CARAVEL, or Carvel (from the Gr., a light ship, through the Ital. carabella and the Span. carabas), a name applied at different times and in different countries to ships of very varying appearance and build, as in Turkey to a ship of war, and in France to a small boat used in the herring fishery. In the 15th and 16th centuries, caravels were much used by the Portuguese and Spanish for long voyages. They were roundish ships, with a double tower at the stern, and a single one in the bows, and were galley rigged. Two out of the three vessels in which Columbus sailed on his voyage of discovery to America were "caravels." Carvel, the older English form, is now used only in the term "carvel-built," for a boat in which the planking is flush with the edges laid side to side, in distinction from "clinker-built," where the edges overlap.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)