Or, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Pirates.
It occurred to me that the looting economy of Pirates! is seriously borked once you get free repairs.
Any ship’s payload is virtually guaranteed to be worth less than the ship itself, given that space is set aside for food and cannon, that not all ships carry the most expensive goods, and that ships are likely to have some upgrades later in the game.
On top of that, you can sell ships anywhere! Even in the smelliest fishing village, the shipwright apparently owns a never-ending stack of gold while the merchant is on the verge of starving with his 50 doubloons or so. And even bigger towns might not give you a good price for your looted goods.
So the most efficient strategy is to simply grab ships – any ships, ignoring the payload – and just sell the ships. If they carry gold, so much the better. Other goods are barely worth the effort trying to sell them.
IMO the game should either reduce the price of ships to about 1/10 of what they are worth now, or else prohibit selling ships altogether so that you can only scuttle them. That would still leave goods as a miserable way to make a living, compared to beating a named pirate or capturing a town or treasure ship. Perhaps raising the price of goods would be in order, too.