To float a ship, a course is charted and then the ship sets sail, usually with only a single pirate aboard. The ship will move along the charted course at minimum speed, and the player must click "sail" as each league point is reached until the ship reaches its destination.
This technique is frequently used to pre-position ships for a blockade or to move large ships when a sufficient crew isn't available.
A ship will be dead in the water unless a pirate is on board. It will continue to take on water, however, and force the bilge to rise. Swabbies do not count as pirates on board a ship to keep it moving.
Standard practices and uses
Pirates floating on their main characters sometimes take this opportunity to focus on a puzzle, without the expectation of it having any effect on the ship's condition.
When the floating vessel is engaged, the pirate will often abandon ship, although this practice is no longer necessary to preserve Sea Battle stats since that aspect of the game was removed during the Spring of 2006.
The game client running the floater will usually be a background task for the player controlling them.