Did the Spanish Armada's crew have notable sailing skills?
They certainly did, so much so that the Armada nearly conquered England.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 107 may allude to the Armada. Scholars have argued that in line 5, "the mortal moon" refers to the Armada.
Also, in lines 7-8, the speaker says, "Incertainties now crown themselves assured,/And peace proclaims the endless age." The argument here is that the Armada has thrown England into crisis but the defeat has brought peace.
Here is an excerpt from a British history source which explains the purpose and impact of the Spanish Armada:
The Spanish sailed up the Channel in a crescent formation, with the troop transports in the centre. When the Spanish finally reached Calais, they were met by a collection of English vessels under the command of Howard. Each fleet numbered about 60 warships, but the advantage of artillery and maneuverability was with the English.
Under cover of darkness the English set fireships adrift, using the tide to carry the blazing vessels into the massed Spanish fleet. Although the Spanish were prepared for this tactic and quickly slipped anchor, there were some losses and inevitable confusion.
On Monday, July 29, the two fleets met in battle off Gravelines. The English emerged victorious, although the Spanish losses were not great; only three ships were reported sunk, one captured, and four more ran aground. Nevertheless, the Duke of Medina Sedonia determined that the Armada must return to Spain. The English blocked the Channel, so the only route open was north around the tip of Scotland, and down the coast of Ireland.
It was then that the unpredictable English weather took a hand in the proceedings. A succession of storms scattered the Spanish ships, resulting in heavy losses. By the time the tattered Armada regained Spain, it had lost half its ships and three-quarters of its men.
In England the victory was greeted as a sign of divine approval for the Protestant cause. The storms that scattered the Armada were seen as intervention by God. Services of thanks were held throughout the country, and a commemorative medal struck, with the words, "God blew and they were scattered" inscribed on it.
Note: The term "Invincible Armada" was not a Spanish one. It was a sarcastic phrase employed by later English commentators.
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