The 10 Best Sailing Movies of All Time

best sailing movies of all time

If you are looking for the best sailing movies of all time then you've come to the right place. Of course it's important to first acknowledge that this can be very subjective. There are a lot of genres that can be tied in with sailing or boat-themed movies and the list of great films could therefore be endless.

Beyond that, however, we have watched a fair share of sailing movies (and films in general) dating all the way back to the ones produced in the first half of the 1900s.

With our wealth of boating experience, we would now like to present to you, in no particular order, 10 of the best sailing movies that you should watch as soon as you have the time.

1. The Perfect Storm (2000)

the perfect storm

The Perfect storm is a biographical disaster and drama film in the year 2000 and was based on a book written by Sebastian Junger in 1997 bearing the same title.

The cast includes a who’s who of legendary names such as George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.

This film follows the tragic story of Andrea Gail, a simple commercial fishing vessel that was tormented by a perfect storm in 1991 (also known as the No-Name Storm, which was a true-to-life devastating calamity that caused over $200 million in property damages and a handful of deaths).

Why We Recommend This Movie

This film is a good entry point into the genre of sailing or boat movies. It draws inspiration from a popular book bearing the same name and the depiction of significant events on-screen is amazing for its time.

2. In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

in the heart of the sea

In the Heart of the Sea is a historical adventure and drama movie in the year 2015 and was based on Nathanial Philbrick’s book which was published in 2000 bearing the same name.

The cast includes popular modern icons such as Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Holland.

This film follows the events as narrated by Thomas Nickerson, the only remaining survivor of the whaleship Essex that sunk in 1820, and dives into sensitive themes such as cannibalism.

Why We Recommend This Movie

Aside from the fact that the star-studded cast is extremely popular worldwide (Marvel Cinematic Universe and Peaky Blinders, specifically), the cinematography is great and there are moments in the film that leave you at the edge of your seat.

3. Life of Pi (2012)

life of pi

Life of Pi is an adventure and drama film in the year 2012 and was based on a novel bearing the same name written and published in 2001 by Yann Martel.

This award-winning movie was directed by renowned Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee and included the likes of Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan.

This film focuses on a teenager named Pi Patel who narrates his life story to a novelist, sharing memories about how he managed to survive a shipwreck and was set adrift in the Pacific Ocean alongside a Bengal Tiger.

Why We Recommend This Movie

This movie has struck a perfect balance between being lighthearted and deep and dramatic. It is a perfect blend of drama, comedy, action, and adventure and is worthy to be watched again with friends and family during bonding movie nights.

4. Captain Philips (2013)

captain philips

Captain Phillips is a biographical action-thriller in the year 2013 and was inspired by the events of the Maersk Alabama hijacking which happened in 2009 and based on the memoir “A Captain’s Duty” published in 2010 by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty.

This critically acclaimed movie was led by the brilliant acting of Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi.

This film follows Richard Philips as he takes command of MV Maersk Alabama, a container vessel that traveled through the coast of the Horn of Africa, which was a notorious region for pirates and criminal activity.

Why We Recommend This Movie

Aside from the fact that Tom Hanks has never lost his acting prowess in any film he has made, the film is actually based on a real-life event that translated very well into cinemas.

5. Dead Calm (1989)

dead calm

Dead Calm is a psychological horror and thriller in the year 1989 and was based on a novel bearing the same name written by Charles Williams and published in 1963.

This movie starred Nicole Kidman who was not yet known internationally at the time but was a very popular actress in Australia.

This film follows a couple who tragically lost their child and have decided to spend some time out in the sea. They happened upon a mysterious individual who abandoned a sinking ship and things start to unravel from that point forward.

Why We Recommend This Movie

If you are the type to look for movies filled with tension, dread, and drama, then this film is perfect for your movie preferences.

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

pirates of the caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a fantasy swashbuckler movie in the year 2003 and was the first of the franchise that saw several succeeding films that met varying levels of success.

This movie had a host of notable names in its cast including the likes of Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley.

This film revolves around the epic adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow as he teams up with an unlikely individual in Will Turner to rescue Elizabeth Swann from the cursed crew of the pirate ship Black Pearl.

Why We Recommend This Movie

This franchise is what made Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley shoot to stardom, and rightfully so. This film, along with a few of the sequels, is brash, enjoyable, unpredictable, and fun to watch with friends and family. If you love pirate themed movies this is fantastic. Also check out some cool pirate themed boat names.

7. Captain Ron (1992)

captain ron

Captain Ron is a comedy film in the year 1992 that was written by John Dwyer and Directed by Thom Eberhardt (known for cult classics such as “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” and “Night of the Comet”)

The lead role was assumed by renowned actor Kurt Russel in his younger years, alongside Martin Short and Mary Kay Place.

This film follows the humorous journey of a suburban family who hires a captain to sail a yacht through the Caribbean.

Why We Recommend This Movie

If you are in need of a movie that does not require you to go into deep thought and reflection, and just lets you have a good time while munching on some popcorn and potato chips, then this is the right film for you.

8. Lifeboat (1944)


Lifeboat is a survival film in the year 1994 that was produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

This movie stars Tallulah Bankhead (who belonged to a prominent political family in Alabama) and William Bendix (best remembered for his role in “The Babe Ruth Story”).

This film is considered to be a limited-setting film as a majority of the film is executed on a lifeboat which was launched from a passenger vessel.

Why We Recommend This Movie

This movie, at the time it was released, was very controversial as it had a German influence as a plot point. Nowadays, however, critics and viewers regard this as one of the better films that came out of that decade.

9. White Squall (1996)

white squall

White Squall is a disaster survival film in the year 1996 that was based on Charles Gieg’s “The Last Voyage of the Albatross” which was published in 1962.

This movie stars award-winning actor Jeff Bridges, alongside the likes of Caroline Goodall and John Savage.

This film revolves around a group of teenagers who signed up for months-long training aboard a brigantine ship and depicts travels across the globe, particularly a heavy encounter with a severe storm.

Why We Recommend This Movie

If you are a fan of coming-of-age movies and the acting chops of Jeff Bridges, then this movie has a lot of exposure to both.

10. Titanic (1997)


Titanic is a disaster and romance movie in the year 1997 and was written, directed, and produced by legendary filmmaker James Cameron.

This movie stars renowned actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as star-crossed lovers.

This film depicts the sinking of the RMS Titanic, all while tackling themes and issues regarding romance, social classes, and survival.

Why We Recommend This Movie

This is arguably one of the best films of all time. The movie had several highs and lows throughout and was capped off by a gut-wrenching conclusion that is still talked about in certain circles to this very day.


Our list contains a mixture of drama, comedy, survival, realism, and horror. This further proves the fact that when it comes to sailing and boating, individuals from all walks of life can enter and enjoy however way they see fit.

Hopefully, with our list of best sailing movies of all time, we have not only inspired you to order the film on Amazon or watch it on Netflix but also to consider a life of boating. Whether it be fishing, sailing, or traveling around the world, the open seas definitely have something exciting and thrilling in store for you!

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