Finished the scenario in mid July 1717.
The two Schooners kept pulling in hauls from a zone that was high risk/high reward (5 Cannons/5 chests). Almost daily encounters.
Included one fleet cruise where one of the schooners returned with 62% of ship strength (needing 38% of repairs). It didnt come home due to damage or weapons loss or crew loss...but due to the normal depletion of rations. This makes me wonder how much % damage a ship will take before it returns.
Then in June the two schooners caught a Pirate Snow. It had tried to flee but was caught and sunk. But one schooner sufferred 1 crew KIA plus loss of 5 of its 7 cutlasses. So it returned home unable to carry on its boardem mission. This left one schooner on station...that was sunk the very next day by forces unknown.
I had a third sea zone all explored and ready to plunder and two crewed schooners ready to go before I saw I was about to win. The transfer of island cash to the cave (via housing fraud) would soon hit 40k. With about 10k from captive ransoms I could just make 50k in the cave without cruising again.
Another observation (apart from 2 schooners vs a galleon in above post) was that ransoming wealthy captives seems to have an overall net positive effect on relations with the great powers. I suppose this happens when you capture 3 or more captives from one ship....the negative from the sinking being outdone by the positives from the multiple ransom releases.
By selective ransoming I was well on the way to having harmonious relations with France (by not releasing anyone with incriminating evidence to france) ..until that is I ransomed the lot to make the 50k stash.
Overall - not a complicated scenario. Ideal for a quick start with a brig already made.
Thanks again TJ.