OVER THE LAST five plus years of living aboard our boat the M/V TAPESTRY, we generally visited about 75 ports and cruised 5,000 nautical miles per year. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. When it hit, we were in the Florida Keys. Our plans going forward were postponed, and we sought safe haven in Virginia for the next six months.
Like many of our fellow live-aboard cruisers, especially those with no land-based home to flee to, our lives were upended. Boat maintenance chores and upgrades became our focus, as well as online courses and hobbies. But at times, just staring at the TV was a much-needed psychological escape.
While we’ve enjoyed shows that aren’t related to boating, there’s something about a nautical adventure in boating movies that feeds our souls. That’s not to say that the following listings are all blockbuster, prize-worthy events. But to help you pass the time, we present a random list of maritime movies and shows. Who knows, you may discover that new boat name you’ve been pondering or be inspired to plan a European river cruise. Here are the best boating movies and shows to watch.
MOVIES OLD & NEW
(2018, Netflix) Based on the book Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea by Tami Oldham Ashcraft, this flick portrays a couple who is stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after a hurricane and must reach Hawaii with a battered boat and no radio.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
(1954, Disney+) This Academy Award winner tells the tale of shipwreck survivors who are held captive aboard the Nautilus, a deep-sea exploration vessel commanded by Captain Nemo.
(1975, Hulu) While the visual effects are dated, this movie that caused “shark phobia” across the nation still entertains.
(2003, Disney+) An animated favorite where undersea pals help a clownfish named Martin find his son Nemo.
(2016, Disney+) In the sequel to Finding Nemo, the clownfish Nemo and Marlin help their memory-challenged friend Dory find her parents.
(1992, Netflix) The romance/adventure film is loosely based on Dennis Conner, an America’s Cup skipper. Some of the best, most realistic on-deck, big boat sailing is portrayed, and a lot of the filming happened around Newport, RI.
(1974, Prime Video) The true story of 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham’s solo trip around the world on his 23-foot sloop, The Dove.
(1992, Netflix, Prime Video) After inheriting a vintage yacht, Ron takes his family on a comedic journey to the Caribbean to sail the vessel to Miami.
(2017, Netflix) A team of divers, photographers and scientists document and record the coral reef decline during a mass coral bleaching event.
(2008, YouTube) This film chronicles the adventurous life of French naval officer and renowned sailor Éric Tabarly, who influenced yachting and won noteworthy races aboard his sailboat, Pen Duick.
(2013, Prime Video) A determined 16-year old girl sails solo around the world on her ketch, after the courts rule that she be allowed to make the trip.
Racing Around the World Alone
(2010, Prime Video) The tale of 30 skippers who race the Vendée Globe Race, single handed, non-stop around the world, without assistance on 60-foot sailboats.
(2010, Prime Video) Two women — a schoolteacher and veterinarian — leave their jobs and follow their dreams to become professional sailors.
Jean-du-Sud Around the World
(1984, YouTube, Vimeo) Join this famous circumnavigator as he sails around the globe and relish the film’s exceptional cinematography.
Red Dot on the Ocean: The Matt Rutherford Story
(2014, Prime Video, Vimeo, Apple iTunes) Once considered an at-risk youth, Rutherford turns his life around and accomplishes the first nonstop solo boat trip for 27,000 miles around North and South America.
(2019, Netflix, Hulu) The 24-year-old Tracy Edwards, a cook on charter boats, becomes the skipper of the first all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.
Taking Flight: Britain’s America’s Cup Challenge
(2016, BBC) Follow the most decorated Olympic sailor, Ben Ainslie, and his crew as they compete for the America’s Cup prize for England.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston: A Force of Nature
(2018, YouTube) A British mariner and adventurer becomes the first to sail solo, nonstop around the world in 1969 aboard Suhaili, his homemade wooden boat.
(2006, YouTube, Prime Video) Watch the true story of Donald Crowhurst’s decision to risk his home and savings to compete in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race around the planet solo in his yacht.
The Nautical Channel
(available on the basic package of Klowd TV and Sling TV) This channel provides a great variety of nautical content.
(2015, Netflix) Three seasons are set in the Florida Keys and portray the black sheep son of a respected family who threatens to expose dark family secrets. This is a Breaking Bad kind of thriller.
(2013, Bravo, Slice, Netflix) Currently in its eighth season, this reality show films people who work aboard 100+ foot yachts, and this season is filmed in the Caribbean. This unscripted series is a hot mess, addictive, fantastic trash and perfect for pandemic viewing.