Music is the ideal complement to the sound of the wind and the waves whilst sailing or motoring along. But what to listen to? Spanning multiple decades and genres, this is Boat International's pick for the 10 best songs for your yachting playlist.
Best songs for your yachting playlist
1) Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills and Nash
The wanderlust sailing song
“When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you understand why you came this way,” trio Crosby, Stills and Nash croon in their sailing classic. Waxing poetic about the tiny but iconic constellation only visible in the Southern Hemisphere, they give sailors true wanderlust for the seas below the equator.
Conjuring up visions of the Marquesas Islands, noisy beach bars and quiet nights gazing up at star-filled skies, it’s a song that many a yachtsmen can relate to and one that makes us homesick for the sea. Yes, the song might be about a woman and love, too – but what sea song isn't?
2) Rio - Duran Duran
The iconic music video song for your yachting playlist
This 1980s classic might be less about sailing and boats themselves than other songs on this list, but the song's iconic music video with the Duran Duran boys goofily traipsing around the Caribbean chasing a girl on a beautiful classic sailing yacht earns it a spot on our yachting playlist. Just try to listen to this song and not picture Simon Le Bon falling off a yacht in his suit – and just why is he holding that phone? An avid sailor in real life, Le Bon is still into yachts today, recently racing with Land Rover BAR.
3) Sloop John B - The Beach Boys
The rough day on the water yachting song
Sang as only the Beach Boys could with a happy, harmonising melody, it’s easy to forget that this song is about a sailor pleading to go home. But whether you blame it on inclement weather or a big night out onshore, we’ve all had the less than perfect day on the water, as this perfect yachting song empathises.
4) Sailing - Rod Stewart
Best heart-wrenching sailing song
In the first few lines of “Sailing” by Rod Stewart, he lists the reasons that many a man have gone to sea: to be near a woman, to reach home on a distant shore, or conversely, "to be free." It's commonly believed this emotionally charged song was written when Rod Stewart was homesick, though some conjecture it's actually a song about God. Whatever the meaning, it's hard not to hum along as Stewart sings, "I am sailing, I am sailing..." and his literal sailor costume in the music video is pretty epic.
5) A Pirate Looks at Forty - Jimmy Buffett
The best Jimmy Buffett song for your yachting playlist
For many a yachtsmen, Jimmy Buffett’s entire catalogue is celebrated. Indeed, it’s hard to choose just one best Buffett tune to cruise to. Is it One Particular Harbour? Son of Sailor? Changes in Latitudes? Or even the party hearty Boat Drinks? We could make an entire playlist of the best Jimmy Buffett songs for yachting. But if pressed to choose one, it has to be A Pirate Looks at Forty. This ode to Mother Ocean is one that pulls the heart strings of many a yacht owner. As Buffett sings, “Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call, wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall.” Being inexplicably called by the ocean, isn’t that the reason so many buy yachts and head out to sea after all?
6) When the Ship Comes In - Bob Dylan
Best folk song about the sea for your yachting playlist
Maybe one of Bob Dylan's lesser known songs – it was overshadowed by the famed "The Times They are Changing" on the titular album – but "When the Ship Comes In" is the perfect folk ballad about the sea. With moody harmonicas paring perfectly against Dylan's poetic lyrics and gravelly voice, it's a song you can imagine hearing by the fireside – or in any case, around the fire pit on the aft deck of your superyacht under the stars.
7) Don't Rock My Boat - Bob Marley
The ultimate reggae yachting song
A send up to keeping things copacetic on the high seas – and in relationships and life in general – Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley implores that you “please don’t rock my boat… cause I don’t want my boat to be a rockin’ anyhow.” Truer words were never spoken. Not only is it a sentiment we think every yacht owner can get behind, but it's a relaxing reggae song perfect for your yachting playlist.
8) Come Sail Away - Styx
Best rock song for your yachting playlist
Sure, this Styx song might start out soft and soothing as we are "sailing away on an open sea," but just wait until minute two and it hits its full classic rock crescendo. And when a gathering of angels appears above your head and commands you to come sail away, it's probably best to heed the advice. This is one song to crank up and rock out to that will definitely get your amped up for sailing.
9) It's Five O' Clock Somewhere - Alan Jackson
Best country music song for your yachting playlist
Not to imply anything, but with the exquisite bars and cellars storing wine on board superyachts, it seems yacht owners and sailors might enjoy a drink or two. There is an unofficial rule on the high seas that normal drinking rules go out the window. Champagne with breakfast? But of course. Tropical drinks after a morning swim? Well, it's 5'o clock somewhere! Yacht owner and country music crooner Alan Jackson, featuring the ever-salty Jimmy Buffett, celebrate this notion in the song "It's Five O' Clock Somewhere", which is filmed on Jackson's sportfishing yacht, no less, the cleverly named Hullbilly.
10) I'm on a Boat - The Lonely Island Boys
The best rap song spoofing the superyacht lifestyle for your yachting playlist
Comedian Andy Sandberg, joined by rapper T-Pain, takes on all the stereotypes of the superyacht lifestyle and celebrates them in one outrageous music video that was originally aired as a "Saturday Night Live" short. While the song might seem a mockery of yachting, it only served to heighten the cachet of the yachting lifestyle as everyone who heard it wants to be "on a boat." If you can get past the foul language (all bleeped out in the version above) and enjoy the hilarious imagery, it's the ideal rap song to add to your yachting playlist and one that's sure to get everyone out on the dance floor – wearing their "nautical themed pashmina afghan," of course.
Listen to the yachting playlist here:
To hear these and a dozen more ideal sailing songs, listen to the full Boat International yachting playlist.