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(kăr`əvĕl') or


(kär`vəl), three-masted sailing vessel, generally square-rigged with the aftermast lateen-rigged. It had a roundish hull with a high bow and stern. The term "carvel-built" (see boatboat,
small, open nautical vessel propelled by sail, oar, pole, paddle, or motor. The use of the term boat for larger vessels, although common, is somewhat improper, but the line between boats and ships is not easy to draw.
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) was derived from its method of construction. A change from bulkier ships to caravels, with their small displacement, enabled the Portuguese in the 15th cent. to take the lead among Western nations in exploring the African coast; the caravel thereafter was of primary importance in the era of expansion and exploration. Columbus's flagship, the Santa María, was a typical caravel.



a sailing ship with high sides, one deck, three or four masts, and high superstructures at the bow and stern.

Caravels were widely used by Mediterranean countries from the 13th through the 17th century (first by Italy and then by Spain and Portugal). From the 15th century caravels were used for ocean voyages; in 1492 a caravel flotilla under the command of Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and in 1498, Vasco da Gama sailed from Europe to India in a caravel.

References in periodicals archive ?
For example, there is a chapter on the caravel and how this class of ship was developed and adapted for oceanic exploration.
It has not yet been determined whether the Caravels will remain in the New World or return to the Old.
Caravels and naos criss-crossed the Caribbean, to and from ports in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, and came directly from Spain.
But under the pretext of trade, or in conjunction with it, caravels tacked into the remote forested inlets, especially in the Golfo de Ciriaco and the Golfo de Santa Fe, and carried off Indians by force and deceit, as well as by purchasing them.
They could not ban all caravels from the coast because they themselves needed supplies and protection.
Flores managed to seize 200 Margarita Indians who were fishing on the pearl banks aloof from the hostilities, crammed them into four caravels and beat feet for Hispaniola with the rest of the Spaniards.
A year later in 1499 Peralonso Nino and Cristobal Guerra landed in Isla Margarita, after crossing the Atlantic in a 50-ton caravel (about a 60-foot boat).
Everyone has heard of Columbus and his caravels, of galleons loaded with treasure, and the swift ships of the corsairs.
The design proved successful; larger caravels were built, with more masts and decks, and the design spread rapidly throughout Spain and beyond.
Small caravels prosecuted the early Caribbean trade in pearls and Indian slaves, being adept at navigating the intricate channels between reefs and shoals in the Bahamas and through coastal islands in Venezuela.
By this time the caravels sailed under a variety of rigs, depending on how they were used.
They sent their caravels into the great rivers south of Cabo Verde and to strongholds in the Bight to pick up captives.