12 Great Sea Adventure Stories

A ship in a stormy sea
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For those of you, who prefer to travel from the comfort of your armchair, we have selected twelve nautical tales that will whisk you away on a few vicarious journeys around the world. From swashbuckling escapades and treasure hunting to suspenseful battles for survival, these thrilling adventures will keep you turning pages well into the night.

Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

Image credit: Simon & Schuster

“Is there a greater classic among adventure books than the reckless Thor Heyerdahl’s story about a 104 day long raft ride through the Pacific in 1947? It is just as crazy as it is heroic and makes your jaw drop everytime. The 6 men fighting the elements on a hand-made balsa wood vesel are at the mercy of the acient Gods of South America and the Pacific. Encounters with wonderful Verne-like creatures of the sea bring the Pacific to life. Squids and giant sharks are right under your feet, fish and octopus fly into your face daily. You just have to put your toothbrush in the water and a fish bites on it vehemently. Myths accompany the Scandinavian crew all the way, it’s an uplifting tale of a pursuit of dreams.” – Mukikamu

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The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Image credit: Harper Collins

Buckle up and get ready to be whisked away on a round-the-world trip aboard The Temptation in Heidi Heilig’s debut fantasy. A sixteen-year old girl, Nix might seem like an average teenage girl, but there is more to her than meets the eye. Throughout her life, she has travelled through time and space on a hand-built pirate ship alongside her father, Captain Slate, who is on a mission to revisit his past to save the love of his life. But what fate awaits this duo on their perilous journey?

The Girl From Everywhere delights the readers with witty dialogues, enchanting myths and breathtaking scenery.

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Monsoon by Wilbur Smith

Image credit: Simon & Schuster

“Famed sailor Hal Courtney is now a man of land and family. But when the King orders him to sail to Madagascar and stop the pirates responsible for looting the finest trading ships of the East India Trading Company and bringing ruin to them all, Hal must travel with his three younger sons on a journey that will shape the young men forever. In this swashbuckling adventure of marauders and slave-traders, love and treasure, the brothers will face duels, chases, betrayals and battles – and see their fates cast in ways they could never have imagined . . . ” – Courtney Series

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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Image credit: Connor Smyth

First published in 1719, Daniel Defoe’s classic adventure has been a popular summer read for many generations of readers of all ages. For Robinson Crusoe, a mariner on a quest to bring slaves from Africa, the ship’s collision with a raging storm marked the beginning of his spiritual journey. Having been washed up on the shore by shipwreck, the lonely castaway struggles against deprivation, hardship and miseries on a small deserted island near Trinidad. Following a few years of solitude, Crusoe discovers yet another sinister secret, lurking behind the world of exotic beaches and glinting blue waters, that might jeopardise his hopes of being rescued. Presented as a fictional autobiography, Defoe offers a unique glimpse into the soul of an exile in his fight for survival, where courage and ingenuity triumph over adversity.

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The Riddle of The Sands by Erskine Childers

Image credit: Dover Publications

“Published in 1903, this is both an old-fashioned adventure and a warning to England’s government of the dangers of Germany’s naval plans in the event of war against England. It captures a historical moment marvellously: when young men with no training or formal status could turn into spies and foil a dastardly plan during their summer holiday. While noted as an early espionage thriller, this is markedly better written than many in the genre and the characterisation is especially interesting when it comes to Davies: a maverick and marginalised man who was rejected from the Navy and now spends his time sailing in a broken-down boat and who knows the coastline like the proverbial back of his hand. The clash between him and the narrator, Carruthers, a Foreign Office man with fluent German animates the first half of the book until Carruthers’ sulky discontent turns to respect and excitement.” – Roman Clodia

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In the Heart of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

Image credit: Penguin Publishing

This award-winning book describes a 19th century maritime disaster that inspired Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick. The novel tells a real-life story of the crew aboard the whale ship Essex battling for their survival in the South Pacific after the ship has been attacked and sank by an 80ft sperm whale. Throughout a 90-day ordeal in the open ocean, sailors are tested by dehydration, hunger and extreme weather. Reaching the depths of despair, the crew members resort to cannibalising their dead shipmates.

All adventurers at heart should add this book to their read-lists.

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Inca Gold by Clive Cussler

Image credit: Harper Collins

“In 1578, Sir Francis Drake captures a Spanish galleon filled with Inca gold and silver and a key to a lost treasure. As the galleon is sailed back to England, an underwater earthquake causes a massive tidal wave sweeping it into the jungle, where it vanishes into history. In 1998, a group of archaeologists diving in the depth of sacrificial pool high in the Andes of Peru are rescued from drowning in the nick of time by Dirk Pitt who happens to be on a marine expedition nearby. Their lives are once again in jeopardy when smugglers with the intent of uncovering lost ancient Inca treasures discover them. Captured by a family syndicate dealing in stolen works of art, they are threatened with execution and find themselves in a vortex of corruption, betrayal and death.” – Toni Osborne

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The Old Man and The Sea by Earnest Hemingway

Image credit: Scribners Sons

One of the most powerful novellas ever written, The Old Man and the Sea represents Hemingway’s last literary gem published during his lifetime. Inspired by real events, the story is centred around a Cuban fisherman Santiago who is considered to be cursed failing to catch a fish for weeks. In his strive to redeem himself, the old man ventures into the Gulf Stream where he encounters the largest marlin he has ever seen. The next few days can only be described as an agonising battle to bring the marlin to the market in one piece. By the time Santiago reaches the shore, the giant fish has been devoured by sharks leaving nothing but a skeleton as a reminder of the fisherman’s stoicism and courage.

Deep Shadow by Nick Sullivan

Image credit: Wild Yonder Press

“Scuba divers travel from all over the world to visit the little island of Bonaire, with its crystal-clear waters and a host of beautiful marine life. After three years in the “Diver’s Paradise”, dive master Boone Fischer thought he’d seen it all; but on a routine afternoon dive, he spots something that will turn his tranquil life upside down.

Deep Shadow has it all—Suspense, Thriller… and a little bit of love. Sullivan is obviously a fan of the culture, climate and diving in the Caribbean. The way he described each island and each dive that they made is painted in this amazing colour that I felt like I was there. Overall, Deep Shadow will probably be up there with my Best of 2018 books.”- Brian’s Book

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Twenty Thousand Leagues under The Sea by Jules Verne

Image credit: Express Publishing

When Professor Aronnax and his crew set off on a quest to find a deep sea monster, little do they know that their discovery will stretch far beyond their imagination. A thrilling adventure awaits for them on board of the submarine Nautilus, commanded by enigmatic Captain Nemo, the greatest inventor of his time. Being held captive, Aronnax and his campanions will spend the next ten months at sea, exploring volcanoes and desert islands, hunting sharks and fighting a giant squid.

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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Image credit: Mariner Books

“Many readers will agree that Yann Martel touched nerves with his story of a teenager cast adrift on the Pacific in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan and a Bengal tiger for company. Far from being told like an allegory, the novel’s central episodes are carefully explained where animals commonly simplify human characteristics. You might read Life of Pi in this light, as a fable. When Pi reaches land after 227 days at sea, he describes the tiger with whom he has shared his boat as “companion of my torment, awful, fierce thing that kept me alive.” – The Guardian

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Image credit: Signet Classics

Anyone who has ever felt a desperate urge to escape the reality to a faraway land, will enjoy this captivating tale of “buccaneers and buried gold”. Set in the tropics, the story unfolds when a young innkeeper Jim Hawkins comes into possession of an old treasure map. Accompanied by a seasoned captain Smolett, heroic Dr. Livesey and other crew members, he sets off on a great sailing adventure in his bid to recover the dead man’s riches. However, it is not long before the voyage turns into a treacherous journey unveiling the true intentions of mutineers aboard the Hispaniola. From half-mad to outright dangerous, the “gentlemen of fortune” are yet to teach young Jim some timeless lessons about trust, kindness and honour, he is less unlikely to forget. First published in 1883, this ultimate all-ages crowd pleaser became one of the most frequently dramatised novels in history.

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Stella is a Marketing Consultant and has been writing content for Full Text Archive since 2015. When she is not writing, she is meticulously planning our social and e-mail campaigns. Stella holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Russian Literature, which has provided a broad foundation from which she continues to explore the written world.

She spends her free time reading, visiting old castles and discovering new coffee shops. She can be reached at stella

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