From: Cambridge, UK
That or build steamboats. I read somewhere that Fulton pitched his steam boat idea to Nap who discounted the idea. Apparently in the English channel as in other seas, wind is reduced and sailing ships don't sail very well. A "fleet" of steam boats may have made a difference in buying enough time to transfer French corps over to England. Now this may all be poppycock, but it offers a possibility.
Enough digression. Napoleon (like Hitler later) was a land animal. When I play the game (as any country) I am not solely a land animal. So there is a game balance factor to numbers of ships, sizes of fleets, etc.
Regarding US "superiority" in the War of 1812, that was because US Frigates were larger; they primarily fought in small level engagements; and the Brits never committed their big ships to hunt Frigates, (similar to Japanese in WWII not deeming it necessary to guard convoys. It was beneath their dignity.)
So, much rambling here, but I think that the naval rules could use some of the add-on's from the general or other places. (Agree, Mardonius.) I don't think that this will ever be a supreme naval game that you want, hellfirejet. I think that you are stuck with the likes of Wooden Ships and Iron Men. But, after the other stuff gets fixed, whe should be able to have some more realism to the naval system.
I would add that British supremacy -- true -- remained because Britain's enemies made no concerted effort to challenge GB at sea. Had they built the right ships (first rates) invested in gunnery training, recruited experienced seamen(fishermen/merchant mariners) from all sources, and the like they could have had a fighting chance.
The US managed to fight quite a few successful engagements against the Brits and we are no supermen... we just made an decent effort and trained to the task.
A great study of overthrowing naval supremacy canbe found in the history of the Peloponnesian War where the Peloponnesians (Spartans, Thebans etc) paid a 50% bonus for trained seaman (using Persian money) over what the Athenians could paid. In a few years, all the experienced seamen from all over Greece and the neighboring states were sailing under the Peloponnesian League's banner. No reason why the French could not have done the same thing to attract the best mariners from our age. Another case is the Roman navy in the 1st Punic War; initially outclassed, with investment and a few hard knocks, it beat the Carthaginians.