As with many extended adventures, the heroes of a particular AD&D campaign found themselves out to sea. They were not simply traveling from one island to the next, though; they were hot on the trail of their nemesis. The party had tracked him down to his fortress and crawled to the deepest part of his labyrinth in order to bring him to justice. Early in the battle, the villain realized that he was outmatched and managed to escape, leaving several lackeys and a rather fearsome beast behind to delay the invaders. Though the heroes failed to capture him at that moment, they chased him to the docks. Luckily for them, he had several boats in his fleet. He had escaped with the flagship, but there was plenty of firepower on the ship the party selected.
Of course, tracking down a faster and more powerful ship is no easy task, but one of the party members used their ability to communicate with animals to pass along a message that would request backup from the local authorities also hunting this shady character. With the aid of a magically-enhanced telescope, the heroes were able to follow the enemy ship for several hours before it finally pulled out of sight. The enemies thought they had escaped, but they had a surprise coming.
It wasn't long until the reinforcements arrived. There were two medium-sized ships, and they came from the opposite end from the protagonists. The foes quickly realized that they needed to pull into a small bay in order to avoid being surrounded. As the four ships drew ever closer and prepared for battle, a slight flaw in the plan was discovered.
This flaw wasn't in either side's tactics, which seemed rather solid, but rather with a minor oversight on the DM's part. As it turns out, none of the books etc. we had with us at the time made anything more than vague references to naval battles. It was still quite early in the day, so we really didn't want to postpone the battle until we could get the proper materials, but we didn't want our anticipation to end up causing a disaster at the end of a campaign that we had been playing for quite some time either.