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caravel

caravel kăr´əvĕl˝ [key] or carvel kär´vəl [key], 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 boat ) 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.