Leeway – DS & YM


Before reading this page you will need to have a copy of the training almanac and chart (and a real ones if possible).

You will need to be happy converting between basics of plotting a Dead Reckoning position, Estimated Position or Course to Steer.

Why is this important?

Leeway is the amount by which the wind acting on your boat pushes you off course. We need to allow for it in all our chartwork which involves our direction of travel. By allowing for leeway we can plot a more accurate position or a better course to steer.

See how the leeway increases in this video when the dinghy raises its centreboard.

Video: additional information

Calculating Leeway

We measure leeway in degrees but it is always an estimate. One way to estimate our leeway by taking a bearing of our wake behind our boat and compare this to a reciprocal of our heading (our heading subtract or add 180o).

Over time this allows us to estimate leeway in different conditions.

Allowing for leeway

To allow for leeway in a calculation we need to either add or subtract the leeway depending on the direction of the wind in relation to the heading of the boat, however it also depends on the calculation you are carrying out.

Read the note on applying leeway to a Dead Reckoning and Course to Steer carefully as leeway is applied in different ways.


See this article for a comprehensive guide to leeway and how to allow for it.


Now learn how to apply Leeway when completing a Dead Reckoning position, Estimated Position or Course to Steer.


The content of these pages is put together in good faith and is constantly evolving. It is possible that errors exist within this content. If you spot an error or would like to add anything to these pages please contact use via email.

Reading the content of these pages is not a substitute for completing a RYA Shorebased course or similar.