Monday, July 9, 2012

Driven Forth Before the Wind – Winds and Currents

It is always amazing to me that not one single Book of Mormon historian or scholar seems to understand the many ocean currents between where Nephi’s ship entered the waters they called Irreantum, and their later landing in the Western Hemisphere. Yet, these historians who have written vast passages, articles, internet pieces, books and made videos of the location of the Land of Promise, can pinpoint such a landing site.

How anyone could possible know where a wooden sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” could have traveled and landed without knowing and understanding these winds and currents, is beyond imagination. Yet, they all think they know the precise landing site of Nephi’s ship.

There are so many things involved in sailing a ship, that even experienced mariners of later periods had difficulties, and many died fighting winds, currents, and storms during ocean travel. For “landlubbers” of today trying to determine the experiences of the Lehi Colony, they all fall far short of understanding. Take, for example, besides the obvious things like winds, currents, etc., the idea of landing Nephi’s sailing vessel once it reached its destination.

Obviously, there would be no piers, docks, or other type of moorings available. Nor could you simply run a large sailing vessel up on the beach, since the ship would roll well to the side with the top-heavy sails and rounded hull. How would you protect the occupants in such an event, and how would you get women and children, supplies and equipment, like large, heavy tents, etc., off of a ship bouncing around in waves and conflicting currents along the shore line?

What would have been needed was a cove or bay where winds and currents died down to a minimal force, allowing for the ship to turn into shore, and also where winds and currents did not impact on a vessel near the landing site or shore. And such sites are minimal along the Mesoamerican coast south of the theorists’ Narrow Neck of Land—or more accurate, along the West Sea (shore) South, until one reaches Honduras.

However, more importantly, vessels “driven forth before the wind” must travel where the wind, and thus the currents (which are driven by the winds), take the ship. You simply cannot decide where the ships traveled and, therefore, where they landed, without knowing these simple facts—where the wind and currents would have taken a sailing ship in 600 B.C. that was driven by these forces.

There is no way a person can pinpoint the landing site of the Lehi Colony without knowing these simple facts. That is, what winds and currents exist in the Irreantum Sea and the oceans Nephi’s ship crossed, where those winds and currents traveled, the speed and diversity of the oceans crossed, and how and where the winds and currents dissipated, allowing for a sailing vessel in 600 B.C. to land so that men, women and children could disembark.

To say they traveled eastward across the Indian Ocean and through Indonesia, the South Sea islands, and then across the Pacific to land in Mesoamerica is to show one’s lack of knowledge and understanding of winds and currents, and to open oneself for ridicule and disbelief. The same is true in suggesting the course was north on the Kuroshio Current past Japan, across the Aleutians, then down past North America to Mexico. Equally ridiculous is the idea of a ship sailing around South Africa and across the Atlantic.

The trouble is, these three directions all look good and feasible when looking at a map, and could easily be accomplished today with modern vessels. But in 600 B.C., a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” could not possibly have traveled any of those three routes because of the winds and currents would not have blown them in any of those directions.

In the next few posts, we will show why these routes were impossible for the Lehi Colony to have taken. First, we will show the southern route around Africa and the problems because of the East Madagascar Current, Mozambique Current, and the Aguilhas Current, and their Sverdrups. It might be surprising to learn the impact on a wooden sailing vessel trying to negotiate those currents around the tip of Africa and the major rogue wave zone that exists there. 

(See the next post, "Driven Forth Before the Wind – The Agulhas Current Southeast Africa," to see how difficult, if not impossible it was to sail around Africa and into the Atlantic by experienced sailors even in the 1400s, let alone two thousand years earlier in 600 B.C.)

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