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20 Best Sailing Movies of all Time

20 Best Sailing Movies of all Time | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

If you have been looking forward to curling up on the couch, grabbing a bowl of popcorn, and watching some captivating movies, this can be a good time. A good sailing movie can be perfect given that you'll hear a few lines that you're already familiar with when on the dock or setting sail.

This can be a perfect time to binge-watch some of the best sailing movies.

So in no particular order, we'll highlight 20 of the best sailing movies of all time. From the brutal and dramatic tales of man vs. sea to inspirational explorations and expeditions, we've covered it all. Keep reading and you'll be inspired while waiting to get off dry land when it's safe to do so.

Table of contents

All is Lost (2013)

For lone sailors, All is Lost is probably the best movie to give you a glimpse of what might go wrong for you if you decide to sail the big blue ocean alone. With a near-mute performance as an old man who loves sailing alone, Robert Redford puts in an almost quasi-silent performance by portraying the ordeal of what a lone sailor can undergo when the sea turns on you.

Directed by JC Chandor, there's only one person on the screen throughout the film. He's all alone in the vast sea with his damaged boat. He has to become tough, resourceful, and calm even when things turn against him. Single-character movies are a rarity even today but this is a great survival film that perfectly depicts what could happen even to the hardest lone sailors out there.

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

Directed by the talented Peter Weir, this critically-acclaimed movie was nominated for 10 Oscars and won for best cinematography and sound editing. Depicting the return of the high-seas adventure, this movie is skillfully and meticulously adapted from the historical novel by Patrick O'Brian set during the Napoleonic Wars and starring Russell Crowe.

Crowe plays an arrogant captain who pushes his ship crew to the limits while trying to capture a French warship. This movie offers action-packed battle scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This movie gives you an insight of what sailors undergo in their struggles to make it through the high-seas alive.

Captain Ron (1992)

With little sailing experience but with an inherited yacht moored on an offshore island Martin Short hires charismatic Captain Ron to take them back to Florida. The voyage isn't as easy as they expected as they have to face pirates, breakdowns, and other obstacles. They all get more than what they bargained for.

Portrayed by Kurt Russell, Captain Ron depicts the misadventures of a nominal sailing character that is hired by an upper-middle-class father to guide a yacht through the Caribbean. From the marine accidents, pirates, guerilla carnivals to malfunctioning equipment, and Russell's croaked absurdities, this movie is just full of double humor and worthy performance. 

Wind (1992)

As one of the biggest races in competitive sailing, America's Cup is often associated with rich people competing in weird-looking boats. But this movie changes this as it takes viewers through the eyes of tanned and rugged Will Parker as played by Matthew Modine. He's hired by a self-made millionaire (Cliff Robertson) to lead his crew in the competition.

Together with his girlfriend Kate who is an equally skilled sailor, Parker intends to win America's Cup but Kate is thrown off the crew leaving Parker angry. When the crew loses America's Cup to the Australians, Parker decides to form his own syndicate to win back the cup. 

White Squall (1996)

This movie follows a young man's adventure movie that follows a group of high school students who boards the brigantine ship called Albatross for their senior year at sea. They sail to the tip of South America and back. They get to accept responsibility, learn how to be sailors, and grow up.

The skipper of the ship, Christopher Sheldon together with the 13 teenage boys set sail for an eight-month voyage. The boys soon discover Sheldon's psyche gradations, rattling tension, and freak storms that sink the ship. As a sailor, you'll be disturbed by the fact that four students and two crew members drown, leaving skipper Sheldon facing a fierce tribunal, tortured conscience, and grieving parents and students.

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

As one of the greatest epic movies of the 1960s, English Captain Bligh is on a sea voyage to transport breadfruit from England to Jamaica. He is so abusive that he gets on the nerves of his crew members, especially 1st Lieutenant, Fletcher Christian.

Tension eases when they reach Jamaica and the crew indulges in the island's lifestyle but the captain claps some members of his crew in irons as they try to desert. Further abuses lead Fletcher to inspire a mutiny against the Captain. Fletcher and his men set the Captain and his loyal members afloat in a rowboat. This movie offers a realistic depiction of a larger-than-life character that most sailors are known for. 

Dead Calm (1989)

Starring Billy Zane, Nicole Kidman, Sam Neil, and a gorgeous 60 ft. ketch, Dead Calm revolves around a mass-murderer who kidnaps and seduces a young beautiful woman after leaving a husband to die on a vessel whose crew he has just murdered.

This movie was filmed in the Whitsundays Islands of Australia, which is one of the best sailing destinations in the world. Bringing forth an epic combination of deadly sailing conditions , complete isolation from the rest of the world, and a skillful villain aboard the vessel, this movie is thrilling and will leave you looking behind your back whenever you're out there on the sea.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

This adventure-comedy follows the high journeys of Steve Zissou, a character adaptation of French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. It follows his ocean expedition when tracking the ‘jaguar shark' that apparently ate his partner, Esteban.

Esteban had been working with Zissou on a documentary about mysterious circumstances by a shark. This is a sharp film with lots of fun and adventure on the sea.

Kon-Tiki (2012)

Legendary Norwegian explorer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl believes that the South Sea Islands were originally colonized by South Americans. Thor, who fears water and doesn't know how to swim, partakes on a voyage in 1947 to prove his belief. Together with five crew members, set sail from Peru on a balsa-wood ancient raft.

Even though their only modern equipment is a radio, they have to navigate through the ocean while relying on stars and ocean currents and they achieve the impossible after exhausting three months at the sea. This is a very spirited adventure that depicts what's possible when we believe in our dreams. 

Maidentrip (2013)

A 14-year-old sailor by the name Laura Dekker sets sail on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to become the world's youngest sailor. Laura sets out from Holland and sails throughout the world. Apart from the occasional foul language that Laura uses now and then on the documentary, this is an excellent film that shows what one can achieve when he/she lives her dream and works hard towards achieving it.

The documentary, however, doesn't suggest that Laura is alarmingly young to sail across the unforgiving Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Instead, she's depicted as an independent outsider who is looking for paradise in a never-ending sea. 

Adrift (2018)

In most cases, sailors seem to never anticipate that they may sail directly into a catastrophic hurricane and this is exactly what Richard Sharp and Tami Oldham do when they sail directly in one of the worst hurricanes ever recorded in history.

Tami awakes in the aftermath of the hurricane to find their boat in ruins and Richard is badly injured. And because they do not have any hope that they would ever get help or get rescued, Tami is left with two options: sit there and perish or find strength and determination to save herself as well as the only man she's ever loved.

Turning Tide (En Solitaire) (2013)

In this daring tale, this movie portrays how a fearless sailor known as Yann Kermadec finds a lot of obstacles in his biggest race as a two-hander named Turning Tide falls flat. In a nail-biting tension, the story begins when Kermadec replaces the main skipper in the Vendee Globe on short notice.

After some smooth sailing, things go eerily wrong for the sailor as his ship is damaged and he's forced to anchor off the Canary Islands to repair it. When he gets back on his journey, he soon discovers that a Mauritanian teenage boy has sneaked inside the boat and he has no option but to sail with him at least until they cross the Atlantic Ocean.

The Old Man and the Sea (1958)

An old Cuban angler known as Spencer Tracy is so unlucky that he hasn't caught any fish in 84 days. And despite the commitment of a young boy to bring him food, the angler fears that he's forever lucky but catches a small fish on his 85th day, so he decides to keep fishing.

When one of his many fishing lines hooks a large marlin, he decides not to go back to the shore until he reels it in. For almost two days and nights, he has no choice but to sit there and do everything he can to redeem himself from what seems like a perpetual failure.

Morning Light (2008)

By entering the TRANSPAC, which is one of the world's best open-ocean competitions, 15 young men and women prepare for a sailing adventure of their lives. With world-class teachers, these sailors begin intense training in Hawaii but only reach a climax in an elimination process that comes in the form of who-stays-and-who-goes process.

This documentary follows these sailors for six months as they embark on a 2,300-mile sailing ordeal, which starts in Los Angeles and ends in Honolulu.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

Created by Wolfgang Petersen, The Perfect Storm is a blockbuster that's big on visuals and depicts an action-packed escapade on the water as Captain Billy Tyne and his crew set on a fishing expedition aboard a ship known as Andrea Gail.

They're soon caught up in a catastrophic destructive storm when they decide to risk the storm and have to deal with a very powerful hurricane. At the height of their fishing expedition, their ice machine breaks down and the only way to ensure that their catch doesn't go stale is by hurrying back to the shore to sell their catch. This is exactly why they decide to risk their lives and it doesn't turn out as they expected.

Captain Phillips (2013)

When Captain Richard Phillips takes command of an unarmed container ship known as MV Maersk Alabama from the port of Salalah in Oman, they anticipate that they'll be attacked by Somali Pirates on their way to Mombasa, Kenya.

They attack the ship and Captain Phillips has to use his wits and diplomacy to negotiate with the pirates and save his crew. 

Maiden (2018)

As the saying goes; what a man can do a woman can do even better. This is exactly what's depicted by this sailing movie that follows the life of Tracy Edwards as she leads the first all-female crew when competing in the Whitbread Round the World Race.

Covering 33,000 miles and lasting for nine months, this is a truly grueling race that depicts the corrosive sexism that still exists in the sailing world as well as the ocean terrors that sailors have to deal with during voyages or competitions. 

Chasing Bubbles (2016)

This is a captivating documentary that follows the journey of Alex Rust who is a free spirit who gives the normal life to sail around the world. Alex is brought up as a farm boy but becomes a stock trader in Indiana. At the age of 25, he decides to abandon his life in Chicago, buys a modest sailboat known as Bubbles and embarks on a very unique free-spirited voyage. It takes him three years to sail around the world and to quench his insatiable curiosity while meeting great people and fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a free soul.

This is a breathtaking travelogue that depicts the sailing life of a truly absorbing character.

180° South (2010)

Directed by Chris Malloy, this is a sailing documentary that covers the journey of Jeff Johnson as he travels from Ventura, California to Patagonia in Chile. He does this to retrace the same trip covered by Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins in 1968.

While the two initial explorers made the journey on the land, Johnson travels by sea using a small boat.

Deep Water (2006)

This movie follows the true-life story of Donald Crowhurst, an inexperienced British sailor who enters the Golden Globe, which is the first nonstop boat race in the world. Donald puts up his home as collateral to gain financial backing to compete in the race but soon finds himself on the wrong end of things as he enters the race under-prepared.

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20 Best Sailing Movies of all Time

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25 sailing movies for when you’re knot shore what to watch

We share some of our favourite best sailing movies, from Hollywood blockbusters and indie films to illuminating documentaries

I still hang on to the rather fanciful notion of sailing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race . Until I pluck up the courage (and the funds), I’ve been busying myself with more realistic nautical escapades.

From  tall ship sailing off the west coast of Scotland  to  sailing the Whitsunday Islands  in Australia , more and more of our travels have taken place on the water.

However, until I make the leap from weekend warrior to blue water sailor, I’ll have to make do with films, books and daydreams.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of the best sailing movies I’ve seen. What follows is a broad mix of modern and classic, indie and feature, drama and documentary film. Whatever their style, these flicks are thoroughly wet and wonderful.

And, I’m sorry about the pun, but you know, ship happens.

best sailing movies

Listed in no particular order, these nautical movies include terrifying ordeals of tragedy, inconceivable stories of survival, turbulent tales of adventure and wild journeys of discovery – perfect for a night in on a dry and comfy sofa.

1. Kon-Tiki (1950) Let’s start with one of the best sailing movies ever made. In 1947, Heyerdahl and five others sailed from Peru on a balsa wood raft. This is the classic Academy Award winning documentary of their astonishing journey across 4,300 miles of the Pacific Ocean.

Kon Tiki is one of the best sailing movies

Watch on Amazon Rotten Tomatoes IMDB

2. Red Dot on the Ocean (2014) Once labelled a ‘youth-at-risk’, 30-year old Matt Rutherford risked it all in an attempt to become the first person to sail solo non-stop around North and South America. Red Dot on the Ocean is the story of Matt’s death-defying voyage and the childhood odyssey that shaped him.

Red Dot movie poster – one of the best sailing movies

3. The Dove (1974) Produced by Gregory Peck, this coming-of-age adventure is based on the true story of Robin Lee Graham . At 16, he set sail in a 23ft sloop determined to be the youngest person to sail around the world.

The Dove – one of the best sailing movies

4. Wind (1992) In over 140 years of competition, the US has lost the America’s Cup just once. This is a fictional story of the American challengers intent on winning back sailing’s top prize. A tale of money, power, love and ambition follows… oh, and some sailing.

Wind  movie poster

5. Morning Light (2008) A riveting true-life adventure aboard the high-tech sloop Morning Light. Fifteen rookie sailors have one goal in mind: to be part of her crew, racing in one of the most revered sailing competitions in the world, the Transpac Yacht Race .

Morning light movie poster

6. Between Home – Odyssey of an Unusual Sea Bandit (2012) An independent filmmaker’s account of his solo voyage from the UK to Australia, negotiating the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans en route. A trip that eventually takes over two years to complete.

Between Home movie poster

Watch on Amazon IMDB

7. Styx (2019) When a lone yachtswoman comes across a sinking ship of refugees, she is torn away from her idyllic trip and tasked with a momentous decision. Should she act when authorities tell her to sail away?

Styx movie poster – one of the best sailing movies

8. Captain Ron (1992) After inheriting a yacht, a Chicago businessman enlists long-haired, one-eyed low-life Captain Ron to pilot the yacht from the Caribbean to Miami. During the voyage, the sailor frequently loses his way while becoming a hit with the businessman’s family. Goofy comedy starring Kurt Russell and Martin Short widely recognised as one of the funniest sailing movies ever made.

Cpt Ron movie poster

9. Maidentrip (2013) This riveting documentary chronicles the life and adventures of 14-year-old Laura Dekker who set out on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world.

Maidentrip movie – one of the best sailing movies

10. Kon-Tiki (2012) A well-crafted retelling of the epic original and one of the best sailing movies ever made. This dramatised version is a throwback to old-school adventure filmmaking that’s exciting and entertaining in spite of its by-the-book plotting.

Kon Tiki 2012 movie – one of the best sailing movies

“But you can’t navigate a raft,” he added. “It goes sideways and backwards and round as the wind takes it.” – Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki

11. Abandoned (2015) Four men set sail on the trimaran yacht Rose Noelle . It capsizes in a storm, trapping the crew in a space the size of a double bed. After 119 days adrift, the yacht washes ashore. The crew’s story is extraordinary, but doubt is cast on their claims and they face hostility from the media and authorities.

Abandoned is one of the best sailing movies

12. Adrift (2019) There are far better films on this list, but Adrift is just about worth a watch. Based on true events, a young couple embark on an adventure of a lifetime that brings them face to face with one of the worst hurricanes in recorded history.

Adrift best sailing movies

13. The Perfect Storm (2000) A skipper insists that his crew go out on a final fishing trip before winter sets in. Unknown to them, a brutal storm is on its way. While the special effects are excellent for the time, the film falls a little  short on characterisation.

The Perfect Storm movie – one of the best sailing movies

14. Sea Gypsies: The Far Side of the World (2016) The vessel is Infinity, a 120ft hand-built sailboat, crewed by a band of miscreants. The journey, an 8,000-mile Pacific crossing from New Zealand to Patagonia with a stop in Antarctica .

Sea gypsies movie poster

15. Turning Tide / En Solitaire (2013) Franck Drevil is a star skipper, having won the latest Vendée Globe , the most prestigious round-the-world single-handed yacht race. However, with this year’s race approaching, a sudden accident forces Franck to withdraw.

Turning Time movie poster

16. Knife in the Water (1962) When a young hitchhiker joins a couple on a weekend yacht trip, psychological warfare breaks out as the two men compete for the woman’s attention. A storm forces the small crew below deck and tension builds to a violent climax.

best sailing movies knife in the water poster

17. Dead Calm (1989) This tense thriller tells the story of an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill) whose yacht cruise is violently interrupted by the mysterious lone survivor (Billy Zane) of a ship whose crew has perished.

Dead Calm movie poster – one of the best sailing movies

18. The Riddle of the Sands (1979) A classic British swashbuckling yarn based on the early English spy novel of the same name. In 1901, two British yachtsmen visit Germany’s Frisian Islands and accidentally discover a German plot to invade England.

best sailing movies movie poster

19. Maiden (2019) The story of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who became the skipper of the first-ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.

Maiden movie poster

20. White Squall (1996) Based on a true incident from 1960, White Squall is the story of the tragic sinking of the Albatross , a prep school educational two-masted schooner, during a Caribbean storm. Starring Jeff Bridges.

White Squall movie poster

21. The Mercy (2017) Starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, this is certainly no heroic tale. Instead, it’s the dramatisation of the bizarre story of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst and his attempt to pull off one of the greatest hoaxes of our time: pretending to be the first to sail singlehandedly around the world!

The Mercy movie poster

22. Deep Water (2006) Following on from the above, Deep Water is a British documentary about the remarkable story of the first Golden Globe round the world yacht race , focusing on the psychological toll it took on its competitors – particularly one Donald Crowhurst.

deep water movie poster

23. Captains Courageous (1937) A spoiled brat who falls overboard from a steamship gets picked up by a fishing boat, where he’s made to earn his keep by joining the crew in their work. Based on the 1897 novel by Rudyard Kipling.

Captains Courageous movie poster

24. Open Water 2: Adrift (2006) A silly premise, but entertaining nonetheless. Six friends jump off a yacht without lowering the ladder first. With no way to climb aboard, it’s only a matter of time before bickering turns to terror.

Adrift is one of the best sailing movies

25. Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World (2003) During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain (Russell Crowe) pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel.

best sailing movies

“Do you not know that in the service one must always choose the lesser of two weevils?” – Capt. Jack Aubrey, Master and Commander

Readers’ suggestions

Here’s what our readers have added to the list of the best sailing movies.

  • Masquerade (1988)
  • Violets are Blue (1986)
  • Kill Cruise (1992)
  • Message in a Bottle (1999)
  • High wind in Jamaica (1965)
  • Caddyshack (1980)
  • O Mundo em Duas Voltas (The World in Two Round Trips) (2007)
  • One Crazy Summer (1986)
  • Coyote: The Mike Plant Story (2018)
  • The Weekend Sailor (2017)
  • Harpoon (2019)
  • Waterworld (1995)
  • Around Cape Horn (1929)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)
  • The Bounty (1984)
  • All Is Lost (2013)

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The power yacht at the end of The Island ?

Discussion in ' Powerboats ' started by laurentk , Sep 17, 2006 .

laurentk

laurentk New Member

Hello guys, I am new to the forum, and desperatly trying to find the designer name of the yacht that you see at the end of the movie The Island. For those who didn't see it, but might have an idea, here is a (vague) description: must be aprroximately 120/150 feet, dark green body, looks very very futurist, dark (black smoked glass) cabin, and some kind of side parts at the back of the boat that can expand when berthing. Thank you so much ! Laurent  
I found it ! The most amazing boat ever (for me ....) This is it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/118_WallyPower http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c9/118WP.jpg http://extremetechnology.blogspot.com/2006/03/extreme-superyacht.html http://www.wally.com/default.asp?bflash=1 And pictures here: http://images.google.com/images?lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=118 WallyPower&sa=N&tab=wi http://flickr.com/search/?q=118 Wally Power&m=text Thx ! Laurent  

Willallison

Willallison Senior Member

The Wally is an extraordinary vessel. Though the 118 is not without its flaws - for instance, it is apparently impossible to see the horizon, let alone the water from the helm whilst the boat is at speed! More importantly - was it a good film?  

Frosty

Frosty Previous Member

3 RR turbine engines !!! one can only immagine what the fuel consumtion will be plus you will probably need a day to learn how to start them. Real macho stuff but of all the boats that have ever been called a millionares boat,-- then this must be it. Its ugliness is beyong description , but its ugliness becomes confusing to the mind to the point that you have to re calibrate ugly, untill its ugliness doesnt matter. Its as ugly as a tank, some people like tanks. A very strange boat-- you iether like it or you dont.  
Well, Jack, it's always the same questions. When facing a Honda Civic, everybody will agree on a common well designed car that rolls. When facing a Lamborghini Murciélago, some will love it, some will hate it, but none will stay "feelingless". So ... is it what we call art ? And is the WallyPower 118 a work of art ? However, I totally understand that someone would hate it ... I certainly agree with Will, for me, it is a beautiful vessel .... And I actually hapened to see it in real this summer in Bonifacio, Corsica, crusing in a turquoise bay.... And ..... wow. As for the movie, I loved the photography of the film .... very esthetic. I also liked the story, but this is debatable )  

Wayne Grabow

Wayne Grabow Senior Member

World's most outstanding yachts There was a television tour of this yacht on a program whose topic was world's most outstanding yachts. It does have that love/hate reaction on people; certainly expands the universe of yacht types. The fuel bill must be it's most impressive statistic.  
wonder if that's available for download...  
If you go on the website, there is a promotional movie you can watch. Besides showing how esthetic this boat is (for the ones on the love side ), they also show in detail the how functional it is intended to be. AND to answer your question, they give the consumption .... and as I know nothing about the powerboat world .... I didn't really understand But I am sure you'll find it interesting !  

fish is a fish

fish is a fish Junior Member

The fuel capacity is 5,812 gallons. Fuel consumption at top cruising speed is one liter per second, or about 15 gallons per minute! no thanks not with the gas prices in CA.  

vandutch

vandutch Junior Member

Stealth "sex appeal" Boat This VanDutch boat may interest those that liked the boat featured in the Island. It has a stealth sex appeal with the same avant garde genre.  

Attached Files:

Vandutch_33.jpg, 500252_2c.jpg.

Andiamo

Andiamo Junior Member

Are you the builder of that Van Dutch?? The style rocks. How much change does it set a guy back and whats it top out at?  

longcours62

longcours62 Junior Member

I never could understand : sex appeal ...for a boat ! But if you compare the forms of the Wally and the forms of Adastra In my point of view I found the second one more 'avant garde genre' and I don't ask about the the comparaison of the consumption betwen each of them !!  

adastra_afloat.jpg

Alik

Alik Senior Member

longcours62 said: ↑ I never could understand : sex appeal ...for a boat ! Click to expand...

:D

It look Alik said: ↑ 'Sexy boat' usually means sleek nonsense of 100+ feet in length. It is like a 'sexy' woman - impractical, with terrible character and needs a lot of money to own/maintain Click to expand...
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lol. well, this sexy one is not at 100+ feet. She must have wings (she was Redbull sponsored). She flies at an excess of 45 knots. She is for a type of personality, definitely not for everyone. The practicality depends on what you're looking for: if you're asking fuel consumption, depends on the model (i.e. engine choice). Character: what you see, no hidden agenda (unlike a sexy woman). Maintenance: the designer's choices had practicality in mind based on all the articles I've read about it. If you want her to strattle then take an Adastra because VanDutch's flexibility is measured in other regards.  

vandutch_REDBULL_PASSION.jpg

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Sailing Movies

13 Of the Best Sailing Movies, You Can Watch Again and Again

I’m a recreational sailor. I’ve been sailing on Saginaw Bay since I was a little kid. We started off sailing Snarks and Sunfish. Our family loved sailing movies, and we watched them all. In the early 1970s, my dad took advantage of a marketing campaign by Kool cigarettes where we could purchase a Snark with the white and green KOOL logo on the sail. We still have this old boat and manage to bring her out to play with from time to time. One of the things that irk me is the lack of movie entertainment that revolves around my favorite pastime. I’ve managed to collect a few examples of movies with sailboats here.

Sometimes you can find these sailing movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu.

White Squall (1999)

film yacht insel

The true story of a bunch of boys, a ship, and the sea.

The movie White Squall is based on the 1961 sinking of a brigantine named the Albatross—a two-masted sailing vessel with a fully square-rigged foremast—White Squall is an exciting tale of adventure, friendship, and tragedy. This sailing movie stars Jeff Bridges as Captain Christopher “Skipper” Sheldon, who takes his charges on an epic voyage around the world on the Albatross.

Along the way, the boys learn how to sail and how to work together as a team. They also develop life-long friendships and forge incredibly tight bonds that they can only get from being in such close quarters with each other.

But then tragedy strikes: A white squall appears out of nowhere, sending massive waves crashing down upon their beloved ship. With their lives on the line and all hope of survival seeming lost, Skipper urges his boys to keep fighting for their lives—and trust each other above all else, no matter what happens next.

Wind (1992)

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Wind is a 1992 film directed by Carroll Ballard that follows Will Parker, played by Matthew Modine as he loses America’s Cup, the world’s biggest sailing prize, to the Australians and decides to form his own syndicate to win it back. Will hires Kate Bass, played by Jennifer Grey, to help him with his PR campaign.

The film co-stars Cliff Robertson as Morgan Weld, a businessman who offers to sponsor the team and pays for their yacht. Rounding out the cast is Jack Thompson as Michael “Brue” Brindley, a sailor who found success in racing and now manages an Australian team; Stellan Skarsgård as Bjorn Ericson, a Swedish sailor who sails for an American syndicate; and John McGlinn as Frank Hennessy, an Australian businessman who is investing in the Australian team.

All is Lost (2013)

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All is Lost is one of the most harrowing survival stories ever committed to film, All is Lost is a minimalist exploration of a man’s struggle for survival in the face of adversity. In this case, “adversity” means “the Indian Ocean.”

The story begins with Robert Redford waking up halfway through a solo voyage across the Pacific. He finds that he has struck a floating shipping container, and his boat is filling with water.

Redford’s character is never given a name, but we do get to know him through his actions. He doesn’t panic when he discovers the leak; instead, he sets about repairing it as best he can. He rigs a jury-rigged sail to help him stay afloat while he waits out a storm. When the radio fails, there’s no bemoaning his fate; instead, he puts on his best poker face and keeps going. Each time he faces down yet another crisis and finds a solution, we learn more about him—and the stakes just keep getting higher.

Dead Calm (1989)

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A young couple on a yacht trip in the South Pacific encounters a damaged ship and its only living inhabitant. He is looking for a ride home, so he can return to his wife and kids. The captain is suspicious and refuses to take him on board. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the stranger was responsible for slaughtering the other crew members and that his wife may not be waiting for him at all.

The director depicts this story in an original way, shot completely on a boat, as it sails through the Pacific Ocean. Although the story is fictitious, it still gives us some real sailing skills and challenges of open water navigation.

This movie Dead Calm stars Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, and Billy Zane.

Morning Light (2008)

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Morning Light is a documentary that follows the youngest crew ever to compete in the Transpac sailing race. All crew members were between 18 and 23. The film follows the development of the Morning Light sailing team, their six months of sea training, and finally, the weeklong race across the Pacific between Los Angeles to Honolulu.

The film follows the young sailors as they develop their teamwork and learn to navigate under pressure and in high winds. The film also gives viewers a glimpse of the athletes’ personal lives: one woman struggles to find childcare so she can attend training while several others struggle with homesickness or the physical and emotional toll of leaving their families behind for months at a time.

The young sailors operate under incredible pressure: they are working hard to impress their sponsors (who have provided them with $2 million worth of equipment), they have only six months to learn how to sail, and they are constantly being compared to more experienced crews. They also must contend with a strict coach who pushes them harder than they’ve ever been pushed before.

Adrift (2018)

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When you’re out on the open sea, you never know what fate may bring.

For Tami and Richard, it was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure—and one they’ll never forget.

Adrift is the true story of their journey to love and their battle with Hurricane Raymond in 1983, considered one of the most destructive storms ever recorded. Tami wakes up in the aftermath of the storm to find Richard seriously injured and their sailboat in shreds and sinking. Now, Tami must summon all her will and strength to save herself… and Richard, with no possibility of rescue.

Starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin, Adrift is an incredible tale for anyone who’s ever felt like they were fighting against the world.

Kon-Tiki (2012)

film yacht insel

It’s not often that you can come away from a movie with a new appreciation for the world around you—but that’s precisely what happened when I watched Kon-Tiki!

The movie is based on an actual expedition led by Thor Heyerdahl, a famous Norwegian explorer, and ethnographer, in 1947. Thor theorized that South Americans had settled parts of the South Sea Islands, and he wanted to prove his point. So, after months of preparation, he and five other guys set sail from Peru on a balsa-wood raft. They planned to use natural elements (like stars and ocean currents) to navigate their way through the sea.

It sounds impossible, right? But they did it! And they didn’t even have modern equipment like GPS or maps—just a radio. It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. You should watch this movie; it leaves you feeling inspired about what you can accomplish if you believe in your aspirations.

Maidentrip (2013)

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The documentary, Maidentrip , chronicles the two-year journey of Laura Dekker as she attempts to become the youngest person to sail around the world. The video, directed by Jillian Schlesinger, is a testament to the human spirit and what can be accomplished when one pursues one’s ambition and works hard to attain it.

Dekker is depicted as a free-spirited outsider who finds her utopia in a never-ending sea. She is shown spending time with friends, getting tattoos, and enjoying life on her boat. While she does occasionally use bad language in the video, it never interferes with her message that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to if you are willing to work hard and overcome obstacles that may arise along the way.

The Endurance (2000)

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The Endurance tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1916 journey to Antarctica, which is considered one of history’s greatest survival stories. Following the terrible death of legendary English polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott on his journey to the South Pole, Shackleton embarked on his third voyage.

Shackleton assembled a 27-man crew aboard his ship, Endurance, and set out in search of a new route across Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. The expedition was thwarted by ice near the Weddell Sea, and Endurance was trapped for nearly a year before being crushed by the ice and sinking. The men escaped with their lives onto the floes, where they remained for another five months before reaching Elephant Island. Five men stayed behind at the site of their camp as Shackleton sailed in a small boat with five others in search of help. He sailed 800 miles through dangerous seas to reach South Georgia Island, where he arranged for a rescue ship to save his stranded crew members. All 27 men survived this ordeal, which is considered an epic feat in polar exploration history.

Sea Gypsies: Far Side of the World (2017)

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Picture this: a gang of roving miscreants, with no licenses or insurance and an almost non-existent budget, is bound towards the most perilous seas on the planet.

This is almost the polar opposite of what you may have learned in your sailing classes. But for the crew of “Sea Gypsies: The Far Side of the World,” their story is one of adventure, courage, and determination.

In this heart-pounding documentary, a group of friends takes on the challenge of a lifetime: sailing from New York to Japan without any formal training, using only an old wooden boat that they built themselves.

“We knew it was crazy,” says Timmy Sniffles, one of the participants. “But we threw ourselves at it anyway.”

With three cameras on board to capture every moment and a host of experts who explain the dangers, they faced along the way, “Sea Gypsies” is a real-life thriller that will keep you glued to your seat.

The Old Man and The Sea Return to Cuba (2018)

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Finbar Gittleman is a 75-year-old master sailor. He has a mythical position among sailors in Key West and the Caribbean after living a rough and perilous life at sea. As he returns to Havana, Cuba for the first time since Castro’s revolution, this is his narrative.

The Old Man and The Sea Return to Cuba : Finbar Gittleman takes you on an adventure of sailing, perseverance, and self-discovery.

In this video, Finbar recounts his life at sea and how he came to be in Florida. He also shares some of the hardships he faced along the way as he struggled to make a living in the harsh environment of Key West.

He then describes the day when he decided to sail back home – through the dangerous reefs of Cuba – with nothing but his old boat, a compass, and some provisions.

The Mercy (2018)

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Featured on the Today Show and in the New York Times, this extraordinary narrative of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst’s effort to solo around the world in the first race of its type, the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, is told in “The Mercy.”

Crowhurst was an amateur sailor who dreamed of winning the race. Struggling with his business and family life, he decided to enter the race. He convinced a local businessman to support him and set about building a boat for the race.

The race was ill-fated from the start: one competitor died at sea and another disappeared without a trace. Crowhurst became increasingly unstable as he sailed around the world; radio transmissions from him became more erratic as he sailed on.

He finally returned to England, where he was declared the winner of the race due to his competitors’ fates. However, it was discovered that he had never made it past the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and had falsified his log entries. He returned home in disgrace and committed suicide shortly after his return

The Weekend Sailor (2016)

It’s not often that a story like this comes along. “ The Weekend Sailor ” is a documentary about Ramon Carln, a Mexican man who, in 1974, wins the first crewed around-the-world sailing race on his boat Sayula II. The race is now known as The Volvo Ocean Race, and it takes place every three years.

The reason this story is so captivating? Carln wasn’t your typical sailor. He had very little experience with sailing, and he won the race with a crew of family and friends.

The film follows Carln’s journey: from his humble beginnings as a young boy when he began to dream of being a sailor, to his later years when he competed in the race and then won it (overcoming many obstacles along the way). It’s an inspiring story of determination and drive that you’ll want to watch with your whole family!

Related to Sailing Movies and Other Stuff

Upper Thumb Boating and Sailing – Here is another wonderfully produced video from LIVE Huron. This one focuses on Huron County boating and sailing opportunities with some great shots of Caseville harbor and breakwall

Interview with Author Jacki Howard – I reached out to Jacki Howard to see what she has done since the book was published 10 years ago. She is still involved with the book, but life has moved on. Like so many in the Thumb region, we are distant cousins. While we have never personally met, we found common ground with our interest in the “Dying Sparlings” Here is our exchange.

Boat Names – Transom Charm – The boat name you select may not seem like an important thing, but most of us feel that selecting the right name for our boat is important.

A Kool Little Cigarette Sailboat – In 1971 KOOL Cigarettes ran a unique marketing campaign. Magazines around the country ran an ad that if you sent in $88 and one box end from a carton of Kool cigarettes that this fully functional sailboat would be shipped to your door.

Michigan Monday – Saginaw Poet Theodore Roethke – Regarded as one of the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation, Roethke won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book The Waking.

The Amazing Michigan Photography of Steven Donahue – Steven was born and grew up on his family farm near Port Hope. He moved away and started studying the arts, including photography, in Chicago. He was in the military during the Vietnam War and became an MP. Part of his job was to photograph deaths and burials. A job I’m sure was not pleasant.

Michigan's Thumb ThumbWind

Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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3 thoughts on “ 13 of the best sailing movies, you can watch again and again ”.

Substitute “Captain Ron” for “All is lost” and I am all aboard.

Charlie St Cloud was a recent movie with some sailing focus.

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Where was Mechanic: Resurrection filmed? Filming Locations Guide

Mechanic Resurrection swimming pool scene with Jason Statham

Mechanic: Resurrection locations

Santos Adventure Marine

Atlas of Wonders is looking for wonderful Filming Locations all around the world. We are constantly updating and improving our posts with new details and images. Follow us here:

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If you mean to a white sand beach, it's called Lame Haad in Koh Yao Yai - an hideaway island nearby Phuket Thailand

Why in the movie it is mentioned Koh Lipe?

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Thanks a lot Natt!

To be honest man, we have illegal mobile brothels and isn't that jail near the general hospital?

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  • Top 10 Boat Movies: Best Sailing Films to Watch
  • Sailing Hub
  • Sailing Tips

Gearing up for your summer holiday? Or maybe you're looking for inspiration for your next sailing trip? Get in the mood with one of our favorite sailing flicks—from adventure to comedy to romance, these boat movies will have you hankering for a few weeks at sea. 

Here are our top ten picks for movies about sailing:

1. 180° South (2010)

2. wind (1992), 3. captain ron (1992), 4. morning light (2008), 5. the dove (1974), 6. moby dick (1956), 7. wild caribbean (2007), 8. maidentrip (2013), 9. the new swiss family robinson (1998), 10. the love boat (1977-1987).

Have adventure on the mind? Kick off a movie marathon with this documentary on the epic 1968 journey of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins. 

Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and his best friend Tompkins took off on a whirlwind sailing journey to, yes, Patagonia in 1968. Along the way, they do some serious surfing but also discover the beauty of experiencing pure, raw nature. In this documentary, one of Chouinard's fans, Jeff Johnson, retraces the duo's steps to discover the thrill of sailing in nature for himself. 

For those looking for some sporty action, the 1992 flick is one of the most exciting of yacht movies. 

After losing the America's Cup (i.e., the biggest sailing race in the world), Matthew Modine makes it his ambition to win back the coveted title. Also following Modine's romance with Kate Bass, an aeronautical engineering graduate student, this boat movie is equal parts sporty and romantic—a one-two punch for a good movie night. 

Watch the trailer!

1992 was the year of the movies about boating! 

Also this year, Kurt Russell and Martin Short starred in Captain Ron , a comedy adventure about a man from Chicago who inherits an old yacht. The flick follows Short’s character, Martin Harvey, as he takes his wife and children to the Caribbean for a sailing adventure—which quickly turns into more than Harvey bargained for with Captain Ron (Russell) at the helm. 

Can’t get enough racing action? Neither can we. 

For a different twist on a movie about ships, try Morning Light . This documentary follows fifteen young sailors as they embark on six months of intensive training. Their goal? Race a high-performance 52-foot sloop in the Transpacific Yacht Race. From Hawaii to the high seas to the daring competition against the world's top professionals, this is one of the boat movies you don't want to miss. 

When it comes to movies about boating, real life is truly often more exciting than fiction. 

This 1974 film recounts the true story of 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham who embarks on a solo trip around the world in The Dove , his 23-foot sloop. Along the way, he meets a young woman who is on her own journey around the globe. With a dramatic biography that needs no embellishment, this film follows the adventures of Graham in life and love as he sails around the world from adolescence to adulthood.

You can't talk about boat movies without mentioning perhaps the most classic of them all: Moby Dick . 

In this legendary tale, the eminent Gregory Peck stars as Captain Ahab, an old fishing captain obsessed with hunting down and killing the white whale who robbed him of his leg years ago. If you want to take a break from the comedies and romantic yacht movies, Moby Dick is one of the renowned classics that will surely make you feel the thrill of the sea. 

Daydreaming about a holiday to the Caribbean? 

Us, too. That's why we have yachts available for charter across the islands—from Antigua to St. Lucia to Martinique. Before setting sail, get a taste of the Wild Caribbean with this four-part documentary series on the Caribbean islands and sea. Talk about some major travel inspiration! 

Check it out!  

For those who can't get enough of sailing documentaries, this is one of the movies about sailing you must add to your list. 

Maidentrip follows Laura Dekker as she sets out to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone—at the age of 14. The documentary takes us back before the start of her two-year voyage, from her early childhood sailing in New Zealand to life preparing for her epic feat. 

If you're planning a sailing holiday for the family, there's no better way to get the kids excited for the upcoming travel than with this boat movie. 

This cult classic follows Angelino Jack Robinson as he sails with his family from Hong Kong to Sydnery. From pirates to hidden treasure and more, this is one of the best sailing movies for families. While a private yacht charter won't get you tangled up with wild pirate chases and searches for buried treasure, this family film will certainly bring out the adventurer in you before your own sailing trip. 

Nautical movies not enough for you? If you're looking for a great binge watching session to satisfy your craving for sailing, try The Love Boat . 

This classic TV show follows the comedies, romances, and adventures of the passengers and crew of the cruise ship, Pacific Princess. Starring Fred Grandy, Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes, and Gavin MacLeod, this retro sitcom was based off of Jeraldine Saunder's novel, which was inspired by her years working as a cruise ship hostess. 

Have these boat movies left you with a serious craving for the sea? 

If you want to live your life like you're the hero in your own movie, charter a yacht this year . Our yacht charter experts can make your favorite movie a real-life memory.

Get a free & non-binding quote

  • The best sailing films of all time

For the sake of clarity, we’ve divided them into categories. So no matter whether you’re watching alone, with a partner or with the whole family, there is something for everyone.   

Documentaries  

Racing around the world alone.

  • (Canada, 2010, 52 min, dir.: Ingrid Johansson, Benjamin Rouse) 

One of the world's most famous solo races, the Vendée Globe, was the subject of this 2010 documentary. The film follows the story of thirty skippers as they embark on a 27,000 nautical mile journey around the world in 2008, competing to be the first to the finish. Alone on their boats, they are exposed to extreme conditions, facing enormous physical and emotional challenges.  

  • (USA, 2013, 82 min, dir.: Jillian Schlesinger)

You’ll likely remember the controversy surrounding the Dane Laura Dekker, who at just 13 years of age planned to sail solo around the world on her 40-foot sailboat  Guppy . When the Danish authorities wanted to prevent her from doing so, she fled the country. Finally, at the age of 14, she was able to embark on her dream voyage. The film draws us into the world of an exceptionally talented young sailor and a story which is both gripping and compelling.     

  • (France, 2008, 90 min, dir.: Pierre Marcel) 

The life and career of this renowned sailor is a tale of love for the ocean, sailboats, wind and adventure. In June 1998, French sailor Eric Tabarly, hailed as the most outstanding sailor of the century, drowned after falling from the deck of his ship. Even as a boy, he had loved the sea, boats, the wind in his sails and the freedom to travel across the endless expanse of the ocean. His passion led him to the most prized victories in the international yachting community. Among them was winning a long-distance solo voyage from Plymouth across the Atlantic to Newport. Using reports, films, photographs and memories, it documents the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man. The film was nominated for the prestigious César Award for Best Documentary.  

Deep Water 

  • (UK, 2006, 92 min, dir.: Jerry Rothwell, Louise Osmond) 

This gripping 2006 film provides an account of the first non-stop round-the-world yacht race, the Golden Globe Race, which took place in 1968. The film uniquely combines period footage (both documentary and from the on-board video diaries of individual participants) with narratives from survivors and their family members. As a result it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the time, drawing you into the thrilling storyline. Unfortunately, as is often the case with documentaries, we can read up on the fate of the protagonist Donald Crowhurst beforehand. He was an outsider, the only participant without experience who had entered primarily for the £5,000 prize money to save his ailing business. The film is a wonderful probe into human pride, strength, fragility, passion and the delicate psyche of modern man.   

If you prefer feature films to documentaries, then check out our picks of films based on true events in the category below. Or watch both so you can compare. After all, what better way to spend those long winter evenings than with Donald Crowhurst and his fight against the elements and himself.   

Films based on real events  

Adrift  .

  • (USA/Hong Kong/Iceland, 2018, 96 min, dir: Baltasar Kormákur) 

A film based on the true story of Tami Ashcraft, who, along with her fiancé Richard Sharp, ferried a 44-foot sailboat from Tahiti to San Diego in 1983. They found themselves in the middle of one of the worst hurricanes in history, battling torrents of rain, waves the size of skyscrapers and winds of up to 130 knots. But the love of sailing is eternal, as Tammy's story proves. She reportedly obtained her hundred-ton captain’s license immediately after her desperate voyage and still loves the ocean. To this day, she wears a small gold sextant around her neck –⁠ a memento of the instrument that saved her life.   

The Perfect Storm

  • (USA, 2000, 129 min, dir.: Wolfgang Petersen) 

A must-see for meteorologists, adrenaline junkies and George Clooney fans. In October 1991, three weather fronts (including Hurricane Grace) met over the Atlantic, creating the so-called "Perfect Storm". And right in the middle of it all, was the fishing boat  Andrea Gail . How will her struggle with the elements unfold?   

  • (UK, 2017, 112 min, dir.: James Marsh) 

Have you seen Deep Water, the documentary about Donald Crowhurst's circumnavigation of the world? Now lure your partner in with Colin Firth and watch his story over again. The film doesn't just revolve around Colin, his struggles with the ocean, a malfunctioning boat and his own demons, but also around his family. His wife and son are rooting for Colin, but they must also deal with the consequences of his decisions…  

Turning Tide   

  • ( En Solitaire , Francie, 2013, 97 min, dir.: Christophe Offenstein) 

This 2013 French film was inspired by the most famous single handed race around the world, the Vendé Globe. It follows the fate of racer Yann Kermadec, who enters as a last-minute replacement for his girlfriend's injured brother. In the meantime, she takes care of his young daughter. Yann is on top from the start, but then problems begin to arise...   

  •   (USA, 1974, 105 min, dir.: Charles Jarrott)  

A film based on the true story of Robin Lee Graham. At the age of sixteen, he sets off on a round-the-world journey in his 24-foot sloop called  Dove  in search of meaning in life. During the journey, however, he meets Patti Ratteree, who he immediately falls in love with, but this only complicates his plans.   

White Squall

  • (USA, 1996, 129 min, dir.: Ridley Scott) 

White Squall is an exciting take on the true story of the dramatic voyage of the  Albatross  in 1961. Back then, a group of young men from well-to-do families set off on a year-long voyage through the Caribbean Sea under the command of a skilled and rugged sea dog to test their maturity, courage and resilience.    

  • (UK/Norway/Denmark/Germany/Sweden, 2012, 114 min, dir.: Espen Sandberg, Joachim Rønning)

The legendary voyage of Norwegian anthropologist, zoologist, archaeologist, writer and explorer Thor Heyerdahl and five other men across the Pacific Ocean, from the South American coast to Polynesia on a self-built raft, certainly deserved cinematic treatment, and the Norwegians have done it with honour.    

  • (UK/Australia, 2002, 2x105 min dir.: Charles Sturridge) 

Perhaps the most famous story of courage and perseverance of the British polar explorer and his crew has been made into a 2-part TV film. Shackelton's Trans-Antarctic Expedition attempted to cross the continent from the Weddell Sea, across the South Pole and into the Ross Sea. However, his ship, the  Endurance , became trapped in the ice at the start and the expedition turned into a fight for life.  

Mutiny on the Bounty 

  • (USA, 1935, 132 min, dir.: Frank Lloyd nebo USA, 1962, 178 min, dir.: Carol Reed, Lewis Milestone) 

Who hasn’t heard of the mutiny on the  Bounty  led by First Mate Fletcher Christian against Captain William Bligh? The ship set sail from England in 1787 for Tahiti to collect a cargo of breadfruit saplings. After their rough time at sea, the crew fell in love with Tahiti, enjoying an idyllic life in what they saw as a paradise. Not wanting to leave, they eventually, less than a month after departure, rose up and seized the ship, setting Bligh and those loyal to him out to sea in an open boat. The mutineers headed back to Tahiti, where some of them remained. The others, along with Fletcher and several Tahitian women, sailed to the island of Pitcairn. Descendants of the most famous mutineer in maritime history still live on the island today. Choose either the 1935 adaptation starring the legendary Clark Gable or the later 1962 version with the equally legendary Marlon Brando.  

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

  • (USA, 2003, 138 min, dir.:  Peter Weir) 

Napoleon is conquering Europe and the only ones standing in his way are the British and their naval fleet, including the  Surprise  led by Captain Jack Aubrey. The film focuses on the relationships between the various crew members and the desire to defeat the French.   

The Odyssey

  • (France, 2016, 122 min, dir.: Jérôme Salle) 

In 1948 Jacques-Yves Cousteau, his wife, and his two sons, live in paradise, in a beautiful house looking out over the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to his invention, an autonomous diving suit that allows him to breathe underwater, he has discovered a new world that he initiates his sons Philippe and Jean-Michel into. Cousteau’s desire for adventure and the conquest of the vast space beneath the water's surface disrupts the seemingly idyllic family life. He is willing to sacrifice everything for it, even his relationship with the sensitive Philippe. Years later, a love of the ocean unites the two men. But the father wants to conquer them, the son to protect them.  

Captain Phillips

  • (USA, 2013, 134 min, dir.: Paul Greengrass) 

Tom Hanks stars as the commanding officer of the American cargo ship  Maersk Alabama , which is hijacked by Somali pirates.   

  • (USA, 2003, 79 min, dir.: Chris Kentis) 

A newlywed couple go on a diving trip, but upon resurfacing they find they are all alone in the middle of the ocean, with the instructor and crew having accidentally left them behind. An unbelievable fact yet based on a true story. As the plot develops, sharks begin to encircle them…  

Open Water 2: Adrift

  • (Germany, 2006, 95 min, dir.: Hans Horn) 

A simple film from which you should take away one important thing –⁠ never jump into the water without lowering the ladder first. This may come as a surprise, but without it you might not be able to climb back onto most boats, as this group of friends supposedly found out while partying on a luxury yacht.   

YACHTING.COM TIP: The chances of getting into a dangerous situation on board a boat due to external influences, such as a tornado, are slim. Simple human error is the most common reason for accidents. Check out our article on the  most common causes of accidents at sea and how to avoid them .

Dramas and thrillers  

All is lost.

  •  (USA, 2013, 106 min, dir.: J.C. Chandor) 

An absolute must-see for sailors. During Robert Redford's legendary solo performance, uttering just a single word in the entire 106 minutes of action, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat as everything that can go wrong does…  

  • (USA, 1995, 135 min, dir.: Kevin Reynolds) 

A sailor's dream or a climatologist's nightmare? In this infamous 1995 sci-fi film, with the melting of the glaciers the earth finds itself entirely underwater, with a handful of individuals surviving on a variety of vessels. Their lives are made even more difficult by pirate raids led by Dennis Hopper. If you like water, you can enjoy it to the fullest here.     

YACHTING.COM TIP: Hopefully we'll never experience this apocalyptic nightmare and although rare, a fire on a boat is much more likely to happen, so check out our article on  how to prevent a fire and what to do if it happens .

Poseidon 

  • (USA, 2006, 98 min, dir.: Wolfgang Petersen)  

As the passengers are enjoying a New Year's Eve party on the luxury ocean liner  Poseidon , officers on the bridge see a gigantic wave bearing down on the ship. With it heading for its side, the sailors try in vain to steer the ship starboard to take the wave bow-first. The alarm is raised, but nothing can prevent disaster. The wave hits the side of the ship, lifts it and capsizes it. Despite the captain ordering everyone to wait in the ballroom for rescuers to arrive, a group led by professional card player Dylan Johns heads towards the bow, where he believes that they will have the best chance of escaping from the capsized liner. With him is likeable single mother Maggie James and her eight-year-old son Conor, former New York mayor Robert Ramsey in search of his daughter Jennifer and her boyfriend Chris, and a waiter Valentin. Later, they are joined by Larry, an obnoxious drunk, and a stowaway called Elena...  

  • (Australia/USA, 1989, 95 min, dir.: Phillip Noyce) 

Even the title of the film sounds like a nightmare for a sailor. When a married couple are joined by a crazed castaway on their leisurely cruise through the Pacific Ocean, there is no shortage of tension. We’ve already learnt not to pick up strange-looking hitchhikers, but now we’ll have to watch out for castaways as well.    

  • (USA, 1944, 96 min, dir.: Alfred Hitchcock) 

Ever wondered what it’s like being stuck on a lifeboat? Undoubtedly it would put quite a strain on the psyche. During World War II, several American and British survivors of a U-boat attack pull aboard a German soldier.  A psychological drama and intense thriller, all under the direction of the master of horror, Alfred Hitchcock.    

The Old Man and the Sea

  • (USA, 1958, 86 min, dir.: John Sturges, Fred Zinnemann)  

Ernest Hemingway's literary classic adapted to a film. Wouldn't this be the perfect film for a solo voyage?     

  • (TV film, UK/Australia/USA, 1998, 2x90 min, dir.: Franc Roddam)  

Another famous literary work adapted to film. A vengeful sailor is willing to risk the safety of his crew to catch a white whale that has taken his leg.   

Purple Noon

  • ( Plein soleil , France/Italy, 1960, 118 min, dir.: René Clément)  

You may be more familiar with the 1999 remake of this film starring Matt Damon as "The Talented Mr. Ripley." But we highly recommend this original version with the fantastic Alain Delon as Tom, set on the French Riviera on the sailing ship of Tom's wealthy benefactor Philippe. Learn how a "friend" reacts when you drag him around in a dinghy for fun on a sunny day, and where never to hide a corpse on a sailing boat.   

  • (USA, 1992, 126 min, dir.: Carroll Ballard) 

Baby from Dirty Dancing stars as a yachtswoman who wants to win the US club sailing championship with her boyfriend. Sailboats, romance, the ocean, fair-play and a custom-designed sail...   

  • ( Germany/Austria , 2018, 94 min, dir.: Wolfgang Fischer) 

A young female doctor sailing alone across the ocean encounters a boat full of refugees. A contemporary theme set in the expanse and unpredictability of the ocean.   

  • (TV series, Ireland/Canada, 2013–2020, minutes: 44–51 min, creators: Michael Hirst)  

This seemingly endless series (6 seasons) is inspired by the fate of the famous Viking conqueror Ragnar Lothbrok, an adventurer always looking to conquer new worlds. One of the main stars here is, of course, the Viking Drakkars, warships with a folding mast and a large transom sail.   

Family films and comedies    

Captain ron  .

  • (USA, 1992, 90 min, dir.: Thom Eberhardt) 

A must-see! This classic American family comedy, full of great lines, with the fantastic Kurt Russell as Captain Ron. Type “Captain Ron's docking manoeuvres” into a search engine and learn from the master. :-D    

  • (USA, 1987, 112 min, dir.: Garry Marshall) 

Only part of the story takes place on a boat, but if you're going to watch Captain Ron with your family, watch this masterpiece by Kurt Russell and his partner Goldie Hawn. Guaranteed entertainment.    

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

  • (USA, 2004, 114 min, dir.: Wes Anderson) 

If you like Wes Anderson films (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs), you won't be disappointed. If you've never seen anything by him, this film may surprise you. His fantastical, playful world doesn't always make sense, but accept his rules and you’ll be truly drawn in.   

Internationally renowned oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his crew set sail for their next adventure. In what may be their last expedition, they intend to track down and capture the mysterious jaguar shark. No one actually believes that such an animal exists, but Steve Zissou swears that this shark ate his long-time collaborator during the making of his last documentary. Along the way, they're joined by a young pilot (Owen Wilson) who may –⁠ or may not –⁠ be Steve's long-lost son, a beautiful journalist (Cate Blanchett) tasked with writing a story about Steve, and Zissou's estranged wife and co-producer Eleanor (Anjelica Huston). Little does anyone know that they're in for a lot of complications during the voyage, including pirates, kidnapping and bankruptcy.   

The Exchange Student  

  • ( Les grandes vacances , Francie/Itálie, 1967, 86 min, dir.: Jean Girault) 

A classic comedy starring Louis de Funès as a choleric high school principal whose son is supposed to spend time on an exchange visit with a British aristocrat instead of sailing. But who would prefer England to a sailboat...    

The Little Bather

  • ( Le Petit Baigneur , France/Italy, 1967, 96 min, dir.: Robert Dhéry)  

Another comedy starring Louis de Funès. After a young designer wins a sailboat race with a groundbreaking boat design, the choleric business owner, played by Funès, fires him and then tries to win the designer back before his competitors get a hold of him.    

Two Years Vacation

  • ( Deux ans de vacances , TV series, France/Romania/West Germany/Switzerland, 1974, dir.: Sergiu Nicolaescu, Gilles Grangier)  

A classic Verne film that every Czech person knows! And the opening song by Karel Cernoch is perhaps even more famous than the whole series. In the Czechoslovakia of the time, as children we didn't have much choice what we watched, so few people didn’t watch it. And perhaps it was even the inspiration for many to one day be at the helm? Maybe it's time for us to revisit our childhood again and go on a treasure hunt.    

Pirates of the Caribbean  

  • (USA, episodes:   Curse of the Black Pearl   /2003/,  Dead Man's Chest  /2006/,  At the End of the World   /2007/, dir.: Gore Verbinski,   On the Waves Strange  /2011/, dir.: Rob Marshall , Salazar's Revenge  /2017/, dir.: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg)  

Your kids might refuse to watch movies from your childhood with you "because they're boring", but you're guaranteed a hit with Pirates of the Caribbean. Whatever you think of Hollywood blockbusters, you’ll become engrossed eventually. And Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow is true brilliance. Reportedly, he got his inspiration from Pepé Le Pew (Looney Tunes) and the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards who ended up playing Jack’s father in the films. Did you know Richards was reportedly so drunk during filming that the director had to prop him up in front of the camera? Some people are just natural pirates.  

Captain Jack Sparrow probably didn't knock back rum for health reasons. However, rum, and later grog, was given to the crew as a prevention of seasickness. What other alcoholic specialties and traditions belong to seafaring?
  • (USA, 2018, 143 min, dir.: James Wan)  

There’s been an explosion of comic book superhero movies in recent years. This DC Comics classic starring Jason Momoa might just get your older kids excited for a holiday at sea, and at least your partner might enjoy the sight of a ripped fish man.  

Films for kids

  • (animated, USA, 2016, 107 min, dir.: Ron Clements, John Musker) 

An adventurous teenager Vaiana, daughter of Chief Tui, sets sail on the forbidden seas on a daring mission to find the demigod Maui. With his help she can defeat the volcanic demon, return the stone heart to the mother of the islands and save the people from impending doom. This Polynesian legend, adapted by Walt Disney, is sure to entertain your kids and maybe even tempt them to sail with you.    

  • (USA / Taiwan/UK/Canada, 2012, 122 min, dir.: Ang Lee)  

After deciding to sell their zoo, an Indian family travels on a ship to Canada with their few remaining animals. When a terrible storm sinks the ship, the only human survivor is the teenage son Pi who ends up on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan and a hungry hyena. After killing the zebra and orangutan, the hyena is eaten by a tiger that had been hiding on board. So it's just the two of them on the lifeboat –⁠ a Bengal tiger and a boy, and the vast ocean all around.

   

Around the World with Willy Fog 

  • (animated series, Spain/Japan 1995, directed by Claudio Biernat Boyd)  

If you're going on a voyage with young children and wondering what to download for those long crossings, Willy Fog is definitely the right choice. This animated series, inspired by the Verne classic (Around the World in Eighty Days), has won the hearts of children all over the world. Following a wager, English gentleman Willy Fog embarks on a journey around the world, using a variety of means of transport, including different ships. And if you want to dive in, pack the free sequel, Willy Fog 2 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.   

Popeye the Sailor Man

  • (series, since 1933, illustration by EC Segar)  

Probably the most famous sailor of all, who protects his love Olive Oyl from the muscular bully, Bluto. Good thing he always has a can of spinach tucked away.  

Every other traveller, sailor or racer has their own YouTube channel and we are no exception.

It's almost impossible to choose something from the inexhaustible amount of more or less high-quality material, so we'd welcome your tips. In the end, perhaps just the famous Mast walk of British solo racer Alex Thomson , which you should definitely not try at home.

FAQ The best sailing films

Adrift 

En Solitaire 

Styx  

All is lost 

Captain Phillips 

Captain Ron 

Overboard 

Some of our boats have a TV on board. Our range of boats with a TV can be found here:  https://www.yachting.com/cs-cz/yacht?q=comfort=hasTv  

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

The Ultimate List of the 17 Best Sailing Movies

Nothing can inspire dreamers quicker than an evening of streaming old sailor movies. Sailing adventure movies can be terrifying survival stories or inspirational documentaries about sailors pushing their limits. Unfortunately, Hollywood blockbusters are rarely sailing-related, but there are a few examples out there that will get the seawater in your veins pumping.

Table of Contents

Waterworld (1995), white squall (1996), wind (1992) – the story of the world’s biggest sailing prize, captain ron (1992), pirates of the caribbean (2003-2017), black sails (2014-2017) – a series with great sailing scenes, master and commander – far side of the world (2003), kon tiki (2012), the bounty (1984), all is lost (2013), adrift (2018), the mercy (2018), maiden (2018), chasing bubbles (2016), sea gypsies: the far side of the world (2017), red dot on the ocean (2014), maidentrip (2013), which are your favorite top sailing movies.

best sailing movies

Feature Films and Big Productions – Best Sailing Films of All Time

In no particular order, here are my top picks for the best sailboat movies. Good sailing movies can be divided into two categories. Most are about survival at sea, less a sailing movie and more of a drama set on a sailboat. Others are feature films, sailor movies complete with sailing action and exploration. Let’s start with those.

sailing movies

It’s the year 2500, and the ice caps have melted, and sea level rise has claimed the world. The Mariner (Kevin Costner) lives as a wandering nomad on the oceans in his custom-built trimaran. Chased by thugs on jet skis, he leads a search for a mystical place called the “Dryland.”

Ok, it’s ridiculous, and it was a complete flop at the box office when it was released. But Costner’s trimaran is pretty cool. And what cruising sailor doesn’t envy him, with his sad little tomato plant and total freedom?

Based on a true story, White Squall is the story of the brigantine Albatross and her crew of college-aged men. Directed by Ridley Scott and staring Jeff Bridges as the salty Skipper, the movie is captivating and authentic.

The Albatross was a teaching vessel, and Skipper was there to teach the men discipline and how to survive as a team. Drama unfolds as the crew gets to know one another, and even more drama ensues when the brigantine encounters a freakish white squall offshore.

Even cruising sailors will love this inspirational story of an underdog attempt to take back the America’s Cup. For the uninitiated, the America’s Cup is the most prestigious trophy in sailing and the oldest trophy in competitive sports.

The movie features incidents taken from real competitions and fictionalized into the plot. Peter Gilmour, who sailed in the 1987 America’s Cup, was the “Sailing Master” for the film. Many of the yachts used in filming were actual boats from America’s Cup races. Best brush up on those points of sail and sailing terms before watching–this movie is as authentic as it gets!

Overall, the movie has the over-the-top romanticism of movies of the era, like Top Gun but set on the water. But just like Top Gun , this movie is as entertaining today as it was back then.

Absolutely no list of sailing movies is complete without including Captain Ron . And love it or hate it, it deserves to be in top place. Sure, it’s goofy, silly, and a bit dated. But this story of a straight-laced midwestern family throwing in the towel to live on a sailboat in the Caribbean resonates with dreamers and sailors like no other film does.

What makes the movie so special is Kurt Douglas’s portrayal of the singular Captain Ron Rico. Who else could’ve given us these quotes, which will live on, quoted repeatedly on sailboats everywhere?

“If anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen out there!” “A diesel loves her oil like a sailor loves his rum.” “If we get lost, we’ll just pull in somewhere and ask directions!” “Yeah, incentives are important. I learned that in rehab.” Captain Ron Rico

And then there’s the boat. The Formosa 51 ketch Wanderer was the perfect boat for this movie. Its dilapidated condition and lack of seaworthiness are sure to make every boat owner laugh out loud. But, like any good boat, with a little elbow grease, she got them through it.

There are tons of rumors and fables surrounding this film in sailing circles. But consider this. It accurately details two real types of characters. The Harvey family, led by the indomitable Martin Short, is like many starry-eyed Americans who fled to the Caribbean for a life afloat. And Captain Ron? He’s based on a real person . The real one even had a peg leg, but the movie producers thought that would be too over the top!

For a movie series based on a hokey 1960’s Disney Land ride, the Pirates of the Caribbean films have made a name for themselves. It’s the 15th highest-grossing film series of all time, and two movies have grossed more than $1 billion. There have been five films to date, but rumors are a sixth may be in the works.

So, Pirates is a fun series of movies, but how’s the sailing connection? Well, the Black Pearl is a sailing ship, sort of. It’s more of a ghost ship. And it’s all set at sea or on pirate-plagued islands in the Caribbean, so that’s neat. Overall, I wouldn’t rate these films as sailing ship movies, but they certainly are fun to watch.

It’s not a movie per se, but who doesn’t like a binge-worthy series? Combine Game of Thrones with a realistic pirate story, and you get the idea. It’s dirty, gritty, and historically accurate. Black Sails aired on Starz Network for four seasons and can be streamed on Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others.

The series is a prequel to Treasure Island and provides a backstory for pirates Long John Silver and Captain Flint. Unfortunately, Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t go into much detail about the notorious Flint, so the show used some artistic license to combine these fictional characters with the real pirates of the Caribbean.

More specifically, the stories are set in Nassau during its period as the “Pirate Republic” before England sent Woods Rogers to govern the island in 1718 and drive the pirates out. Yes, this is all there, and many real-life pirates are depicted in the show. The story tells the tales of Anne Bonny, Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Israel Hands, and even Blackbeard. What a show!

And, of course, the ships and the action packed battle scenes are amazing to watch.

This movie is based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian about Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), commander of the British man-of-war HMS Surprise during the Napoleonic Wars. The story follows the chase and battle with the French privateer Acheron , who they follow around Cape Horn to the Galapagos Islands, where drama ensues.

The characters in the movie and novels are fictionalized, as are the precise events. But the author drew from real events that occurred during the Napoleonic Wars. The film draws from three different novels in O’Brian’s series.

The film is exceedingly accurate, with all shooting taking place on real ships. Ten days of filming were done at sea, while the rest was shot in the same 20-million-gallon seawater tank in Baja California where Titanic was shot.

The Kon-Tiki Expedition was a 1947 raft journey to prove people from South America could have populated the Polynesian Islands. At the time, most theories believed that the Polynesian people settled from west to east, not east to west. The expedition was led by Norwegian writer Thor Heyerdahl, who wrote the book about it. There was also an Academy Award-winning documentary made by the same name in 1950.

The 2012 version is dramatized but follows the events closely. Heyerdahl’s opponents, at the time, countered that no expedition would likely be successful in reaching Polynesia from Chile. To prove them wrong, he builds a balsawood raft with the same materials and techniques that people would have 1,500 years prior. The 4,300 nautical miles journey doesn’t go smoothly, as you might imagine. But then, I don’t want to give away the movie!

You can’t talk about sea stories without including a good mutiny. And while there are plenty of good tails, few stand the test of time better than the character-driven plot of William Bligh and Fletcher Christian of the HMS Bounty . The story was portrayed in the 1962 MGM film Mutiny on the Bounty and again in 1984 in The Bounty starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. Both films used extremely accurate replica ships.

Sailing Movie Stories of Survival at Sea

It can’t be denied that many good sea stories revolve around the conflict of man against the elements. The sea is the ultimate element, so many movies about sailing turn toward a darker survival story.

survival stories sailing movies

Most sailors dislike this movie immensely. It has so many flaws that the story takes on more water than the boat in the movie does. But putting those facts aside, it’s a gripping tale of one man (Robert Redford), alone on a sinking cruising boat in the middle of the ocean, struggling to survive.

In 1983, a young couple was asked to ferry a yacht from the South Sea islands, through the sailing routes across the Pacific , to the US. But things go poorly when they run head-first into Hurricane Raymond, a late-season Category 4 storm.

The boat is knocked down and dismasted, and the man is washed overboard. The movie is based on the 2002 book Red Sky in Mourning by Tami Oldham Ashcraft, the sole survivor. In other words, it’s a true story.

Another true story follows amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth), a dreamer who sets out to enter the 1968 Golden Globe single-hand around-the-world race. The only problem? He doesn’t own a boat or know how to sail. So he gets some sponsors, builds a trimaran, and leaves his home and family behind. Then, as you might suspect, drama ensues.

Documentary Sailing Movies

Sailing documentary films aren’t for everyone and seldom make for a light-hearted date night. But there are some great sailing movies in this genre for those looking for inspiring true stories without all the big-movie hubbub.

documentary sailing films

This movie tells the tale of the all-woman crew in the 1989-1990 Whitbread Round the World Race. It features interviews with Captain Tracy Edwards, who formed the team.

This YouTube documentary is about the true story of the (self-described) worst sailor to ever sail around the world. At 25, Alex Rust left his life as a day trader in Chicago to sail the world. With a sailboat he buys on Craigslist, Rust finds adventure during his four-year journey.

Sea Gypsies is the story of the sailing ketch Infinity , a 120-foot hand-built vessel on a never-ending nomadic voyage. The crew of 16 “wandering miscreants” set out from New Zealand in 2014 during one of the worst winters on record. They stopped in Antarctica on the way to Patagonia, 8,000 miles away. The film has won numerous awards at global film festivals.

You can rent Sea Gypsies: The Far Side of the World on Venmo or Amazon Prime in the US.

Another story about a young man risking it all to find freedom on the ocean, Red Dot on the Ocean tells the story of Matt Rutherford. At age 17 and in jail, Rutherford became inspired and turned his life around. He bought a pocket cruiser sailboat on the internet and cruised from the US to Europe, West Africa, and back to the Caribbean.

He was then inspired by Artic explorers like Shackleton and set out to transit the Northwest Passage by boat. That led to his desire to become the first sailor to circumnavigate the American continents, a 27,000-mile journey.

You can purchase Red Dot on the Ocean on Venmo, Amazon Prime, or Apple TV. You can also hear some great interviews with Rutherford on the On the Wind podcast from 59 North Sailing .

Maidentrip is a movie about sailing around the world, as done by Laura Dekker. In 2009, Dekker decided she would become the youngest person to circumnavigate single-handedly. At one point, the Dutch courts stepped in and prohibited her from leaving. But with legal hurdles cleared, she departed in 2010 for the 518-day voyage.

Dekker sailed the 40-foot ketch Guppy on her trip. She was inspired by Tania Aebi, author of Maiden Voyage and person who previously held the record as the first American woman and youngest person to circumnavigate solo.

Whether you’re in the mood for hardcore action binging Black Sails or a light-hearted escape to the Caribbean with Captain Ron , there’s a little something for everyone. From docs to laughs, there’s a sailing movie to make everyone in your crew happy.

But the best is Captain Ron , seriously.

film yacht insel

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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  • Best Boat and Nautical Themed Movies

01 Boat Nautical Movies

From the classic film “Moby Dick” to the modern movie franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean,” boat movies have long been a staple of American culture. The stories of brave sea captains, fierce storms and mutinous first mates captivate and entertain us. We dream about joining the crew aboard the  Black Pearl  or searching for the great white whale alongside Captain Ahab. Thrilling movies about boats and sailing remind us of our love of the water and inspire us to head out on our own boating adventures.

Watching sailing movies is the perfect activity for a rainy day or when the sun sets on a long day of sailing. With your boat safely anchored for the evening, you can sit back and enjoy a swashbuckling tale with your friends and family. The next time bad weather sends you below deck, pop in one of these best nautical movies to keep you entertained until the storm passes.

1. Master and Commander

Set in the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” tells the story of British Captain Jack Aubrey and his crew as they pursue a French ship around the coast of South America. Aubrey is ordered to apprehend the French privateer ship Acheron in his vessel named  Surprise . Despite Aubrey’s determination and steadfast will, Acheron continually avoids capture and ambushes  Surprise  several times as they travel to the Galapagos Islands.

“Master and Commander” is an adaptation of the first two novels in the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. Released in 2003, the film stars Russell Crowe as Captain Aubrey and Paul Bettany as the ship’s surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin, who is Aubrey’s closest companion. The film was received well by critics and  earned several significant awards . At the 76th Academy Awards, “Master and Commander” was nominated for 10 Oscars and won in two categories. A mix of thrilling maritime battles and gripping dialogue, “Master and Commander” will keep you on the edge of your seat.

2. The Perfect Storm

2 The Perfect Storm

Based on the  real-life Perfect Storm of 1991 , this disaster drama movie follows the crew of the  Andrea Gail  as they attempt to sail through a powerful storm building in the North Atlantic. After an unsuccessful fishing trip, Captain Billy Tyne takes his crew out for one final trip late in the season. They set sail from Gloucester, Mass., and find favorable fishing waters in the Flemish Cap.

With a bountiful catch on board, the ship’s ice machine suddenly breaks, and the crew must hasten back to shore before their catch spoils. Unfortunately, the  Andrea Gail  now faces a much more serious problem — a tropical storm brewing between the ship and the shore. Underestimating the strength of the storm, the crew decides to sail on towards Gloucester and is met with fierce winds and pounding waves that eventually take the boat under.

The Perfect Storm depicts the  Andrea Gail’s  fateful last journey and how the crew fought without avail to survive the Perfect Storm. Starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, “The Perfect Storm” will make you grateful to be watching from the comfort of your cabin on a calm night.

3. Hunt for Red October

Set in the Cold War era, “Hunt for Red October” traces a rogue Soviet submarine captain who violates orders and sets course for the U.S. in one of the Soviet Navy’s newest and most advanced submarines. The submarine, named  Red October , is a nuclear missile submarine equipped with a newly developed stealth drive that renders the vessel undetectable by passive sonar.

Captain Marko Ramius is given command of  Red October  and sent out with another Soviet attack submarine to conduct exercises. However, once at sea, Ramius murders the captain of his companion submarine and heads towards the U.S. The plot thickens as American forces must determine if Ramius is trying to defect or instigate a war before things get ugly.

Starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, “Hunt for Red October” is a thrilling spy movie full of action and intrigue. The 1990 film is an adaptation of the 1984 bestselling novel of the same name by Tom Clancy.

4. Das Boot

Another exhilarating film about war and submarines, “Das Boot” is a 1981 German film set during World War II. “Das Boot” follows the crew of  U-96 , a German U-boat on a patrol during the Battle of the Atlantic. The film captures the reality of life on a U-boat — depicting days of boredom, exciting battles and the relationships built among the men on the submarine. Offering a new perspective of WWII, “Das Boot” shows the crew of  U-96  as ordinary men seeking to serve their country.

“Das Boot” was originally produced in German, with an English dubbed version available in the U.S. The film received positive reviews and received  several awards and nominations , both in the U.S. and abroad. “Das Boot” is among the best nautical movies for a cozy night spent below deck.

5. Captain Ron

This 1992 American comedy begins when a Chicago family inherits a yacht that was once owned by Clark Gable. The father, Martin Harvey, played by Martin Short, decides to take his whole family to the fictional Caribbean island of St. Pomme de Terre to retrieve the boat and sail it back to Miami. When they arrive, they realize that the boat is in terrible condition. Instead of sending a professional captain to escort the Harvey family, the yacht broker instead hires a local sailor named Captain Ron Rico.

Captain Ron, played by Kurt Russell, is a one-eyed Navy veteran with a colorful personality and equally colorful past. As they cross the Caribbean together, the Harveys experience various mishaps caused by Captain Ron and encounter a little more adventure than they bargained for. This hilarious ship movie will have the whole family laughing — and feeling grateful that you have a steady captain at the helm.

No list of the best nautical movies would be complete without the famous Steven Spielberg film “Jaws.” Based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, “Jaws” was released in the summer of 1975 and quickly became a blockbuster hit. Since then, the “Jaws” franchise has expanded to include three sequels that continue to scare beachgoers out of the ocean the minute they see that ominous fin.

In this classic thriller, a great white shark begins terrorizing the fictional summer resort town of Amity Island. Rather than closing the beaches and ruining the local tourist economy, the town council decides to hunt and kill the vicious shark instead. To complete this mission, Amity Island police chief Martin Brody recruits a local shark hunter named Quint and a marine biologist named Matt Hooper.

The three men set sail in Quint’s boat  Orca  to track down the shark. After a grueling battle at sea, the shark kills Quint, and the  Orca  begins to sink. Hooper and Brody finally manage to kill the shark by wedging a pressurized scuba tank into its mouth and shooting the tank with a rifle. The victorious men are seen swimming back to shore just before the final credits roll.

7. Moby Dick

3 Moby Dick

Another classic seafaring movie, “Moby Dick” tells the tale of Captain Ahab and his hunt for the white whale Moby Dick. Based on the 1851 novel by Herman Melville, “Moby Dick” captures the epic journey of a man dead-set on revenge. After a massive white whale almost kills Ahab and bites off most of his left leg, Ahab gathers a crew and sets sail to kill the whale.

Driven by his obsession to defeat Moby Dick, Ahab cannot turn back even when the chance of success seems dangerously slim. The hunt for revenge eventually becomes fatal for Ahab and nearly all of his crew. The lone survivor is Ishmael, who serves as the story’s narrator.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean

If you share your love of boating with your kids, this film is a perfect sailing movie to watch during your next family movie night. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise traces the adventures of the pirate Captain Jack Sparrow and his infamous ship the  Black Pearl . In the original film, released in 2003, Sparrow teams up with a blacksmith named Will Turner and an ill-fated adventure ensues. Turner aims to rescue a woman he loves who was captured by Sparrow’s mutinous former first mate Barbossa, while Sparrow seeks revenge against Barbossa.

When boating with children, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies are perfect to carry onboard in case the weather turns sour. With five films in the series so far, you can stay entertained no matter how long the storm endures. Your family will stay in the nautical mood while enjoying rip-roaring adventures, daring sea battles and a hefty dose of humor.

9. The African Queen

Set during World War I in Africa, “The African Queen” tells the story of riverboat captain Charlie Allnut, who is persuaded by a missionary named Rose Sayer to destroy an enemy gunboat. After the war breaks out between Britain and Germany, German soldiers burn down the village where Rose is living and kill her brother. Charlie, who delivers their supplies in the eponymous riverboat, offers to transport Rose out of the region safely. Rose instead convinces Charlie to seek revenge by attacking the gunboat  Königin Luise  with improvised torpedos.

Starring Katharine Hepburn as Rose and Humphrey Bogart as Charlie, the 1951 film was well-received and remains a classic boat movie. In 1994, “The African Queen” was added to  the National Film Registry  of the U.S. Library of Congress due to its cultural and historical significance.

10. Titanic

4 Titanic

One of the most well-known movies about boats, “Titanic” recounts the true story of the  R.M.S. Titanic  that sank during its maiden voyage in 1912. The  Titanic  set sail from England on April 10th and sank just five days later when it struck an iceberg off the coast of Canada. More than 1,500 lives were lost when the  Titanic  sank, and the sunken vessel still remains at the bottom of the ocean.

The film adaptation of the famous shipwreck spins a fictional tale of romance, betrayal and disaster. A wealthy young woman named Rose Bukater meets a poor artist named Jack Dawson while on a cruise with her equally wealthy fiance Cal Hockley. Rose and Jack meet when Rose is contemplating suicide to escape her unhappy engagement. The two begin to spend time together and soon fall in love. However, fate is not on their side, and Cal discovers the affair just before the  Titanic  starts to sink.

11. Dead Calm

This 1989 psychological thriller is not for the faint-hearted. Set on two boats in the middle of the Pacific, “Dead Calm” tells the chilling tale of an innocent couple caught in a deadly situation with a not-so-innocent man.

After the death of their son, Rae and John Ingram take a vacation on their yacht to help process their grief. While cruising across the Pacific, they discover a damaged boat that appears to be sinking. A man named Hughie Warriner rows over to the Ingrams’ yacht for help, claiming that his crew had died from food poisoning. However, when John investigates the ship, he discovers bloody carnage that tells a different story.

John rushes back to warn Rae, but Hughie is already piloting their yacht away with Rae on board. With his wife now in the hands of a killer, John must attempt to stay afloat to rescue her while Rae fights to stay alive.

12. All Is Lost

An epic story of survival, “All Is Lost” tells the tale of a man lost at sea with his boat taking on water. The man, played by Robert Redford, takes every measure to repair his damaged vessel and broken marine radio to regain communications. Instead, he is greeted by a tropical storm that tears apart his vessel. Left on a small inflatable life raft, the man struggles to survive as his minimal supplies dwindle and there is no sign of rescue.

This 2013 sailing movie has only one cast member and almost no dialogue. The film relies on carefully crafted music and sound effects along with striking visuals to capture the terror and despair of being lost at sea. “All Is Lost”  won a Golden Globe  for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture in 2014 and was nominated for an Oscar for sound editing the same year.

13. Jungle Cruise

02 Jungle Cruise Movie

Strap in for an adventure down the Amazon with Disney’s “Jungle Cruise,” starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. Watch the characters on their journey in a boat down the river and all of the situations they face on their journey for an ancient tree. The “Jungle Cruise” movie is based on the well-known Disney Parks ride and came out in 2021.

The 2016 Disney animated movie “Moana” is a fan favorite and a wonderful maritime movie to watch on your boat. The story follows Moana and the people on her island. When the fishermen aren’t catching any fish, and the crops fail, Moana sets off on a journey sailing through the ocean to find the heart of Te Fiti, a goddess from Polynesian mythology. You can watch Moana and her new friends sail on their adventure while relaxing on your boat.

The 2018 survival drama “Adrift” is a boating story that will keep your attention throughout the entire film. Starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin, this movie shows the journey between their two characters meeting, falling in love and setting sail on the journey of a lifetime. Their journey takes a sharp turn when they sail directly into one of the worst hurricanes ever recorded.

16. Charlie St. Cloud

The 2010 movie “Charlie St. Cloud” starring Zac Efron is based on the Ben Sherwood novel “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.” The movie follows the story of a boy named Charlie St. Cloud as he loses his brother and continues to visit him every day after his passing. The sailing, setting and boats throughout the story make this one of the best nautical films.

17. Life of Pi

03 Life Of Pi

Another seafaring film that is great for your next movie night on the boat is the 2012 movie “Life of Pi,” which is based on the Canadian novel by Yann Martel. Pi Patel and his family make their way from India to Canada with some of their zoo animals on a cargo ship. When they encounter a bad storm, there are only two survivors —  Pi Patel and a Bengal tiger.

18. Overboard

If you want to enjoy a funny romantic comedy on your boat movie night, watch the 2018 remake of “Overboard” with Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez. The story follows single mom Kate Sullivan working on a yacht for Leonardo “Leo” Montenegro. After an accident causes Leo to have amnesia, Kate pretends to be his wife and teaches him how to work on the yacht.

Live Your Ship Movie Fantasy on Your Formula Boat

5 Live Your Ship Movie Fantasy On Your Formula Boat

Whether you want to race across the ocean like the crew of  Surprise  or enjoy a romantic evening on your yacht like Rose and Jack, your boat movie fantasy can come true with a Formula boat. Our line of luxury powerboats includes popular day boats like the  fast and powerful Sun Sport , as well as spacious yachts and cruisers for overnight expeditions, so you can find the perfect boat for you at Formula Boats. When you  build the boat of your dreams  with Formula Boats, you can even customize nearly every feature to suit your boating style.

Formula Boats strives to build the very best boats on the water — right down to the durable deck flooring and stylish cabin curtains. With advanced engineering and aesthetically pleasing designs, Formula boats provide a thrilling, entertaining and relaxing recreational boating experience. When you choose Formula Boats, you will enjoy a comfortable and roomy seating area that is perfect for watching your favorite boat movies with your whole family. Some of our powerboats are even available with an onboard television and satellite TV system for an even better viewing experience.

If you are ready to hit the water in a powerboat that is worthy of the silver screen,  contact Formula Boats today .

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Top 200 largest yachts in the world Superyacht Christina O

The most spectacular yachts in film and TV

The glitz and glamour of superyachts makes them ideal stars for everything from box-office blockbusters to the latest Netflix drama...

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Yacht: aquarius.

The 45 metre Mengi Yay motor yacht Aquarius makes an appearance in the opening of the trailer for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery , the follow-up to the Acadamy Award-winning murder mystery Knives Out starring Daniel Craig. Delivered in 2016, the yacht can sleep up to 10 guests and eight crew across her three decks. Aquarius has a top speed of 15 knots that will no doubt be put to the test in Rian Johnson's sequel, which is set to be released on Netflix in December.

Triangle of Sadness

Yacht: christina o.

Dark comedy Triangle of Sadness follows a fashion model celebrity couple who are invited on board a superyacht cruise for the ultra-rich, but the vessel ends up sinking, leaving its guests and crew stranded on an island. The 99.15 metre classic superyacht Christina O is the star of the film, which suitably premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Christina O was famously owned by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Socrates Onassis who transformed her from an anti-submarine frigate to a luxury superyacht that has welcomed the likes of Winston Churchill, JF Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra on board. Actor Woody Harrelson joins its star-studded guest list as he plays the role of the captain in the film.

Inventing Anna

Yacht: leight star.

The 42.67 metre motor yacht Leight Star was featured in the Netflix docudrama Inventing Anna, based on the true story of fraudster socialite Anna Delvey. The yacht was renamed Caprilla for the episode and sees protagonist Anna Sorokin stepping out of a Chris Craft tender and onto the swim platform to join her friends in Ibiza (before outstaying her welcome). Leight Star was built in 1984 by the American shipyard Sun State. Her top deck, which is used mostly for sun lounging, can double as a helipad for guests looking to arrive in style.

No Time to Die

Yacht: spirit 46.

A Spirit 46 sailing yacht takes a starring role in the James Bond film  No Time to Die . The 14 metre sailing yacht features in the film, which catches up with Bond following his departure from active service. This is not the first time Spirit Yachts has collaborated with the Bond franchise. In 2006, the 16.4-metre sailing yacht  Spirit  featured heavily in Daniel Craig's first Bond film  Casino Royale  when it became the first sailing yacht to travel up Venice's Grand Canal in 300 years.

Yacht: Planet Nine

The 73 metre explorer yacht  Planet Nine  takes centre stage in Christopher Nolan’s time travelling blockbuster  Tenet . Spanning seven countries,  Tenet  follows protagonist David Washington as he fights to ensure the survival of the whole world. Delivered in 2018, the ice-classed explorer  Planet Nine  features a large helicopter hangar and pair of superyacht elevators connecting all five decks. Elsewhere, the yacht boasts a panoramic observatory lounge, a boot room for heli-skiing activities and a cinema on the upper deck.

6 Underground

Yacht: kismet.

The 95.2 metre  Lürssen  superyacht  Kismet  plays a pivotal role in Michael Bay’s newly released Netflix debut  6 Underground . Starring Ryan Reynolds,  6 Underground  sees a team of international operatives tasked with taking down a notorious dictator. The  Espen Øino -designed superyacht is the setting for the climactic final scenes of the film which sees  Kismet , the final stronghold of the dictator, dramatically blown up.

Yacht: Solandge

Lurssen’s  85.1 metre superyacht  Solandge   took a starring role in the second series of Sky Atlantic’s  Succession . The climactic final episode, in which Brian Cox’s Logan Roy makes a life-changing decision, is based entirely on the yacht and showcases its first-class facilities. Scenes of the episode journeyed from  Solandge’s  massive indoor and outdoor gym on the main deck to the outdoor cinema and nightclub. Elsewhere,  Solandge  features a full dive centre, extensive spa with a sauna, steam room, massage room and beauty salon, as well as a generous swimming pool on the sun deck.

Murder Mystery

Yacht: sarastar.

The 60 metre  Mondomarine superyacht  Sarastar  is the setting for Netflix film  Murder Mystery . The action follows a stagnant married couple played by Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston who join a billionaire on board his family yacht. They are soon caught up in an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery on board and it doesn’t take long for the couple to become prime suspects.

Yacht: Turquoise

The 55.4 metre superyacht  Turquoise  stars in the Sky Atlantic drama  Riviera . Set in the French Riviera, the series follows American art curator Georgina Clios, whose life is upended after her billionaire husband Constantine dies in a yacht accident. Turquoise was built by Turkish yard  Turquoise Yachts  in 2011 with an all-British design team behind her build: her exterior is the work of Ed Dubois  with London studio  H2 Yacht Design  styling her lavish interiors, which can accommodate up to 12 guests and 13 crew. 

Yacht: Haida 1929

Classic motor yacht Haida 1929 plays a starring role in Meryl Streep’s exuberant rendition of Money, Money, Money in the hit musical film Mamma Mia!. Built in 1929 , she is one of the oldest yachts still sailing today and offers guests a taste of yachting in the 1930s. She has had 12 owners in her lifetime and saw service in the Second World War and had long been admired by owner No 12 who extensively refitted this piece of maritime history over 16 months. In Mamma Mia! , Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are seen riding jet skis and drinking champagne in a dream world on board the superyacht.

The Wolf on Wall Street

M3  (previously Lady M ) played a crucial role in 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street . When Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) hits the big time, he splashes out on the luxury yacht and names it Naomi after his second wife (as played by Margot Robbie). However, the film takes a disastrous turn when the superyacht sinks during a stormy passage between Porto Cervo and Capri — a scene that closely mirrors Belfort’s real-life yachting disaster in 1997. Directed by Martin Scorcese, The Wolf of Wall Street was one of the most successful movies of 2013, grossing more than $116 million at the box office.

Yacht: Aria I

Daniel Craig's recent turns as 007 brought a new generation of beautiful sailing yachts onto the big screen, the most notable of which being Aria I . This 56 metre steel schooner from Pruva Yachting  starred in the 2012 film Skyfall as Chimera , the yacht which carried James Bond to villain Raoul Silva's island hideaway. Preparing the yacht for filming was an arduous process, including re-upholstering inside and out.

American Assasian

Yacht: itama 62.

Michael Keaton and Dylan O’Brien were the big names in the 2017 counter-terrorism thriller American Assassin , based on Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name, but the real star was surely the Itama 62. This 19 metre speedboat stole the show in a spectacular chase scene, which involved O’Brien jumping onto the moving yacht. Built in Italy as part of the Ferretti Group’s extensive range, the Itama 62 has a top speed of 40 knots thanks to twin MAN V12 engines and can accommodate up to six guests in three cabins.

Yacht: Usher

When US comedy series Entourage was given the Hollywood treatment in 2015 it was only fitting that the party-loving boys should be seen living the high life on a glamorous yacht. Delta Marine ’s 2007 launch Usher (formerly Mr Terrible ) took on a starring role by hosting a yacht party in the film’s opening scene, before lead character Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) embarks on a disastrous career directing movies.

Bonus entry: Argylle

Tender: sportjet 520.

This spy thriller is directed by Michael Vaughn, the mind behind the much-beloved action-comedy Kingsman . The plot follows Bryce Dallas Howard as author Elly Conway, as she learns that the plots of her best-selling espionage novels are starting to mirror the actions of a real-life spy organisation. The Williams SportJet 520 tender will no doubt feature in several high-octane chase scenes when the film premieres on 24 January 2024. Other big names include Henry Cavill (as the titular spy Argylle), Bryan Cranston and Dua Lipa.

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Top 30 Favourite Ship/Boat Movies

Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, Leslie Nielsen, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, Carol Lynley, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur O'Connell, and Eric Shea in The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

1. The Poseidon Adventure

A Night to Remember (1958)

2. A Night to Remember

Ghost Ship (2002)

3. Ghost Ship

Tom Hanks in Greyhound (2020)

4. Greyhound

Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, and Frances Fisher in Titanic (1997)

6. In the Heart of the Sea

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

7. Mutiny on the Bounty

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

8. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo in Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)

9. Captain Horatio Hornblower

Clark Gable and Mamo Clark in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

10. Mutiny on the Bounty

Poseidon (2006)

11. Poseidon

Sink the Bismarck! (1960)

12. Sink the Bismarck!

Noël Coward in In Which We Serve (1942)

13. In Which We Serve

Faysal Ahmed and Barkhad Abdirahman in Captain Phillips (2013)

14. Captain Phillips

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy, and Talulah Riley in The Boat That Rocked (2009)

15. The Boat That Rocked

Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, and Tevaite Vernette in The Bounty (1984)

16. The Bounty

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

17. Jason and the Argonauts

Gregory Peck in Moby Dick (1956)

18. Moby Dick

Kon-Tiki (2012)

19. Kon-Tiki

Robert Redford in All Is Lost (2013)

20. All Is Lost

Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

21. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

The Perfect Storm (2000)

22. The Perfect Storm

Susan Backlinie and Bruce in Jaws (1975)

24. Captain Ron

Nicole Kidman in Dead Calm (1989)

25. Dead Calm

More to explore, recently viewed.

10 Best Boat Movies of All Time

best boat movies

Top 10 Best Boat Movies to Binge-Watch

  • Captain Ron (1992)
  • Maiden (2019)
  • Adrift (2018)
  • The Mercy (2017)
  • White Squall (1996)
  • Wind (1992)
  • Dead Calm (1989)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • Captain Phillips (2013)
  • Lifeboat (1944)

Find a Boat for Your Next Adventure

Captain Ron

Mandatory watching for any sailor, Captain Ron with Kurt Russell is remarkably accurate from a technical standpoint except for one glaring piece of silliness as it relates to sailboats. See if you can spot it. Any sailor worth his/her salt has most of the key lines memorized and despite its goofiness, there are a few scenes in this film that will ring remarkably true for anyone who’s spent time on an old boat.

A fascinating 2019 documentary about Tracy Edwards and her all-woman crew in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race. You can’t beat this true story for sheer grit and an important history lesson. There’s a bit of humor as well if just in the great fashions and bad mustaches of the times.

Loosely based on a true story from 1983, Adrift is the tale of a young couple on a yacht delivery. They become dismasted when they sail into the path of a hurricane and the rest is the story of the sheer will to survive. Shailene Woodley does an impressive acting job in this tale with a twist. Watch this one alone if you ever want your significant other to go distance cruising.

A fictionalized tale of the very real and very disturbed Donald Crowhurst, this 2017 film centers on the 1968 Golden Globe Race, the first singlehanded, non-stop circumnavigating competition. Colin Firth captures the misery of impending failure and the film puts the rigors of sailing in context as Crowhurst faces the open ocean and an uncertain future alone.

White Squall

Not exactly a chuckle fest, White Squall is based on a real tragedy from the 1960s. Jeff Bridges as the stalwart captain in charge of a training vessel and a bunch of wealthy newbie sailors relies on discipline to keep an orderly ship. When disaster strikes, it’s an uncomfortable study of what it means to be a captain.

A mixed cast of real America’s Cup racers and thespians like Mathew Modine and Jennifer Grey act their hearts out in this tale of competitive drama. The plot is thin, the dialogue is stilted and the acting is at times cringe-worthy, but the cinematography is phenomenal. You can’t beat this movie for sheer beauty.

More in the horror genre is Dead Calm with Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill cruising a remote stretch of the South Pacific when they come across the evil Billy Zane. This one’s full of completely improbably scenarios, sailing inaccuracies and a young Kidman’s bizarre perm, but it’s a bit of twisted fun that will put the Academy Awards in perspective.

Spielberg’s major directorial debut couldn’t be more iconic and quotes from Jaws can be entertaining at any happy hour. If you get a chance, watch the two-hour making of this film as well to appreciate the end product. Not everyone sees this movie as a comedy but if you watch closely, you’ll see a bit of humor.

Captain Phillips

In 2009, the US-flagged container ship Maersk Alabama was taken over by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks convincingly plays the captain during this hostage drama that was made into an award-winning feature film in 2013. This is a portrayal of leadership during its most taught moments.

Finally, a classic thriller from Alfred Hitchcock based on a John Steinbeck novel. After a German U-boat sinks a passenger ship, the survivors crowd into a lifeboat along with a German officer they pull from the water. You’ll not find a more convincing study of group dynamics and human nature than this well-crafted 1944 award winner.

There are probably 50 other nautical films that are well worth watching, so start with these and you may soon become a seafaring movie buff.

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Best sailing films on Netflix, Prime and more

Yachting World

  • June 29, 2023

Fancy sitting back and enjoying some dramatic sailing footage from the comfort of your sofa? We pick the best sailing films on Netflix, Prime and more

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Recent years have seen a proliferation of sailing films arriving on streaming platforms, with Netflix taking the lead on producing original content but there are many other sailing films on offer on the streaming services that can fulfil your sailing addiction from the couch.

So if you are looking for a documentary about the America’s Cup , thrilling dramas based on true life events then look no further (And just because I was banned from mentioning it in full, here by my fellow staff, you can find Waterworld for rent on Amazon , or on Netflix in some territories… just sayin’)

Best sailing films on Netflix

Untold: The Race of the Century

Another big Netflix production to be released last year, this documentary on the 1983 America’s Cup is bursting with iconic footage and up-close interviews with major players. The story of the 1983 America’s Cup is legendary to those with even a passing interest in sailing, seeing John Bertrand’s Australia II crew beating Dennis Connor’s American Liberty crew to wrest the America’s Cup from the New York Yacht Clubs grasp for the first time in 132 years – the longest winning streak in sporting history. 

Even though we all know what happens, it’s still edge of the seat stuff and you can’t help but be reminded (or introduced to) the dizzying drama, which so captured the world and the Australian nation that it led the then Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke to claim: “Any boss who sacks someone for not turning up to work today is a bum,” following the famous victory.  

This unflinching documentary film tells the story of Tracy Edwards ’ all-female Whitbread Round the World Race campaign, through raw interviews telling of the personality clashes and huge pressures the team were placed under.

It’s an emotional watch, with fantastic footage from the maxi fleets racing mid-ocean: highly recommended.

True Spirit

The latest sailing film from the streaming giant, True Spirit , takes a look at the story of Jessica Watson one of the the most famous sailors from the late Noughties and early 2010’s phenomenon of multiple teenagers bidding to become the youngest sailor to sail around the world.  Jessica Watson, who set off from Sydney in 2009 aged 16, completed her loop of Antarctica – and a dip north across the Equator in the Pacific Ocean – to return an all-Australian hero after 210 days at sea.

The film is a dramatic retelling of Watson’s story and attempts to tread the fine line between staying true to her story and picking drama out of the narrative. Watson’s story is undoubtedly intriguing and any film taking on the challenge of conveying he long, slow, and arduous experience of the solo adventurer is always going to struggle to weigh realism with drama. But for the most par this stays true enough to the story to make for a satisfying viewing experience.

Adrift  is based on the book  Red Sky in Mourning  – Tami Oldham Ashcraft’s true account of sailing into a Pacific hurricane, dismasting, and then sailing solo under jury rig for 41 days alone to Hawaii.

The true story is astounding but the film plays pretty fast and lose with the facts. For pure entertainment it is still well worth hunting out and the terror of the extreme conditions does come across on the screen. You get to marvel as Tami manages to solve the catalogue of near voyage-ending disasters – no matter how implausible some of it might seem.

Pure escapism, and a reminder that when the chips are down there is usually a way out.

Best sailing films on Prime

This critically acclaimed documentary, by the makers of Touching the Void , tells the tale of the 1968 Golden Globe Race and how Donald Crowhurst falsified his position before mysteriously disappearing. There are impressive amounts of original footage to enjoy over 50 years later.

The 2017 cinematic telling of the 1968 Golden Globe Race , in which Colin Firth delivers a stand-out performance as the complex maverick entrant Donald Crowhurst. There’s a strong emphasis on the family narrative to draw in non-sailing viewers, but the yachting scenes were carefully researched and convincing.

It stands above many other sailing films as a pure viewing experience – helped along by Firth’s considerable talents. For those of us who already know the tragic story of Crowhurst there nothing here to fill in any of the gaps, as you’d expect from a broad-appeal drama, but you cannot help but be moved to relive the story once again.

Morning light

This was a real revelation when it came out and remains a solid documentary.

Fifteen young sailors embark on six months of training with the ultimate aim to sail a TP52 across the Pacific Ocean taking part in the TRANSPAC.

The premise is that this young, inexperienced crew (made up of 18-23 year olds) sailing  Morning Light  race the 2,300 miles against some of sailing’s top professionals.

The whole thing was funded by Roy Disney and remains a stunning testament to the rigours of racing and sailing offshore, and how much can be achieved by young sailors give a chance.

Best sailing films elsewhere

Chasing tokyo.

Chasing Tokyo is available to stream from the RYA and is an emotional watch. Filmed over a full year, it follows the British Sailing Team athletes as they readied themselves for the strangest Olympic Games in history – and the parents and partners who were left behind when the sailors headed out to Tokyo.

The film crews had unprecedented access to the sailors as they navigated lockdowns, covid testing, and disrupted preparations, and the medal hopefuls candidly shared their dreams and fears. It’s an insightful view of the strange balance of tension and monotony, life-changing highs and soul-crushing lows, of life as an Olympic athlete.

The documentary gives an intriguing glimpse inside the ‘medal factory’, the machinery of the British Sailing Team which has made it consistently the most successful Olympic sailing team in the world. The legacy of London 2012, and the importance of the team’s home base in Portland – with all its quirks and characters – stands out.

Must watch viewing for anyone with an interest in the physical and mental toll the Olympics can take on professional athletes.

This one takes a bit of detective work to find, but the full documentary is hosted online and well worth a watch. In contrast to True Spirit , it’s made up of real videos shot by teen Laura Dekker as she sailed around the world in 2010.

Without cinematic production and following Dekker’s stopping route it’s a much less dramatic view of sailing around the world, though no less gripping for it, and a fascinating insight into a remarkable teen. Those who came away from True Spirit frustrated by some of the dramatic license taken may well want to watch this.

It’s impossible to watch  the Untold: The Race of the Century story – or indeed any America’s Cup film – without referring back to Wind , the 1992 movie telling of how America lost, and won back the Cup.

Like any Hollywood interpretation there are a few cringeworthy moments, and I wouldn’t recommend watching it with a sailmaker, but it’s a warm-hearted film with some great 12-Metre race scenes, and the memorable catchphrase “Hoist the Whomper!”.

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Famous Yachts in Movies

Hollywood films often showcase the glamorous lifestyles of the rich and famous. Nothing illustrates wealth and prestige better than a luxury motor yacht. There are quite a few movies with yachts featured in them. Whether the silver screen is taking a look at the lives of affluent families and businessmen or tapping into extravagant daydreams the audience will no doubt relate to, yachts used in movies serve plenty of roles. Here is a list of some of the famous yachts in movies that left an impression on our minds.

The Parent Trap (1998)

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M/Y Synthesis 66

The setting of the long-awaited reunion between parents, masterminded by the film’s central red-headed twin sisters (both played by Lindsay Lohan), this 139-foot luxury motor yacht has a classic design. Built and launched by renowned superyacht builder Feadship in 1982, the Synthesis 66 has a unique canoe stern and expansive aft deck. Named Halcyon in the film, the vessel’s 5 cabins can accommodate up to 10 guests. Her exterior design was created by De Voogt Naval Architects with interiors designed by Pierre Tanter.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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The motor yacht M3 served as the setting for the extravagant, drug-fueled parties of the film’s main character, Jordan Belfort. In the film, the M3  portrays the real-life yacht Belfort actually owned, the Nadine . The yacht infamously sank off the coast of Italy in 1996, 1 which was depicted in the movie. This 147.01-foot yacht was built in 2002 by Intermarine. Previously named Lady M, the vessel has recently painted its hull black. With interiors by Daniella Speicht, the yacht’s 5 cabins accommodate up to 10 guests. The M3 can be chartered to cruise in the Caribbean for $145,000 per week.

Mamma Mia! (2008)

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M/Y Haida 1929

This classic motor yacht played a starring role in Meryl Streep’s exuberant rendition of ABBA’s super hit “Money, Money, Money.” Launched in 1929, the Haida 1929 (previously named Haida G and Dona Amelia) is one of the oldest mega yachts still in the water today. Available for charter, this stunning 233-foot vessel is available for charter and lets guests experience a taste of the 1930s yachting lifestyle. Over her long history, she has had 11 owners and even served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Undergoing a major restoration in 20182, the vessel’s updated interiors are lighter yet still retain their classic charm.

Yacht Management South Florida, Inc. is a Fort Lauderdale yacht management and yacht maintenance company. At our Fort Lauderdale marina and full-service boatyard, we offer yacht restoration , refits, and regular maintenance packages that include boat bottom cleaning , boat hull painting , repairs, and other premier onshore or dockside services. Contact us or call (954) 941-6447 today!

1.       Doug Hoogs & Buddy Haack, Yachts International – Mayday In The Med

2.       Risa Merl, BOAT International ­– Haida 1929: How Pendennis restored a classic

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  1. #16 Dyvig, eine dänische Bucht wie aus dem Bilderbuch

  2. 105' WBW Sobre Las Olas Presented by Niel Steenkamp

  3. Insel Gesichter

  4. M/Y FX 38 #yachts

  5. Insel Gesichter der neue Borkum Film 2011

  6. Insel Rügen / Einlauf Hafen Lauterbach (2013)

COMMENTS

  1. The Island (2005)

    The Island: Directed by Michael Bay. With Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean. A man living in a futuristic sterile colony begins to question his circumscribed existence when his friend is chosen to go to the Island, the last uncontaminated place on earth.

  2. The Island (2005 film)

    The Island is a 2005 American science fiction action thriller film directed and co-produced by Michael Bay and written by Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, from a story by Tredwell-Owen.It stars Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Steve Buscemi.The film is about Lincoln Six Echo (McGregor), who struggles to fit into the ...

  3. Die Insel (2005)

    Die Insel (Originaltitel: The Island) ist ein US-amerikanischer Science-Fiction-Film von Michael Bay aus dem Jahr 2005. Die Hauptrollen spielten Ewan McGregor und Scarlett Johansson. Der Film basiert auf dem Roman Spares (dt. Titel: Geklont) von Michael Marshall Smith und startete am 4.

  4. Sailing & Seamanship Movies

    The film follows adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. ... racing in the most revered sailing competition on Earth, the Transpac Yacht Race. Director Mark Monroe Stars Chris Branning Kate Theisen Chris Schubert. 24. Captain James Cook. 1987-2000 4 eps. 8.2 ...

  5. Utopia (1950)

    Utopia: Directed by Léo Joannon, John Berry, Alfred J. Goulding, Tim Whelan. With Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Suzy Delair, Max Elloy. Stan inherits a yacht and a South Pacific island. Ollie and Stan sail there with 2 other men. They shipwreck on a new atoll and settle there. An ex-fiancee joins them. They declare an independent nation and problems arise.

  6. 20 Best Sailing Movies of all Time

    Dead Calm (1989) Starring Billy Zane, Nicole Kidman, Sam Neil, and a gorgeous 60 ft. ketch, Dead Calm revolves around a mass-murderer who kidnaps and seduces a young beautiful woman after leaving a husband to die on a vessel whose crew he has just murdered.

  7. 25 sailing movies for when you're knot shore what to watch

    5. Morning Light (2008) A riveting true-life adventure aboard the high-tech sloop Morning Light. Fifteen rookie sailors have one goal in mind: to be part of her crew, racing in one of the most revered sailing competitions in the world, the Transpac Yacht Race. Watch on Amazon. Rotten Tomatoes.

  8. Best Boating Movies: 39 Top Sailing & Yachting Films To Watch

    The second in the series of original documentary short films features the legendary Bertram Yachts and its origin story delving into the legacy and devoted following of the iconic Bertram 31, one of the world's most revered boats. Dick Bertram founded Bertram Yachts in 1960, using C. Raymond Hunt's design to create the Bertram 31, known as ...

  9. The power yacht at the end of The Island

    Hello guys, I am new to the forum, and desperatly trying to find the designer name of the yacht that you see at the end of the movie The Island. For those who didn't see it, but might have an idea, here is a (vague) description: must be aprroximately 120/150 feet, dark green body, looks very very futurist, dark (black smoked glass) cabin, and ...

  10. 13 Of the Best Sailing Movies, You Can Watch Again and Again

    White Squall (1999) The true story of a bunch of boys, a ship, and the sea. The movie White Squall is based on the 1961 sinking of a brigantine named the Albatross—a two-masted sailing vessel with a fully square-rigged foremast—White Squall is an exciting tale of adventure, friendship, and tragedy. This sailing movie stars Jeff Bridges as ...

  11. Where was Mechanic: Resurrection filmed? Filming Locations Guide

    The movie is the sequel to the 2011 film The Mechanic, which is a remake of an original 1972 film of the same name starring Charles macho Bronson. The story revolves around elite agent Arthur Bishop, who is specialized in killing the most dangerous men in the world by making murder look like an accident. Here is our spoiler-free guide to all the filming locations of Mechanic: Resurrection.

  12. Top 10 Boat Movies: Best Sailing Films to Watch

    From pirates to hidden treasure and more, this is one of the best sailing movies for families. While a private yacht charter won't get you tangled up with wild pirate chases and searches for buried treasure, this family film will certainly bring out the adventurer in you before your own sailing trip. Watch the trailer! 10. The Love Boat (1977-1987)

  13. The best sailing films

    The film was nominated for the prestigious César Award for Best Documentary. Deep Water (UK, 2006, 92 min, dir.: Jerry Rothwell, Louise Osmond) This gripping 2006 film provides an account of the first non-stop round-the-world yacht race, the Golden Globe Race, which took place in 1968.

  14. Best Boat Movies to Watch on Movie Night

    Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) Marlon Brando plays the infamous Lieutenant Fletcher Christian in this classic film inspired by true events. The film follows the crew of HMS Bounty as they travel to French Polynesia and then mutiny against their Captain, William Bligh. Captain Phillips (2013)

  15. The Ultimate List of the 17 Best Sailing Movies

    Wind (1992) - The Story of the World's Biggest Sailing Prize. Captain Ron (1992) Pirates of the Caribbean (2003-2017) Black Sails (2014-2017) - A Series with Great Sailing Scenes. Master and Commander - Far Side of the World (2003) Kon Tiki (2012) The Bounty (1984) Sailing Movie Stories of Survival at Sea.

  16. 18 of the Best Nautical Boat Themed Movies

    The 1990 film is an adaptation of the 1984 bestselling novel of the same name by Tom Clancy. 4. Das Boot. Another exhilarating film about war and submarines, "Das Boot" is a 1981 German film set during World War II. "Das Boot" follows the crew of U-96, a German U-boat on a patrol during the Battle of the Atlantic.

  17. Yachts in TV and film: Glass Onion, Tenet and Argylle

    The Williams SportJet 520 tender will no doubt feature in several high-octane chase scenes when the film premieres on 24 January 2024. Other big names include Henry Cavill (as the titular spy Argylle), Bryan Cranston and Dua Lipa. BOAT looks at the finest yachts featured in film and TV, from the Glass Onion yacht to the classic superyacht used ...

  18. Top 30 Favourite Ship/Boat Movies

    The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the U.S.-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Director Paul Greengrass Stars Tom Hanks Barkhad Abdi Barkhad Abdirahman. 15. The Boat That Rocked.

  19. 10 Best Boat Movies of All Time

    Loosely based on a true story from 1983, Adrift is the tale of a young couple on a yacht delivery. They become dismasted when they sail into the path of a hurricane and the rest is the story of the sheer will to survive. ... Colin Firth captures the misery of impending failure and the film puts the rigors of sailing in context as Crowhurst ...

  20. Bird of Paradise (1932 film)

    Plot. As a yacht sails into an isolated tropical island chain somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, a large number of islanders in outrigger canoes paddle out to greet it. The islanders dive for trinkets the yacht's crew throws them. A shark arrives, setting off a panic as much with the crew as the islanders.

  21. Best sailing films on Netflix, Prime and more

    The latest sailing film from the streaming giant, True Spirit, takes a look at the story of Jessica Watson one of the the most famous sailors from the late Noughties and early 2010's phenomenon ...

  22. Cocktail (1988 film)

    Cocktail is a 1988 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Roger Donaldson from a screenplay by Heywood Gould, and based on Gould's book of the same name.It stars Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown and Elisabeth Shue.It tells the story of a young New York City business student, who takes up bartending in order to make ends meet.. Released on July 29, 1988, by Buena Vista Pictures (under its adult ...

  23. Famous Yachts in Movies

    Contact us or call (954) 941-6447 today! Sources. 1. Doug Hoogs & Buddy Haack, Yachts International - Mayday In The Med. 2. Risa Merl, BOAT International ­- Haida 1929: How Pendennis restored a classic. Hollywood films often showcase the glamorous lifestyles of the rich and famous Nothing illustrates wealth and prestige better than a ...