Monday, October 27, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part VIII – The Lord Has Made the Sea Our Path-Part II

Continuing from the last post with the many descriptions written about the Land of Promise by those who lived out their lives there and knew it so well, and specifically Nephi’s descriptions of their setting sail in the ship he built. 
   The last post ended with a discussion about the impossibility of sailing eastward against the monsoon winds and currents that blow off the southern Arabian coast, and how these monsoon winds and currents blow off the Asian mainland across India, the Bay of Bengal and Indonesia. Also on how sailing ships in the early 1500s could not sail eastward across the Pacific and the failure of Cortes’ ships sent under the command of Saavedra could not return to Mexico from Indonesia—the exact course Sorenson and others claim Lehi took.
Saavedra could not return to Mexico from Indonesia after being sent there by Cortes because of the opposition of the winds in the Pacific. He not only was killed trying, but his ship had to sail in the opposite direction--west--and across the Atlantic to return to Mexico
    Here we continue with the last post by stating that the point of this is that Mesoamericanists, like John L. Sorenson, can claim Lehi sailed in that direction (east through Indonesia and across the Pacific), but the monsoon winds would have kept him from reaching Indonesia, and if for some reason he was able to get there, the same winds that stopped Saavedra from returning back across the Pacific would have kept Lehi from reaching the Americas as well. All of this merely illustrates the reality and folly of trying to trace a desired course across a map. The point is, these monsoons create such strong weather and wind patterns that no sailing ship dependent upon the wind would be capable of sailing against them in any way, especially in 600 B.C., and even more espeically by an inexperienced crew who had never before been to sea.
    Thus it is evident that the only course Lehi’s ship could have taken was southward off the Arabian coast--in the direction the winds blow. Such limitation for sailing ships persisted clear up to at least the 12th century, when braces began to be added to turn the yard in the horizontal plane, so the sails could be adjusted to take advantage of the wind when not blowing directly from the stern. This allowed for “tacking” (sailing into the wind--a fete in early sailing ships that took a great deal of skill) or “jibing” (sailing away from the wind), freeing ships from being dependent on a following wind, and allowing them to head up to 90º into the wind. That is they could sail “close hauled” to the wind—10º to the right (starboard) or left (port) of the wind when it was blowing from the direction the ship’s path or course.
A two masted vessel tacking (into the wind) and jibing (running away from the wind). Top: The pink area is the “no go” zone, the direction where no sailing is possible even tacking—it is “too close to the wind.” Close-hauled, 10º right or left of the wind is the best that can be done, and that takes a very experienced sailor; Bottom: when tacking into the wind, the ship runs a zig-zag course from a port tack to a starboard tack, etc., which results in traveling almost twice the distance
    Since Nephi describes his ship as “driven forth before the wind,” he was operating with a fixed sail, like those of the early 14th century (the Cog, Redonda, etc.), which were subject to the direction of the wind, and sailed with the wind behind them (“running with the wind”). This was the earliest ship sail design (13th and 14th century) and had a square or rectangular sail, held in place with a horizontal spar (the “yard”) and attached to the mast in a fixed position. 
Full-rigged sailing ships during the Age of Sail “running with the wind” shown here coming directly at you when the wind was in your face. On a fixed-sail sailing ship that is the only course it could take
    At the time, square-rigged sails had the advantage of providing stability on large ships and in heavy seas, and they remained the main type of sail on European vessels until the last days of sail. This caused ships to sail the winds and currents until steam engines were invented and ships were finally free to move upon the waters in any direction and at any time they chose.
    This leaves Lehi’s ship with two alternative directions to take in order to reach the Western Hemisphere and the Americas. He could travel with the winds and currents into the Southern Ocean and head east, or he could have entered the Aguihas Current south of Madagascar and headed west for the cape of Africa to attempt a westward course around the Cape and across the Atlantic. However, this latter course, that Meldrum and other Heartland and Great Lakes Theorists claim Lehi took, has two distinct disadvantages: 1) the currents around the cape are difficult at best, and disastrous for a sailing ship at worst—it was not called during the Age of Sailing the “graveyard of ships” for nothing; and 2) as stated earlier in these posts, Lehi landed on the west coast of the Land of Promise and that Land of Promise was an isle in the midst of the sea (2 Nephi 10:20).
    The West Coast.
    The latter problem alone should disqualify any idea of Lehi heading into the Atlantic. However, let’s look at the difficulty of trying to round the Cape of Agulhas, the southern most point of Africa and the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, a point about 90 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope.
The Cape of Good Hope (green arrow) and the Cape of Aguilhas (red arrows) where two oceans meet (white circle)—it was originally called “Cabo das Tormentas,” meaning the “Cape of Storms,” where “killer waves” roll out of huge swells moving northward from the Southern Ocean across the sailing lanes around the Cape, creating enormous storms, extremely rough waters, eddies and cross-currents
    Luis de Camoes in his epic poem  Os Lusiadas (first printed in 1572) wrote about the Flying Dutchman, a sailing ship crewed by tormented and damned ghostly sailors who were doomed forever to beat their way through the adjacent waters without ever succeeding in rounding the headland of the Cape because of the threatening storm cloud, represented by "Adamastor", the Spirit of the Cape, the hideous phantom of unearthly pallor, which was a symbol of the forces of nature Portuguese sailors had to overcome when trying to round the Cape of Storms. In the 1865 opera L’Africaine about Vasco da Gama trying to round the Cape, Giacomo Meyerbeer has the slave Nelusko sing a song about Adamastor while he deliberately steers the ship into a storm and it sinks. Adamastor appears in numerous writings, including those of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, etc., and in works of Phantom of the Opera, Billy Budd, Le Comte de Monte Cristo, and others.
    The point is, the dangers are extreme where the warm, swift, and strong traveling Agulhas Current reaches its termination between two subtropical gyres, creating unusual conditions for inter-ocean exchanges of water kinematic masses and kinetic energy between them, the latter being the highest fluctuating current in the Southern Ocean, creating huge mesoscale eddies.
    At the same time, the cold Benguela Current moving up from the south collides with the Agulhas Current, forcing the latter’s retroflection (turning back on itself). This current has a transport of 100 Sverdrups (1 Sverdrup is equivalent to 1 million cubic metres per second, which is 264,000,000 U.S. Gallons), and more than twice that of the Kuroshio Current—it travels at such speed, the momentum of the current overcomes the vorticity balance holding it to the topography and the current leaves the shelf. By comparison the Indian-Pacific Ocean throughfare is 12 Sv, Humboldt (Peruvisn) Current is 18 Sv, Benguela Current 18 Sv, Gulf Stream is 32 Sv, Kuroshio Current 48 Sv, Antarctic Circumpolar Current (Southern Ocean) 125 Sv, reaching 135 Sv through the Drake Passage, and the Florida Current at 150 Sv.
    Again, the point of this is to show that while Portuguese sailing ships found their way around the African cape, it took many years and the loss of many ships—it is a dangerous route, especially for sailing ships dependent upon the wind and currents. However, even if Lehi had gone this way, he would not have landed on the west coast of the Americas, which should eliminate this route entirely from consideration.
    Consequently, Lehi’s route would have taken him south and then eastward into the Southern Ocean. This is the only natural flow of ocean currents and winds from the Indian Ocean because of the spin of the Earth, the flow of the oceans, and the winds that drive them.
Top: Black Arrow: Lehi’s course beyond Socotra and past Madagascar; Purple Arrow: Picks up the Indian Ocean Gyre; Blue Arrow: Enters the Southern Ocean; Green Arrow: Turns northward on the Humboldt Current; Yellow Arrow: Lands at 30º south latitude; Red Arrow: The South Pacific Gyre, if ship continues beyond 30º south latitude, the Peruvian bulge forces it out into the South Pacific Gyre and back toward Australia
    This is a simple course, one determined by the Lord when he organized the planet and its various land masses, where the currents and winds have moved the same throughout the history of the Earth. It is the only current of its kind because of the absence of any land masses in its entire circular passage around the earth.  Indeed, as Jacob said, “the Lord has made the sea our path.”
    Thus, Nephi’s ship sailed where the winds and currents took him. And from the Arabian coast that would have been south, into the Indian Ocean Gyre (pronounced JIGH-er), then southeast with that current and wind force to the Southern Ocean, which turned the ship to the east in one of the fastest and direct currents on the planet, and picked up the speed of these high winds (Prevailing Westerlies) and fast seas (West Wind Drift) that completely circumnavigate the globe. Once reaching the South American continental shelf and being turned northward up the coast by the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current where the wind and current slows to almost nothing around the 30º south latitude and a landing could be achieved. It would have been a frightening voyage, one that certainly would have cowered Laban, Lemuel and the sons of Ismael into submission, and resulted in a peaceful, non-eventful voyage of which Nephi makes no detailed mention and Jacob merely states “the Lord made the sea our path.”
    Once again, if one is going to look for a location for the Land of Promise, it needs to match the descriptive information found within the scriptural record left us by Mormon, Nephi, Jacob and others. This information cannot be ignored, and in this case, the natural conditions of the winds and ocean currents cannot be disregarded, for when Nephi tells us his ship was "driven forth before the wind," we need to understand where those winds blew and what winds blew toward and to the Western Hemisphere from southern Arabia. And we need to make sure that the ocean currents would have taken a ship “driven forth before the wind” to the spot of the site one thinks is where Lehi landed. These two issues are critical. And lastly, that site had to have been an island in B.C. times.
It is also important to understand, as these past few posts have shown, one cannot just point to a map and say, “That is where they landed,” then trace a line on the map and say, “This is how they would have gotten there.” In reality, one needs to figure out where they traveled, for Nephi tells us how he traveled and we can look up and study where that would have taken him. Then, and only then, can we say, “This is where the Land of Promise is located.”
    Unfortunately, most Theorists do the opposite.
(See the next post for another of these Land of Promise factors described by Book of Mormon prophets that should help us to understand where the Land of Promise was located)

No comments:

Post a Comment