Sailing employs the wind acting on sails to propel a ship on the surface of the water. Sailing primarily requires adjusting sail length and angle, finely turning the steering wheel direction, and switching the Anchor at opportune moments.
Two controls are available to adjust sails: Length and Angle. There are two of each control per sail, one on each side of the ship below the sail, so that up to two people can work together to quickly adjust the rigging.
- Length determines how much wind will be used, which propels the ship faster. The more a sail is lowered, the more wind it can scoop up and use to move the ship. Without sails, the ship will slow to a stop.
- Angle is used to turn the sail with the wind. There is no penalty to improper angle, only the added benefit of setting them correctly. For maximum power, sails should be angled so that the wind blows directly into them. Wind direction can be determined by observing the wind streaks in the air, or the flag if it is raised. When the sail angle arrives at its optimal position, the sail will flap and stretch.
The ship's wheel determines its sailing direction. Its gold-trimmed handle is a measurement determining wheel rotations, and makes a sound when the rudder is pointing straight ahead.
The Anchor can be used to keep the Ship parked at a particular spot. When the Anchor drops, the ship will turn abruptly in the target direction before stopping. The ship cannot move or turn while anchored.
The Anchor is dropped and raised via the Capstan. It can be dropped instantly by a single crew member, but raising the Anchor requires more time and manpower. The Anchor will not activate until the crank is complete; while the Capstan moves, it can stop at any time by a player idling on the Capstan. Larger Ships require more manpower to raise the Anchor efficiently.
- A ship unanchored can turn in place, furling the sails will slow the ship to rest.
- At night, switching off all the Lanterns on the top deck can make it harder to be spotted by other ships who might be looking to attack or hijack your collected items.
- Almost every Wheel variant has a different center peg, however these do not affect gameplay.