Crates spawn randomly and are seen floating at sea. They also drop from sunk ships.
Why Use Crates
You might wonder what's the point of getting crates when you can just fish, well there are two reasons:
- Crates and fishing give Gold, but fishing uses more time in the water before you get it.
- Yes, a damaged ship gets healed over time, but running the ship into a crate heals it more. Here is a scenario where this would come into play: Imagine you are a captain of a big mama and you and your krew are fighting a fleet of two smaller ships. If you kill a ship, the loot for that ship will be there and the other ship would be fighting you. In this case, you could set your ship through the loot to heal your ship and then fight the other ship.
With Your Ship
One way to get crates is by sailing your ship into them.
Picking up a crate with your ship will heal your ship (20 hp) and will give you 100 gold.
With Your Fishing Rod
You can also get crates by catching them with your fishing rod.
Fishing up crates does not heal your ship but you will have a chance of getting more gold (20-325).
You do not need to directly cast your fishing hook on the crates to pick them up. Try casting your hook slightly over the crates to pick them up, do not cast your hook too high though or you will miss the crates.
Crates from Ships
Notice: Some of this info may be out of date as of the May 5th update (1.11.2)
Sunk ships drop their loot as crates. They drop 1/2 of there gold. It was previously 2/3 and was capped at 300k, but the cap has been removed. The number of crates dropped by a sunk ship depends on how much gold and cargo the captain and his krew had.
If you are close enough to a crate you can get gold from fishing up the crate and picking up the crate with your ship.