PROJEKT ' ABYDOS '
The (as of yet pretty ill-defined) setting of one of my worldbuilding projects is the Vārẽn Sea (working title). It's a large gulf that opens into waters with a large amount of small islands, similar to the South China or Agean Sea, or to a lesser extent the Gulf of Mexico or Hudson Bay. There isn't very much wind in the sea itself, with stronger winds in the open sea that facilitate trade with faraway civilizations to the North and South. The dominating society of the region (the Vārẽn) are seafarers and traders, and as a result also make long journeys outside of the sea to nearby nations further north and south.
My question is: what would be the most likely design of their ships?
Would they use oar galleys to navigate the many islands and calm seas? Would they just use sailing ships intended for the rougher journeys on open seas even in the small island chains around their homes?
If they do use sails, I'm also struggling with how they might actually rig them. They need maneuverability in the islands, ability to operate in both strong trade winds in the open ocean and softer breezes in the gulf, and the resilience to withstand these long journeys.
I've been considering several Philippine ships, or galleys similar to the Ancient Greek design, but nothing has really stuck well yet. The reliance on oars for both is especially problematic for me, since their larger ships will be regularly sailing over long stretches of open ocean, and i kind of just don't like them.
Following some suggestions posted here since, I'm considering designs closer to Viking longships and several smaller Asian trading vessels. I'm split between Junk or Square sail rigging, and I've since cut out my previous idea of possibly having outriggers.