Skeleton Ships Combat Guide​ Thumbnail

Probably the most common encounter in Sea of Thieves are Skeleton Ships. These bad-to-the-bone pirates are always ready to wreck your world, so…what’s the best way to prevent that? Use this Skeleton Ship Guide to help you stay afloat while sending those gutless goons back into their watery grave.

Types of Encounters

There are two kinds of encounters for these skeleton ships that you want to keep in mind when you’re dealing with them. Let’s break them down and make sure you’re ready for when they sneak up on you.

Open Water Encounters

Open water encounters are easily seen coming as these Skeleton Ships are sailing around above water. When you see these ships it’s up to you if you wish to engage or avoid them, just be sure you’re prepared for the outcome.

Spawn Encounters

Spawned encounters happen randomly, these are when a skeleton ship just pops out of the water alongside you. These Skeleton Ships will not back off easily, and you will need to sink them or sail VERY far  to get away.

Types of Skeleton Ships

There are two types of Skeleton Ships roaming about Sea of Thieves, and each have unique tactics to use when fighting them. It’s important to keep these tips in mind and adjust your strategy depending on which one you’re facing. Fun Fact: Skeleton Ships WILL repair damages to their hull, they however WILL NOT bucket water out. 

Sloop Skeleton Ship

Sloop Skeleton Ships are by far my favorite to sink, they are very agile but simple to sink. Depending on your ship size they can even be taken out without taking any damage. First thing you want to do is SLOW DOWN! Pull your sails up to half so you’re moving slower and then you can hit your shots easier.

When facing off against a Sloop Skeleton Ship, regardless of the encounter type, you want to make sure you fill your pockets with regular cannonballs, Firebombs, and cursed cannonballs if you have any. We’ll discuss the best cursed cannonballs to use in a bit.

Chainshot will only do regular damage as a Skeleton Ship’s masts can’t be destroyed. Using these is not recommended as you can only hold 5 and they move much slower after being fired from the cannons, making it harder to hit your target.

Cursed Cannonball Guide Thumbnail

Cursed Cannonball Guide

Learn more about all the different types of cursed cannonballs including where to find and how best to use them.

The best cursed cannonballs to use against a Sloop Skeleton Ship are the following:


Ballestball Cursed Cannonball



Jigball Cursed Cannonball

Jigballs, and Wearyballs are great to use on the skeletons that are on their cannons. This will help prevent them from firing on your ship for a short period of time. Peaceballs can also be used but, on a sloop with only one cannon, it doesn’t give you the best bang for your buck. I recommend saving those for larger ships.

Ballastballs are best to use when you’ve already put a few holes in their ship, this will make them take on water faster and make sinking them a much quicker task. If you don’t have any of these, don’t worry, just use normal cannonballs and you’ll get the job done just fine.

Once you have your cannonballs ready you want to start off with a jigball or wearyball (if you have any) then hit them with a handful of cannonballs and follow that up with a couple of firebombs. Finally hit them with a ballastball which will make their ship sink rather quickly.

If they sail close to you feel free to throw the firebombs by hand since it’s faster. focus on the area by the cannons and under the helm. These areas will keep damaging skeletons and their ships the fastest. Just make sure you don’t catch your own ship on fire.

You’ll soon find that these Sloop Skeleton Ships are nothing to fear and can even be done solo. Solo fighting a Sloops Skeleton Ship is something we do quite often here at and is even something that I personally enjoy.

Galleon Skeleton Ship

Now you’ve wandered into “Big Boy Boat Land”, these Galleon Skeleton Ships hold no punches when facing off against you. So if you’re planning on taking one of these Skeleton Ships, be sure you’re prepared for a good long fight.

When facing off against a Galleon Skeleton Ship, you want to make sure you fill your pockets with regular cannonballs, Firebombs, cursed cannonballs if you have any, Food and Wood. We’ll discuss the best cursed cannonballs to use in a bit.

Chainshot will only do regular damage as  Skeleton Ship’s masts can’t be destroyed. Using those is not recommended since you can only hold 5 and they move much slower after being fired from the cannons making it harder to hit your target.

The best cursed cannonballs to use against a Galleon Skeleton Ship are the following:


Ballestball Cursed Cannonball



Jigball Cursed Cannonball


Peaceball Cursed Cannonball


Riggingball Cursed Cannonball


Anchorball Cursed Cannonball

Since Galleon Skeleton Ships have so many cannons and can move at very quick speeds it’s best to stop them from being able to use those advantages. Using Peaceballs, Wearyballs and Jigballs on the cannon deck will keep them from shooting back. Space out using these cursed cannonballs to maximize the effect.

Riggingballs and Anchorballs wont show a visual effect that the Skeleton Ship is slowing down, but the ship will be affected by them regardless. Use them when you need to pull away from the ship to make repairs and remove water. Ballastballs should be used once the ship has a few holes to make them take on more water.

No need to slow down when facing a Galleon Skeleton Ship, they move so fast and are such a HUGE target that missing shouldn’t be much of a problem. I suggest using a circling movement pattern (if there’s room) to prevent running into rocks or an island while fighting these skeleton ships.  Start off your encounter by disabling their cannons, shoot either a peaceball, jigball or wearyball to keep them from shooting first. Follow this up with a full stack of ten cannonballs. You’ll want to repeat this cycle twice (two rounds of curses and twenty regular cannonballs) before hitting them with a ballastball. You want to make sure their ship is plenty full of holes before using a ballast cursed cannonball so it doesn’t go to waste.

If your ship takes on some significant damage during your engagement then shoot the Galleon Skeleton Ship with either a Riggingball or Anchorball so you can get a bit of breathing room to make repairs before returning to the fight.

Continue your bombardment of cannonballs while moving in circles until the Galleon Skeleton Ship sinks. These big boys hold up to 25 treasures onboard, so make sure you scoop up all of them since you definitely earned it.

Unique Ways to Sink Skeleton Ships

There are plenty of crafty pirates sailing about the Sea of Thieves, and some of the tactics that have been created make for some interesting opportunities to create a funny tale. Here are a few that I find funny:

Gunpowder Keg

Take a gunpowder keg and swim over to the skeleton ship, this may take some practice as they move quickly. Climb on board and use the keg to turn their ship into splinters. Multiple kegs may be needed to fully sink a skeleton ship, but it sure will make it faster. This method has been tested and approved by Jailkin!

Chest of Sorrows

Definitely an unique way to sink a ship, but will work eventually. If you have a weeping Chest of Sorrows, take it over to the skeleton’s ship and let it fill them up. Since skeletons can’t bucket out water they will just slowly fill up with water and sink without you needing to fire a single cannonball.

Chest of Rage

Probably not the normal idea, but if you enter into a fight with a skeleton ship and you have a Chest of Rage on board, put it on their ship instead. This way you don’t have to worry about the chest blowing up on your ship and can actually help you sink the skeleton’s ship.

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