Quoted from zacaj:
I'd consider myself a pretty good player but 200+ plays on mine and I still haven't even gotten to the fourth ship.
A good time to shoot at the ship is during a multi-ball ball saver. I reach Davy Jones quite regularly that way. (Finishing Davy Jones is a lot harder though.)
If your goal is to maximise points, the ships are mostly a waste of time. You will make more points just shooting Tortuga and the trunk over and over, and collecting jackpots.
If your goal is to complete the compass, try and stack a multi-ball with sinking the first ship, and use the multi-ball ball saver to finish off the kraken. For the second, third, and fourth ship, forget about the kraken and use each ship multi-ball to prime Tortuga and the trunk, but do not start them while the ship multi-ball is still running. I normally let one of the ship multi-balls drain once Tortuga and/or the trunk are ready, rather than accidentally starting them and not being able to make progress towards the next ship. (The ship won't come back up until the game is back in single-ball play.) Once the ship is back up, as soon as Tortuga or Heart multi-ball are running, it's back to bashing away at the ship again.
If you have Heart multi-ball ready, and Tortuga nearly ready, try and start Heart multi-ball. Bash away at the ship during ball-save time and for the next two balls. Once you are down to two balls in Heart multi-ball, try and start Tortuga multi-ball. Even if you don't manage to fully load up Tortuga, you'll get a new ball saver without losing Heart multi-ball. That helps with getting the Heart super jackpot. Once you are down to two balls on the stacked Heart/Tortuga multi-ball, try and and sink the ship, which then acts as an add-a-ball. Once you have all three multi-balls stacked, you are stuck in terms of multi-balls until you are back down to single-ball play. But you can still work on Jack during that time, kill the kraken, or try and keep loading Tortuga for the multipliers and big points. (Jack is easiest to complete during multi-ball ball save time because it's a risky shot.)
Typically, I end up with the compass lit except for Heart Super Jackpot and Davy Jones Defeated. If I can start Heart multi-ball during that time and don't have Tortuga almost ready, I bash away at the trunk and the ship, depending on opportunities (with priority on the trunk, because it's a lot of work to get back there again if I fail to get Heart Super jackpot).