Trade galleons are large merchant vessels used extensively by the Spanish in the Caribbean. These ships are designed for stability and reliability and are well-suited for the long and dangerous voyages across the North Atlantic ocean. However, seaworthiness has been achieved at the expense of maneuvrability: galleons are slow to turn and especially slow when sailing close-hauled. Tacking into the wind is very difficult for this type of ship. Though these vessels can carry a large number of cannon and crew, their poor agility makes them vulnerable to attack by a fast and maneuvrable opponent — as long as the opponent manages to keep out of the way of the galleon’s broadsides.
The basic galleon design has been modified extensively over time, and there are a number of common variations, including he royal galleon and treasure galleon.