There is something magical about being out at sea, the wind in your hair, the salty ocean air on your face, and the sound of waves crashing against the hull of your boat. Whether you are a seasoned sailor or just starting out, there is nothing quite like the feeling of setting sail and exploring the world by boat.
One thing that can make your sailing experience even more special is the right playlist. Music has the power to transport us to different places and evoke emotions we may not otherwise feel. And when it comes to sailing, there are plenty of songs that capture the spirit of adventure, freedom, and the sea.
In this article, we have curated a list of the top 23 songs about sailing that are sure to enhance your voyage. From classic rock anthems to modern pop hits, these songs will provide the perfect soundtrack for your time on the water.
Whether you are cruising along the coast, racing in a regatta, or embarking on a long-distance voyage, these songs will inspire and invigorate you. So grab your sailing gear, hoist the sails, and let the music take you away on a journey you will never forget.
1. Sailing – Rod Stewart
“Sailing” by Rod Stewart is a soft rock ballad about the singer’s longing for freedom and escape. The lyrics describe the beauty and calmness of the sea, as well as its ability to wash away troubles and bring peace of mind. Stewart’s soulful voice, accompanied by a mellow melody and a beautiful string section, create a melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere that perfectly captures the song’s theme.
2. Castaway – Zac Brown Band
“Castaway” by Zac Brown Band is a country-rock song that tells the story of a man who finds himself stranded on a deserted island, reflecting on his past mistakes and missed opportunities. The song combines catchy guitar riffs, a bouncy rhythm, and strong vocals to create an upbeat and optimistic tone that celebrates the power of resilience and self-discovery. With its catchy chorus and upbeat tempo, “Castaway” is a fun and uplifting song that encourages listeners to embrace change and overcome adversity.
3. A Pirate Looks at Forty – Jimmy Buffett
“A Pirate Looks at Forty” by Jimmy Buffett is a classic folk rock song that tells the story of an aging pirate reflecting on his life at sea. The lyrics describe the highs and lows of a life spent on the ocean, with themes of freedom, adventure, and regret. Buffett’s laid-back vocal style, combined with the song’s upbeat melody and tropical instrumentation, creates a joyful and carefree vibe that captures the spirit of the sea and the lifestyle of a pirate. “A Pirate Looks at Forty” is a timeless anthem for those who seek adventure and freedom, reminding us to live life to the fullest and embrace our passions.
4. Sloop John B – The Beach Boys
“Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys is a classic folk rock song that tells the story of a sailor who wants to go home after experiencing various misfortunes at sea. The lyrics capture the sailor’s feelings of loneliness and despair, as well as his longing to return to his loved ones. The song’s catchy melody, harmonies, and upbeat tempo create a sense of hope and optimism, reflecting the singer’s determination to overcome his hardships and reach his destination.
5. Sailor’s Lament – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Sailor’s Lament” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is a blues rock song that tells the story of a sailor who is tired of his life at sea and yearns for the comforts of home. The song’s lyrics express the sailor’s frustration and exhaustion, as well as his desire for a better life. The song’s simple yet powerful melody, along with the singer’s gritty vocals, creates a raw and emotional atmosphere that perfectly captures the sailor’s plight.
6. When the Ship Comes In – Bob Dylan
“When the Ship Comes In” by Bob Dylan is a folk protest song that speaks to the struggles of marginalized people and their eventual triumph. The lyrics describe a ship arriving to bring hope and justice to those who have been oppressed, and encourage listeners to stand up for their rights and fight against injustice. Dylan’s poetic lyrics, accompanied by a simple guitar melody and powerful vocals, create a powerful and inspiring anthem that speaks to the importance of perseverance and the eventual triumph of the underdog.
7. Wooden Ships – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
“Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is a classic rock song that imagines a post-apocalyptic world in which survivors sail away on wooden ships to escape the chaos and destruction on land. The song’s lyrics describe the sense of freedom and possibility that comes with embarking on a new journey, and the hope for a better future. The song’s intricate harmonies, soaring guitar solos, and haunting melody create an epic and timeless sound that perfectly captures the song’s theme.
8. Sail Away – David Gray
“Sail Away” by David Gray is a folk-pop song that describes the singer’s desire to escape from his troubles and start a new life at sea. The lyrics convey a sense of restlessness and disillusionment with the modern world, and the longing for a simpler, more authentic way of life. The song’s gentle guitar strumming, delicate piano melodies, and Gray’s emotive vocals create a sense of intimacy and vulnerability that perfectly captures the song’s theme.
9. Soul of a Sailor – Kenny Chesney
“Soul of a Sailor” by Kenny Chesney is a country-rock song that celebrates the adventurous spirit of sailors and their love for the sea. The lyrics describe the joy and freedom that comes with sailing, as well as the sense of community and camaraderie among sailors. The song’s upbeat tempo, catchy guitar riffs, and Chesney’s enthusiastic vocals create a fun and energetic sound that perfectly captures the song’s theme. “Soul of a Sailor” is a catchy and optimistic ode to the sea and those who love it.
10. Sailing – Christopher Cross
Sailing by Christopher Cross is a classic soft rock song released in 1980. The lyrics are an uplifting ode to freedom and the open sea, with soaring melodies and catchy hooks. The song features the smooth vocals and virtuosic guitar playing of Cross, as well as lush harmonies and a prominent synthesizer riff. The music video showcases Cross and his band performing on a yacht, perfectly capturing the song’s carefree and adventurous spirit.
11. A Sailboat in the Moonlight – Billie Holiday
A Sailboat in the Moonlight is a beautiful jazz ballad sung by the legendary Billie Holiday. The song was originally written in 1937 and has since become a jazz standard. The lyrics describe a romantic encounter between two lovers on a sailboat under the moonlight. Holiday’s voice is soulful and emotive, perfectly conveying the passion and tenderness of the lyrics. The arrangement features a gentle piano accompaniment and a subtle horn section that adds to the song’s dreamy atmosphere.
12. Single Handed Sailor – Dire Straits
Single Handed Sailor by Dire Straits is a haunting rock song that tells the story of a lone sailor navigating treacherous waters. The lyrics are evocative and poetic, painting a vivid picture of the sailor’s struggles and isolation. The music is characterized by Mark Knopfler’s signature fingerpicking guitar style and features a driving rhythm section that builds to a climactic guitar solo. The song’s dark and brooding mood perfectly captures the dangerous and lonely nature of life at sea.
13. Lost Sailor – Grateful Dead
Lost Sailor by Grateful Dead is a classic rock song that showcases the band’s signature improvisational style. The lyrics tell the story of a sailor who is lost at sea and trying to find his way home. The music features intricate guitar work and dynamic shifts in tempo and rhythm, creating a sense of adventure and exploration. The song’s extended instrumental sections allow the band to stretch out and showcase their virtuosity, making each performance unique and exciting.
14. Captain Kennedy – Neil Young
Captain Kennedy by Neil Young is a haunting folk rock song that tells the story of a fictional naval officer who dies in battle. The lyrics are reflective and poignant, exploring themes of mortality, sacrifice, and patriotism. Young’s voice is raw and emotive, conveying the sadness and loss at the heart of the song. The music is sparse and atmospheric, featuring acoustic guitar and haunting harmonies that add to the song’s haunting beauty.
15. Only the Ocean – Jack Johnson
Only the Ocean by Jack Johnson is a mellow acoustic ballad that celebrates the beauty and power of the ocean. The lyrics are simple and poetic, describing the ocean as a force of nature that is both awe-inspiring and humbling. Johnson’s voice is gentle and soothing, perfectly matching the song’s laid-back vibe. The music features fingerpicked guitar and a relaxed rhythm section, creating a sense of calm and tranquility. The song’s message of respect for the natural world makes it a beautiful and meaningful ode to the ocean.
16. I’m on a Boat – The Lonely Island
I’m on a Boat by The Lonely Island is a comedic hip-hop song that celebrates the joy of being on a boat. The lyrics are irreverent and profane, with exaggerated boasts about the boat’s features and the luxuries of life on the water. The music is catchy and upbeat, with a driving beat and infectious chorus that make it a popular party anthem. The music video features guest appearances by T-Pain and other celebrities, adding to the song’s comedic appeal.
17. If I Had a Boat – Lyle Lovett
If I Had a Boat by Lyle Lovett is a whimsical country-folk song that explores the power of imagination. The lyrics describe the various things the singer would do if he had a boat, from exploring the ocean to fishing with his friends. Lovett’s voice is warm and soulful, perfectly capturing the song’s nostalgic and dreamy tone. The music features acoustic guitar and a lively rhythm section, with playful flourishes and harmonies that add to the song’s charm.
18. Southern Cross – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills & Nash is a classic rock song that celebrates the beauty and mystery of the ocean. The lyrics describe a sailor’s journey across the sea, with vivid descriptions of the stars, waves, and wind. The music features intricate vocal harmonies and a driving rhythm section, with a soaring guitar solo that adds to the song’s sense of adventure and wonder. The song’s message of finding hope and inspiration in nature has made it a beloved classic of the rock canon.
19. Sail on Sailor – The Beach Boys
Sail on Sailor by The Beach Boys is a catchy and upbeat rock song that celebrates the freedom and adventure of sailing. The lyrics describe the thrill of being out on the water and the camaraderie of sailors, with catchy hooks and a memorable chorus. The music features the band’s signature harmonies and catchy melodies, with a lively rhythm section that propels the song forward. The song’s upbeat and positive message has made it a fan favorite and a classic of the band’s catalog.
20. A Sailor’s Life – Fairport Convention
A Sailor’s Life by Fairport Convention is a haunting folk song that tells the story of a sailor’s life at sea. The lyrics are evocative and poetic, painting a vivid picture of the sailor’s struggles and experiences. The music is characterized by the band’s signature blend of folk and rock, with a hypnotic rhythm section and intricate guitar work. The song’s extended instrumental sections allow the band to showcase their improvisational skills, making each performance unique and captivating.
21. Sailing Away – Chris de Burgh
Sailing Away by Chris de Burgh is a romantic ballad that celebrates the power of love and the beauty of the sea. The lyrics describe a couple’s journey across the ocean, with vivid descriptions of the stars, waves, and wind. De Burgh’s voice is smooth and emotive, perfectly capturing the song’s sense of wonder and awe. The music features lush orchestration and a gentle melody, with a soaring chorus that adds to the song’s emotional impact. The song’s message of love and adventure has made it a popular wedding and anniversary song.
22. Come Sail Away – Styx
“Come Sail Away” is a classic rock song by the American band Styx. The song begins with a mellow piano and vocals that build into a powerful, anthemic chorus featuring soaring harmonies and electric guitars. The lyrics tell the story of a person who dreams of leaving their mundane life behind and embarking on a journey to a fantastical place. The song’s bridge features a spacey, synthesizer-driven instrumental section that adds to the song’s sense of adventure and wonder. “Come Sail Away” has become one of Styx’s most beloved hits and remains a staple of classic rock radio to this day.
23. Sailing on the Seven Seas – OMD
Sailing on the Seven Seas by OMD is a synthpop song that celebrates the power of music and the sea. The lyrics describe a journey across the ocean, with the singer’s love of music keeping him company. The music features a pulsing electronic beat and catchy synthesizer hooks, with a driving chorus that encourages the listener to “sail away.” The song’s upbeat and optimistic tone has made it a fan favorite and a classic of the synthpop genre.