What are the Meanings of Caravel?

The Byzantine Greek word karabos, which can be translated as “scarab”, was used to name a light boat. The etymological journey of the term was extensive until it reached our language as a caravel.

A caravel, therefore, is a light sailing ship that has a single deck and flat stern. It has three masts with three sails and can sail at a speed of about eight knots.

These boats were very important in the 15th and 16th centuries. In fact, many European conquerors used caravels on the voyages that took them to the American continent.

The caravels offered several advantages over other ships of that time. They did not require rowers for their propulsion and had a significant load capacity: that is why they could transport large quantities of food for long voyages.

After the conquest of America, the caravels began to lose preponderance because, little by little, sailors began to opt for other vessels, such as galleons.

Possibly the most famous caravels in history are those that were part of the expedition that brought Christopher Columbus and his crew to American territory for the first time. The Santa María was the largest ship: some historians doubt whether it was a caravel or a nao. La Niña and La Pinta were the other caravels that made the journey possible.

The ship, for its part, was a boat equipped with a sail and deck that did not require oars for its operation. The term comes from the Latin navis, which can be translated as “ship”, and then crossed the Galaico-Portuguese language. Although from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, this concept was understood with the definition provided above, later it began to be used to refer to a class of ship characterized by having castles at the stern and bow, a raised freeboard and three masts with square candles.

The round caravels arose when the sailors began to use both the square and the Latin sail on the boat (the first is square and the second is triangular in shape). Shortly before the team led by Christopher Columbus began its historic journey, La Niña and La Pinta, until then considered Latin caravels, were modified to make them round.

It goes without saying that the emergence of the round caravels was not a whim of a stylistic nature, but took place with the aim of improving the maneuverability of the ships.

For example, the square sail is not able to stick to a wind face (ie, unfavorable) more than fifty percent, even if the boat is well balanced and the crew consists of very experienced people; in the same way, it tends to make the caravel drift. But all this changes when the two types of candle are combined, since the Latin does not have either of these two problems.

If the wind is favorable (the so-called stern wind), the situation is reversed: while the uneven pressure makes it very difficult to keep the ship on the path traced with a lateen sail, the block can take advantage of all the wind and allows full uniformity.

There was also a boat called barcusium, which was very similar to the Latin caravel. It also operated under sail, had two masts and three rudders. Its creation took place in the Sicilian city of Ragusa, where its use prevailed.

In the context of zoology, the aquatic animal whose scientific name is Physalia physalis is known as the Portuguese man- of- war. It is a hydrozoan that belongs to the order of the siphonophores.