Anchored in glassy waters, two small vessels provide the focal point of this painting. The main sail of a smalschip, (a narrow ship), is being lowered. A Dutch flag can be seen hanging loosely on its deck, signifying that the wind has dropped. Behind is a kaag, (a flat-bottomed boat designed for inland waterways), its crew busying themselves with a smaller boat pictured alongside.
Van de Velde was celebrated for his meticulous seascapes. A peaceful sky provides an ideal background for a range of craft, all painted with an incredible degree of detail. Both the artist and his father, Willem van de Velde the elder (1611–93), were famed for their seascapes.