The 12 Greatest Sailing Films of All Time

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The 12 Greatest Sailing Films of All Time

All things sailing, particularly movies, excite us. As a consequence, we’ve assembled a list of the top 12 greatest sailing films of all time.

We’ve got it covered, whether it’s vicious combat between warships or an epic story of man vs. sea.

Continue reading to get ideas for the next movie night or when you can’t manage to get off the ground.

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The 12 Greatest Sailing Films of All Time


12. Captain Ron

Captain Ron follows the exploits of Kurt Russell’s titular character, who is employed by an upper-middle-class father, Martin Harvey, to lead their yacht across the Caribbean. The trip isn’t as easy as the family hopes, as Captain Ron just knows how to get the family into trouble.

11. White Squall

This film is based on a true story about a group of high school boys who are taught responsibility and a strong work ethic aboard a ship by a strong-willed skipper. The ship finally sets sail, but when they come across a white squall storm, things take a violent turn. The boys must then put everything they’ve learned from the skipper to good use in order to survive the ordeal.

10. The Life Aquatic

At Zizoo, this Wes Anderson classic is one of our favorites! Did you know that Steve Zissou was the inspiration for our name? He is a character based on the French oceanographer, conservationist, artist, physicist, and author Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The film follows Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), who embarks on an oceanic quest to photograph the death of the ‘jaguar shark’ that devoured his partner, Esteban. It’s musical, funny, and animated, with a great soundtrack. In a nutshell, what else do you wish for?

9.  Deep Water

Deep Water is a highly acclaimed documentary that tells the story of the 1968 round-the-world yacht race, which ended in disaster. Donald Crowhurst, an inexperienced sailor, attempts a nine-month nonstop circumnavigation of the globe while fighting threatening waters and psychological disaster. To conclude, the outcomes are dreadful.

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8. The African Queen

The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film about a small cruise. For his performance in the film, Humphrey Bogart won an Academy Award for Best Actor. They lead us through the African jungle, navigating through WWI wars, with his co-star Katherine Hepburn. Bogart plays a rough and intoxicated riverboat captain in this film, who is ideally balanced by Hepburn’s posh, straight-laced missionary.

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7. Between home

Nick Jaffe, an amateur sailor, is the subject of Between Home, a moving and poetic adventure documentary. He attempts a solo oceanic voyage from Europe to Australia during the film. He documents his three-year journey from amateur sailor to expert sailor. We see him fight the sea, the wind, and extreme loneliness as he pursues his dreams in scenes taken both aboard and on dry land.

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6. Dead Calm

Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane, and a stunning 60-foot ketch star in Dead Calm. The film is a suspense thriller that will have your heart racing. It was shot nearly exclusively at sea in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands. A wonderful thriller film is generated by the combination of unsafe sailing weather, loneliness, and the possibility of a villain overboard.

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5. Lifeboat

Alfred Hitchcock’s film Lifeboat is a masterpiece. During WWII, a submarine and a German U-boat collide and kill each other in the middle of the Atlantic. In a lifeboat, a party of five people seek shelter. Trouble happens, however, when they save a survivor who is a member of the resistance. This is a film that will have you on the edge of your seat.

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4. Kon-Tiki

Kon-Tiki is a historical drama based on the story of Thor Heyerdahl and his 1947 Kon-Tiki discovery expedition, which was filmed on the island of Malta. It’s the first time a Norwegian film has won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination. It remains Norway’s highest-grossing film to this day. Thor Heyerdahl embarks on an ambitious voyage to cross the Pacific Ocean in the film. During his journey, he hopes to demonstrate that pre-Columbian South Americans were able to settle in Polynesia. The incidents that follow are enthralling!

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

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, directed by Peter Wier, tells a dramatic story set during the Napoleonic wars. When trying to steal a French warship, Russell Crowe plays an arrogant captain who drives his ship and crew to their limits. We are held on the edge of our seats by the action-packed fight scenes. Throughout the film, we hear about the men on the ship and their struggle to survive.

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2. Wind

Will Parker, a sailor who sadly defeats the America’s Cup challenge, is the protagonist of Wind. The race is regarded as the most important sailing competition in the world. He chooses to form his own crew to retake the prize after the defeat. It’s based on the actual events of the 1983 America’s Cup, and it’s a blend of adventure and romance. The cast includes actual fishermen, which adds to the realism of the sailing scenes. If you want to see some intense sailing fights, this is the film for you.

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1. All is lost

Finally, Robert Redford plays a solo sailor who encounters tragic conditions at sea in All is Lost. Then he has a long and exhausting fight for his survival. The man-and-boat-against-the-sea theme is a staple of sailing films, and Redford and director J.C. Chandor deliver. The plot is a straightforward but terrifying tale of a man on the water.

Everyone’s captain will be inspired by our ranking of the top 12 greatest sailing movies of all time.

Have we forgotten about one of your favorites? Please let us know. We’d love to see what you’re going to see next.

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