Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nephi’s Ship and Sails

This brings us next to the fact that deep water ships need sail arrangements that take advantage of the various winds. In fact, the speed and value of a ship at sea is partly in its sail arrangement and ability to catch the wind. Sea currents push or drive a ship forward, when the wind fills the sails. In the Age of Sail, the sail was a critical issue in the success of a voyage. Columbus, after reaching the Canary Islands, changed the sail arrangement of one of his ships to add a lateen sail for later use of coastal steerage and sailing. Apparently the lateen sail developed from a square sail as the need to head up closer to the wind was seen to be important, meaning the ship could sail closer to the “dead zone” or “into the wind” at a close angle to its source.
Left: When sailing, or running with the wind, the wind is directly behind the ship and a square sail, like Nephi’s, is the most efficient; Right: When sailing in the opposite direction, ”into the wind,” there is an area straight ahead referred to as a “No-Go Zone,” where the ship cannot sail
    To take advantage of this, obviously two things were done: 1) Ship Captains sailed with the wind behind them, learning where these currents and winds blew so they could map out a course that would take them where they wanted to sail; and 2) Add canvas (sail).
    What they did not do, and what every Theorists wants to claim they did, was just head for the Western Hemisphere through the straightest path they could find. In the case of the Sea of Arabia and Indian Ocean, that would have been a path to India and then on to Indonesia, down the Malacca Channel or Strait, and winding past several islands out into the Pacific Ocean and island-hopping across the Pacific to Central America. The sad thing about such theorizing is that it violates every possible maritime method of sailing in the days of Lehi, moving against winds and currents, requiring highly efficient maneuvering around islands and their dangers by a crew that had never before been to sea, let alone handle a 100-ton sailing vessel, and then later set in and embark from one island after another, as though such an activity would be like rowing a boat.
What looks good on a flat map is misleading when you try to translate it onto a globe. First of all, this distance is about 3 times as long as one down south through the Southern Ocean, and extremely dangerous as has been pointed out in this series
    Consequently, ships were built to hold more canvas and additional sails were invented, such as gallants, royals, skysails, and moon sails above the topsail, as well as adding “studding” sails to the sides, outboard of the main sails by rigging a temporary boom. This allowed the vessel to catch more wind in the main sails, increasing their reach and improve speed with the wind directly at their back.
(LtoR) Adding sales upward, then also (far right) adding studding sails to the side of the main sails increased the amount of sail available to the captain as he maneuvered his vessel across the oceans
    The construction of these Arabic dhows is still carried on without benefit of drawings and relies on the master builder and his experience for direction and supervision, a general brief for performance requirements having first been established with the owner. While boat builders all have to be extremely skillful in their work, the traditional craft of three-dimensional shaping of wood seemed to be more so in the early days.
    When Nephi asked, “whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me” (1 Nephi 17:9), it is likely from the wordage used, that the Lord showed in the vision to Nephi not only what the ship was to look like, and how the vessel was to be built, but also the tools in their operation of use. Obviously, at that moment, Nephi had already been shown by the Lord the ship and how it was to be built.
    No doubt, having lived at Jerusalem all his days (1 Nephi 1:4), obviously living on a farm-like, independent homeland somewhere outside the walls of Jerusalem, and probably down the hillside from the city (1 Nephi 3:16, 23), where the maintaining of the household and property might well  have required certain crafts that Nephi either learned to do growing up, or learned from observation. One of these might have been metallurgy, which resulted in his response to the Lord’s image and instruction of his building a ship. “Whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship…”
    We can probably surmise from this that Nephi knew what was involved in building and operating a bellows. Perhaps he had already made elementary metal objects, such as spikes, knives, axes, chisels, tongs, door fittings, etc.
Metallurgy was well known and practiced throughout the Middle East from the 3rd Millennium B.C. onward, and certainly was in use around Jerusalem shortly afterward as the map shows with smelting and early metallurgy attributed to the Hittites of Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age
    Whether or not the adze was already known to Nephi is not certain, though it was an all-around tool used for nearly any wood work required of the time, especially for those growing up on isolated farms or homesteads in outlying area where the household members had to know how to do things like simple carpentry, metal and leather work.
(Image E – Left: An adze set aside after shaping the boards, trough, and knob; Right: An Egyptian stone cutting showing a worker using an adze on a boat being built
    Other tools, such as bow drills, saws, hatchets, rubbers, measuring rods, plum-lines, and set-squares were also used. The bow-drills were needed to produce the holes through which the nails were hammered to fix the planking to the ribs, and a cold chisel to hammer caulking between the planks to make them watertight. Tension on the bow drill is maintained by the fingers of the hand holding the bow. The sharpened bit on the drill is remarkably effective in the right hands, the bow drill giving substantial control to the operator and allowing slow or relatively fast speeds to be used when drilling; however, high speeds were avoided as they tended to burn the wood.
    In addition, Nephi’s narrative tells us of an ordered departure from Bountiful on a completed ship already in the water and sea worthy. This appears to confirm that he used the age-old practice of building a ship above a protected harbor and launched it from its dry-dock using ways (ramps) into calm water. This allowed the crew the essential time in safe water to let the plank timbers expand to seal the hull (the Hebrew word is tzaref) and then caulk any remaining leaks (see Ezekiel 27:9). This was the construction method used by both the Hebrews and the Egyptians. Once the hull was verified as being watertight, the ship could be loaded with ballast and put to sea for sea trials prior to loading and sailing. This all required a harbor.
    And the harbor of Khor Rori is by far the best possible location all along the southern Arabian coast.
    As for the bellows Nephi built (1 Nephi 17:11), Jeremiah mentions bellows in his own writings (Jeremiah 6:29) in a complete explanation of the ore smelting process. In addition, Nephi lived at a time when iron and simple steel had become commonplace in Jerusalem, and bronze was used for simple purposes, like casting. Bronze, of course, was generally inferior to steel for tool making, and producing it required a source for its components—copper and tin. Only minor traces of copper minerals have been reported in Dhofar, and tin is unknown there. Animal skins would have been available to make the skin bellows, and numerous drawings show their use during Nephi’s time.
While workers blow the fire each with his own foot bellows (1 to 4 or even 6 people), the worker smelts and works the ore over a simple pit furnace

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