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PIRATE SHIPS

Vessels Of The Spanish Main

GALLEONS

FAST GALLEON: Best Speed: 9 - 12 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Running Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 28 Guns
Typical Number Of cannon: 24 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 224 Men
Typical crew And Passengers: 215 Men
Cargo Space: 120 Tons
The northern European powers redefined the basic Galleon design, revising its sail plan for more flexibility, then reducing the upper works and hull shape for better seakeeping. The resulting ship was smaller than a Spanish galleon but faster in light winds and considerably more maneuverable. However, it suffered the universal disadvantage of all galleons - poor speed when close-hauled. Still, its superior maneuverability and seakeeping showed when the English Fast Galleons and smaller craft defeated a Spanish fleet of conventional galleons in 1588.

SPANISH WAR
GALLEON: Best Speed: 7 - 15 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Running Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 32 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 28 - 32 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 256 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 250 Men
Cargo Space: 140 Tons
War Galleons were similar to mercantile types. They had less cargo capacity but more guns and soldiers. The most important difference was that war galleons were crewed by soldiers and commanded by noble officers, making them brave and lethal opponents in battle. Due to their better crew, war galleons were slightly faster than merchant galleons on a running broad reach but otherwise just as ponderous and unmaneuverable as their more peaceful sister ships. Only the most powerful warships could expect to engage a war galleon and succeed. The preferred Spanish tactic with these ships was to run alongside an opponent, fire one broadside at point-blank range, then board for hand-to-hand combat. This made best use of their large crew of trained soldiers.

SPANISH GALLEON: Best Speed: 7 - 15 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Broad Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 36 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 2- - 24 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 288 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 275 Men
Cargo Space: 160 Tons
Galleons were the largest sailing vessels on the Spanish Main. Originally they were created because one large ship was cheaper to build than two smaller ones. However, large ships were much less maneuverable which increased the chance of shipwreck, not to mention hindering them in battle. Galleons were slow to turn and were especially slow sailors close-hauled. Tacking into the wind was very difficult with this type of ship. Still, enormous carrying capacity and powerful armament made the galleon a deadly opponent in battle.

Pinnaces, Sloops and Barques

PINNACE: Best Speed: 9 - 10 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Broad Beam Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 8 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 2 - 4 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 64 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 8 - 12 Men
Cargo Space: 20 Tons
Until the advent of the sloop, pinnaces were the primary small craft of the Caribbean. Like the sloop, a pinnace was very fast, very maneuverable and had a draft that permitted sailing in shoal waters. Many a pirate raid was conducted in tiny pinnaces crammed with fighting men. Sir Francis Drake even abandoned his merchantman in favor of pinnaces when raiding in the Spanish Main.

SLOOP: Best Speed: 9 - 10 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Broad Beam Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 12 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 4 - 6 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 96 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 8 - 12 Men
Cargo Space: 40 Tons
Another Dutch design that gradually appeared during the 1630s and 1640s, the sloop (or jacht, or schooner) became very popular in the Caribbean. It was extremely fast and exceptionally maneuverable. It was the best ship in light winds. Most importantly, sloops had a shallow draft, allowing them to sail over many shoals. The main disadvantage of the sloop was that it was considerably slower than a square-rigged ship in strong winds. Despite its modest size and cargo capacity, the sloop's maneuverability was so great that many pirates preferred it to larger, more powerful craft.In the 1680s the English Navy built many sloops to use as pirate-chasers.

BARQUE: Best Speed: 9 - 12 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Broad Beam Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 16 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 4 - 6 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 128 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 12 - 36 Men
Cargo Space: 60 Tons
The largest fore-and-aft rigged ships, barques are a traditional design similar to many Mediterranean merchant and war craft. Many barques were built in the Caribbean rather than in Europe. Barques were good sailors for calm seas but all too easily came to ruin during a rough ocean crossing. Barques were the slowest close-hauled sailors amonf fore-and-aft rigs and the least maneuverable. Barques also carried oars which allowed them to row straight into the eye of the wind. With its decent size, easy handling and armament, a barque could be a formidable adversary.

CARGO FLUYTE: Best Speed: 9 - 12 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Running Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 20 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 4 - 12 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 160 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 12 - 24 Men
Cargo Space: 80 Tons
Fluytes were invented by the Dutch around 1600, then widely copied throughout northern Europe. Essentially smaller and much more economical merchantmen, they could be sailed with a tiny crew (12 to 15 men was not uncommon). A fluyte had large cargo space but a draft so shallow it could enter rivers, coves and small harbors unsuitable to larger craft. Its sailing qualities were similar to a merchantman's, although the best point of sailing differed. Fluytes made poor warships and were almost always manned by peaceful traders who surrendered without much of a fight. They were highly unpopular as pirate ships.

MERCHANTMEN and FRIGATES

MERCHANTMAN: Best Speed: 9 - 12 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Broad Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 24 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 6 - 12 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 198 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 20 - 45 Men
Cargo Space: 100 Tons
Square-rigged merchantmen were a trader's dream. The had large cargo capacity, space for numerous guns and plenty of room for crew and passengers. They could also be sailed with a small crew to save money. Most merchantmen were Captained by peaceful traders whom were disinclined to fight. They tended to have large cargos and often a bit of wealth. Privateers and Pirates always looked forward to capturing a heavily laden merchantman. Some merchantmen were indeed converted to pirate ships with stronger armament and a ferocious crew of cutthroats. These ships were extremely dangerous as was the merchantman Blackbeard converted to carry 40 guns.

FRIGATE: Best Speed: 9 - 12 Leagues
Best Point Of Sailing: Running Reach
Maximum Number Of Cannon: 28 Guns
Typical Number Of Cannon: 26 - 28 Guns
Maximum Personnel: 224 Men
Typical Crew And Passengers: 190 Men
Cargo Space: 120 Tons
Square-rigged frigates were fast sailors, fairly handy to maneuver and faster than most ships of its design when close-hauled. A frigate was extraordinarily useful for patrols and independent cruises. Almost all frigates were built for the Crown as naval warships. With well-disciplined and professional crews, frigates were dangerous opponents at any time. Most pirates would flee from the sight of one but those such as Blackbeard, Bartholomew Roberts, Stede Bonnet and Howell Davis successfully captured them.

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