Although there is clearly a stiff breeze, Backhuysen’s beautifully balanced composition lends the scene a sense of gentle calm. Here he is at his least formal, invoking a sense of lyricism and narrative alongside a beautifully observed collection of sea craft. To the right we see a kaag (a coastal transport vessel) lying head to wind, presumably on the verge of tacking. At the extreme left is a fluyt, the most successful trading vessel, shown with its most characteristic part, the narrow stern and the round hull and a lateen sail on its mizzen. The presence of just a few cannons may indicate its being on the untreacherous Baltic/Scandinavian trade route. Beyond the heavily armed two-decker warship in the centre is a wijdschip, and in the foreground, animated by a standing seaman and in the process of heading downwind, is a weyschuit. The continuous coastline in the far distance may indicate the Zuiderzee.