The Flying Lab Software developers working on Pirates of the Burning Sea have done a lot of writing about the avatar combat changes of late, but it's clear that they're still aiming to improve ship-based PvP on the high seas. Pirates of the Burning Sea is going to get a major new feature as of patch 1.4: skirmish warfare, which is essentially a PvP environment where players can experiment risk free with various setups and tactics.
The latest developer log on PotBS is "Enter the Skirmish", which breaks down what this new feature is and what it will offer players: "PvP action is the hottest part of our game, but the difficulty of 'swimming with the sharks' in the open sea has made for a significant barrier to entry. Skirmish gives players the change to learn how to PvP without facing all the dangers involved with conquest. Societies and veterans can use the skirmish system to teach newer players the ropes in a risk-free environment, which means more people who'll be prepared for port conquest and open sea PvP."
For more on this upcoming feature, you'll want to read the "Enter the Skirmish" developer log on the Pirates of the Burning Sea website.