How could you do this, Wizkids? Release a ship that's this bad, especially in the second to last set?
Let's be plain: Colonial Trader isn't meant to be a warship. Quad 4S guns don't make her a viable combatant, especially when you consider that the US has several other 4-masted schooners that come in at similar cost, but with better guns. Louisiana, USS Hudson, and Saratoga come to mind. So, she's a gold runner, but here's the problem: she's slow, has average cargo space, and a negative ability. Yes, she gets extra cargo space if she has no crew aboard, but come on, that's the same thing as having 5 base cargo space and an ability text that states her first crew takes up three cargo space. That's dumb, pure and simple.
That said, how do we try to maximize her ability to run gold, since we can't put any crew on her? The answer is by slapping a Cargo Master on another American ship in your fleet, giving her 6 cargo space. A Helmsman isn't viable, it cuts her cargo space down to 3 even with the effect of a Cargo Master. She may benefit from Commodore Edward Preble elsewhere as well, but with the odds of an extra action being so low, even with a re-roller, I'll posit that there are better ways to spend your points. Like, on another ship, maybe?
How do you counteract this ship? Literally by picking a ship as good or better than the ones I listed above. How about Roanoke? She's just as fast, but has more cargo space, a better ability, she's bigger, and has better guns overall. Just about anything capable of an L+L move or greater will be able to chase this ship down and eat its lunch, like HMS Gibraltar, or San Cristobal.
Strengths/Pros: her cargo space is good if you don't burden her with crew.
Weaknesses/Cons: armament, move, ability, cost. Basically everything.
Artwork and aesthetics: I personally don't think they matter, because this ship will sit unused in your collection. It might not even be punched out and built. Couldn't blame you. I mean, I guess she looks okay, though I think she looks kind of like a Cursed ship.
Overall rating: 3/10. She feasibly has a use, but I can literally count off ten ships from memory that do her job better, and for fewer points. Even Pearl, which I roasted in a recent review, can be a more competent gold runner at a cheaper cost. As a7xfanben pointed out, there are worse ships, but not by much.
You know how I'd fix this ship? Give her 7 base cargo, and keep everything else identical. She can then at least have a ton of cargo space to compensate for her otherwise terrible traits. Hey, maybe she can then get some crew aboard as an alternative strategy, because as-is, she's totally non-viable.