Saturday, August 6, 2016

Is the Narrow Neck the Key? – Part IV

Continuing from the previous post on the importance of landmarks, and how to find the location of the Land of Promise and understand the events that took place there.
Now, since we have eliminated the Kuroshio Current, and sailing through Indonesia, we are left with sailing southward away from the Arabian Peninsula. What we find in this direction, as we have written several times in our blog and books (see Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica), is a course southward on the Monsoons through the Sea of Arabia and into the Indian Ocean, where the South Pacific Gyre takes a vessel in a long curve to the southeast and into the West Wind Drift and Prevailing Westerlies of the Southern Ocean and across the Pacific toward South America.
    It might be helpful to know how the currents in the Arabian Sea flow, and especially how the sea between the Arabian Peninsula/India and Madagascar moves and what would happen to a drift voyage (a vessel “driven forth before the wind”) would be affected by those currents and winds.
    First of all, while this may be “Old Hat” to many of our readers of this blog, to new ones or those “die-hard” writers who think Nephi’s ship could have taken any route away from Bountiful, the monsoons (Trade Winds), which blow inland along a northeasterly track, from the sea into land, for six months of the year, blow outward, on a southwesterly track for the other six months. Stated differently, for six months of the year, an ocean-going vessel dependent entirely upon the winds (sails) and currents (hull movement through the water) would have extreme difficulty in moving out to sea for six months of the year, and an easy path into the sea for the other six months.
As the arrows show, six months out of the year the winds and currents blow in a northeasterly direction inland (toward the shore and into the land) and the other six months they blow out to sea in a southwesterly direction 
    Now, once off the coast and into the sea, which is where an ocean going vessel sails because it is easiest and safest (not along the coast), the ship would have been driven in a southeasterly direction by and with the monsoon “trade winds” in a southeasterly direction, more or less southward toward Madagascar where it would pick up the Somalia Current moving off the northeastern African coast, pushing the vessel outward (or keeping it) from moving in toward land. Along this track, the vessel would be affected by the southerly moving Madagascar Current (basically off the western edge of the clockwise moving North Indian Ocean Gyre (if the vessel drifted further east along this track, it would pick up this Gyre and the Leeuwin Current and be forced back into Australia because of Indonesian Throughflow).
    Now, moving along the waters between the eastern edge of the Madagascar Current just outside (west of) the western edge of the North Indian Ocean Gyre, the vessel would pass beyond the southern curve of the Gyre and be pulled into the southerly moving western edge of the South Indian Ocean Gyre, which is a counter-clockwise moving Gyre that would take the vessel into a south-easterly curve toward the south.
Passing Madagascar in the Indian Ocean (Red Arrow) Main Course; (Green Arrow) Move off course to the West 
    If the vessel were to have steered to the westward at this point, it would remain in the East Madagascar Current which runs into the Agulhas Current, a strong northward flowing current which would move the vessel back to the north and most likely, unless an experienced hand was at the till, into the passage between Madagascar and the African coast where the Agulhas/Mozambique Current flows southward and into the East African Coastal Current flowing northward. These strong currents moving northward along the African coast coming off the southern tip of the continent, and one in which many Atlantic coast landing advocates of Nephi’s ship and especially the Heartland, New England, eastern U.S., and Great Lakes theorists claim Lehi came from around Africa. Where this Agulhas Current meets the Benguela Current in the Atlantic Ocean is an area by the capes of Agulhas and Good Hope, which mariners have called the “Graveyard of Ships” for over three hundred years—a path which Lehi’s inexperienced maritime crew would have found an extremely dangerous place to sail and far beyond their capability.
    On the other hand, with Nephi’s ship picking up the counter-clockwise South Indian Ocean Gyre, the vessel would have sailed southwesterly into the Southern Ocean (from directions written on the Liahona) and into the Prevailing Westerlies wind (blowing toward the east at high speed) and the West Wind Drift current (moving toward the east at high speed).
    This would have been the ideal course, the easiest course, and in fact, the only course for an ocean-going ship in the Sea of Arabia to travel toward the Western Hemisphere.
    It is interesting that the Frederick G. Williams note on the sheet of paper with other important information regarding his role as the prophet Joseph Smith’s personal scribe, as well as the 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency at the time, wrote in 1841 that this was the course Lehi took and landed where the currents and winds die down to allow a ship “driven forth before the wind to the promised land” to make land fall (1 Nephi 18:8-9) and that is as he wrote it: “The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North Latitude, then nearly east to the Sea of Arabia then sailed in a south east direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chile thirty degrees south Latitude” (LDS Archive, Ms d 3408 fd 4.) 
    Should it be of any interest, Williams was the second scribe Joseph Smith used on his 1835-1836 Journal, following Oliver Cowdery and preceding Warren Parrish and Warren Cowdery. 
    As Venice Priddis wrote, “the fact that it was written on a paper with at least one revelation [D&C 7], suggests to many its importance and that it would be difficult to believe that it did not emanate from, or at least have the approval of, the Prophet Joseph himself” (Map and the Book, p63-64). Orson Pratt more than once referred to this landing “on the coast of Chile” (Journal of Discourses, London, Albert Carrington 1869, vol 12, p 342).
Whether one wants to accept Frederick G. Williams as writing something credible on the sheet of paper, the fact of the matter is that the course of the ocean currents and winds leads a vessel down through the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean into the Southern Sea, and across to the Western Hemisphere. It is the shortest, fastest, and simplest route from that area to the Western Hemisphere available by known sea currents and winds for a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind,” as Nephi twice claims his ship was driven upon the sea (1 Nephi 18:8,9).
    As the vessel was being “driven forth before the wind” eastward across the Southern Ocean south of the Pacific Ocean, this circumpolar current that circles the globe at high-speed, reaches the narrowing point of Drake’s Passage where the current passes between the continent and Antarctica and on across the Atlantic. As it nears this point, the South American shelf forces northward the northern edge of the current up along with what is called the Humboldt Current (Peruvian Current) along the west coast of Chile.
Left: (Red Arrow) Coquimbo Bay at La Serena where the speed of the current drops to from 5mph to 0mph, in the area of the doldrums allow a sailing ship to move out of the current and toward shore and into the Bay—This is the only Mediterranean Climate in the Western Hemisphere other than Southern and Central California; Right: Moving up the Humboldt Current, the speed of the flow drops incrementally from around 25mph to almost zero, right at Coquimbo Bay, then picks up again beyond the 30º south latitude back up toward 25mph as it continues on the South Pacific Gyre
     Having once recognized that this route is basically the only route open to a ship so driven by the wind upon the seas, and not propelled by diesel engines, or even tacking capabilities that allows a ship to be maneuvered upon the ocean currents to some degree, then we turn to a logical landing sight. It is amazingly co-incidental that at the 30º south latitude, along the Chilean coast, the winds die down and the current subsides to almost non-existent from its previous high-speed course along the Southern Ocean and then northward up the Humboldt Current of South America, until it reaches the 30º south latitude where the winds and currents die down to almost nothing adjacent to the what is now Coquimbo Bay at La Serena. This area is one of the very few landing sites possible along the Chilean-Peruvian west coast. If the vessel does not turn in and land here, it will continue to move along the Humboldt Current which, beyond this point, picks up speed again, from 0-5 mph, to 5-10 mph, 10-15 mph, etc. and swings back out into the Pacific Ocean from the Peruvian Bulge and continues on the South Pacific Gyre and heads back across the Pacific toward Indonesia.
    The point of all this is to show, that picking the Narrow Neck of Land as the key issue is not the key issue at all. Nephi tells us how he sailed across the ocean by being “driven forth before the wind” and that means in maritime terms and era, of a fixed sail with wind behind it and subject to the direction of the wind which also determines the direction of the ocean current that drove Nephi’s ship.
    This is the fallacy of picking a place and just saying Lehi sailed there. Nephi tells us how he sailed there and if we are going to believe him, then we have to accept the fact that course he took was the course of the winds and currents, which are quite specific and, by the way, match exactly the course Frederick G. Williams so succinctly stated.


  1. If anyone disagrees with what Del says here they need to clearly bring out why, even as he has clearly brought out why he disagrees with their claims. God has given us science and scientific knowledge so we can use intelligence to find truth. If they question the established knowledge of ocean currents, they should explain why.

  2. Excellent points Del, That answered my question. Thanks!

  3. Do you have any historical reference to an acient ship making a similar voyage? Or are you aware of any modern recreation of an ancient ship making a similar voyage? That would make your thesis much more realistic.

    Philip Beale has provided us with both a historical and modern recreation of the circumnavigation of Africa. He based his ambitious quest on a quote by Greek Historian Herodotus, who claimed the Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa in 600BC. Beale sailed a replica boat, aptly named The Phoenician, around Africa in 2010, The boat was modeled on an ancient 19-meter Phoenician shipwreck excavated off the coast of Marseille. The final leg of the journey took them wide out across the Atlantic and a mere 965 kilometers off the coast of Florida. It was here Beale got his inspiration for the journey to the U.S.

    I am sure with your extensive knowledge of wind and water currents you can calculate how long it would have taken them to travel the last 965 kilometers to land in the U.S. if that were their destination. They set sail in the Fall and reached this near point to the U.S in the Spring.

    If Nephi took the same course, that would be good timing for planting his seeds in South Eastern U.S. and it would be a good location as well, matching the latitude of Jerusalem. Your description of the difficult waters at the Horn of Africa in a previous post suggests a very likely place that Nephi would have been when he was driven back for 3 days. The Phoenicians were great shipbuilders and Nephi wasn't, but that didn't preclude Nephi from building a ship. So, The Phoenicians being great sailors and Nephi wasn't, shouldn't prevent Nephi from sailing around the Horn of Africa either.

    In the article below Philip Beale describes the 2010 circumnavigation of Africa and his plans to sail the Phoenician from Tunesia to America.

    1. I agree that it would be great if someone built and used a a ship with sails to follow the course from Arabia to Coquimbo. What wealthy Mormon would be interested in financing this?

  4. I have written about this voyage before in this blog. Please keep in mind that the Phoenician vessel was one that could tack, i.e., sail into the wind, meaning the sail was drawn forward, like the top of a wind is draw upward in an airplane. This is not Nephi’s vessel, which was driven forth before the wind. You cannot compare apples and oranges in this matter. Nephi’s ship was unable to tack or it would have been described differently, plus taking a very experienced crew. As to the website you mention, there is no question that the Vikings were in New Foundland (Canada); the reason they are not given credit for “discovering” America is that their voyage is not shown to be one of exploration and settlement—but they indeed were first. As to the Phoenicians if they could sail away from land (around Africa is not into the deep ocean, despite the horrendous experiences an “experienced” crew had getting around the tip of Africa—an experience that would have sunk Nephi’s ship of “landlubbers” at the helm and sail), their vessel is still not sufficient to sail into the deep ocean. Keep in mind that ships made today are not made the same way even if they are replicas. Woods are often different, nails, ropes, etc., are not the same, torque is different, and Lehi did not have GPS, two-way radios, and safety ships trailing behind to come to the rescue. The environment of such an ancient voyage cannot be repeated no matter how much someone claims it is the same.

  5. You should also keep in mind that early voyages around Africa took a year or two because the ships set in each night, basically did not sail at night, did not sail out of sight of land, and at least once, usually twice, they would set in and plant and harvest grain for food supplies. We are simply not talking about the same thing.

  6. Del,

    I have some Phoenicia news for you. But first let me thank you for including additional information related to Frederick G. Williams and his geography note in this blog entry. I am newly interested in Book of Mormon historicity and geography and have been reading through your blogs in search of that FGW information. Now I can search elsewhere for any other thing that might tie the note to Joseph Smith.

    Now back to the Phoenicia. I graduated at the top of my class in Physics and Math. So I clearly understand that even a high school Physics student can easily calculate the theoretical sail angle and force vectors involved in a ship tacking into the wind. I tell you this, not as an appeal to authority, but to let you know I have no expertise related to anything to do with Church History, Book of Mormon historicity/geography or anything else so connected. In fact I have no hands on knowledge about sailing, and didn't know they ever made ships that couldn't hold the sail at the proper angle to tack into the wind. Because I thought any sailing ship could tack into the wind, I didn't care about the tacking issue. However, because you and Ira both thought tacking was important, I did a little research and found out that Beale's Phoenicia was incapable of tacking into the wind. Here are some excerpts from one source below:

    “the vessel was built in an entirely traditional manner – without the use of any glues or metal fastenings” … “Their sail consisted of one square of cloth held up like a blanket, and as a result their vessel only went downwind.” … “a consideration of the difficulties involved in voyaging with a boat which can only go directly downwind”

    Beale didn't actually make any of the following bracketed comments, but it would have been appropriate for him to do so.

    [We failed to make all our planned stops on the Western Shore of Africa because we were “driven forth before the wind” and traveled wide out into the Atlantic.]
    [We could not turn back East because we were “driven forth before the wind” and came within 965 kilometers of running into Florida.]
    [We were forced to travel high into the North Atlantic because we were “driven forth before the wind” and had to return back south before entering into the Mediterranean.]
    [All in all, we spent the entire trip circumnavigating Africa “driven forth before the wind.”]

  7. And so, no expert experienced sailors were required to man the helm or the sail to accommodate tacking. When it comes to comparing the Phoenicia with Nephi's ship, it looks like we are comparing apples with apples after all. Well, I take that back. We are comparing apples to oranges when you consider the folks on the Phoenicia had a sextant, GPS, satellite communication for weather information, knowledge of prevailing currents, island locations, and who knows what else. And all Nephi had was the Liahona. I am confidant your statement is true that “The environment of such an ancient voyage cannot be repeated no matter how much someone claims it is the same” because no one today is likely to have access to a Liahona. The skill set of Nephi's crew was that they must be able to read what was written on the Liahona, and steer accordingly. If I had to put out to sea tomorrow in a ship that was “driven forth before the wind” and had a choice between all the modern stuff and the Liahona, my personal choice would be the Liahona.

    In light of this new scientific information clearly opening up an Atlantic crossing possibility for Nephi, an examination of east coast landing sites will be required to make this series of blog entries complete. Also I suggest some wording changes for the capitalized
    words below in phrases you have written above:

    [“I have written about this voyage before in this blog. Please keep in mind that the Phoenician vessel was one that COULD TACK...”]
    [“Having once recognized that this route is basically the ONLY route open to a ship so driven by the wind upon the seas, and not propelled by diesel engines, or even TACKING capabilities that allows a ship to be maneuvered upon the ocean currents to some degree, then we turn to a logical landing sight.”]
    [“This would have been the ideal course, the easiest course, and in FACT, the ONLY course for an ocean-going ship in the Sea of Arabia to travel toward the Western Hemisphere.”]
    [“the FACT of the matter is that the course of the ocean currents and winds leads a vessel down through the Arabian Sea, and the Indian
    Ocean into the Southern Sea, and across to the Western Hemisphere.”]

    Unfortunately your use of the word “fact” above instead of “my opinion” casts a shadow over other things you declare to be facts. I hope you clear it all up for us.

  8. DeVon, I guess I don't get your point in all this. It seems you are trying your hardest to pound a square peg into a round hole. FGW gave us the route Nephi took to the new world. If Nephi had followed the course into the Atlantic then it would have doubled the length of the journey and they would have had to deal with the almost impossible task of getting around the horn. Then you've got the problem of the landing site. Nephi said there was plenty of precious ore. None of that is found in Florida nor in the Gulf states. And the climate isn't right and so as Del has told you and laid out it's not just the journey it's the entire description of the journey and promised land that negates the North American model. So again, I don't see why you keep pounding on one issue. Because all the rest of the issues are equally important and destroy the North American model. Ira

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  10. Ira, I am quite sure Del the scientist will get the point. Del, like my physics hero Einstein is a theoretical scientist. That is, they analyze all the data they can find, think about it, then come up with a theory that explains things. A valuable characteristic of Einstein was his ability to quickly adapt to new data that contradicted his theory and adjust it to accommodate the new evidence.

    Del mentioned that he wrote about Nephi's voyage before in this blog. And I commented on the Phoenician Expedition then. But I bring it up again for two reasons. 1. Del brought it up again. 2. The Phoenicia being unable to tack is new unaddressed relevant experimental scientific evidence. It is a universal truth that experimental science trumps theoretical science every time. In all such cases the theory must be modified. That was painful for Einstein a few times. And I fear it will be painful for you and Del this time. in this series of blogs Del has been analyzing all possible landing sites with a Mediterranean climate and latitude. Del's willingness to analyze all possible routes is good science. If an exhaustive analysis shows that all other proposed landing sites are impossible or are extremely difficult, that would give good support for his Chile landing theory. If Del were an attorney, we would say examination of all possibilities was good due diligence. In a previous post Del showed a world map with the latitude stripes of interest in the northern and southern hemisphere. However he ignored the East coast of the Western Hemisphere. I assume that was because he felt he had already ruled out an Atlantic crossing. The Phoenicia experimental scientific evidence has proven that it was possible for Nephi to make an Atlantic crossing. So for Del to finish his exhaustive analysis and due diligence, he needs to examine East coast landing sites.

    Here is a sprinkling of what the non-tacking Phoenicia has done to some of your previous statements.
    Ira: "It would have been absolutely impossible for Lehi to sail the Atlantic ocean below Africa without a knowledge of tacking which they did not know." False and irrelevant.
    Ira: "Del has completely destroyed your claim that Lehi sailed to North America." False.
    Del: "Please keep in mind that the Phoenician vessel was one that could tack, i.e., sail into the wind" False.
    Ira: "If Nephi had followed the course into the Atlantic then it would have doubled the length of the journey" Irrelevant. The Phoenicia did it from fall to spring in 6 months. A good fit for Nephi.
    Del and Ira: "driven forth before the wind” This applies to both Nephi's boat and the Phoenicia. It fits well with a theoretical Chile landing. It fits well with an experimental scientifically supported North America landing.

    I assumed all of this would be obvious to any scientist reading my earlier post, and that any non-scientist wouldn't care. I apologize for being so blunt and detailed here. All I brought to the table this time is that the Phoenicia couldn't tack into the wind, nothing more. I will leave landing site possibilities and all other equally important issues to the experts.