Some background: I have characters trying to locate a specific ship that is docked at Kingston, Jamaica in 1717. Since the area was known for its ship traffic (nefarious and otherwise) I am assuming this could be a daunting task unless they (my characters) knew how ships were identified at the time. So the author (me) needs to know this. :-)
1) How were passenger and trade ships identified in the early 18th century? (ca. 1720.) I know that flags were used to a degree (to state the nationality of a ship, for example, or in regards to pirates), but was that the only method of having a "name" or "number" displayed? Or were there actually signs on the ships or other identification marks like figure heads?
2) I know that records of passengers and the ships they traveled upon had records that go way back. Were there ever specific records of ships regarding which pier they were docked at? (i.e. "The Blue Mary" is anchored at Pier 5.)
Any help or guidance to these questions would be much appreciated!