Tips for How to Sail Properly in Sea of Thieves

Sailing is easy to learn but difficult to master. We've got some tips for you, Cap'n!

One of the most appealing aspects of Sea of Thieves is how easy to it is to learn the controls. While maneuvering a ship across the sometimes treacherous seas can seem daunting, it’s actually quite easy to learn. Mastering the art of sailing, however, is another story. It is here where the game excels in making things accessible, yet detailed enough for committed pirates to become experts in their craft. This guide seeks to point you in the right direction of becoming a true sailing master that is feared on the open seas.

Four Components of Sailing

There are four components to successful sailing in Sea of Thieves. This guide will take a look at each of them in some detail. Understanding and mastering each component will make you a better captain and will convince your crew to listen to you and let you steer the ship like you were born to do.

Reading the Wind

Tips for How to Sail Properly in Sea of Thieves
Wind DirectionTL;DR Games • Fair Use

Not surprisingly, the wind is key to a successful voyage. Sailing against the wind will not only prolong your journey, but it can be downright deadly if you’re fighting other pirates who have the wind in their favor. Fortunately, Rare has created a simple system to help you determine wind direction and make smarter decisions.

By simply looking up at the sky, you’ll be able to spot faint white lines depicting the movement of the wind. If you pay close attention, you can determine its direction. You can also look at any of the flags on your ship and see which way the wind is blowing them. Once you know the direction of the wind, you can adjust your ship’s sails accordingly.

Setting the Sail Angle

Tips for How to Sail Properly in Sea of Thieves
Sail AngleTL;DR Games • Fair Use

In order to harness the maximum power of the wind, you want it to blow into the largest possible surface of your fails. Since you can’t just turn your ship into the perfect position and still arrive at your chosen destination, you will have to adjust the sail angle instead. Depending on the size of your ship, you’ll have one or more sails that can be adjusted. By rotating the sail to face the direction the wind is blowing, you’ll collect the most wind possible and thus benefit the most in terms of speed. The game will provide a satisfying sound when the sails are set perfectly and it’s quite obvious to see a sail that is filled with wind.

Setting the Sail Length

Tips for How to Sail Properly in Sea of Thieves
Sail LengthTL;DR Games • Fair Use

Near the control that allows you to adjust the sail angle, is a rope that controls the sail length. It allows your crew to either hoist the sails, i.e. pull them up, thus offering very little surface for the wind to have an impact on it, or to lower them for maximum wind collection. Of course you can reef the sails – if you don’t know what that means, consult our sailing lingo guide – in order to set your speed as desired.

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It should be noted that both the sail length and angle have dual controls on either side of the ship. That means that multiple crew members can operate the controls at the same time, thus speeding up the tasks. Hoisting a sail takes longer than lowering it of course, so if time if of the essence, every crew member should pitch in.

Once you’ve mastered adjusting the sail length to control your ship’s speed, you’ll be able to coast into ports like a true pirate, instead of just steaming in at full speed and dropping the anchor in hopes your ship doesn’t run aground or get torn apart.

Mastering the Steering Wheel

Tips for How to Sail Properly in Sea of Thieves
SunriseXbox Wire • Licensed by Owner

The final component to mastering sailing in Sea of Thieves is the steering wheel. This may sound obvious, but because there is no true indication of how far you’ve currently turned the wheel and in which direction, you can easily end up zig-zagging your way across the water, looking like a fool in the process. Again, everyone can control the wheel and it’s easy enough to use it, but if you know a couple of tricks, you’ll be much better off.

The first thing you should know is that the wheel has a center point. One of the handles is more ornate than the others, standing out in its golden shine. That is your center point and it becomes key to properly turning your wheel. I suggest you take the time while in port to figure out the degree of rotation for your particular ship. On a Galleon it is 720 degrees to either side, for a total of four full rotations before hitting either extreme. On a Sloop, that rotation is a mere 360 degree to either side, so just two rotations in total. That actually makes using the wheel on a Sloop much easier.

When manning the helm, keep track of how far you’ve turned your wheel to either port or starboard. Then keep track of how many rotations you’ve made in either direction to get a better idea of how hard you’re turning the rudder. It only takes a little bit of practice before you can get comfortable enough to hit your mark every time.

There you have it, ya Scallywag! Master the four components above and you’ll soon be known as the most competent and feared captain in Sea of Thieves. For more helpful guides, be sure to pay a visit to our Guide Hub.

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Sailing is easy to learn but difficult to master. It's all about aligning your sail angle with the way the wind blows for maximum speed. Keep the wind at your back to outmaneuver opponents. Learn how to raise the sails to slow down and drift into port. Get your crew to help you out when playing on a Galleon. Sailing is a team activity!
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