The São Gabriel was a Portuguese and built specifically for the expedition ship model.
The São Gabriel was a Portuguese “nau” (carrack) that, like its sister ship, the São Rafael. As a result, she was built specifically for the expedition; both exhibited similar construction.
There are no known contemporary pictures of the ships; the earliest are from about fifty years later. São Rafael was of similar dimensions as the São Gabriel ship model. Therefore, the Bérrio, also known as the São Miguel: This caravel was named after its former owner. A seller ship, name São Miguel: The ship was a carrack of about 110 or 200 tons with Gonçalo Nunes as captain. Nevertheless, São Gabriel ship model was constructed under the supervision of Bartolomeu Dias. In addition, the size of the vessel given by contemporary describers was between 90-120 t, but modern estimates tend to be higher.
As a carrack, the sails of the fore and mainmast were cut square, while the mizzenmast sail was triangular. Carracks tended to be slower and less able to sail against the wind than the caravel, but were steadier and safer, and more comfortable for the crew. The São Gabriel was equipped with the latest scientific astronomical and nautical instruments.