Sunday, November 15, 2015

What Did Nephi Mean “We did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents” – Part I

Four posts ago we began this series with “What did Nephi Mean “They did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” In that Wednesday post (November 11), it was pointed out that there are only five Mediterranean Climates found in the world, four outside the Mediterranean Basin, of which the climate of Jerusalem is a part. The seeds “brought from Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24), meaning as was pointed out, Mediterranean seeds, i.e., seeds grown in a Mediterranean Climate, which of course, means they would not grow elsewhere in 600 B.C. than the same or another Mediterranean Climate as Nephi describes of these seeds: “they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24). 
    We concluded that post by showing a map of World Climates and a Map of Mediterranean Climate Regions, provided by Gardening in Mediterranean Climates Worldwide © and the Mediterranean Garden Society, and the comment:  “Showing the extent of the world’s five Mediterranean climates including the Mediterranean Basin and showing that there are only two in the entire Western Hemisphere: California and central Chile.”
    Because the Mediterranean Climate is relatively rare, and there are only two in the entire Western Hemisphere, we can narrow down the location of Lehi’s landing to one of these two locations and their land of first inheritance as described by Mormon “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore (Alma 24:28).
    Now California, in the central basin known as the San Joaquin Valley, and along a coastal strip from about San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara south to the San Diego border.
Green Area (white arrows) shows the coverage and area of the California Mediterranean Climate
    While it would not be impossible to reach this area from a northern approach along the Kuroshio Current (a strong north flowing current past Japan), which is deflected from Japanese waters eastward into the North Pacific by the Oyashiuo Current coming down from the Bering Sea past the Kamchatka Peninsula and over the Kuril Trench.
At this point the vessel would ride eastward on the West Wind Drift just south of the Subarctic Current (the danger is getting caught in this current and being turned north in the Alaska Current off the Canadian coast, which originates along the U.S. Canada border where the North Pacific Drift collides with the continent, turning the vessel northward, around the Alaska Gyre and back to the west on the Alaskan Stream). Here the vessel would need to pick up by the southern flowing California Current (the eastern arm of the North Pacific Gyre), where it would have to battle the north flowing Davidson Current in order to reach the coastal shore in the winter, however, would have fairly good access to the coast during the spring currents, especially along the Wind Flow curvature toward the coast south of Point Conception, bringing a ship back toward land from Long Beach to Ventura.
    This would not have been an easy approach along the California coast for Nephi’s ship “which was driven forth before the wind,” i.e., meaning it was being driven by the wind and currents and nothing else, so it was a slave to those currents and winds and had to go where they took it. The difficulty here lies in the California Current being very large marine ecosystem (LME) characterized by its temperate climate. It is a transition between subtropical and subarctic water masses with a coastal upwelling along the west coast of North America.
The California Current Large Marine Ecosystem is separated from the Gulf of Alaska LME by the Subarctic Current, which flows eastward from the western Rim of the Pacific Ocean. The California Current system is extremely complex. Natural environmental change is the primary force driving the LME and this upwelling of current along the coast all the way from British Columbia to the U.S. border with Baja California.
    In order to appreciate the size of the Pacific Ocean over which this route would require Lehi to have taken, we are dealing with an area of 111,225,443 square miles, where all of the continental land masses on the planet could be placed, and there would still be room left over. In fact, along this route, from Malay Peninsula to Columbia coast, where some would take Lehi, is its widest point, with the upwelling in the east a result of Strong and predictable winds, like the trade winds, which are one of the major forces that drive the Pacific currents.
Red Arrow points to the upwelling area along the (green area and blue arrow) cold coastal waters from British Columbia to Baja, making these turbulent and difficult to cross when coming out of the California current toward land for an inexperienced crew in a ship “driven before the wind” in 600 B.C.
    Winds are particularly important in driving surface currents, while deep-water currents are driven by convection, which results from temperature differences between water layers. Convection occurs when ocean water heats up and becomes less dense, and rises. This water moves above the cooler water, and gives off its heat to the surrounding environment. As it cools, it begins to sink, and the process is repeated. Convection results in a continual circulation of ocean water, and occurring along the coast reaches creates turbulence and conflicting currents, which are difficult to cross in trying to reach land.
    In addition, there are many factors that determine the speed of a current, as well as its route. Winds have the most important influence on the flow of currents, but tides, precipitation, evaporation rates, shape of the ocean floor, and inflow from rivers and adjacent seas are also important. The waters off the north Pacific Ocean move in a general east to west direction, in response to the predominant trade winds. The general westerly movement of the Pacific waters around the equator forms the North and South Equatorial Currents, belts of water moving approximately parallel to the equator, which lie about 15° latitude on either side of it. Between these two currents, the Equatorial Countercurrent flows to the east.
While modern ships can easily make this voyage, even ships of the Age of Discovery once they learned to tack and sale closer to the wind, but a ship “driven forth before the wind” could not have moved against wind and currents to the east of Arabia, let alone negotiated the narrow Malacca Straits and through to the South China Sea
    The problem with all this again is, that while it would be possible to reach California from across the Pacific as shown, and that it would take an experienced and well skilled crew to make landfall along the California coast, the starting point would be around the South China Sea which lies along the Pacific side of Indonesia. Stated differently, Lehi’s ship would have had to travel to the east from the Arabian Peninsula, which we have pointed out in numerous writings and books would not have been possible for a ship in 600 B.C. “driven forth before the wind.” Even today, with GPS, radar, and the most modern communications systems available to sea captains, a route through the Malacca Straits is the most dangerous seaway in the world and more accidents and ship sinkings occur there than almost anywhere else.
While different wind groups are represented by color the arrows show that all winds and currents moving through Indonesia come off the Pacific Ocean and into the Indian Ocean, moving from the east to the west--no ship "driven forth before the wind" could move eastward through Indonesia in 600 B.C.
   Plus the factor that the winds and current blow and flow from east to west, against the shipping lanes required to travel to get from the coast of the Arabian Peninsula to the South China Sea and then the Pacific to pick up the Kurishio Current.
    It would be like the kid putting a stick in a gutter current on one side of the street and expecting it to migrate across the street to the other side gutter. It simply cannot be done without other help, of which Nephi makes no mention and no other occurrence short of the Lord picking up their ship and placing it in the Pacific Ocean could have accomplished that fact.
    All of this rules out California and its Mediterranean Climate as the landing site for Lehi. The simple fact is, that leaves only coastal, central Chile as the landing site.
(See the next post, “What Did Nephi Mean “We did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents” – Part II for a look at the Chilean Mediterranean Climate landing site)

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