I just used 2 regular box cake mixes to make the cake. My son's favorite is the white, but you could use anything you like best. And my son doesn't care for chocolate so I just used regular homemade butter cream frosting with food coloring.
First step is to bake 2 9x13 cakes.
Then cut your shapes. Cut each cake in half lengthwise then about 1/4 off the width. One of the long rectangles you will use to cut triangle shapes for the front of the ship.
Use a bread knife and cut the tops so you have a flat surface to stack your cakes.
For water I used a piece of blue wrapping paper covered in plastic wrap that I folded to fit securely in my Stoneware bar pan.
Next is the assembly of the cake. I mixed up a thin batch of butter cream frosting. There are two purposes for this. The first is to hold the layers of cake together and the second is to seal all the crumbs so when you frost the outside you don't have a bunch of cake pieces floating into the design.
I placed 3 strips of wax paper down on top of the "water" so it would have a clean look after I was completely done frosting. Start layering the cake how you want it to look, adding a layer of frosting between each of the layers.
I normally like a really soft cake but I found that it would have been easier had I let it bake a little longer than normal so it would have been a little more stable. The fridge is definitely your friend! As soon as you have your layers on stick it in there and let the frosting firm up, otherwise you have a melting ship. Not so cute. Unless of course you are going for the falling apart ship look...
I used wooden skewers to hold the integrity of the cake. I used one from the back all the way through to the front triangle. I used 3 to hold the back of the ship together, and 2 for the front. I used extra pieces of cake to help support the weight of the layers, tucked in and covered with frosting. I had to clip them with garden shears to fit in my fridge, chopsticks may work better... In this picture I have the top 2 pieces of cake hanging off the back, I actually ended up moving them because they were too heavy and the cake was cracking. So it was a straight line up the back.
I took a bread knife and rounded the front of the ship to look more like a boat.
Finish coating all surfaces with your butter cream frosting and put in the fridge. I would say at least 30 minutes. I left mine in an hour and then mixed up another big (double) batch of butter cream frosting. I used the Wilton brown gel coloring which worked perfectly. I used 2 graham crackers at the back of the ship to hold everything in place and coated the whole ship with the brown coloring.
With a little of the extra frosting I mixed a darker brown and black. The darker brown I randomly made stripes along the ship.
Then I took a fork and ran stripes down the ship so it would look like actual wooden boards. At this point I put it back into the fridge to set up a little more, then after about 30 min I used the black to outline and write words so it would look more like a pirate ship.
After The frosting was completed. I pulled out the support skewers and lightly pushed the frosting down to fill in the holes and removed the wax paper from the bottom using the side of the knife to make sure it didn't pull off of the cake. I put it back into the fridge to await the party!
Using black construction paper I cut 4 sails and hole punched 2 holes, one on the top and bottom of each sail and placed them on 3 skewers.
The cake was a hit! The kids absolutely loved it!