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carvel(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.
..... Click the link for more information. ) 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.