by: SurveyorPete – Wednesday, 15 August 2018
I found a group on the Xbox App wanting to grind merchants in a galleon, and this is how they did it. All were experienced pirates with levels in the 30s or 40s.
Load up your ship at an outpost as normal, and all buy as many merchant quests as you can. Three of the crew lay down quests, vote for them, and then discard them. The fourth crew member stays with the merchant trader, quickly all grabbing the crates and cages between the votes "for" and "against". When you have a lot of cages, and are getting close to the end of the supply of quests, pick one with high paying snakes and/or chickens (at least two gold), and stick with it. You can even wait for 6:00am to roll around, buy a fresh round of quests, if you want. Finally, the whole crew shuttles the cages onto the ship.
Head for a largish island with snakes and chickens. Crooked Masts is ideal, because it has plenty of both, and being sparsely vegetated, it is not too hard to find them. Gather as many gold and black animals of both types as you can, and perhaps a few red speckled chickens, and maybe a blue snake or two. When the island is exhausted, the whole crew should go and stand in your snake collection and let themselves be killed. When you are ALL on the Ferry together, the island will reset, and respawn its animals. Continue like this until every chicken coop and snake basket is filled.
You will encounter random waves of skellies as you are gathering animals. Take the opportunity to farm a few powder kegs too, by shooting the skellies from under them. Any largish island is likely to have a couple of kegs lying around as well.
Sail to the outpost you need to unload your first shipment, i.e. that for the last quest you voted for in Step 1. Sell just those chickens and snakes needed for that. Then lay down another quest - or a few quests - until you get to one that pays well, and for which you already have most of what you need. If you get a good one that requires a pig or two too, that's okay. You can now collect those on the way to the selling point, without the hassle of having of care for many pigs for too long.
Repeat Step 3 until your ark is empty.
The only danger of this approach is if your ark should be sunk when it is fully loaded. You may need to defend yourself against other pirates, or monsters of the deep; but a full and experienced crew should be able to defend against these dangers. If attacked, you may even try to invite your attackers into an alliance, and continue on your way. They may very well welcome the 50% of gold and Merchant XP that you would give them for doing nothing, but leaving you alone.