|Uncharted Waters 2 is a pretty awesome little game. It's basically built using the schematics of Sid Meier's Pirates!, but there's a lot more to do in this game. The graphics and sound are much nicer and the gameplay is a lot smoother.
There are six characters to pick from, each with their own storyline to follow, but for the most part you can just ditch the storylines and do whatever pleases you. Initially, you can earn your living a number of ways - piracy (or "privateering" if you do it with the blessing of a particular nation), trading, cargo and letter transport, debt collecting, pirate hunting, making discoveries, cartography, even gambling.
The game doesn't force any morals on you, you can basically attack whomever whenever on the high seas, but of course if you keep raiding a particular nation's ships they'll get mad and start attacking you on sight (and perhaps even arresting you if you show up in their ports). Later on you can take on missions for the various national rulers and get titles from them (if you like being a toady to power), you can also invest your money into ports to have them gain new amenities and be able to sell better stuff, which also swings their allegiance over to whatever yours is and weakens the economy of your foes.
You can actually end up dominating the whole world and reducing every other nation's fleet to some squalid joke if you put enough time in, or you can just sort of sail around and explore and wench at the bars and slowly get rich (or I guess you could actually play through the scenarios the way you're supposed to and see the endings too). As with any Koei game there are all kinds of little intricate details that make the game highly replayable, unlike most Koei games this one has an exceptional soundtrack composed by Yoko Kanno (in one of her few appearances in the gaming world).
There's only one real big problem with this game - it has a pretty steep learning curve. In all the scenarios, the game just kind of dumps you off at the beginning with low resources and little explanation as to what you're supposed to do to survive and thrive, and it's very easy to just kind of sail around confused at the outset not knowing what to do or how to make more money while your limited starting supplies dwindle down to nothing. I suspect that has made a lot of people quit this game before really giving it a fair chance.
Well! In an effort to remedy this, I've cooked up -
THE NEWCOMER'S GUIDE TO ENJOYING UNCHARTED WATERS 2
So this is basically some tips for the best way for a newcomer to start up a new game and learn the ropes. It's not meant to be a comprehensive FAQ or walkthrough, there ar some really great ones of those already available over at Gamefaqs and such. I actually don't want to give too much away in the way of strategy and exploits and whatnot, I just want to give some advice on how to learn the gameplay mechanics, survive the early going and build a solid basic foundation of skills and knowledge to play the rest of the game on your own with. OK? Let's go.
First, you need the actual game. While there have been a few different versions released, the most accessible ones are probably the PC and SNES versions. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Well ... actually the PC one only has one major strength - it came with an audio CD of arranged tracks by Yoko Kanno that were just truly excellent. Other than that, though, the only minor advantage it had was not being censored, though what was changed in the SNES version is relatively innocuous and doesn't affect the game really (churches in the PC version are the "Round Earth Society" in the SNES one, where you Study instead of Pray; also, the Pubs have been changed to Cafes and they serve all manner of non alcoholic beverages and snacks such as grape juice and hot cocoa, which is a little silly but also cute). Other than that, the SNES version is better - better graphics for the most part (though the character portraits in the introduction and stuff aren't nearly as good), walking around town is way easier and more comfortable, and the battles are better.
Anyway, the PC version is widely available on abandonware sites and is about 4 MB, the SNES version is widely available on ROM sites and is about 2 MB. I'm guessing Koei will probably release the SNES version as a download for the Wii eventually as well, though as to exactly when that will happen who knows. If you're uncomfortable with piracy of old games, bud, you are totally at the wrong website, but you can probably still find either of them on eBay with regularity.
OK, so this is where most people get hung up, right at the character select screen. Most people are drawn to Catalina cause she's the only hawt chick up there and plus, she's a pirate. Unfortunately, she's about the worst choice for the newcomer because her scenario is like constant fighting right from the beginning. Joao has it a bit easier in the early going, but he probably has the most complex overall scenario, ends up doing a lot of fighting eventually, and keeps getting dragged away from free exploration to do plot related stuff. Otto Barnes starts out with the most kickass combat ship out of anybody, but there's only one of those and one only goes so far in battle. The topmost three characters have way too much fighting for a newbie, so that leaves the bottom three. Pietro starts off in debt - thhhhpt! Ali is a merchant, which means trading, which means knowing where to buy and sell things at the right prices and what ships to use and how to customize them. Too complicated. That leaves us with that unassuming silver haired chap in the lower left, Mr. Ernst von Blofeldt or something.
Name him something more interesting and it's time to hit the waves.
Ernst is the best choice because he's the only character to start off with Cartography, which is a 50k investment for every other character (and some are too dumb to learn it at all, I think their Knowledge stat has to be like 70 or 80). Cartography is good for newbies, because whereas stumbling around aimlessly does nothing but burn resources for everyone else, Ernst actually makes a profit off of it because he gets paid for every black square of map that is uncovered. His whole main quest is just making a map of the world, so you can explore around at your own pace without having to constantly be pressured to do stuff to profit.
So with Ernst, we're going to focus just on exploring the world and making discoveries. He can build a small fortune and even complete his scenario without once fighting anyone, or trading a single good. So, the first thing to do when starting out is to optimize your ship for speedy navigation, and good lookout skills for spotting new ports and villages. One other bonus about Ernst is that he starts with a small fast ship and a really good first mate, so you can zoom about right from the beginning at a good clip. At the very beginning I prefer to keep 24 crew on hand, 12 on navigation and 12 manning the lookouts (nobody on combat, there's no need). With this setup your ship moves fast, but you also can spot ports from half a screen off, and when you buy the Telescope (which we'll do as early as possible) you can spot ports and villages that are slightly off the screen in any direction.
What to do first? You got five thousand bucks and are in Amsterdam. The initial objective is to do some exploring to the north, but it's wise to have a little more money on hand for supplies and also the Telescope first. So, for now, there's two things to do. One is to go over to nearby London, go south from it and hug the coast continuing around to the west, and you should discover there a village that has Stonehenge in it. This is only worth two or three thousand bucks (go to Bordeaux and make a contract with the guy there to sell your discoveries; there's also some baldy beanhead over in Copenhagen that buys them, which is a more convenient location to Amsterdam but I think he also pays like 20% less than the Bordeaux guy does), but it gets you some funds to work with. The other thing is to take easy missions from the guild. Take Deliver Letter or Deliver Goods missions that keep you within Europe (like running cheese from Bristol to London and stuff). It'll be small pay, like 1000-3000 per mission, but safe and easy and quick and you don't need to build that much to get started. You need $5000 for the telescope, fill your ship with supplies and have $5000-10000 on hand to resupply while you explore.
Ok one other way easy way to make money with the Guild, once you've explored Europe a bit and are familiar with where everything is - take a Collect Debt mission. The way these work, you'll get sent to some city to meet with the bank owner. You'll then be sent to track down some random sailor (randomized each time you walk in the bank) who owes money. The sailor is always at some nearby port, but you have to ask around at the pubs to find out which one. Start out at that city's pub, get anyone hanging out there drunk on Fish and Chips or whatever so they get chatty, then pump them for Gossip. If after ten tries or so they don't mention the guy you're looking for, move on to the next major nearby port and try again. It's kind of a crapshoot, as you have to return the money to the bank within one month of taking the mission and it is possible to run out of time before finding the dude, but more often than not you find him. They never stray too far, it's always a major port (usually one you don't have to discover on your own) within a few days sail from where the mission began. When you find the guy (always in the pub), he chokes up his debt, which seems to always be 5 ingots or 50,000 gold ... hmmm. Now, you have two options here. You can be honest, return the money, and get a 5000 gold reward which is way more than any other comparably easy missions, plus this is the only way to raise your Piracy fame without actually fighting. Or ... keep that sweet 50k all to yourself.
Fail the mission intentionally by running out of time - dump the money in another branch of the bank first, though, so you don't lose it. The only derogatory effect this has is reducing your fame, but ... at the beginning you have no fame anyway, so who cares! Plus, Ernst doesn't need Piracy fame at all anyway (shouldn't stealing from a bank actually raise your Piracy level? oh well).
An important note on money, now that you have some ... it's imperative you don't carry it around with you on the seas. There's these two crazy pirates, Ibin Leids and um ... Abdul The Red Shanks or something, anyway when you have over like 20k or something on you they come charging after you from god knows where and will hound you all over the world with their ridiculously fast and powerful ships until they either kill you and take your gold, or until you dump the gold off somewhere. So keep all your extra money in the bank. I never keep more than 10k on me at any time, with Ernst you don't need much except for buying food and water as you explore (and there's bank branches in all kinds of weird places out there like Mozambique). You get 3% interest at the bank per month, up to a max of like 30k gold per month I think, so after a point you can just take all your exploring expenses out of the interest.
Anyway, once you're kitted out, there's a few things directions you can go in. I strongly recommend, however, sticking to the northern hemisphere at the outset. To the south, particularly around South America and the southern tip of Africa, there's almost constant storms that will kill Ernst's tiny little ship nine times out of ten. Now, there's a few things you can do about these storms, but they all involve some money. First thing, in Bordeaux they sell an item called Balm for $1000 gold that calms one storm when it comes up (but then the Balm is used up). You can carry multiple Balms, but with the rate that storms occur in the stormy areas, you'll run through them all real quickly. Another factor in storms seems to be your Luck. This is raised by donating a portion of whatever money you have to the Round Earth Society, the more you donate, the higher it gets raised. I think it's something like 10% for a 1 point increase, 15% for 2 points, and so on. Obviously, at the beginning when you have little money would be the best time to do this, but I never fooled around with it personally so I don't know if you can actually game the system by doing it while you're broke. Also, I'm not sure if luck wears off over time. Personally, I found the best solution to the storm problem was to get a good figurehead. The Dragon figurehead, at $32k in Amsterdam, kept me and my average luck from never ever seeing a storm again ever in the game as long as I played it, exception of one surprise one off the coast of Japan. So, a Dragon backed up with a couple of Balms for emergencies is probably the most effective recipe, at least that I've found. One other thing you can do in a storm emergency - make for land, land somewhere and then Wait it out from there. I did this during two storms and survived, so I think it's a repeatable trick. But anyway, it's best not to even venture into storm areas until you're outfitted for them. Places like Havana and Santo Domingo, you can literally get trapped in a port for like a month or two waiting for storms to go away so that you can actually make it out alive.
I think the best thing to do, once you're ready to explore, is to go west from Britain, scroll off the screen and wrap around the world, then head north and there's a little supply port right there along the coast called Forel. Use this as a base to get the Saber Tooth Tiger discovery, which is nearby and will basically set you up for the rest of the game financially, but it's a little tricky. Before going on the Saber Tooth run I actually suggest maxing out your crew to 30. At that little supply port Forel, take a whole lot of food (like 55-60ish) and a little water. You need to sail west from Forel, basically keeping to the coast and going north along it, you kind of go west for a bit and then back east, until you're at the northern edge of the world map at this sort of inlet. Along the way remember to stop here and there and search for water as you have little. At the northeast corner of this inlet, there will be a village. These villagers are the most greedy gluttons in the game, requiring 65 friendship level (Entertain them 13 times) to cough up their secret ... but it's worth it. Brought back to Bordeaux to sell, the Saber Toothed Tiger nets you $100,000 and your adventurer fame shoots through the roof. If you brought at least 55 food from Forel and sailed straight here, you should make it with a little to spare. Now, the tiger will kill 8 men when you find it, leaving you with 22. You have to plunder the village for food to get enough to survive the return trip. However, plundering can get men killed (usually 8), and you'll probably have to plunder twice to get enough. I was exceptionally luck when I did this, plundering twice and not getting attacked at all (indeed, at this point I didn't even know you could be attacked while plundering because it had never happened to me yet). You may need to do some saving and restoring, as you need to get away with at least 10 men to crew your ship out of there (all assigned to Navigation if you get that low).
Once you get the Tiger and/or start seriously exploring and finding other things, the King of Holland will start blowing up your pager trying to get your attention. This guy is an asshole and screws a lot of things up. First, while he's looking for you, you can't get a job at any of the Guilds. So you have to drag ass back to Holland just to tell him "No" and "Stop bothering me", sometimes multiple times. What this guy wants is to use you for your discoveries. He is a total greedy pig for these things. If you agree to discover stuff for him, it counts as a Job and you can't take Guild missions until his lust for novelty is slaked and he promotes you another rank, which usually takes about 3 discoveries. Also, if you have a bunch of them unused, you can't pick what to give to him, he just reaches his fat hands on in there and takes whatever he feels like. The game makes it seem like this is some big important deal, but do you *have* to give over your finds to the King? No, no and NO! The King doesn't pay you for these things, and he doesn't even raise your adventurer fame either. All the guy does is give you Titles, which .... I dunno, make you feel important? And you can get Letters of Marque and some other stuff Ernst doesn't need, and even with that stuff it's all available with only the first rank (Page). Plus, if you really want to earn Titles ... there are other ways to do it, such as privateering and trade. So don't waste your valuable discoveries on this jerkoff, sell them for cash and renown.
When word gets out that he's looking for you (and you'll hear about it clear across in Rio De Janiero), drop by Amsterdam at the next convenient opportunity and just tell him to piss off as many times as it takes to get him not looking for you anymore. Then you can proceed with everything as normal.
Oh, and everytime you uncover some big new chunks of the map don't forget to pop in and visit with Mercator at Amsterdam ... he'll pay you for the info.
From here, the goal is basically just to uncover as much of the world map as you can. It's generally best to hug the coasts first to uncover as many ports and villages as possible. If heading south around Africa or west over to South America remember a Dragon figurehead and some Balm for the storms. If going north along the coast from Europe over to Russia and beyond to Alaska and Canada and onwards, there's a long stretch where there's only like two small resupply ports and a couple of scattered villages, so make sure your provisions are always at their max and you have plenty of cash on hand cause that's a big area with no banks anywhere nearby. Once Ernst has uncovered a certain percentage of the map (pretty much all the ports and all the visible land), Mercator will fill the rest in and make a world map, but that's not quite the end of his quest. I'll leave you to discover the rest.
So anyway, this is basically a way to learn the game mechanics and where everything is, without too much frustration. You'll get rich fairly quickly, and Ernst's scenario is the most free in terms of plot restrictions (there basically are none), so there's plenty of opportunity to dabble with combat and trade and stuff and learn things at your own pace without the fear of annihilation hanging over your head. Once you're done here you'll be ready to take on the tougher scenarios of the game (which also have more interesting stories than Ernst's basically nonexistent one).
And that's the end! Have fun
WAIT! Let's not give up so easily!
Learning to Trade
Hullo! This is a new segment I added in late 2012. So, some people find Ernst a little too boring, since all he does is sail around really. Trade is really the heart of the Uncharted Waters 2 engine, much more so than combat or anything else, so that's the next thing you want to get into. I'd never played Ali's quest before, now that I have I find that it's actually a great introduction to the deeper intricacies of the game, maybe even more so than Ernst. So if you've learned the ropes at sea mapping the world and are looking for more challenge and complexity, step up to the big(ger) leagues with Ali.
Ali is a trader whose quest consists first of making a bunch of money, then using said money to swing port allegiances over to Turkey. I've only found one walkthrough online for his particular story quest, and it glosses over one really long and important part, so here's this. Like the previous portion of this guide, however, it's going to assume you're at least relatively new to New Horizons, and don't really understand much about trading in the game beyond "bring low-priced good to port where it's higher-priced."
ALI VEZAS (OR, GETTING RIDICULOUSLY RICH IN THE 1520s 101)
Ali has three HUGE advantages in his quest that make him fairly newcomer-friendly. One, he's plopped down right at the beginning next to the best early trade route in the game (Istanbul-Athens). Two, for whatever reason, even when sailing around the world with like 900,000 dollars and a hold full of gold, pirates never seem to attack him, at least in the SNES version. My working theory on this is that Ibin Leids and Abdul the Asshole or whatever - the two pirates that usually magically appear and hound you to the ends of the Earth when you leave any port with more than like 20k on board - are Turkish privateers or allied with Turkey somehow or something, and since you're Turkish, they don't step to you. That may be totally wrong, but it's my hypothesis for now. Third, fairly early in his story quest, the Sultan will drop 500k on him out of nowhere (!) with basically no strings attached.
The disadvantage is that his whole quest centers around swinging a heap of ports over to Turkey, which costs a pile of money - that 500k itself alone won't be nearly enough. However, it's not terribly difficult to parlay that 500k into basically infinite money once you know what you are doing. That's what the guide is for!
But first, our humble beginnings. Ali starts out 40k in debt to various people around Istanbul, but it's a very soft debt that (I think) has no time limit to repay, nor does it have compounding interest or anything like that. 40k is also a trivial matter to repay with the lucrative Istanbul - Athens run right there. The game tells you flat-out that you should run carpets to Athens, then Art back to Istanbul ... for the love of God, DO EEEET! This is easy money that consistently works. One other thing I found you can do (for a little extra cash and, more importantly, some extra adventurer fame) is that the quest guild in Athens almost always seems to have a "deliver letter" quest to a port just north of Istanbul.
One IMPORTANT thing to remember - Ali is a great price haggler. When you go to buy something, ALWAYS decline the first price. It then asks you to manually haggle, but regardless of what price you enter, Ali always seems to auto-haggle it down to the lowest possible price, even if that's lower than the one you set! This makes a huge difference in how fast you make money, though, so don't forget to do it. It's easy to miss.
To advance the story, you have to pay back the 4 people in town that loaned you money, but there's no rush on that. First concentrate on upgrading your boat to a Nao, refit it to 40 bunks and no guns to maximize cargo space, then get said 40 sailors and apportion them 80% to navigation and 20% to lookout. Then focus on getting your bud Salim a Nao and do the same. The types of used ships that appear in ports are random, so you may have to search the Mediterranean a bit to find these, but they're the best balance of cargo space with easiness to handle (you and Salim both suck ass at sea at first and will likely lose one of the bigger boats). Once you've got two Naos you can run about 600 units of each item each way, but that's enough to where it's going to start screwing the economies and make the route much less profitable. So, once this is done, immediately build up at least 60k, then go pay all your debts. You'll actually need 50k total, because paying back the Harbor Helper guy will require 20k, because after you pay him Pietro immediately runs in and jacks you for a 10k loan on top of it. Don't worry, that will pay handsome dividends much later in the game (plus, it's story-mandated, so yeah)
Your next goal in the game should be advancing the story as fast as possible to the point where the Sultan throws Epic Moneyturbans at you. This first requires you to pay all of your debts, but I think your Trade fame has to be at a certain level, and your Adventure fame might possibly help here too. You'll know when he's looking for you because the dudes at the Harbor or the Merchant will tell you as soon as you walk in. If he isn't immediately looking for you when you pay your debts off, you can do the Athens-Istanbul route some more to regenerate your cash, or if that's boring, try taking Carpet or Art to one of the other major ports farther west like Seville or Lisbon and then bringing back their specialties. Or do some Guild quests to up your fame. The Sultan shouldn't take very long to start looking for you, though.
Now - this is important - *save your game* just before you go in to talk to him. He's going to "test your trading ability" by asking you to bring him some trivial amount of a specialty good. However, there's this shitty programming oversight where sometimes he'll ask for Carpet ... but while you're on this quest, the merchant in Istanbul is closed, and no one else sells Carpet! I think one of the other ports in the eastern Med. will eventually, but you have to invest to get it. Instead, you can either keep like 10 carpet on hand before talking to him in the event of this, or just load the game and try again until he asks for Art or something (it's randomized every time you walk through his door.)
Completing this gets you your first title, but not the Moneyhats just yet. You'll have to do this routine one more time - go trade or do quests for awhile, eventually he'll call for you and ask you to deliver a letter, probably to Portugal (Lisbon is their capital - go straight west from Athens until you reach where the Med. hits open sea, then go north a little along the coast). Do this, come back, you get second title, and the King confides that he wants to expand the Empire and gives you the 500k to put to that effect.
At this point, I ran into a problem that I never did find the answer to. After this happens, Ali is supposed to get a scene in one of the shops in town where they mention Ladia (the bar waitress he's sweet on) has a new boyfriend. I never got this scene, though. I wasn't using a walkthrough at the time, so I just kept rolling along. I assumed the next story cue was just to flip ports for Turkey. The harbormaster mentioned something about Massawa, so I assumed that possibly the next goal was to find something there, or to bring the port under Turkey's control. So after spending about an in-game year pimping the Amsterdam-Madeira run (will be detailed below), I decided to work down the west African coast flipping ports along the way until I got to Massawa. Welp, I did that, searched the joint thoroughly, brought Massawa under 100% Turkey control, came back and ... nada. So I thought maybe my Trade fame still wasn't quite high enough, and the Sultan was still calling me for quests, so I decided to flip some more ports and check back each time I came back to Istanbul. After reaching the rank of Viscount and no further story developments, I became concerned and went to look for a walkthrough online. There's only one ... and according to it I should have gotten the Ladia-Joao scene long, long before this point. I began to suspect a glitch at this point, but there were a few other possibilites. I worked my way up to Duke taking requests for the Sultan (and flipping ports down the coast of America and all the way over to Japan) ... that didn't do it. Then I thought maybe it was because Portugal was mad at me for taking their ports, so I went to their King and let him take 4/ of my fortune to clear my reputation with them ... still didn't do it. Then I tried actually defecting to Portugal and flipping a few ports back for them to build my rep with them ... nope. Aside from the one walkthrough in existence on the internet that doesn't mention this problem, the only other resource I could find was a Youtube LP from a guy named BCSBuster who plays the SNES version. I watched it, and he got past this point with no trouble - the only difference was he did some pirating beforehand to raise his Battle fame. I tried that, and it didn't help. So I have to assume this is just a nasty glitch that strikes at random with the SNES version, where that Ladia-Joao event flag just never flips for some reason. If this happens for you, I dunno what else to do but restart the game :(. Or try the Genesis or PC versions instead, assuming this doesn't happen there.
But anyway ... our purpose here is to learn how to trade with Ali, and even if our story is jammed, we're still in great position for that with our 500k in the bank. As far as the story goes, if you want to complete it and the glitch doesn't strike you, the extant walkthroughs out there should guide you through the rest of it. As far as trading goes, your next run is going to be between Amsterdam, and the ports of either Madeira or Santa Cruz, which are directly north-south of each other just off the coast of the northwestern-most point of Africa. This is just outside the Med. , but still outside the zone of random storms and catastrophes. First, find Madeira and Santa Cruz, pick one, then invest the maximum you can (probably 50k) in their market (NOT the shipyard!). Now, sail north to Amsterdam. To get there, sail northeast until you see the Med. again, then follow the coast north. You'll pass Lisbon, then turn east when you can and go straight east to find Bordeaux (and Nantes just north of it.) Bordeaux is worth a pit stop - buy 2 or 3 Balms at 1000 each. You won't need them for this trade run but you will later. Then continue north along the coast, turning east again when you can. You'll see London off to the north a little, but you can ignore it for now. Antwerp should be the next port you pass to the east, Amsterdam is just past it in a little bay cul-de-sac type of thing.
You want to load up with cheapo glass beads here, then truck them back to the port you just invested in. Sell them - they should go for 40 or 50 something - then, if a month has passed already, invest the max in the market again. If not, don't worry. Either way, just do another run to Amsterdam for beads, then invest when you can. What's the point of the beads? Aside from actually making a decent profit, selling truckloads of them at once depresses the market, which depresses the prices of everything ELSE in the market, so you can buy lower. The overall goal here is to invest enough to get the African port to produce Gold, which I think takes 3 months of max investments. Once it does, start trucking Gold back to Amsterdam to sell, as much as you can hold. REMEMBER TO HAGGLE LOW! Ali can cut the price of gold by 200 or 300 dollars regularly. When it gets up to 900 or so, stop buying - the sale price will be 1000 - 1100 in northern Europe. If Amsterdam offers less than 1000, look around at the nearby ports - London often pays more, sometimes Nantes will too. After doing this run a number of times, the African port will start having perma-high prices for gold. When you get to where you can't haggle them below 850 or so, start the cycle again with the other port down there (once money is flowing, start investing on their port as you pass coming from Amsterdam), where the prices will start out more favorable.
At some point here you'll want Better and Moar ships, so you can haul Moar beads and gold. Venetian Gallases are the best available ... but no shipyard sells them new without significant investment first. You can find them used fairly often, however, if you cruise the Med. for a bit. They're also row-powered which gives you an overall speed boost since you don't have to fight shit winds anymore, but this means a huge amount of crew (something like 150 minimum to get them to move full-speed), which means more food expense and cargo space needed. So when you get one, be sure to refit it at the shipyard - 150 crew bunks and no guns to make maximum cargo space. Getting two for Ali and Salim is a good start, but ideally you want even more. This is where Ali runs into his one major problem - his seamanship and combat skill are so shit that nearly every Mate in the game doesn't want to join him, even when his Trade fame is pretty high. I could only find two initially - Gus Johnson and Lars Ulkman or something like that. They're both mediocre sailors and can't fight for shit, but they also work cheap (20 and 30 gold/mo. respectively), will stay "very loyal" throughout the game, and can be leveled to sailing decency in a reasonable amount of time. Both are hanging around the Med. Gus also has Celestial Navigation, which means he makes a good First Mate in a pinch when Salim is busy captaining his own ship. Let them be First Mate and Chief Navigator for a bit to level a bit, then they can each get their own ship for trading purposes.
You can make ridiculous money this way, and if both ports get tapped out, take a break for a few months and answer the Sultan's requests or something to let them cool off and normalize (higher ranks also let you negotiate lower prices in allied ports, so this helps the moneymaking process ... plus once you hit Viscount you get free Tax-Free Permits). This alone can set you up with all the money you need for the rest of the game. Just remember the bank can only hold 999,999, and you can only carry that much as well (I found pirates still never once attacked me as Ali even when I was carrying 900k on me). To stash more, buy 5 Galleons or Carracks, buy Gold at the lowest price possible, load the Galleons/Carracks up with it, and Moor them at the safest possible port. In this case, Istanbul is the only 100% safe port, since it can't be flipped by the other nations. However, I've found that the computer really only makes serious plays for Valencia, Algiers and Syracuse for some reason after I've captured nearly everything in the world. North Europe or West Africa ports (including Santa Cruz and Madeira themselves) are probably safe. Even if a nation that's mad at you takes a port where your ships are moored, the only risk is you'll get ganked for 4/5 of your money when walking into the shipyard. This is a random dice roll when you actually walk though the door, so saving just before that gets around it handily.
This covers basically everything you need to know about trading and flipping ports, and kits you out financially to do whatever you care to - finish the story, convert to a battle fleet and troll everybody, extend the Ottoman Empire to every port in the globe, whatevs. There's tons of guidance out there for those things however, so ... good luck!