mutiny on the Bounty”, about the ship with the same name that departs in 1787  from Portsmouth. Sailing to Tahiti and load breadfruit was its intended destination.

In order to maintain strict discipline, Captain Bligh will use every means necessary to get there as quickly as possible. Tahiti seems like a paradise for the crew when they get there, a stark contrast to the living misery aboard the ship. Officer Fletcher Christian leads a rebellion on the flight back to England.

8. Turning Tide (2013)

Another one of the 20 best sailing movies of all times is “Turning tide” (Original title “En solitaire”). 

This French production relates the tale of Yann Kermadec, whose hopes and goals come true when he has to to take the place of the DCNS star captain just before the Vendée Globe begins (a round-the-world non-stop single-handed yacht race). Yann, who has been leading the race for several days, must halt to fix a broken rudder. This will hinder him in his journey.

9. Morning Light (2008)

The story portrait in “ Morning Light” is about the true-life adventure of 15 young sailors who train for 6 months in order to participate at the TRANSPAC regatta, the highly coveted open-ocean sailing tournament. 

Aboard the sloop “Morning Light”, the crew will take part in a thrilling 2300-mile race against top competitors and famous sailors.

10. The Perfect Storm (2000)

Filmed in Glouchester, Massachussets, this thrilling adventure movie shows the true story about  the crew aboard the “Andrea Gail” who gets caught in a massive and destructive storm in 1991. They have to do everything they can in order to survive against the fury of the hurricane and return back to shore safely with their catch.

11. Wind (1992)

A cult favorite for sailing enthusiasts about yacht racing filled with beautiful sailing scenes portraying America’s Cup of yachting races. 

This is the story of Will Parker, played by Matthew Modine. who is hired by Cliff Robertson, a self-made millionaire, to captain his crew in the competition.

Will Parker and Kate, two talented sailors, compete for America’s Cup, one of the most prestigious sailing contests. Following their failure, they decide to organize their own syndicate in order to fulfill their goal.

12. White Squall (1996)

“White Squall” is yet another great 90’s movies and it follows a group of high school students who embark the brigantine ship called Albatross for their senior year at sea. They travel to and from South America’s tip by ship. They get to take on responsibility, pick up sailing skills, and mature.

The ship’s captain, Christopher Sheldon, and the 13 teenage guys departed on an eight-month journey. The boys quickly learn about Sheldon’s shifting mentality, jarring tension, and bizarre storms that wreck the boat.

13. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

This adventure-comedy follows oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his crew in their ocean expedition. They have to track and hunt down the ‘jaguar shark’ that apparently ate his partner, Esteban.

This movie is more than a comedy; it is a story about life.

14. Kon-Tiki (2012)

This is the story of the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl who crossed the Pacific Ocean in a balsawood raft in 1947 with five men to demonstrate that South Americans may have done so in pre-Columbian periods and established on Polynesian islands.

The idea’s inception, the preparations, and the trip’s happenings are all captured in the movie.

15. Maiden (2018)

This documentary tells the story of Tracy Edwards who was the skipper of  the  first all-female crew to ever compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.

The screening illustrated the corrosive misogyny that is still present in the sailing community as well as the ocean terrors that sailors must contend with throughout journeys or competitions.

16. Chasing Bubbles (2016)

A free spirit who abandons a normal life to sail across the world, Alex Rust, is the subject of this fascinating documentary. Alex was raised on a farm but in Indiana, he works as a stock trader.

At the age of 25, he makes the decision to leave Chicago, buys the little sailboat Bubbles, and sets out on an incredibly unusual, free-spirited journey. He sails across the world for three years, satiating his voracious curiosity, making wonderful friends, and realizing his long-held desire to be a free soul.

17. 180° South (2010)

Another good navy movie is “ 180° South” that shows the adventures of Jeff Johnson,  who retraces his idols Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard’s historic 1968 trek in Patagonia. Along the way, he surfs the longest wave of his life, gets shipwrecked off Easter Island, and gets ready for a rare ascent of Cerro Corcovado. Jeff’s life changes when he meets Chouinard and Tompkins. These two men, who were originally just motivated by their love of climbing and surfing, have traveled to Patagonia to spend their wealth protecting the environment.

18. Deep Water (2006)

Last but not least, in our selection we mention the sailing movie “Deep Water” which shows the real-life story of British rookie sailor Donald Crowhurst, who competes in the world’s first nonstop boat race, the Golden Globe. Donald puts his house up as collateral to get funding to participate in the race, but he quickly realizes that he is in the wrong because he enters the race unprepared.

The beauty of the surroundings, the sound of the waves, the adventure, the will to live despite all odds, the humorous or romantic moments, and the true stories are what we hope you will experience while watching these incredible sailing movies. In the end, movies are a part of our lives because they depict real-life events in all their shapes and emotions.

19. Kon-Tiki (2012)

Based on the true story of Thor Heyerdahl’s epic 4,300-mile journey across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft, Kon-Tiki is a thrilling adventure that will inspire you to explore the world and push your limits. With stunning visuals and a gripping story, this film is a must-see for any sailing enthusiast.

Best movies about sailing on HBO and Netflix

The Pirates of the Caribbean Series (2003-2017)

Featuring Johnny Depp as the charismatic pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, the Pirates of the Caribbean series is a swashbuckling adventure that has captured the imaginations of audiences around the world. From the cursed crew of the Black Pearl to the treacherous waters of Davy Jones’ Locker, these films are full of action, humor, and unforgettable characters.

Adrift (2018)

A couple’s life voyage across the open sea. However, a devastating cyclone capsizes their boat, leaving them struggling for their life in the middle of the ocean.

This thriller, based on true events, is one of the best sailing movies on Netflix and HBO Max!

Captain Phillips (2013)

Another sailing movie on Netflix is “Captain Phillips”, telling the true story of Captain Richard Phillips who takes command of the MV Maersk Alabama, an unarmed container ship and departs from the port of Salalah in Oman in the expectation of being attacked by Somali pirates en route to Mombasa, Kenya.

Captain Phillips must use tat and wit to bargain with the pirates and save his crew after they attack the ship.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Russel Crowe stars in this adventure-filled warship drama telling the story of Captain Jack Aubrey and the British frigate “H.M.S. Surprise”. The action takes place in April 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars.

The current mission for Aubrey and the Surprise is to locate, apprehend, or scuttle a French privateer by the name of Acheron. To broaden Napoleon’s scope of the wars, the Acheron is currently in the Atlantic off South America and sailing toward the Pacific. This assignment will be challenging because the Surprise is at a disadvantage because the Acheron is a bigger and quicker ship.

Life of Pi (2012)

After surviving a shipwreck, the zookeeper’s kid is apprehended on a boat with a Bengal tiger. This Oscar-winning picture was directed by Ang Lee.

Deep Water (2006)

The narrative of the first round-the-world boat race is told in this documentary. The goal is to find out how much sailors paid for this exhausting race.

Maidentrip (2013)

This sailing film tells the narrative of Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old girl who dreams of becoming the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

Last Words on Best Sailing Movies

In conclusion, sailing movies offer a unique blend of adventure, drama, and stunning visuals that can transport you to the high seas. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or simply enjoying a good movie, there is something for everyone on this list of the best sailing movies.

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