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The Transport Hoy is the weakest "naval" unit. In fact, it is not a naval unit per se but is Rise of the Moderns' "flavour" of transport ship, replacing BOTH the Transport Galley and Transport Galleon from the vanilla game.
As in the vanilla game you must research two key technologies in order to get the Hoy: Archaeology and Canal Networks from the Library , the very first two levels of the Commerce and Science technology tracks. The latter will grant access to the Harbour, the former will then be required to allow travel by sea. This will then allow your units to convert themselves into the Hoy whenever they touch water.
If you wish to find a tougher and stronger vessel, consider upgrading your Hoys to Transport Cutters, which are slightly faster, and have additional armour. Transport Hoys will be converted the moment you research Imperial Reforms and Signalatory Corps from the Library.