Ultimate Sailing Songs for Inspiration and Life on the Water

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view of jib out on sailboat cutting through the waves

What’s being on a sailboat without the best sailing songs to listen to while underway? When the sails are up, and you’ve got 10 knots on the beam, here are a few favorites that will make you never want the day to end.

Whether you’re daydreaming about sailing adventures and need a little inspiration or planning the perfect sailing playlist for a yacht charter in the Caribbean – this list of sailing music is for you!

Here are some of the best songs about sailing or being on a boat that you can add to your playlist. We also threw in a few songs that use sailing metaphors to represent different journeys or relationships in life.

1. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) – The Looking Glass 

This is one of the best sailing songs of the 70s and truly exemplifies the sailor lifestyle. It’s about a girl in love with a sailor whom she will never be able to steal from the sea. The line “But my life, my love, and my lady is the sea” is something anyone who loves the water can relate to.

2. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) – Enya

This late 80s song by Enya is indeed a catchy tune. It sticks in my head every time we raise the sails. Enya’s airy voice gives this song a whimsical quality which really fits well with the lyrics.

3. Knee Deep – Zac Brown Band feat. Jimmy Buffet 

This song is actually about trying to get over someone after a break-up. However, the laid-back, easy listening vibe of the Zac Brown Band makes you want to grab a chair, a beer, and relax by the ocean.

4. How Far I’ll Go – Moana Soundtrack 

Yes, this song is from a Disney movie, and we couldn’t possibly leave it off the list. It is the full embodiment of what it’s like to be drawn to the water. The lyrics “see the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me” will forever ring true to your sailing spirit!

5. Sailing – Christopher Cross 

This 80’s soft rock classic reminds us of how sailing can be the ultimate freedom — a song about sailing away from your problems and worries of the world. The dreamy melody and vocals in this song make it one of my personal favorites!

6. Soul of a Sailor – Kenny Chesney 

The ‘Caribbean Cowboy’ has his share of sailing songs. This one is surprisingly perfect when it comes to the heart of a sailor. “When the wind fills my sail, riding on a lifelong swell, let my heart take me where it wants to go – that’s the soul of a sailor.”

7. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison

This classic rock song about a sailor coming home has so many deeper meanings and interpretations. It’s one of those songs where the lyrics strike different meanings to different people, and that’s what makes it a great sailing jam.

8. The River – Garth Brooks 

This country ballad uses the metaphor of a river and a vessel to illustrate what it’s like to chase what you want and never give up on your dreams. So many sailors can relate to this mentality, so it had to make this list!

9. Southern Cross – Crosby, Stills, & Nash

This 80s song about a failed relationship got renewed life when Jimmy Buffett started covering it at his live shows in the 90s. All the sailing terms and references in this one definitely make it a sailing song classic.

10. Treat Her Like a Lady – Jimmy Buffett

Ok, confession time. I wouldn’t say I like Jimmy Buffett that much (don’t throw stones, please). But, when we bought our boat, Jimmy Buffett’s Volcano album was in the CD player. Since it was the only CD on board, we would often play it when we didn’t want to hook up the Bluetooth. From that album came this song about a sailor’s love for the ocean. It’s a slower tempo than most of his more popular songs, and I think it’s a nice change of pace.

11. Somewhere in the Sun – Kenny Chesney

This Chesney hit from the ‘Be As You Are’ album is about wishing you were in the islands when you are somewhere else. Kenny Chesney even references bars in the BVIs in his lyrics. If you are sitting in an office somewhere, dreaming of sailing away, this will resonate with you. 

12. Sailing – Rod Stewart

Although this isn’t my favorite Rod Stewart song, I can’t deny it a position on this list. Its soft rock vibe and repeating lyrics make it an instant sing-a-long. It is a classic sailing song through and through!

13. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

This classic song has all the slow-living vibes of the cruising lifestyle. I also learned something about this tune recently. The Dock of the Bay was recorded on Dec. 7, 1967. There was a difference of opinion between Redding and the studio over releasing this song. It didn’t have the same soulful beat as Redding’s popular hits. Despite this, Redding argued it would be his first No. 1 single. On Dec. 10, Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash. When the song was released in 1968 it topped the charts at No. 1 and won two Grammy Awards.

14. Islands in the Stream – Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers

The Bee Gee’s Barry Gibb wrote this iconic duet. It’s got all the feels of a sailing love song and has definite karaoke potential. Or as I prefer, just singing to the waves while at the helm. Either way, this is a must-have for your sailing songs playlist.

15. Sail On, Sailor – The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys have a ton of music about sailing. This one is particularly excellent due to the message of perseverance on the ocean and in life. Sail on, sail on, sailor!

Where to Find More Songs for Sailors

Fiery sunset over the channel water

There have been many great sailing songs, both new and old, over the years. Not to mention all the incredible songs about freedom, adventure, and pushing your boundaries.

And for more inspiration, check out the below Spotify playlist of 500 Sailing Songs for Sailors.


Want to find more sailing inspiration?

Check out our lists of sailing movies, quotes, books, and more that inspire this lifestyle.

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    1. Thanks, Jodie! I’m the same. Whatever I’m doing it’s better with good tunes 🙂

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