Thursday, September 14, 2017

Where was Hagoth’s Shipyard?

Mormon tells us that Hagoth built his ships “on the borders of the Land Bountiful, by the Land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea by the narrow neck which led into the Land Northward” (Alma 63:5). Along the West Sea at the narrow neck of land is a unique area where the coast cuts in to form the Gulf of Guayaquil along what is called the Jambelí Channel. At this point is an archipelago, or group of islands, surrounded by mangroves, calm water and abundant vegetation, and surrounded by extensive beaches. Based along the backwaters of the Jubones River, in a warm tropical climate, where a nearby metal mine is located, and banana trees abound.
In an area known today as Tumbes, named for a passiflora, or passion flower vine with a sweet, seedy berry type fruit, it is a small region that straddles the Peru-Ecuador border along the coast, with El Oro and Loja to the east, Piura to the south and the ocean to the west and north. An alluvial plain runs along the Tumbes River to the north, with dry, low-depth ravines and ancient terraces that have been strongly eroded in the Máncora area; and the Amotape mountain range in the east and south, ending at El Barco Mountain.
    The delta of the Tumbes river is shallow, and when the tide is low, little sandy keys show up, which get covered by salt-tolerant mangrove trees and vegetation. These distinct trees rise from a tangle of roots wriggling out of the mud along shores, rivers, and estuaries in the tropics and subtropics. Mangroves are remarkably tough, and most live on muddy soil, but some also grow on sand, peat, and coral rock. They live in water up to 100 times saltier than most other plants can tolerate. They thrive despite twice-daily flooding by ocean tides; even if this water were fresh, the flooding alone would drown most trees.
    Growing where land and water meet, mangroves bear the brunt of ocean-borne storms and hurricanes, with some, mostly Black Mangroves, growing above 100-feet in height. Of the 80 species of mangrove trees, 12 grow in the Americas, and range in size from small bushes to the 196-feet giants found in Ecuador. As to how these mangrove forests in Ecuador originated, the mangrove is just about the only plant that can survive in salt water, and ocean currents have dispersed these Asiatic plants to areas like India, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. As Alfredo Quarto, the head of the Mangrove Action Project, puts it, “Over the years since they've been in existence, mangroves have essentially set up shop around the world.”
Floating seeds survive in salt water and send down roots that are secured in bottom mud where they multiply quickly

The fruits, seeds, and seedlings of all mangrove plants can float, and they have been known to bob along for more than a year before taking root. In buoyant seawater, a seedling lies flat and floats fast. But when it approaches fresher, brackish water—ideal conditions for mangroves—the seedling turns vertical so its roots point downward. After lodging in the mud, the seedling quickly sends additional roots into the soil. Within 10 years, as those roots spread and sprout, a single seedling can give rise to an entire thicket. It's not just trees but the land itself that increases. Mud collects around the tangled mangrove roots, and shallow mudflats build up. From the journey of a single seed a rich ecosystem is born.
    This mangrove area in Ecuador is surrounded by Tumbes-Piura dry forests, the only coastal tropical forests in Peru that has a short wet season followed by a long dry season, with a rich and warm sea. Along the coast are the South American Pacific mangroves (Panama Bight Mangroves).
    The overall terrain, besides the mangrove swamps and forests, include coastal lowlands, low undulating hills and the foothills of the Andes. The area is rich in mesquite, bougainvillea shrubs, cacti, and mangrove timber, along with turtles, squirrels, numerous bird species, including terns, parrots and large numbers of parakeets.
    It is most likely that Hagoth’s shipyard was on this Tumbes delta along the southwestern shore of the gulf where the waters would be calmer and not impacted by the sea’s current.
The Jambelí Canal into the Gulf of Guayaquil between Puno Island and the Ecuadorian coast where it passes the Jambelí Archipelago. The numerous small islands would be a perfect place for an ancient shipyard

The perfect spot would be within the entrance to the Jambelí Canal along the eastern end of the 186-square mile archipelago fluvial—an intricate maze of mangrove-lined distributary channel system of canals and waterways that work their way through a complex of small, mostly mangrove-filled islets which form the Archipelago. Swampy mangrove forests surround nineteen volcanic islands and numerous islets and reefs, with the main Jambelí channel sixty-five feet deep, and side channels through the archipelago running more than 20-feet deep. The cold current of the Humboldt from the Peruvian coast, modifies the climate and temperature of the waters surrounding the islands, providing a pleasant breeze that cools off the heat.
The Jambelí Canal and other waterways through these mangrove swamps and forests provide a perfect place of protection for the building and launching of Hagoth’s ships

As for the building supplies for ships, the Mangrove is hard and strong and considered a timber tree and is used for boat building. In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, “Mangroves have been exploited for timber for building dwellings and boats and fuel-wood for cooking and heating. Palm species are used, especially in Southeast Asia and Brazil, to construct jetties and other submerged structures because they are resistant to rot and to attack by fungi and borers.”
The black Mangrove is commonly found throughout the Archipelago as well as red Mangrovesboth the tallest of the mangrove species. No better place to build a shipyard could be found anywhere with unlimited amount of trees for construction growing all around Hagoth’s shipyard, with rapid growth, good regeneration potential, especially from intensive logging, and can grow to large sizes, as tall as 130 feet.
A mangrove swamp and forest showing the size and compatibility of such trees in their use for building ships

This area would have been ideal for Hagoth to build his ships. The available wood was plentiful, tall and straight; the waterways into the channels were wide and deep, providing both protection from the ocean currents and weather as well as providing ample room for testing; and the area provided both a protected and secure area where Hagoth could have expanded his business and the yards as well as the docks for his ships. Very possibly no other place along the entire west coast would have been as ideal.
    The course northward from this area would have also been ideal, providing ample room to set sail beyond the Santa Elena Peninsula and pick up the currents for a northward coastal voyage into Central and Middle America, or the outer current that bent out and down into Polynesia. He could also have sailed inland, across the Gulf and into the Gayas River, which rose up through the western portion of Ecuador into the Land Northward—which today is the main inland shipping venue of Ecuador.


  1. Isn't it always interesting how you never noticed Window Cleaning companies exist? Then you meet someone who does that for a living and the same week you see 5 others.

    Del writes an article on Hagoth's ship building port. Now Ecuador seems to think that Hagoth might have been onto something and follow suit same location. Del you stated that age prevents you from traveling ? Your research is fascinating you're the youngest you'll ever be.
    You wouldn't let a little thing like that stop you?
    Hagoth's port awaits.


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