Classic Rock Sailing Songs

Top 7 Classic Rock Sailing Songs

The sun is beginning to set. There’s a warm 12-knot breeze pushing you along easily as you sail downwind. A glance at the GPS says you’re hitting 7s and 8s on flat water – it’s a perfect day on the water. It’s days like these that have inspired some great songwriters to sit down and write tunes about what we love – sailing. So, with that in mind, here are ASA’s 7 best sailing songs from the classic rock genre. If you disagree, feel free to shuffle the order or add your favorite in the comments. But please understand ASA has researched this completely through a very complicated scientific process. These are the best songs and this is the right order!

  1. Catch the Wind – Although this is a love song (by Donovan), the chorus that cries, “I may as well try and catch the wind,” seems so perfect when sailing along on a summer day.
  2. Lost Sailor – The Grateful Dead aren’t known for their sailing songs but this one is pretty cool. It’s a somber tune that taps into the darker side of sailing. “Somedays the gales are howling, sometimes the sea is still as glass,” say the brooding lyrics. “Oh, raise the main sail, oh, lash the mast,” Not sure if they should raise the main if they have to lash the mast, but it’s a good tune anyway.
  3. Sailing – Rod Stewart’s Sailing is essentially a gospel tune reveling in the idea of sailing home across a sea. It’s another gorgeous melody inspired by sails full of wind and traveling like only a sailboat can.

  1. Into the Mystic – When Van Morrison sings the beautiful melody of Into the Mystic it’s clear he has sailed. “Hark, now hear the sailor’s cry – Smell the sea and feel the sky – Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.” If you can’t go sailing, listen to this tune and it’ll get you close.
  2. Southern Cross – This Crosby Stills Nash tune is the epitome of an awesome sailing tune. It’s about a man sailing around the world in an 80-footer after getting dumped. It talks about sailing on a reach and keeping a watch, so it gets extra points for actually mentioning a point of sail.
  3. Sloop John B – While the Beach Boys mostly sang about surfing and girls, Sloop John B should be the winner of the best sailing song because first; “sloop” is in the title, second; raising the main is in the chorus, third; it even makes mention of how the main sets – this is a real sailing tune. However it doesn’t win the Best Song title because “he feels so broke up, he wants to go home” and the tune loses points for that.
  4. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes – No sailing songs list is complete without a little Jimmy Buffett. This tune is an accepted anthem of cruising sailors. Many a singing sailor appreciates the line “God, I wish I was sailin’ again.” So, for the love Buffett has given to the sailing community and because it’s a solid sailing tune – we give the grand prize to Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.
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My favorite is Sailing Shoes covered by Robert Palmer (original by Little Feat)

Chris Rundlett

My favorite is Cool Change by the Little River Band!

Darrell Thompson

Don’t forget Logins & Messina – Full Sail

Doug Evans
“…ASA has researched this completely through a very complicated scientific process.” Sure – and that means you all sat around the clubhouse with Mai Tais in hand, debating into the night, right?! My picks: 1. Son of a Son of a Sailor – Jimmy Buffett 2. Southern Cross – Crosby Stills & Nash (written by Stephen Stills) 3. If I had a Boat – Lyle Lovett 4. Endless Summer – The Ventures 5. Boat Drinks – Jimmy Buffett 6. Sitting in Limbo – Jimmy Cliff 7. I’m on a Boat – The Lonely Island Honorable Mentions: Never You Change –… Read more »

What?! Mark Knopfler’s “Single Handed Sailor” not on this list? Sir, I am appalled!

Tim Nasworthy

What?! Mark Knopfler’s “Single Handed Sailor” not on the list? I must protest!

Guy bonas

What about Christopher cross…sailing….

Ken Peikert

It isn’t a classic rock tune but I always include Enya’s “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)” in my list is favorite sailing/traveling songs.

Gene Neill

Buffet, Shmuffet! If Buffet were any more commercialized, he’d be in a boy band. Any fool knows “Into the Mystic” should have been #1 amongst that list.

Granted, this is a relatively minor and forgivable oversight, in light of your woefully besotted state whilst compiling the list. However, not even including “Cool Change” – arguably the greatest sailing song ever – amounts to no less than criminal neglect. You are hereby fined a case of Jim Beam apiece, payable immediately.

Email me for the address to deliver your fines.


I agree with Guy bonds… How could anyone forget Christopher Cross’ “Sailing”?

Andy Batchelor

Sail away @ Deep Purple is the best sailing song everrrr !!


I would add The Lee Shore by CSNY.