Guide to Defeat Skelly Ships
The skeleton ships that jump out of water tends to chase for quite a bit, unless you fight them at least a little. The skelly ship will match the player ship’s speed.
So, as soon as I hear a skeleton ship about to surface, first thing I do is fill up my pockets with cannonballs. As soon as the ship jumps out, I spam 10 of them, aimed at their ship’s hull or cannoneer. Kill the cannoneer to avoid hull damage. Make holes on their ship’s hull to fill the ship with water and kill the skeletons repairing the holes. For aim guidance, the top of my cannon’s rim is usually aligned with the skelly ship’s cannon, taking into account the high/low waves and the relative speed/direction of the ships (For skeleton galleons, aim for bottom deck / below water line. Otherwise, no water enters the ship).
If there was enough damage on the skelly ship, the skelly ship would slow down or turn away for a bit. At this point, I either continue full sails down to escape this ship, or I raise sails to finish it off. If I solo brigantine or solo galleon, I just escape. If I solo sloop, I usually finish them off, unless another ship or megaladon is chasing me.
To finish them off, I raise sails and let the ship rotate, so I don’t have to worry about rocks and islands and have some cannon angle intermittently. I keep killing their cannoneer (firebombs when their ship is too near), and spamming cannonballs when their ship’s hull is in cannon range. When out of cannon range, I repair and bail.
If there is a large rock nearby, it is a good idea to stay near it. The skelly ship can only attack you on the ocean-side. You’re free to focus on water and repairs when they’re on rock-side. The rocks definitely helped me when I solo-sloop/duo-brigantine/trio-galleon skelly fleets.
Enjoy skelly ship hunting!