Sunday, December 3, 2017

Jaraedite Barges – Their Landing – Part IV

Continuing from the previous post regarding the Jaredites and questions received about them. As stated, on occasion we receive questions and comments about the landing site of the Jaredite barges. One of the most frequent from critics is how eight barges, drifting in the sea and tossed about by wind and waves, could all land in the same spot thousands of miles away; another is if the barges were unsteerable, how did they eventually maneuver into land. 
     To understand this event of their landing, we need to know more about their landing site along the coast of South America. The Santa Elena Peninsula should be considered by its location, topography and climate. The peninsula juts out into the Pacific and is Ecuador’s westernmost point. To the north and east runs the Colonche-Chanduy cordillera, which cuts off direct communication between the peninsula and the Guayas Basin.
The small mountain range is covered with lush tropical vegetation, and stands only 2650 feet high, covering an area 6 miles wide and 205 miles long and runs along the Chongon-Colonche fault, also known as the Chanduy fault
The cold Peru Current sweeps north along the coast from Chile to the Gulf of Guayaquil, where it turns and heads west across the Pacific. The combined effects of this current and the mountainous eastern border make the peninsula in normal times a semi-desert, receiving only about 2 to 3.3 inches of rainfall annually, far from enough to supply it with sufficient fresh water. 
The peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific with its wave and current created arrow-straight coast and beach shore is, in fact, the northernmost extension of the west coast desert of South America—a coastal desert that extends across Peru to Chile, for the environmental forces that make the southwestern tip of coastal Ecuador so arid are simply a milder version of the forces that create the fearsome deserts of the coast of Peru. It is an arid region, bounded by the Gulf of Guayaquil on the south and by Santa Elena Bay on the north.
    On the Ecuadorian coast north and east of the peninsula, the landscape becomes increasingly dry and scrubby, and the ceiba trees give way to candelabra cacti, and there is a rapid transition to conditions of tropical humidity because this area lies outside the zone influenced by the joint action of the Peru Current and the Colonche Mountains. The striking contrast between the peninsula and other parts of the Ecuadorian coast was, of course, reflected in commensurately striking contrasts between the prehistoric cultures of Santa Elena and those of later periods.
The scriptural record tells us that after the Jaredites landed, and unlike most people who settled along the coast upon landing, they “went upon the face of the land.” Now they landed in an area called Desolation (Omni 1:30), and they went up from there into the south wilderness (Omni 1:31), that is, the wilderness to the east of the Santa Elena Peninsula, and area of low foothills and forests. To the south of here was the Land of Bountiful and to the north of this point was the Land Desolation—that area along the coast where there was little rainfall and an arid desert. How long the Jaredites remained on this peninsula is unknown, for Moroni tells us that they landed, set their feet upon the shores of the promised land and bowed themselves down upon the face of the land and shed tears of joy (Ether 6:12), then it states that they “went forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth” (Ether 6:13).
    Whether they stayed on the peninsula long enough to see they had no water supply and then moved, or moved into the foothills immediately is not known. Their area of landing falls in the El Progreso Basin (Gómez Rendón basin), an area of climate constraints, particularly low rainfall and constant erosion resulting in cracks, slickensides, and high clay content, where few crops were historically grown until the development of technology and such advances as the building of a hydraulic structure to transfer water to this dry area.
    In any event, they “came up into the south wilderness” and there they built their settlement and eventual capital city in the land they named Moron (Ether 7:5). Now this land of Moron, within the low foothills of the mountains, was not far from the Land of Desolation (Ether 7:6) along the Santa Elena Peninsula and around the Gulf area.
    It should be kept in mind that Jaredites, not in steerable sailing ships where they could choose from sight their landing location—the barges were submerged at times, completely enclosed and except for the lighted stones, had no outside light. Thus, the barges landed where the currents took them, along the Santa Elena Peninsula, where the inhabitants of the eight vessels disembarked and unloaded their animals, provisions and supplies.
As the coastal current is driven back out into the Pacific where it joins the South Pacific Gyre heading westward across the ocean, a weaker current continues to flow northward near the coast and is eventually driven along the coast by the eastward moving counter-current, and as it passes the jutting Santa Elena Peninsula, some of the current drifts into shore

One point critics’ make, is that all eight barges landed in the same area. This should not be surprising, since a drift voyage is determined by the winds driving ocean currents, which in turn, take the vessels along a pre-determined path. When they reached the area of the Humboldt Current (Peruvian Current) as it passed the area known as the Gulf of Guayaquil, the current is driven outward, or westward, into the Pacific Ocean and continues along the northern rim of the South Pacific Gyre.
Santa Elena Peninsula is basically a straight coast facing the incoming tide and waves, which have leveled out the shore over the millennia and created miles of beach, which would have provided easy and safe beaching for the barges 

At the point along the peninsula, converging ocean currents slam into the rocky shore, causing a clashing of waves as currents converge, lifting sand up from the seafloor as the waters are sucked toward shore in a chocolate brown hue (the area is today referred to as El Chocolatera). At this point, much drifting flotsam and ocean debris flows ashore along the Santa Elena Peninsula as the current peels off the Humboldt on the turn and drives heavier floating debris toward the beach that juts out into the Pacific at this point.
Top: One of the beaches along the Santa Elena shore upon which some of the Jaredite barges would have landed. Bottom: Beyond the coastal hills is a dry land where little grows

The Jaredite barges would have been pulled into shore here, all down the peninsula’s beaches, scattered along the shore where the people could easily disembark. However, as Mormon tells us of the Jaredite landing, “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken…it being the place of their first landing. And they came from there up into the south wilderness” (Alma 22:30-31, emphasis added). No doubt several things drove the Jaredites away from their first landing site and deeper into the land: 1] An eternal salted wind strikes the peninsula (a constant 15 mph wind with 35% salinity content), 2] the land is rocky with little soil for planting, 3] the arid desert climate, the area is dry (one of the driest places in the region), 4] average temperature of 81º F, and its relative annual humidity is 86%, 5] the terrain is rocky and the area completely saline, intense sunlight of very high radiation (highest on earth), which fills the area with solar salt (90% of Ecuador’s salt today is produced in the salt mines on Santa Elena peninsula.
    Until the modern era, the peninsula contained only small fishing villages, and was an unattractive, unappealing desert, with such low precipitation (less than 8 inches a year) it would not sustain any vegetation at all other than the most scanty shrubs (similar to Tucson, Arizona). It should be noted that this peninsula has always been there, its long straight beaches hammered by the current for millennia, which has caused a long, straight series of beaches making landfall for the Jaredite barges a rather simple matter. It also should be noted that from La Chocolatera at Salinas along the far western point of Santa Elena Peninsula, to the prominence of Ancon Point has been long enduring because of its hard and resistant nature of its geological formations, made up principally of hard, compact, and massive sandstones with intercalated conglomerates, as opposed to the soft shales and sandstones elsewhere on the peninsula away from the coast.


  1. Maybe they used ropes at both ends to tie all eight barges together -- making it like one large barge. That might not work out because of the stresses caused by the waves.

  2. Since the Lord told them what and how to build barges, I'm sure He could keep them close together at sea. I think if they were tied together they could list yo one side and perhaps roll over. Not good if you elephants on board.

  3. I kind of want to drop some bottles with notes in them in the water at Khor Rori and see where they end up. :)

    1. Good idea! I have thought someone should to a "kon tiki" from there with something like the Lehites may have had.

  4. I think the answer to your question if you down a bottle with a note in it will end up in Malaysia because that is where all junk ends up. But if God is guiding you and telling you how to build a ship with sails or a barge that He is going to blow to the new world you'll end up in South America at 30-degrees South Latitude where Lehi landed. So I think that question has already been answered.