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The caravel (caravela in Spanish and Portuguese), was a type of medium-sized ship which, with its low draught and lateen or triangular sails, made it ideal for exploration from the 15th century onwards. Fast, manoeuvrable, and only needing a small crew to sail, the caravel was a mainstay of the Age of Exploration as European nations crossed oceans previously unknown to them.

More about: Caravel


  • c. 1440
    Development of the caravel sailing vessel in Portugal.
  • 1488
    The Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias uses caravel ships to make the first recorded sailing around the Cape of Good Hope.
  • 1492
    The caravels NiƱa and Pinta are part of the fleet of Christopher Columbus which reaches the Americas.
  • 1497 - 1498
    The caravel Matthew of John Cabot explores the eastern coast of Canada.