Boat Songs: The Ultimate Boating Playlist

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Boat songs are a dime a dozen—and for good reason. Every boater loves to crank up the volume and blast a good boating playlist while enjoying a beautiful, sunny day on the water. 
If you need some boating tunes to add to your playlist, we're here to help. In this post, we've broken our favorite 24 boating songs into categories that will work for however you feel at the helm on any given day. 

It doesn't matter whether you're aboard a 60-foot motor yacht, a 30-foot sailboat, or a 13-foot center console: This playlist works for anyone who has boating in their heart.

Boat Party Playlist

1. Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffett

Choosing just one Jimmy Buffett song is hard, but if you must, go with "Boat Drinks." This tune captures the essence of a carefree day out on the water, sipping your favorite refreshment while enjoying the soothing rhythm of the waves.

2. “Redneck Yacht Club” by Craig Morgan

Even if you’re not a regular fan of country music, you’ll find yourself singing along to this toe-tapping tune that name-drops everything from Evinrude and Mercury to Bayliner and Bass Tracker.

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3. “Rock the Boat” by the Hues Corporation

With its infectious rhythm and feel-good vibe, this song is a timeless disco classic that gets people dancing.

4. “Banana Boat (Day-O)” by Harry Belefonte

There are countless covers of this crowd-pleaser, which is based on a Jamaican folk song, but Harry Belafonte's version from 1956 is the one that still rings true to most fans' ears.

5. “Buy Me a Boat” by Chris Janson

While money can't buy everything, it can certainly buy me a boat. Who can resist belting out this sentiment at the top of their lungs?

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6. “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Planet and T-Pain

This song provides satirical commentary on music videos featuring rappers on yachts. While the lyrics are explicit (don't listen to this one with the kids), the catchy hook will undoubtedly stay with you.

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7. “Where the Boat Leaves From” by the Zac Brown Band

You know the feeling: It's 4:45 p.m. on Friday, your buddies have the coolers stocked with ice and brewskies, and you'll climb over traffic to get to the marina. Because, as the song goes, that's where the boat leaves from.

8. “Pontoon” by Little Big Town

It's hard not to love a song about the everyday boats on lakes across America where families and friends gather every weekend. Three cheers for Little Big Town and their homage to the pontoon.

9. “Orinoco Flow” by Enya

It's hard not to remember this catchy tune, which repeats, "Let me sail, let me sail." Bet your pals $5 that they can't name the actual song title, even if they can sing every word of the chorus.

10. “When the Ship Comes In” by Bob Dylan

The master of poetry and song released this single on his album "The Times They Are a-Changin'." It's forever entwined with the spirit of that era: Dylan and Joan Baez performed it together at the March on Washington in 1963.

11. “Sail Away” by David Gray

You may remember David Gray from his single "Babylon," which hit No. 1 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart in 1999. "Sail Away" was on the same album, "White Ladder," with Gray crooning, "Sail away with me honey."

12. “Captain Jim’s Drunken Dream” by James Taylor

No less than Art Garfunkel contributed vocals on this song when Taylor was in the studio recording it. "Shower the People" became the big hit on the album, with this song appearing on side two.

Boating Playlist

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13. “The Downeaster Alexa” by Billy Joel Longtime

Billy Joel enjoys cruising on New York's Long Island Sound, which inspired him to write this tune from the perspective of a fisherman who was having trouble paying the bills.

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14. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot

Commemorating the sinking of a carrier ship on Lake Superior, this song was written with an eye toward historical accuracy. Lightfoot changed some lyrics for live shows after new information about the sinking was uncovered.

15. “Boats” by Kenny Chesney

Chesney sings about Ol' Joe and his Boston Whaler in this song, which evokes the true love of boating that we all feel—no matter how much of a pain in the neck (and back) the boat can sometimes be.

16. “Sinking of the Reuben James” by Woody Guthrie

The USS Reuben James was a destroyer with the sad distinction of being the first U.S. Navy ship sunk in Europe during World War II. In this song, Guthrie immortalized the crew members who died fighting for freedom.

17. “Pay Me My Money Down” by Bruce Springsteen

This originally was a work song that could be heard on the docks, and that later was popularized by Pete Seeger. Springsteen released his version in 2006—on the only album he ever made of material he didn’t write himself.

18. "On The Boat Again" by Jake Owen

When he's not writing country music tunes, Jake Owen loves spending time out on the water. In "On the Boat Again," Jake blends his love for country music with the joy of being out on the water, encapsulating the longing for a picture-perfect day beneath the sun.

Karaoke Jams

19. “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image

How this song only made it to No. 4 on the charts is a true mystery, given that its chorus, introduced to the world in 1970, is still on the tip of countless tongues today.

20. “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys

When they took a break from singing about California surfers, the Beach Boys recorded this track based on a Bahamian folk song. It reached number one in numerous countries, including Germany, South Africa, and New Zealand.

21. “I’m Your Captain” by Grand Funk Railroad

At 10 minutes, this is the longest studio recording that Grand Funk Railroad ever did. It's not as long as the 13-minute "Pirates" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but it'll do fine for a karaoke finale.

22. “Come Sail Away” by Styx

Go ahead: Try to name another song that has made as many TV show appearances as this one, whose credits include "South Park," "ER," "Glee," "The Goldbergs," and "Freaks and Geeks."

23. “Brandy” by Looking Glass

You may know all the words to this one, but we'll bet you didn't know that Barry Manilow reportedly changed the name of his song of the same name to "Mandy" so fans wouldn't get the two tunes confused.

24. “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills and Nash Stephen

Stills based this song on "Seven League Boots," adding lyrics and a chorus about a boat trip he took after his divorce. He says the song is about the power of the universe to heal—something every boater knows to be true.

Create Your Own Boating Playlist

Crafting the perfect boating playlist is an art that combines the rhythm of the water with the beats of your favorite tunes. 

Whether you're cruising along a serene lake or on a yacht in the open sea, the right playlist can elevate your boating experience. So, grab your sunglasses, turn up the volume, and let the music complement the splendor of the waves for an unforgettable day on the water.

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