Friday, March 18, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part IV

Continuing with the comments made by a Great Lakes theorist about the Lehi Colony traveling around Africa and across the Atlantic (see last post), he wrote:

“—you bravely round the Cape of Good Hope and divinely guided, cross the Atlantic at the shortest distance between the Old World and the New, with enough fresh water stored on board for the crossing---“

There are two points here written that are indefensible based on the times and capabilities of 600 B.C. and for more than a thousand years after. As mentioned in the last post, rounding the African Cape was not only no simple matter, the best mariners of the 15th century could not accomplish this fact. Not until Vasco de Game learned to swing wide around the Cape in 1497 (a three month 6,000 mile trip far out to sea and out of the sight of land) in order to avoid the Agulhas Retroflection—a treacherous combing of ocean currents around the Cape of Africa—and pick up the eastward moving circumpolar current that swept him toward Australia and then north up the trade winds to India, China and Indonesia, could such a fete be accomplished.

A person today may think a ship could sail around Africa hugging the coast, but no ship built for deep water could do that—not even in 1400 A.D., 2000 years after Lehi sailed. Of course, coastal vessels—shallow bottom, weak-hulled, oar-driven ships—could manage that fete, which is how the Phoenicians and Egyptians managed to sail around Africa in B.C. times, making numerous coastal stops for food, water and supplies along the way—a journey that took over two years. But the Lehi Colony, in a deep-water vessel, one built large enough and sturdy enough to weather the extreme punishment of waves and winds crossing oceans, could not have managed such a coastal journey, no matter how feasible it looks on a map today.

Yet, even if such a voyage could be accomplished, the problem with food, water and supplies would have been extreme. Magellan wrote in his log in the 16th century, after almost four months at sea: “…we were three months and twenty days without refreshment from any kind of fresh food. We ate biscuit, which was no longer biscuit but its powder, swarming with worms, the rats having eaten all the goods. It stank strongly of their urine. We drank yellow water already many days putrid. We also ate certain ox hides that covered the top of the yards to prevent the yards from chafing the shrouds, and which had become exceedingly hard because of the sun, rain and wind. We soaked them in the sea for four or five days, then placed them for a short time over the hot embers and ate them thus, and often we ate sawdust. Rats were sold for half a ducat apiece, and even so we could not always get them.”

Food is so plentiful to us today and so easily obtained when traveling, many modern people forget the difficulty of traveling across thousands of miles of sea for months on end without the ability to obtain replacement supplies, food and water.

Further, this author states: “with enough fresh water stored on board for the crossing.” Thor Heyerdahl found, as did Columbus, that catching rainwater was the only way to have fresh water on such lengthy journeys. Regular stored water in caskets turned rancid quite quickly, and though drinkable, tasted badly and smelled even worse. Columbus, on his first voyage, after only 36 days at sea, was on his last cask of water when land was finally seen.

Thus, we can assume that any voyage of Lehi around Africa and across the Atlantic (even if such could have been accomplished) would have taken about four times the distance and four times the length of travel as Columbus, and longer than Magellan’s 3 months and twenty days. Yet Nephi, who never failed to record problems, mutinous attitudes of his brothers, and how the Lord helped them overcome extreme difficulties, never wrote a single word about this journey. He only said, “And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23).

Thus, we can see that when scholars and theorists so glibly write about things of which they know so little, they continually show their ignorance on matters of extreme importance to the Lehi Colony in reaching the Land of Promise.

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part IV,” traveling inland to a “west sea”)

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