January 28, 2016   Cara Kuhlman
Regular 48° North contributor, Cara Kuhlman, loves sailing and movies. Here’s the first part of her Top 10 (picks 10-6). Watch for Part Two (picks 5-1) next week. Be sure to send in your Top 10 and let Cara know what she missed!

The last sailing movie I watched was with my college sailing teammates, crowded around a thousand pound TV showing Wind on VHS. Although I was only three went it premiered, watching the opening credits inspired a wave of nostalgia. Packed full of cheesy moments it reminded us of a not so far gone sailing era, and Jennifer Grey’s once notable nose. For weeks after, we quacked when ducking boats at practice and paraded about in 90’s sailing gear from the lost and found.

I love movies and I love sailing. In the winter, I think I love movies a bit more than sailing. To make up for some time off the water, I have been exploring what the world of sailing movies has to offer.

Sailing movies have a special place in the heart of boaters. They inspire nostalgia, wanderlust, and critique. During the dark, stormy days of winter they allow viewers to set sail from the cozy comfort of home. What constitutes a sailing movie? Technically, Wedding Crashers has a sailing scene, and although beautiful and humorous, it isn’t quite enough to catapult it into sailing lore.

Sailing movies include stories of romance, distress, or drama, delivered to audiences in a boat-shaped package. My Top 10 not only depict sailing, they explore it – the good and bad. Above all, they have engaged the sailing community in some way. Some are praised, others rebuked, and some of the best enter kitschy sailing lore.

So, if you are a daring year ’round sailor here in the Pacific Northwest, we commend you! But if you do choose to stay on shore, get your sailing fix with one of these sailing movies.


10. The One That Inspired Marlon Brando to Move to Tahiti

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

“The greatest adventure ever lived becomes the greatest adventure ever filmed!”

The Big Names: Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, and Richard Harris.

A tale of explorers retold and recreated, Mutiny on the Bounty portrays one of the most famous mutinies in history. Aboard the English ship HMAV Bounty, loyalties, culture, and leadership clash across the Pacific Ocean and Tahitian islands. The 1962 film features Marlon Brando and was partly shot on location in the South Pacific.


9. So Adventurous They Made It Twice

Kon Tiki (1950 and 2012)

“Real adventure has no limits” (2012)

The Big Names: Thor Heyderdahl and Norway

Both the original documentary and 2012 historical drama follow Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 crossing across the Pacific Ocean from South America about a raft named Kon-Tiki. A Norwegian explorer, Heyerdahl sought to prove it was possible for South Americans to have settled Polynesia before Columbus’ arrival.


8. The One for Fans of Patrick O’Brien and Russell Crowe

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

“The Courage To Do The Impossible Lies In The Hearts of Men.”

The Big Names: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany

O’Brien’s Captain Jack Aubrey comes to the screen in this historical drama set during the Napoleonic Wars. The film follows Captain Aubrey’s warship the HMS Surprise as it pursues a French privateer around South America to the Galapagos capturing the drama onboard and on the high seas.


7. The One Youth Sailors Should Watch, But Not Get Any Ideas…

Maidentrip (2014)

The Big Names: Laura Dekker

At fourteen, many youth sailors are transitioning out of 8-foot dinghies or crewing with their parents. Laura Dekker made headlines and history during her pursuit of becoming the youngest person to complete a solo-circumnavigation in this documentary/biography.


6. The One (sniffle, sniffle)…

White Squall (1996)

“The Adventure Of a Lifetime Turns into the Ultimate Challenge for Survival”

The Big Names: Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall, John Savage, Scott Wolf, Ryan Phillipe, and Ridley Scott (Director)

One of those sailing movies that makes people wonder, “Why the hell would you go out to sea?” Based on a true story, twelve teenage boys, most in need of some discipline, assemble as crew of a school sailing ship captained by a polarizing brute, who might just draw them together. During their journey a ferocious squall puts the crew to the test.


Cara Kuhlman is a Seattle-based writer and sailor who is always eager to share a good story, especially over a beer. After growing up in the San Francisco Bay area she migrated north first to the University of Oregon, then to Seattle and sailed all along the way. 



IMDb- Kon-Tiki (1950),

IMDb- Kon-Tiki (2012),

IMDb- Master and Commander,

IMDb- Mutiny on the Bounty,

IMDb- White Squall,

IMDb- Maiden Trip,

Maiden Trip,