Monday, May 5, 2014

The Great Southern Ocean – Part IV

Continuing with the subject of Lehi’s landing at the 30º south latitude and the unique, but direct journey, that led him there, and more importantly, what exactly was found there. 
   In the last post, we covered Lehi sailing rapidly along on the globe-circling current called the West Wind Drift that is moved by the Prevailing Westerlies wind at a speed unequalled elsewhere, possible only in the Southern Ocean (also known as the Great Southern Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean, and the South Polar Ocean), since elsewhere continents interrupt east-west currents.
The Southern Ocean circles the lower latitudes of the planet uninterrupted by any land mass, which gives it a free flowing, rapidly moving current
    In this it differs from other oceans in that its largest boundary, the northern boundary, does not abut a landmass, but merges into the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. Cyclonic storms travel eastward around the continent and frequently become intense because of the temperature contrast between ice and open ocean. This current is so rapid, that early mariners who knew of it were able to cut off days, even weeks, of their travel time moving eastward in these waters, and today these waters are used for international races because of its swift and easy sailing routes.
Left: The circumpolar current of the Southern Ocean circles from west to east around the globe covering less than half the distance of a route around the equator; Right: Lehi’s ship sailing (white arrows) along this rapidly-moving Southern Ocean and nearing (yellow arrow) the Drake Passage  
    The water flow of the Southern Ocean in this West Wind Drift current that transports 130-million cubic meters of water per second, which is 135 times the flow of all the world’s rivers, and can move a sailing ship along in 40-50-knot winds toward the Drake Passage—a relatively narrow strait between Cape Horn (the southern tip of South America) and the Antarctic Peninsula. At this point, the current deflects some waters from this circumpolar current to form a portion of the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current that flows northward along the west coast of South America.
A global image of the major current gyres. Black Arrow: Lehi’s ship moves southward with the summer transport currents in the Arabian Sea toward the Indian Ocean; Purple Arrow: the ship is picked up by the South Indian Ocean Gyre and moved southeast with the current; Blue Arrow: the ship is pulled into the fast moving West Wind Drift carried by the Prevailing Westerlies wind along the Southern Ocean and eastward below Australia and New Zealand and across the ocean toward the Western Hemisphere; Green Arrow: the ship in the northern currents of the Southern Ocean is pushed northward by the continental shelf and enter the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current, which flows along the eastern edges of the counter-clockwise current of the South Pacific Gyre (Red Arrow), to about the 30º south latitude where the currents died down and a landing was affected (Yellow Arrow) at Coquimbo Bay in Chile
    As covered in the last post, that brought Lehi to the 30º south latitude where the winds and currents died down into the “doldrums,” and area nearing the Tropic of Capricorn where winds move upward and calm waters exist.
    This area was described in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, as Coleridge wrote: “All in a hot and copper sky, The bloody Sun, at noon, 'Right up above the mast did stand, No bigger than the Moon. Day after day, day after day, We stuck, no breath no motion; As idle as a painted ship, Upon a painted ocean.”
    In these idle waters, the ship moved toward the coast with the shoreward tide, a large, deep bay could be seen in the area now known as Coquimbo. After about three months at sea, about 60-days crossing the wide-open ocean, where nothing could be seen but the moving seas, wind and sky, the Lehi colony saw land and, no doubt with mounting excitement strained to view their new home.
The Chilean coast just south of 30º south latitude—forebodingly sharp cliffs with nowhere to land
    They would have waited anxiously as the slow moving tide brought them past the cliffs, and around a rocky point, and toward a large moon-shaped bay which suddenly appeared before their eyes. Excitement abounded across the deck as the ship inched its way into the mouth of this large bay now named Coquimbo, meaning “quiet waters.”
    Approaching the harbor during “Slack water” between the tides and just as the “flood tide” began to move into the bay, which has a semidiurnal anticyclonic gyre (a large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure) that circulates in a counter-clockwise manner, bringing any drifting ship near it from the south into the right (south) end of the bay and circles around past the rocky Point Tortuga to the subtidal zone just off the 34 mile long beach (east) end, where the ship could easily be anchored and offloaded close in to shore because of the depth of the Bay.
Top: Lehi’s ship would have approached this area (left to right) from the south, passing the rocky coast as they moved toward shore; Bottom: And would have entered this wide moon-shaped pristine bay with the green verdure of land beyond the beach
    In all of the west coast of South America, no other harbor provides such an ease of entrance for a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind,” and safe anchorage for a deep ocean vessel. In fact, the Chilean Navy used this bay as anchorage for their sailing ships throughout the 1800s, especially when rough waters threatened the coast. It should also be noted that the coastline of Coquimbo is unique due to its long and soft sandy beaches, sunny climate and warm waters, a perfect landing site for the Lehi colony where, after landing they, “went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23).
A view of the bay today, with the port of Coquimbo along the south shore, beaches to the right (east shore), La Serena inland beyond the beaches, and Elqui Valley beyond La Serena to the east. The present city of Coquimbo is in the foreground, along the peninsula
    Nephi writes of this time: “And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.”
    In perhaps the most revealing remark Nephi makes that allows us to pinpoint his landing area is this comment about planting the seeds they brought from Jerusalem. This is because Jerusalem is a Mediterranean Climate, and for seeds in 600B.C., and for more than a millennia afterward, seeds grew in like climates from where they were seeded. A seed from Jerusalem would basically only grow in a like climate—a Mediterranean Climate. So all we have to do is find another Mediterranean Climate outside the Mediterranean Sea to find where Lehi landed.
    As has been stated in these posts many times in the past, there are only five other Mediterranean Climates in all the world. One is along the southwestern coast of Africa, two more along the western and south Australia, also central to southern California, and along the Chilean coast at 30º south latitude.
The Mediterranean Climates of the World. There are two in the Western Hemisphere, one in California, the other in Chile
    This would suggest, then, that Lehi would have landed along the 30º south latitude of the Chilean coast, which is the Bay of Coquimbo, and La Serena. In addition, Nephi continued: “And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind…” (1 Nephi 18:25)
    Adjacent to La Serena, along this 30º south latitude is the largest temperate forest in all of South America. Called the Valdivian temperate rainforest, the northern portion of it is within the Fray Jorje National Forest in La Serena, Chile.
Top: largest temperate rainforests in the world; Bottom: Photo of the Valdivian Rain Forest in Chile, adjacent to La Serena along the 30º south latitude
(See the next post on “The Great Southern Ocean-Part V” for more about Lehi’s voyage across the ocean to his landing along the 30º south latitude on the coast of Chile, South America)

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