Designed and developed by Portugal in the 15th Century, The Caravel Class of ships were constructed for exploration and trade. Commonly used along the West African Coast and Atlantic Ocean, they were a common sight during “The Age of Discovery”. Based on the common fishing boats used on the Portuguese Coast, Caravels normally displaced 50 to 150 tons. Designed with 1 to 3 Masts, they averaged beam of 15 to 25 (height). Triangular sails and a sharp front added the advantage of speed thru manipulating winds to push to a side angle. This clever innovation made Caravels extremely fast vessels. Caravels had a shallow draught which made them ideal for close Coastal trade as well.
This Class of ship also opened the lucrative Spice trade (which firmly established Spain and Portugal as regional “powers” with regards to trade with the rest of Europe). A major drawback of The Caravel was it's size (roughly 40 to 60 feet long). This limited crew and cargo. The theory was simply, make and set afloat MANY Caravels (in an attempt to correct the problem). The general design of The Caravel would pass on to many of the future Portuguese Man-O-War's that would be designed by that Country. As cargo needs advanced, so was the need for bigger vessels. The Caravel was slowly replaced in lieu of bigger (and better vessels).