The Ballahoo and Cuckoo-class schooners were small (50-60 foot length) warships built for the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballahoo-class_schooner
The class was an attempt by the Admiralty to harness the expertise of Bermudian shipbuilders who were renowned for their fast-sailing craft (particularly the Bermuda sloops). ... This durable, native wood, abundant in Bermuda, was strong and light, and did not need seasoning. Shipbuilders used it for framing as well as planking, which reduced vessel weight. It was also highly resistant to rot and marine borers, giving Bermudian vessels a potential lifespan of twenty years and more, even in the worm-infested waters of the Chesapeake and the Caribbean.
This all sounds very promising so far! However,
William James wrote scathingly of the Ballahoo and subsequent Cuckoo-class schooners, pointing out the high rate of loss, primarily to wrecks or foundering, but also to enemy action. ... Moreover, when sent forth to cruise against the enemies of England...these "king's schooners" were found to sail wretchedly, and proved so crank and unseaworthy, that almost every one of them that escaped capture went to the bottom with the unfortunate men on board.
Now, I'm going to disregard the question of enemy action. Small ships losing badly when they go up against big ships? That's not a surprising outcome in special need of explanation.
What is a surprising outcome in special need of explanation is the high rate of loss primarily to wrecks or foundering, and the facts as laid out in the accompanying table of the fates of the individual vessels, do seem to back up this summary. What was the problem there?
Is it a matter of sheer size? That seems unlikely. People have sailed significantly smaller boats across oceans plenty of times. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caravel
... the Pinta and Niña were smaller caravels of around 15–20 m with a beam of 6 m and displacing around 60–75 tons.
So Columbus crossed the Atlantic with ships in just that size range.
Was there a problem with the materials used in construction? It certainly does not sound like there should be; the first paragraph quoted above, specifically calls out Bermuda cedar as being particularly suited to this application.
Was there a problem with inexperienced or otherwise incompetent shipbuilders? This also does not seem as though it should be the case, if Bermudian shipbuilders were renowned for successfully building similar craft.
So what was the problem?