The game is designed to eventually become where you can set a quest and forget it, but in the beginning it will take a little more attention. Trust me when I say that you don't want to rush buying the ship. Take your time gathering the gold a little bit and gather some gear and gems along the way. In fact I believe the intent is to slow you down from purchasing the ship too quickly to insure that you gain the necessary upgrades before setting sail, as the quests levels go up rather quickly from that point on.
The closest to a set and forget money maker is the Jungle and Mine. Without quest time reduction they take quite some time to complete and reward you well. However if you can check your game often I suggest the Golden Sands quest in Smuggler's Cove once you unlock it. It still has one of the best gold per minute ratio of all the quests that I've seen. It becomes even better once you can reduce it's quest time to under it's original quest time of 15 minutes. The river also has a well rewarding quest, but until you can reduce it's quest time to 5 minutes, the Golden Sands quest is still the better of the two. Also remember to max out your Parrot and Compass as soon as you can, as well as take a trip down to the Jungle Outpost if you haven't done so already. I'm pretty sure the Jungle Outpost will be worth your time.
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