Age of Discovery

Quick Facts:

The Caravel was slightly smaller than the Carrack and was generally used for carrying cargo and fishing. They were faster than most vessels and therefore favored by pirates.

Date: 1400 CE - 1600 CE

The Nina


The Nina, History of Hernando Cortez, 1855, From The Library at The Mariners’ Museum, F1230.C8.A1.

The Caravel was slightly smaller than the Carrack. It was generally used for carrying cargo and fishing. Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal created the Caravel for long distance trade. It boasted two or three masts that had interchangeable sails. Square sails were used for open water while lateen sails were used for shoreline sailing. The also had a rounded bottom, making them faster than other vessels of their time. Subsequently, they were also favored by pirates. Columbus’ ships, the Nina and the Pinta, were both designed as Caravels.