The Caravel

The Caravel is a ship of Portuguese origins. The term “caravel” appears for the first time in a Portuguese document from the 13th century referring to vessels of little volume used for coastal fishing. They were built in the Portuguese region of Algarve before the discovery era.

From the 15th century it was the vessel used by Portuguese and Spanish explorers. These lateen-sailed ships, when adapted and improved, turned out to be ideal to face the new Atlantic voyages due to their light hull, their ability to beat to windward and their shallow draft that allowed them to scout new lands.

The ships had approximately 20 – 30m of length overall, an average volume of 50 to 75 barrels, and would hold two or three masts with lateen or round sails.