There's enjoyment to be had in coaxing your boat to keep moving in light wind, free from the fug of diesel fumes and noise... Theo Stocker introduces the June 2021 issue of Yachting Monthly

When the wind goes light and boat speed drops off, most of us reflexively reach for the ignition key.

Passages planned at five knots, limited time afloat and a desire to get into harbour in time for dinner and a drink mean that we have little patience for ghosting along in zephyrs or simply making anything less than hull speed.

There’s enjoyment to be had, however, in coaxing your boat to keep moving in the light stuff, free from the fug of diesel fumes and noise.

How well your boat does this will be down in part to its character, bestowed on the designer’s drawing board.

While heavy displacement boats with conservative sail plans might be less responsive than an over-canvassed race machine, a little adaptation of how you sail her might reveal a hidden talent for keeping moving and may even still get you to the pub for closing time.

Naval architect Julian Wolfram explains the forces that dictate your boat’s light wind sailing ability, and how to coax more knots out of her.

Continues below…

Light winds

How to sail in light winds

Try a few of our 11 easy tweaks when you find yourself in light winds, says Tim Bartlett. You might…


Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) leaping/breaching beside a boat in the Moray Firth, Scotland. CREDIT: Karen van der Zijden / Alamy

Slowing down and enjoying a more laid-back approach, however, might also give you time to take in things you would otherwise miss.

A number of local experts have recommended their favourite British cruising grounds for spotting wildlife.

From humpback whales to seals, and puffins to otter pups, our shores are teeming with flora and fauna that can prove to be the highlight of a cruise.

Given the vagaries of international travel regulations this year, I certainly won’t be making overly ambitious cruising plans. Should the wind turn light, I fully intend to sail slowly and relish just being out on the water, however close to home we are.