Balmy Summer sailing days have morphed into crisp Autumn and the European Winter is upon us. With memories of sailing charter holidays in the Mediterranean fading and the weather getting cooler, here is a list of the some great sailing movies to watch on nights in.
Dead Calm (1989) Thriller
An Australian couple is taking a sailing holiday on a beautiful 60ft ketch to help them heal after a terrible accident. They come across a man who appears to be the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Starring Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill and Billy Zane, this thriller will get your blood pounding! Shot in the Whitsundays, Australia almost entirely at sea, its themes of control, resurrection and unbalance make for a terrific thriller.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Adventure-Comedy
Directed by Wes Anderson, the Life Aquatic follows the adventures of Steve Zissou, a character adaptation of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the French oceanographer. He sets out on an oceanic expedition to track down the ‘jaguar shark’ that ate his partner, Esteban. It is a witty and animated film with plenty of fun and adventure on the sea. Starring Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe and Cate Blanchet.
Between Home (2012) Adventure Documentary
Between Home is a poetic and touching film about amateur first time sailor Nick Jaffe who attempts a solo oceanic journey from Europe to Australia. Starting out with basic equipment and very little money, the film chronicles his three-year transformation and rite of passage from novice sailor to expert. To follow his dreams he must battle the sea, the weather, total isolation and himself. Directed by Jack Rath this film was a winner of several European awards.
Kon-Tiki (2012) Historical Drama
No list of sailing films would be complete without Kon-Tiki. This gripping film based on the story of Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl and his 1947 Kon-Tiki exploration expedition was filmed in Malta and follows the story of Thor Heyerdahl, who set out on his epic crossing of the Pacific Ocean to prove that; for South Americans to have settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times was a possibility. Heyerdhal builds a balsawood raft using the same techniques utilized 1,500 years ago by the indigenous peoples of the region. With his intrepid crew of five, he sails from the coast of Peru to the Polynesian islands. The dramatic events that follow include storms, sharks, and other perils of the open sea. It was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award. Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg and starring Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen.
Morning Light (2008) Documentary/Biography
The film chronicles a real-life crew training and competing in the 44th Transpacific Yacht Race aboard a TP52 class sailing yacht, Morning Light. It follows the fifteen strong, inexperienced but intrepid crew of men and women, that were given a one-in-a-million chance to sail in one of the world’s elite sailing competitions. It is an exhilarating, emotional adventure, showing a dramatic 2300 mile showdown against the world’s top sailing professionals. Directed by Mark Monroe.
Captain Ron ( 1992 ) Comedy
For some unbridled goofiness and fun, Captain Ron is a must. A family in Chicago inherits a yacht and decides to sail it from St. Pomme de Terre to Miami. Having no experience, they are assisted by Captain Ron a one-eyed Navy veteran with a lackadaisical attitude. They set of for some high jinks and craziness in the Caribbean. Their lives will never be the same again! Directed by Thom Eberhardt and starring Kurt Russell as Captain Ron, this movie will have you chuckling all the way.
Maidentrip (2014) Documentary
Back to solo adventures on the high seas. This time it is 14-year-old Laura Dekker’s immersive first person story. Having won a 10-month court battle to be allowed to do it, she sets out on a two-year voyage to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. A testimonial to the potential of youth and the courage of this young girl, this is an inspiring and heart-warming documentary film directed by Jillian Schlesinger.
All is Lost (2013) Survival Drama
After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself facing death. As well as there being only one actor in the film, it also has no dialogue, although there are a few spoken lines. This landmark film with its stunning scenes about a man’s will to survive is an epic sailing movie. Directed and written by J.C Chandor and starring Robert Redford as the only cast.
White squall (1996) Coming-of-Age Disaster Drama
White Squall was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Jeff Bridges. A true story, set in the 1960’s, about a group of American teenagers that embark on the voyage of a lifetime with their Captain, whom they call ‘Skipper’. He teaches them about teamwork and discipline on an 8-month voyage aboard the Albatross. When a white squall threatens their ship, the boys try to use what Skipper has taught them to survive the traumatic event. A gripping, but touching movie well worth seeing.
The Dove (1974) Adventure-Romance
The oldest movie on the list, this classic is, perhaps, the first movie about a round-the-world sailing trip. The film tells of real-life Robin Lee Graham a 16-year-old boy who sets out in the summer of 1965; determined to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the world. On one of his stops he meets and falls in love with the lovely Patti Ratteree who decides to follow Graham throughout his long journey. As he keeps on sailing, Graham experiences various adventures and matures into a young adult. Yet Graham finds the trip a lonely experience, especially when the wind dies on him on the high seas. Close to giving up he is talked out of it by Patti (now his new wife) and his father. Directed by Charles Jarrott and starring Joseph Bottoms and Deborah Raffin.
By no means the full list, these are just a few of the must-see nautical films to get you started and inspired for your next sailing adventure, hopefully without the drama!
By Merryn Wainwright