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Sailing is the principal focus of Naval Action. Understanding the way ships behave on the seas, the differences between their rigging, and their relationship with the wind is essential to success.

Wind and points of sail[edit | edit source]

  • Naval Action provides a very simple way to identify the direction the wind is coming from: A large, semi-transparent arrow is placed over the compass, showing you where the wind is coming from.
  • The point of sail is the direction your ship is going in relative to the wind direction. Choosing the right point of sail is critical in travels and particularly in combat, as it determines your ship's speed, maneuverability, and thus the ability to survive.
  • The viability of each point of sail depends on the type of rigging your ship has: Fore and aft rigged ships behave much differently than square rigged ships.

Points of sail[edit | edit source]

Close Hauled
In Irons
Close Hauled
Broad Reaching
Broad Reaching

The above diagram shows the basic orientations of your ship relative to the incoming wind (gray arrow in the background).

  • In irons: With the wind blowing directly at the bow of your ship, the sails cannot work. The ship will remain motionless, with any movement coming from inertia.
  • Close hauled: Sailing in the direction of the wind's point of origin, at a roughly 10-40 degrees angle. Front and aft rigged ships perform exceptionally well in this point of sail, while square rigged ships do not.
  • Reaching: Sailing perpendicular to the wind's direction. Depending on the angle, it's either close reaching (40 degrees and above), beam reaching (90 degrees, directly perpendicular), and broad reaching (above 90 degrees). Fore and aft rigged ships perform well in close and beam reaching, while square rigged ships start to show their speed in broad reaching.
  • Running: The wind blows directly from the stern. Square rigging works best, while fore and aft rigging hamstrings the ship in this position.

As can be seen, the two different types of rigging in Naval Action greatly influence how you need to operate your ship. Getting away from a square-rigged ship in a for and aft rigged vessel can be tricky if the former is in an advantageous point of sail, meaning that in combat, wind is just as important as the position and even number of guns.

Maneuvering[edit | edit source]

The basic way to maneuver is with the rudder: Turn it and as long as there's water flowing past it, the ship will turn. Simple to learn, difficult to master, effectively using the rudder depends on the kind of ship you're sailing and their speed. Peak maneuverability is usually achieved at about half of maximum speed, as it has enough inertia to make the turn, even upwind, but not so much that you wind up turning too much and, say, run smack right into the frigate that's been gunning for you the past fifteen minutes. Every ship has a speed at which it performs best. Practice makes perfect.

There are two maneuvers that are a little more involved:

  • Tacking is turning the ship so that the bow passes upwind, through the "in irons" point of sail. Tacking requires speed, inertia, or a mastery of manual sails. As a rule of thumb, never, ever try tacking at a low speed, as it's a sure fire way to get stuck - and shot.
  • Jibing is turning the ship so that the stern passes upwind. Jibing is safe and doesn't run the risk of rendering the ship stuck.

Both maneuvers change the tilt of the ship (heel), affecting the range of guns.

Manual sails[edit | edit source]

Default Keys
F Toggle automatic sails on.
Q - E Turn foremast sails left / right
Z - C Turn main and mizzen sails left / right

A crucial part of maneuvering, automatic sails are useful in smaller, faster ships where speed is rarely an issue. However, in larger ships, controlling sails manually becomes a priority, as their speed is usually very low and simply turning the rudder will only get you as far as the ocean floor. Manually controlling sails allows you to make tight turns, rapidly change speed, and tack at any speed. Expert usage even allows for turning large ships on a dime to reach smaller, nimbler vessels that run circles around them.

The above video contains an excellent tutorial for understanding manual sails, their significance, and effect on your sailing.