The Helmsman's display is critical in understanding how to sail your ship. The display is dominated by a transparent Compass Rose but there are a number of other things that that a wise skipper will know...
Among these are...
- Auto Skipper Status
- Crew Numbers
- Sail Condition
- Sail Settings
- Sails (Yards) setting
- Winds to
- Winds From
- "Charted" Course
Auto Skipper Status
The Auto Skipper will make work certain that sails are trimmed to achieve maximum speed toward the course you've set. You can think of it as delegating the "working of the ship" to a subordinate but as with all subordinates, there are things that they cannot do as well as the captain. To toggle auto skipper off in Combat use "F"
A ship requires a minimum crew to even leave port. Beyond the crew needed to set the sails, crew are needed to man the guns, repair hull and rigging damage from Battle, man the pumps to keep leaks at bay, to fight fires and do a plethora of other tasks. If crew numbers fall during battle they can possibly be revived by administering Rum.
Sails may be damaged in battle and this play a major role in the speeds that the ship can achieve. Sails may be repaired if sufficient Rigging Repair Kits are aboard. Basic Cutters come with an infinite supply of free sail repair kits. For other vessels they must be purchased or crafted in port. If one attempts to leave port in a ship that requires such supplies but isn't carrying any, there will be a warning when one elects to "Sail" but it may be ignored at the captain's pleasure.
At the captain's orders sails may be set to:
- Full 100%
- Half 80%
- Slow 60%
- Battle Sails 40%
- Dead Slow 20%
Use the "W" key to set more sail and the "S" key to reef and/or take in sails. The "T" key will also "depower" the sails, adjust them so as to not draw without actually furling or reefing them. Hitting it again will restore power to the sails.
In real sailing vessels of this time speed was determined by periodically casting the log and sailors had to make their best guesses as to what speeds they'd achieved in the interim periods. In-game its a bit easier as speed is continually displayed.
The rudder will be automatically be managed to set the course you've ordered as long as the auto skipper is engaged.
The orange silhouette of the ship shows your ships heading. It may be adjusted to Port and Starboard via the "A" and "D" keys respectively.
This orange indicator shows the set of your yards. These are generally handled by the Auto skipper but may be adjusted via the "Q" and "E" keys.
The head of the light grey wind indicator arrow points downwind. Most square rigged ships have their best points of sailing Downwind or slightly off true downwind.
The tail of the light grey wind indicator arrow points upwind. Most square rigged ships sail upwind very poorly. Fore and aft rigged ship generally do better.
The orange charted course indicator is only present if one has charted a course on the in-game navigational map.