In an environment of inland sea with multiple islands and continental land, with volcanoes and earthquakes, with forests rain and coral beaches, with devastating huracanes and tropical climate, peaceful and hardened indigenous people and lands and seas full of treasures, in that Caribbean Sea the conquerors and European colonizers brought their millenarian wars and give the opportunity to flourish the pirate figure. In the Caribbean Sea the main transport system along the colony was realized by boats and in the mainland through the main rivers. In some land sections such as Panama, which is the narrowest stretch of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea towards the Atlantic Ocean, through there pass everything from the Incas of Peru. Another slightly longer route went from Acapulco in the Pacific to Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico with the exit to the Atlantic route that began in China.
Given the immense treasures accumulated in the Caribbean Sea and the continuous attacks of the pirates, the spaniards created the Fleet of the Indies that, as Manuel Lucena says, was "the mechanics of operation of the Spanish commercial monopoly with America constituted the essence of the so-called Carrera of the Indies, that included all the commerce and the navigation of Spain with its colonias ". The fleet transported during decades silver, gold, pearls and gemstones, with the merchant ships also carried spices, cocoa, sugar, coffee, tobacco, leather, Chinese silk, etc.
The Fleet of the Indies was formed by the Armada of Los Galeones and the Armada of the Fleet, both navies could sail together from Seville (Spain) with it's merchandise to America, always keeping each one his own autonomy. Upon arriving in the Caribbean Sea, each one took the assigned course, the Armada of the Fleet entered through the passage between the islands of Guadalupe and Antigua in the Lesser Antilles. Some of the merchants boats go to Puerto Rico, others to Santo Domingo and Santiago and Trujillo in Honduras and Veracruz (Mexico). The Armada of Los Galeones entered the Caribbean Sea near South America by the passage between Trinidad and Tobago. In the course of the trip to the coast of South America the merchants boats separate from the convoy to the destinations in the coasts of Venezuela. The Isla Margarita, La Guaira, Maracaibo and Colombia towards Riohacha and Santa Marta until the final destination of Cartagena de Indias. In port they do a large stop, to discharge and charge de boats and galeon, many of the merchandaise come from Portobelo in Panama, all with desteny in Havana.
According to the map presentation the route in red came from Spain mainly merchandise and people who initially settled in the main towns founded in northern South America and the Greater Antilles. Back to Spain, route in magenta, the gold of the Incas went through the Darien to Cartagena and then to Havana, where he met with the gold Azteca from Veracruz, Mexico. From there the convoys of sail boats go to Spain. All major cities of the colony overlooking the sea were fortified including the islands belonging to other nations present in the Caribbean Sea.
After the loading of all merchandise on the merchant ships, both Armandas form the Fleet of the Indies, departe to begin the journey from Havaba to Spain, escorting the convoy back to Europe. The fleet's route passed through the canal of the Bahamas, then sail north with the Gulf Stream to 39° latitude North where the danger of pirate attacks was greater, then they headed towards the Azores and southern Spain.
The configuration of the fleet was with the galleon as the admiral ship in front with the companion of a " Patoche". In the retreat the other galleons also well armed with the nave capitana and the Patoche. Merchant ships in numbers from 30 to 70 are located in the center and the speed of the fleet depended on wind, currents and the slowest ship.
The fleets of escort were increasing in quantity of boats and tonnes of the ships because the losses by consequence of that remained in America to protect the traffic in the Caribbean Sea, those lost in shipwrecks for different causes and those captured by pirates. During the 250 years that the Fleet of Indias was operating, very few ships were lost as a result of pirate attacks, so the fleet was usually a success.
There has been few naval battalions between pirates and Spaniards in the Caribbean Sea because the wars ships of the navy were about being dissuasive and if there was combat the effectiveness of the undisputed canyons was decisive. The armed also cooperated in the defense of important territorial and populations that were assaulted.
On the other hand, the continuous European wars and special were Spain involved also had the Caribbean Sea as a scenario, mainly due to the fact that Spain was fed with gold, silver and merchandise from America. Between the more important were: