I'm not sure about the ships, but you're probably best off reading the forum rules, which ought to be here.
You can use GIMP or Inkscape for making the ships. They're both free and ought to work on all platforms.
As to the map, that program sounds fascinating! I'm not sure where you actually want to go with the map, though, so I can't really offer any feedback. If you want it to be merely informational, perhaps add some sort of key to explain which person each color province belongs to. If you want it to be more artistic, change the colors so that they're a bit softer. Things like that.
Also, I know this has no relation to your questions, but I can't help but to point out that to 'collaborate' means working on something with someone else. I think the word you wanted to use was 'elaborate' which means to explain something further.