Visualizing Ocean Shipping — 1750 to 1855

This shows mostly Spanish, Dutch, and English routes–they are surprisingly constant over the period (although some empires drop in and out of the record), but the individual voyages are fun. And there are some macro patterns–the move of British trade towards India, the effect of the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and so on.

It's interesting to note that there are times when a single nation completely dominates the water.

Also some individual voyages stand out:

The Battle of Saldanha Bay (1796), when a contingent of Dutch ships sail south and engage with the British in August by the Cape, is clearly visible on the map