Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Need for Deep Hulls in Ocean Sailing Part I

When we look at every single Book of Mormon Land of Promise location, it is very apparent that not one of these Theorists have given much thought to Nephi’s explanations of the ship he built and the course he took “driven forth before the wind” to reach the Land of Promise.
First of all, one might wonder why Nephi spent so much time telling us about the ship he built, and the problems he had during the first leg of his journey in it.
We ought to spend a little time understanding what Nephi is telling us about this part of their journey to the Land of Promise. First of all, he tells us how the ship was built:
1. It was a ship, not a barge, or a dugout, or raft (1 Nephi 17:8);
2. It had a sail(s), to be “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9);
3. It had some type of rudder system because it could be steered (1 Nephi 18:13);
4. It was built very differently than the ships being built at that time (1 Nephi 18:2);
5. The construction was very advanced, the Lord himself told Nephi how to built the ship (1 Nephi 18:2-3);
Now ships in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea being built in 600 B.C. were coastal vessels, mainly used for trading or fishing, and sailed within site of land. The touted Phoenician voyage around Africa in 600 B.C., was strictly a coastal voyage, setting into land at night and sailing only in the daytime and only in the sight of land. The vessels of the Mediterranean, Red Sea and the coastal area of the Arabian Sea were shallow bottomed hulls, typically rounded, incapable of deep water sailing.
Archaeologists have discovered that the Phoenicians used two types of routes for both trade and voyages of discovery. The first was coastal sailing, where sailors only sailed during the day, from one village to another, always keeping land in sight. The second, which archaeologists mislabel as deep water sailing, meaning off the coast, but in sight of land, were sailors who took routes farther away from the coastline but kept land in sight. When sailing at night, these sailors kept their ship in the right direction by observing constellations and the North Star, or what the ancient world called the "Phoenician Star,” which is the end star of the handle of the Little Dipper constellation.
However, despite whatever these sailors might have accomplished at the time of Lehi, there is no record of anyone sailing away from the sight of land into deep water, meaning where the waves pounded constantly against the hulls of ships and literally hammered the wood so severely, hull integrity was often breached, and where round bottom vessels would roll drastically in high, breaking waves, and could capsize.
Now, the Lord knowing where he was going to lead Nephi’s vessel into deep water (what sailors today call blue water), across the oceans, instructed Nephi to “not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:2).
A stone carving of a 700 B.C. Assyrian bireme, designed by Phoenician ship builders, who built out of cedar wood
In fact, the best information we have about ship building of that period is, according to Lionel Casson, "The Age of the Supergalleys" in Ships and Seafaring in Ancient Times, University of Texas Press, 1994, that “shipbuilders, undoubtedly Phoenician, a seafaring people who lived on the southern and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, were the first to create the two-level galley that would be widely known under its Greek name, biērēs, or bireme.” Casson claims that even though the Phoenicians were among the most important naval civilizations in early antiquity, little detailed evidence have been found concerning the types of ships they used. “The best depictions found so far have been small, highly stylized images on seals which depict crescent-shape vessels equipped with one mast and banks of oars.” In addition, Casson claims that colorful frescoes on the Minoan settlement on Santorini show more detailed pictures of earlier vessels with ceremonial tents on deck in a procession. Some of these are rowed, but others are paddled with men laboriously bent over the railings.
The Phoenician trireme of 600 B.C., with the first recorded ramming of such ships in 535 B.C. according to Herodotos
Around 600 B.C., the Phoenicians added a third row of oars by the addition of an outrigger to the hull of a bireme, a projecting construction that allowed for more room for the projecting oars. These new galleys were called triērēs ("three-fitted") in Greek, and Triremes by the Romans. With up to 170 oars, this was the largest ship to ply the Mediterranean, though it rarely left the coast, and was vulnerable to storms.
So, what does it mean “not after the manner of men”? It would seem obvious, that Nephi’s ship was not made like ships of that day, but completely different. Nephi did not say what part of the ship, but told us that he “did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men,” which should tell us that even from the very foundation of the vessel, Nephi built it completely different—that is, from the wood frame, or from the keel up. He also said, “neither did I build the ship after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:2), which tells us the entire ship was not built like ships of that day, but completely different.
In the early days of ship-building, there were only two types of hulls: the flat bottom and the round bottom. As for the flat bottom, although this hull type is stable in calm weather it is, because of its flatter bow, a comparatively rougher ride. It is typically a planing boat that rides on top of rather than through the water. Even today, due to issues with maneuverability and the roughness of the ride these hulls are limited to the amount of horse power applied, and pretty much restricted to use on calm waters, such as small lakes, rivers, etc., as this hull type has always been used solely on calm waters.
The round bottom hull is easier to maneuver than the flat hull and moves efficiently though the water at low speeds. These are displacement hulls, which are limited in speed due to the bow wave they create while pushing though the water, though they are not very stable in deep water with pounding waves, and are subject to rolling.
It wasn’t until the invention of the caravel ship in the 14-15th centuries by the Portuguese that a deep “V” hull was designed for sailing speed and deep-sea durability. These ships were designed for exploring around the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean, such as to the Azores, Canary, and Cape Verde Islands.
This Caravel ship had four masts, two carrying lateen sails. However, typically, the Caravel had three masts, with only one lateen
The ships Columbus took to America in 1492 were his flag ship, the Santa Maria, which was a nao (a fat and slow cargo ship), unable to sail near a coast, the Niña and Pinta, which were caravels and able to sail deep water and explore coastlines. The caravel was square-rigged (square sail) on its foremasts and mainmasts, but used a lateen sail on the mizzen (rear) to help in tacking. They carried about twenty crew members who slept on the deck and would go below only if the weather was bad, and averaged about 4 knots an hour, with top speed of 8 knots (9.26 mph), and typically managed only 90 to 100 miles in a day (200 miles a day was phenomenal).
This deep “V” hull is really a hybrid of the flat and round bottom hulls, with the “V” allowing the ship to cut though the water to minimize slapping and provide some grip in turns. The angle of the V is called the dead rise and flattens out toward the stern. This was the design of the later clippers that set sailing records all over the world before the coming of the steam engine.
(See the next post, “The Need for Deep Hulls in Ocean Sailing, Part II,” to see how Nephi designed his ship, and what that design meant to the course he took to lead him to the Land of Promise)

No comments:

Post a Comment