Thursday, January 5, 2017

More Comments From Readers – Part III

Here are more comments from the readers of our blog: 
    Comment #1: “The Mulekites crossed the east sea or Atlantic Ocean, and most of their early activity was probably centered about the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where the sea was actually on the north. Thus viewing the Gulf of Mexico as the sea east the Pacific must have been the sea west. That orientation would also have required a change in coordinates such that north in their system was actually closer to west in our system. Which means we have a support of both the Mulekites and the Lehites to verify the change in directions so that Mesoamerica can fit the directional system of the land of promise” Tom W.
 Note the purple area representing the Babylonian Empire at the time of the Mulekites leaving Jerusalem. The only way open for escape is the path Lehi took, down past the Red Sea, an area the Babylonians had no interest in since their concern was Egypt in the south, not the Aqabba or Red Sea

    Response: Wow. That’s a stretch. Who says that the Mulekites crossed the Atlantic Ocean? We have already discussed this problem, with the Babylonians enmeshed in a siege of Jerusalem and all of Palestine at the time, completely controlling the coast from modern-day Turkey clear around the east Mediterranean to Egypt. There is no way the Babyonians would have allowed any Jews out of Jerusalem, before the king and his family had been captured, let alone to secure a ship’s passage for a group of people and a small child. Nebachadnezzar went to great length to capture all Zedekiah’s household and put to death all the males, to make sure he put an end to Zedekiah’s family reign. Then there is the small problem of convincing a trading group, such as the Phoenicians, to take an exploratory ship’s voyage out through the Pillars of Hercules and across the Atlantic—for what reason? Who’s kidding who here?
    In addition, we have no idea whatever of any directional system on the part of the Mulekites, since none is never mentioned. Besides, the only directional system used by the Lehites is the ones Nephi writes as they traveled down past the Red Sea, in which he uses “south-southeast direction” (1 Nephi 16:13) and “nearly eastward” (1 Nephi 17:1), which are used completely consistent with our own directions.
    Why should we translate this to mean they switched later on, since the sea was not to Nephi’s back when he mentioned the southeast direction—plus he wrote this some thirty-years after leaving Jerusalem and at least twenty years in the Land of Promise. There is absolutely no reason to believe that any directional system other than the one we use and Lehi/Nephi used, was used later by the Nephites or Mormon.
    Comment #2: “If Philip Beale could sail his 600 BC vintage ship named the Phoenicia westward around the Cape of Africa in 2010 AD, so could Nephi about 600 BC. Your assumption of long term predictability of winds and ocean currents supports that conclusion. The Phoenicia was incapable of tacking so the only sailing expertise required of her crew was that they could turn the rudder to steer her. The only sailing expertise required of Nephi's crew was that they could turn the rudder and steer. Both were "driven forth before the wind”. No matter how many times you repeat words like "foolish", "difficult", "impossible", "inexperienced crew", "many died", "fearful eye", "Graveyard of Ships", "unconscionable", etc., all of your data and arguments support the conclusion that if Beale could do it so could Nephi” DeVon M.
It is possible to sail with a fixed saild within the blue box at the extremes [including positions 4 and 8 on the Wind Clock]; but generally such sailing works best when sailing within the red box [positions 5,6,7 on the Wind Clock]

    Response: When you say that the Phoenicia was incapable of tacking, you evidently misunderstand the concept. When sailing close to the wind (the name of Philip Beale’s book of the Phoenicia voyage, by the way) you are sailing with a fixed sail as much as 10% to maybe 20% into the wind, as much as possible so long as the wind is only hitting one side of the sail. With a lot of training, you can learn to do this in a vessel where the sail is not adjustable, however, it takes a lot of experience. If you head too much into the wind, the sail luffs from wind hitting both sides of the sail. First, you have to understand this to the point that you can recognize it in a large sail, and then have to know what to do about it, which is to make a course correction to the point where the wind is hitting only one side of the sail.
    In the day of sail with very experienced mariners and sea captains, this was still a problem before wind currents were better understood. Sometimes ships were forestalled for days, where the ship slows down, then stops, and may even begin to drift backward on the current. It is not a matter of steering in and out of current changes, etc., but of fine tuning your course so that you keep that 10% to 20% angle on the wind—miss it just a smidge and you have to correct, something an experienced seaman can do, but an inexperienced person might struggle with for some time and not ever get it right. The problem is, unless a person understands the weight and tilt factor, they miss the point entirely.
    As one seaman has described it, “This is a very exciting way to sail for a number of reasons.  It's fast, your boat tends to want to tip so you must get as much weight over the windward side, sometimes called "leaning out."  You would hook your feet under the lip of the cockpit in a sunfish so while you lean out you don't fall out!” 
    The Phoenicia was still small enough of a vessel to be able to do that—the ship by the way was never designed for deep water sailing—the voyage around Africa was a coastal voyage, setting in from time to time (the reason it took 8 months sailing).
Philip Beale, a British adventurer on his replica ship “Phonenica” tied up at St. Katherine’s Dock, near Tower Bridge in London

    You also fail to mention in your facts that Philip Beale was a very experienced seaman, as well as ship builder, who oversaw the ship design of not only the Phoenicia, but the Borobudar ship expedition before that, which also sailed around the Cape of Africa (in the opposite direction) earlier, giving him considerable experience that no first time captain in maritime history had of sailing around the Cape ever had. Plus his crew were anywhere from professional to hobby seamen, sailing yachts and other small sailing boats, mostly from private yachting clubs. In addition, the Phoenicia set in to land at night, for rests, and for repairs. Even so, when you read his book, and all the preparation reports of the crew, you find they were all very concerned about the danger of sailing around the Cape. It was a fear every man had. They knew and understood the danger. The Mulekites and their Phoenicians you claim took them, would have been far out of their depth in such an environment.
    By the way, I don’t know if you have ever noticed, by Beale’s voyage in the Phoenicia was only around Africa—it did not involve crossing the Atlantic Ocean as Lehi’s course would have had to have been if he went around Africa. And then, I might add, where did he go to land within the interior the the Americas? First of all, Alma 22:28 tells us he landed on the West coast or seashore, not the east.
    Also, the Borobudar was an outrigger which depends entirely on moveable ballest while sailing, something that taught Beale considerable when moving around Africa and the importance of movable ballest. In addition, both the Borobudar and the Phoenicia had crews of 25-30, much smaller in design then than the ship Nephi would have built—these are factors, by the way, that benefit a ship in the stormy weather found around the Cape, as well as the experienced crew and very experienced captain.
    As for the idea that Beale did it so then Lehi could have done it, is a little naïve. It is like saying that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, therefore anyone else could do that, or reach the moon, or whatever. In addition, both the Phoenicia and Borobudar had sea trails as well as the Europa, but nothing of the kind is mentioned in Nephi’s account about such.
Top: An historical Phoenician ship in 500 B.C.; Bottom: Beale’s claim of a Phoenician ship in 600 B.C. The two are far apart in design and capability though the top is 100 years later than the one Beale claims

    As for using words like “foolish” etc., I think anyone who tempts their fates to do what so many others had failed at and lost their lives in doing, to be foolish. That is not to suggest that some may succeed, but that such a loss of life seems foolish to attempt. With a much safer course for the Mulekites like Lehi to have taken seems far more likely the Lord would have taken them in that direction than one requiring tremendous experience and capability not possessed by the Mulekites or Lehi's family.


  1. Your attempts to show Beale's Phoenicia was significantly different than Nephi's ship don't hold water. I do understand tacking, and the Phoenicia couldn't do it. But you need to read past the book title "Sailing close to the wind" which implies tacking capablility.

    A book review by states:
    "Most disturbing is the book’s title, which is absurd for a vessel with a single, square (ie. downwind) sail."

    The Phoenicia's own documentation states:
    "The single square sail limited her manoeuvrability so she needed the wind behind her. As a result the prevailing winds and currents dictated her journey around Africa." and "The trip took the crew – which varied in size, from six at one point up to 15" not 25-30.

    Your graphic above with the blue box shows only down wind configurations which is all that the Phoenicia with her square sail was capable of.

    Your lengthy comments about tacking while interesting are irrelevant. Your comments about "deep water, coastal voyage, experienced seaman, ship builder, Borobodar, set in to land, danger, fear, Mulekites, Phoenicians, and not crossing the Atlantic" are also all irrelevant or incorrect.

    A coastal voyage was Beale's intention but wasn't the result. After rounding the tip of Africa winds and currents forced him out into the Atlantic where he stopped at St Helena, and Ascension. But everything after that was deep water with no stops as he crossed the Atlantic to within 400 miles (4 sailing days) of Florida. Then north into the North Atlantic, back east across the North Atlantic, and finally south to the Azores before getting into the Mediterranean and back on course. An "experienced seaman" with tacking capability would have kept his scheduled coastal stops up the West coast of Africa instead of crossing the Atlantic twice.

    I am not trying to be mean spirited and rain on your parade. I make no argument here against a possible Chili landing. But your arguments against an Atlantic crossing for Nephi have been dashed by Beale's Phoenicia crossing the Atlantic using favorable winds and currents in spite of your previous paper charts showing none exist. I just think you and your readers would be better served if you used correct and relevant information in your arguments in this case.

  2. You wrote: "Your attempts to show Beale's Phoenicia was significantly different than Nephi's ship don't hold water. I do understand tacking, and the Phoenicia couldn't do it. But you need to read past the book title "Sailing close to the wind" which implies tacking capablility"

    No, it does not. Evidently you are so quick to draw conclusions in defense of your point that you bypass knowledge on the subject. Any fixed sail ship with a halyard fixed sail can sail within 10% to 20% of the wind. Beale understands that, it is why he chose the title of his book. I mean no disrespect, but if you are going to argue a point, learn the point you wish to discuss.

    Beale's efforts were remarkable, as are anyone's who achieves such awesome results; you are just trying to say that apples and oranges are the same thing--they are both edible but different. Beale's voyage in the 21st century, no matter how he replicated it, is simply not the same as Lehi in 600 B.C., or any two voyages 2700 years apart are ever going to be. If you have not seen the movie "Sully" go see it--Tom Hanks character at the final NTSB hearing makes this point quite well when he spoke of the "human factor." When you know in advance matters, your reaction and the results are going to be different than experiencing them for the first time--sailing is a life-long endeavor, it is rarely learned in just one voyage. Lehi, Nephi, et al, had never been to sea before. Yet you would have the Lord take them along the most dangerous path possible from Point A to Point B. I simply disagree with you.

  3. Give it up Devon, Lehi never sailed to the east coast of North America. It didn't happen and Del has proven his case as far as I'm concerned. You have not proven yours.