After doing what seemed like the hard work of Pirates of the Burning Sea shipbuilding (cutting down trees, sawing logs into planks, making oak frames, sewing hemp into ropes and canvas), I had almost everything required for the grand launch of HMS Will This Thing Float? Chucking a bunch of sailors on a ship with no food isn’t the best idea, though, so the final items I needed were some packages of Ship Provisioning. Turns out they’re one of the trickiest elements of a ship for a sole trader to put together, needing goods from all over the place: cheese, hardtack (made from wheat grown in plantations), cured meat (from hunted game or cattle from pastures), cured fish, beans, refined sugar, rum (from molasses from the sugar refining process, plus barrels) and wine (made in a winery from grapes grown in vineyards). The Van Hemlock Provisioning Company, Suppliers of Comestibles to the Gentry (Fine Cheeses a Speciality) had some of the list covered but the only vineyards in the game are in the north-west corner of the map, a bit of a trek from our base in the south-east corner. There was only one thing for it: a Booze Cruise! Off to Tampa, pick up a load of wine, back via a distillery in the Antilles for some rum, that ought to get the shipbuilding party swinging.
After the short hop (2237.576 miles, according to Google maps, though that’s as the crow flies and doesn’t take into account skirting around Haiti, or bumping into Santa Clara for about ten minutes while AFK making dinner) we burst into Tampa’s auction house much like Withnail, demanding the finest wines available to humanity. At this point the plan hit a slight snag: it turns out that the French traders had got wind of my participation in the occasional sinking of a merchantman or two of theirs, and despite protesting about the legitimacy of the action in a declared warzone, they refused to deal with me.
Fortunately the Freetrader representative of the Van Hemlock Provisioning Company who’d also made the trip had been sensible enough not to repeatedly open fire on potential trading partners, so I shuffled around a bit outside the auction house and tugged at their sleeve. “Scuse me, mate… if I give you a load of doubloons, can you go in there and buy me some wine?”