Here are just four of the many ships you can acquire (legally or otherwise) in the game. Click the arrows to see more!
The sloop is a Dutch designed small, fore-and-aft-rigged vessel equipped with one or two square sails before the mast. This vessel becomes very popular in the Caribbean during the 1630s and 1640s. It is extremely fast and exceptionally manoeuvrable -- better than almost any other ship in light winds. (In strong winds, though, a sloop can be considerably slower than a larger ship.) Under oars, the sloop can move directly into the wind. A sloop has a shallow draft, allowing it to sail over shoals with no risk.
Despite its modest size and cargo capacity, a sloop's manoeuvrability is so great that many buccaneers prefer it to larger, more powerful craft. Indeed, the English Royal Navy has built a number of sloops for its own use as pirate hunters.
The brigantine is a two-masted vessel sporting a fore-and-aft mainsail and square-rigged foremast. The brigantine possesses some unique sailing qualities, and a skilled master can maneuver her with great ease and elegance. Brigantines are employed as merchant vessels and as warships.
Square-rigged merchantmen are well-designed and seaworthy vessels. They have large cargo capacity, can carry numerous guns, and have plenty of room for crew and passengers. Furthermore, they can be sailed with a smallish crew to save money.
Often not carrying enough crew to man all guns, most merchantmen are extremely disinclined to fight: when facing pirates they almost always seek to run away. Beware, however: some merchantmen have been converted to pirate ships, with stronger armament and sailed by a ferocious crew of cutthroats. These ships are extremely dangerous.
Square-rigged frigates are excellent ships of war, fairly handy to maneuver and faster than most square-rigged ships when close-hauled. A frigate is extraordinarily useful for patrols and independent cruises. Almost all frigates are built for the Crown as naval warships.
With their well-drilled and professional crews, frigates are dangerous opponents at any time. Most pirates and buccaneers disappear over the horizon whenever a frigate approaches. Capturing a frigate is an extraordinary coup for any pirate.
Ships of the Line
Ships of the line are extremely powerful warships. Equipped with large, powerful hulls, room to mount many cannon, and usually crewed with more than enough men to fire them all, ships of the line are more than a match for any other ship afloat. These square-rigged ships are extremely expensive to build and man, and only national governments have the wherewithal to afford them. Private ownership of a ship of the line is virtually unknown.
These powerful ships will rarely make an appearance in the Caribbean, but when they do, sensible buccaneers steer clear. If a crafty pirate somehow manages to acquire a ship of the line, he can expect that the nation he stole it from will spare no expense in getting it back — by whatever means necessary.