20 Best Sailing Movies of all time

Posted Aug 09 2021 in Guides

What better way to get the ultimate boating experience than spicing up your voyage or preparing for a boat trip with some great sailing movies. Get the popcorn, sit on the couch, and have some chill TV time with your family or friends. Get ready to find your sailing inspiration. Let’s take a look at the 20 best sailing movies of all time:

The best sailing movies of all time

Morning Light (2008)

Morning light is an exciting documentary that follows the journey of 15 young sailors entering the open-ocean TRANSPAC competition. You get to follow in the footsteps of the characters on their way from LA to Honolulu. The exciting boating escapade is about preparation and execution, from intense sailing training to competition elimination.

All is Lost (2013)

If you like intense on-the-edge movies about sailing, All is lost is the perfect choice for a lone sailor film. The plot tells the story of an older man, stranded alone on a damaged boat, who has to withstand the destructive powers of nature.

The movie shows a harsh reality of what could happen when the sea turns against a sailor with twists and turns. Turn your survival mode on before you start the movie, get the popcorn, and enjoy a breath-taking one-actor performance that will leave you speechless.

Wind (1992)

America's Cup is one of the most important races in competitive sailing. It is usually associated with the wealthy sailor enthusiasts who take part in it, competing in odd-looking vessels. The movie alters this perception as it presents the unique story of Will Parker.

A millionaire hires Will to lead his crew towards victory. Yet, Will’s intention to win the cup with his sailor girlfriend Kate does not go as planned because she’s been thrown out of the crew before the competition. When the team loses, Will finds a new purpose. He decides to create a new syndicate and win the cup back.

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

A brilliant historical novel adaptation brought to life by director Peter Weir. The talented Russell Crowe takes on the leading character role of an arrogant captain during the Napoleonic Wars.

In his intentions to capture a French warship, the captain pushes the limits of his sailor crew and shows the harsh reality of the struggle to survive on the sea during war times. If you love breathtaking action films and battle scenes, this movie is just for you! It had 10 Oscar nominations and two wins for Sound Editing and Best Cinematography. 

Captain Ron (1992)

If you want a good laugh and have an appreciation of comedy classics, Captain Ron is the perfect choice for a sailing-inspired movie night. The plot tells the story of Captain Ron and his misadventures on the water. 

It all begins when the captain is hired by a mid-class father, Martin, to take them on a Caribbean voyage back to Florida. With twists and turns, many things go wrong along the way - breakdowns, marine accidents, guerilla carnivals, even a pirate encounter. 

White Squall (1996)

White Squall is a tense movie about the fate of the brigantine Albatross and all the passengers on board. The real-life story follows the voyage of fourteen high schoolers who yearn for adventure in their senior year. Their goal is to sail to the tip of South America and back. For that reason, they board the famous sail ship that sank in 1961. 

The unfortunate trip on the water teaches the young sailors how to take responsibility and shows the consequences of emotionally unstable leadership. The eight-month journey takes a drastic turn, as not all young sailors got back from the voyage.

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

Another epic movie from the 60s! It tells the story of the ocean journey of captain Bligh on his way to transport breadfruit to Jamaica from his homeland. But during the trip, the actual colors of the English captain with abusive tendencies show.

The controlling captain pushes the buttons of everyone on board and creates an overloading tension. After many cases of abuse of power, part of the crew starts a mutiny against Bligh. As a result of their actions, the captain and his loyal crew get stranded on a rowboat in the sea.

Dead Calm (1989)

The plot of Dead Calm revolves around the story of a mass murderer who took over a big sailboat. The story is super emotional and dramatic, as the aggressor kidnaps a young woman and leaves her husband on a boat with an all-dead crew.

The thrilling drama is an epitome of a great sailing movie. The storyline is exciting, as it combines all kinds of on-the-water challenges - utter isolation, dangerous sailing conditions, and a serial killer onboard the watercraft. We find amazing actors like Billy Zane, Sam Neil, and Nicole Kidman in the starring roles. 

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

An excellent sailing movie for all comedy lovers, which tells the story of oceanographer Steve Zissou (played by Bill Murray), who heads out to sea to track the jaguar shark that allegedly ate his partner Esteban. Upon Esteban’s mysterious disappearance, his friend had to seek revenge. But soon, the trip becomes a wild adventure.

Kon-Tiki (2012)

The historical drama Kon-Tiki presents the wild journey of the legendary Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his adventurous crossing of the Pacific ocean on a wooden raft. Even more fascinating was that when he heads out to sea with his five crew members, Thor could not swim.

The sailors’ only technology aboard was a radio, and they had to rely on currents and stars for navigation at sea. The adventure gets real when Thor and his crew had to face the ocean states for three exhausting months offshore.

Maidentrip (2013)

Maidentrip is an inspiring sailing documentary focused on the adventures of 14-year old Laura Dekker. The young girl is motivated to sail across the globe to achieve her dream and become the youngest sailor in the world. Her real-life story in search of paradise is proof that dreams come true. And once you set your mind on something, all you have to do is work hard to achieve it.

Adrift (2018)

Adrift is an emotional tale of determination and survival. After the movie’s main protagonists, Tami and Richard, sail straight into a deadly hurricane, they have no other choice but to fight for their lives.

In the hurricane aftermath, Tami wakes up to find her partner injured and their boat to pieces. The chances of getting rescued look too slim. So to save herself and her loved one, Tami has to find the strength to endure the power of the sea and win a psychological battle with herself.

Turning Tide (En Solitaire) (2013)

The captivating movie tells the fictional story of a brave and daring sailor Yann Kermadec. During one of the biggest races in his life, Yann has to get through all the vast challenges awaiting him in the competition.

Sailing is going quite smoothly in the beginning. However, things quickly get tense as the boat gets severely damaged, and Yann is bound to make a repair stop in the Canary Islands. What he does not expect, though, is to find a ghost passenger - a teenage boy who sneaked inside the boat while on land.

The Old Man and the Sea (1958)

This classic sailing movie is a must-watch! The narrative tells the story of an old angler called Spencer Tracy, followed by bad luck. He could not catch any fish for 84 days straight. Once he catches a tiny fish on the 85th day, he is determined to turn his luck around and keeps fishing, so he stays at sea for two days.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

The blockbuster stuns with impressive visuals and portrays a wild and thrilling adventure on the water. The story is about Captain Billy Tyne and his crew, who head on a fishing expedition, but get caught up in a storm. The storm does not seem that dangerous at first, so the crew risks going back to shore straight through it. That’s until they cross paths with a catastrophic hurricane.

Captain Phillips (2013)

This is another great sailing movie you should not miss! The plot tells the story of Captain Richard Phillips, who commands a huge container ship. The captain and crew are unarmed. So when the ship gets attacked by Somali pirates during the trip from Oman to Kenya, the captain has no other choice but to try and save the crew through negotiations and diplomacy.

Maiden (2018)

Maiden is a sailing movie about the escapade of Tracy Edwards competing in the Whitbread Round the World Race. What is so special about the story is it follows her journey along with the first all-female crew in the history of the race. The voyage lasts for nine months and shows the belittling and the pressing sexism women face in the sailing field.

Chasing Bubbles (2016)

The sailing documentary Chasing Bubbles is an excellent example of a great sailor story. The plot follows the voyage of the free-spirited sailor Alex Rust whose dream is to sail across the globe. Leaving his regular life behind, Alex buys a sailboat and names it Bubbles. He starts his journey around the world out of curiosity and sails on for three years.

180° South (2010)

180° South is another great documentary by the director Chris Malloy. The movie tells the real-life story of Jeff Johnson on his way from California to Chilean Patagonia. He wants to retrace the epic ground trip of Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard. But instead, Jeff’s goal is to repeat it on the water, in a small boat.

Deep Water (2006)

This intense movie is inspired by a true story and takes time during a Golden Globe race. The protagonist, Donald, decides to join the ongoing boat competition, even though he is inexperienced and could barely afford it. To make up for his financial inabilities, Donald puts his home as collateral. But he is not prepared for what challenges the race has in store for him.

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