I'm level 12, and have yet to learn the ship-to-ship combat system. I usually avoid other ships, and when confronted just board directyl. However it costs so much to do so, in terms of repair and injury, so I'm thinking maybe the ship combat is a better way.
My question: I'm unsure if I need to invest in a bigger ship, or if it's enough to simple upgrade my own? I have 50.000 money, and some of the ships cost all of that.
Will my own small ship do just fine, or is it expected to get a bigger one at some point?
1. The base ship in the game has served me quite well thus far, and I'm up to level 10 or 11, I think. It helps to upgrade her sails to make the ship faster, both in and out of combat. You don't need to spend obscene amounts of money to get a decent little upgrade. It also helps to get better guns. The stock guns are rather weak. There are a number of good upgraded guns. Some are better short range guns while others are better at long range. Pick the ones that suit you. I have a pair of Wyrmtongues on the starboard side of my ship, and a pair of other good guns on the port side.
2. I can't speak for later in the game as to whether one really needs a larger ship to survive.
3. There are videos on Youtube which give some very good explanations about ship to ship combat in PoE2. And I strongly suggest checking them out. Ship to ship combat can actually be kinda fun once you understand how to do it properly. But in all honestly, I prefer boarding, because I suspect that if you just outright sink enemy ships, you won't get any of their gold or various pieces of equipment, since it'll probably just sink to the bottom.
4. And even if you don't really want to bother with ship to ship duels, you can always just charge directly at the enemy ship and force a boarding action. (Never select the boarding option at the start of a battle, because that just causes you to take a lot of unnecessary damage and crew injuries.) But one thing that helps a lot here is to have picked up a lot of extra companions and sidekicks to have in reserve, because during boarding actions, they'll fight alongside your party (and the crew). And having a full crew helps too, because they fight as well. The more warm bodies you have fighting with your party during boarding actions, the better.