I really feel there would be benefit in having a basic, standardized way of communicating your intentions with other ships.
As of right now, the only way to speak to another crew is to careen your ship up to theirs within distance of screaming "FRIENDLY" and by that point, their crew is rattled enough by your approaching ship that they might have just decided to open fire. Either that or you try and shoot a crewmate to their ship which again can be interpreted as an aggressive action and you're met with swords and bullets when you get there.
I can understand the need to limit ship communication. I'm not asking to be able to text chat directly to a ship. My suggestion is to have Signal Lamps atop a ship's crow's nest - something that real ships use - that you can point towards the direction of another ship and be able to flash a very basic signal to to it. I figure it could be something like a mirror with a bright lantern in front of it, using the mirror to reflect the light at the other ship.
You would be able to choose from a list of pre-programmed messages to send. This would be visible from a long distance, and from the point of view of the other ship they would simply see a pin of light flashing in a certain short pattern coming from your ship.
The messages would be ultra-basic and be such things like:
"KEEP YOUR DISTANCE"
"HAVE A REQUEST"
"YOU MAY APPROACH"
Every ship would have a legend of what each pattern means. There would only need to be less than ten or so different messages so people would be able to pretty quickly memorize what each pattern meant without even needing the legend.
I feel like this would benefit the player base by helping to avoid misunderstandings and frustrations. Imagine sailing up to an island where another crew is parked and being able to sit at a safe distance while negotiating your interaction. However it wouldn't completely remove all risks as there would be nothing stopping someone from using a peaceful signal falsely and then attacking you anyway. They could also just choose to not use the signals at all. All risks are still present. The point is, I feel like this would be more desirable to some than the current method of driving by and screaming.