Friday, July 13, 2018

The Journey to Bountiful and the Building of Nephi’s Ship – Part IX

Continued from the previous post regarding the journey to the land of Bountiful and the building of Nephi’s ship. This last article covers the final information on the importance of the area of Khor Rori as Lehi’s Bountiful, and how the winds and currents off the Arabian Peninsula aided in the direction Lehi sailed to reach his Land of Promise.
The are in the foreground is a bluff overlooking the two arms of the khor, with the left (east) arm having less current and the perfect place to slip a ship down off the ways and into the water

In addition to the information in the last post, regarding the difficulty of building Nephi’s ship and the Lord’s help that required, the launching of a vessel into a restricted waterway, such as off the shore and into the east arm of the Khor Rori, a narrow river stream, requires the application of a retarding force, such as ropes tied to heavy objects to slow the descent until after the bow has cleared the after end of the ways. Obviously, launching can be a hazardous operation, and just as obviously, the information as to how it was to be done would have been given to Nephi to compensate for his lack of knowledge in this area, just as the Liahona told Lehi where to travel in the more fertile parts of the wilderness (1 Npehi 16:16), and Nephi what mountain to climb to find an animal to hunt (1 Nephi 16:30).
    The point of this is to suggest that the work of building a ship required knowledge beyond the construction phase, but also in building the ways and building birth structure, and in how to launch the vessel, once built. Something, obviously that neither Lehi, Nephi or the others would have possessed and would have required the assistance of the Lord, which he volunteered in the beginning, saying “Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee” (1 Nephi 17:8).
    Theorists often concentrate on the number of people to determine the size of the ship Nephi built. However, in addition to structure, and size for holding the number of occupants, Nephi’s ship would have had to provide sufficient space for quantifies of enough fruit, meat, honey, daily provisions, seeds, tents, and personal items to supply the colony on the voyage and for a time once it reached its destination (1 Nephi 18:6). In addition, there would be need for repair materials, such as extra lumber, rope, sails, and even an extra mast. A 60-foot-long ship would not have been excessively large; many of the dhows now sailing the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea are as large as 175-feet, and all handmade.
    With the ship sitting on the ways—which are often cambered (slightly curved upward toward the middle or downward toward the ends) in the fore and aft direction—the launching ways range from one-half to three-quarters of an inch per foot of length; ways extend from a position near the bow to past the stern and for a certain distance into the water. Over these standing ways is built the launching cradle that consist of sliding ways on which are built poppets, or supporting structures of timber to provide support for the hull during construction, with side supports and shores as necessary. Between standing ways and launching ways is a layer of lubricant. As the vessel was nearing completion, the standing ways had been built under it, the sliding ways superimposed, and the cradle built up. In launching, the weight of the vessel is transferred gradually to the standing ways. It is common in later periods to fit launching triggers which, when released at the moment of launching, permitted the sliding ways to move over the standing ways.
    Upon launching, as the ship travels downward (stern or transom first), the buoyancy increases and the upthrust of the ways decreases, with the weight remaining constant. As the center of gravity passes the after end of the standing ways, it is essential that the moment of buoyancy be greater than the moment of weight about the after end of the ways. Calculations are needed to determine the most important factors in launching, such as 1) the moment at which the stern lifts, 2) the difference between weight and buoyancy when the stern lifts, 3) the existence of a moment against tipping, and 4) the equality of weight and buoyancy before the vessel reaches the after end of the ways to ensure that the cradle will not drop off the end of the standing ways.
    It would seem that all of this might well have been given to Nephi through the Liahona, since this was an area of expertise and knowledge Nephi would have lacked.
Leaving the Khor Rori, where Nephi built his ship, and moving into the Sea of Arabia, the (red circle) transition currents are defused by the twin cliffs that stick out into the ocean and block the normal tidal turmoil when a fresh water river enters the ocean salt water
1. Cliffs on each side of the inlet to allow an easier entrance to the sea. First of all, transiting from the fresh water river (Khor Rori) into the salt water ocean (Sea of Arabia), like almost all such areas, is both turbulent and dangerous to mariners. While the surface looks calm enough with a few small ripples, the view belies the turmoil beneath. This happens when river water meets sea water, the lighter fresh water rises up and over the denser salt water, with the latter nosing into the estuary beneath the outflowing river water, pushing its way upstream along the bottom. When the ebb turns, a tongue of salt water creeps into the khor, then gallops back toward the borderlands of the sea, being expelled by a strong outflow during the previous ebb.
    This interaction between fresh and salt water often roils with turbulent eddies as strong as any in the ocean itself. In fact, while the salt front causes movement from side to side in the width of the river, it also effects the water beneath as much as three feet vertically, causing strong salinity and density gradient, changing current direction and strength. The confusion of swirling water and suspended sediments in the “estuarine circulation,” can disorient an experienced sea captain, let alone a novice who has never before been to sea. Many an untried and unknowledgeable seaman has capsized his ship as such eddies turn the vessel without notice sideways to the current.
    Thus, the twin cliffs on either side of this inlet soften such borderlands, lessening the turbulence and making it far easier to gain the sea. Something Nephi and his brothers would have needed in order to make this transition from the khor into the Sea of Arabia.
Lehi’s course upon leaving Bountiful would have been where the winds took him, since his ship “was driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9) and, therefore, subject to the driving force of the wind and the direction of the ocean currents

2. Winds and currents from the inlet into the Sea of Arabia leading to the Indian Ocean Gyre and the Southern Ocean. The importance of this particular location cannot be overemphasized, for moving into the Sea of Arabia, the ship would immediately have picked up the Monsoon Drift current driving southwest across the Sea of Arabia between November and March. With the directions on the Liahona, Nephi would have turned into the Kaskazi Monsoon Winds blowing from the northeast toward the southwest. This wind “The regular pattern of the monsoon winds in the Indian Ocean allowed for traders to plan their trade routes south and north along the East African coast—the Kaskazi wind took traders south along the coast, blowing from the northeast to the southwest for approximately four months” (“The East African Monsoon Winds,” Kenya Coast Digest, 19 October 2010).
    The reverse of this wind, called the Kusi Monsoon Wind, blows for six months northward along the north African coast. It might be of interest to know that there are two transitional periods as the wind changes direction. The first, from September to November the wind dies down among heavy rains. In November, the Kaskazi Monsoon Wind picks up, blowing southward along the coast, reversing the strong Somali Current southward until March. This Somali Current is an ocean boundary current that runs along the coast of Somalia and Oman in the Western Indian Ocean and is analogous to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean. This current is heavily influenced by the monsoons and is the only major upwelling system that occurs on a western boundary of an ocean. Normally flowing northward, this current reverses to the southwest in September and weakens until, in the winter, it disappears entirely, to be replaced by a slow southwestward drift. Then from mid to the end of March, the wind changes from the Kaskazi to the north blowing Kusi Monsoon Wind.
    Consequently, sailing in November or December, or even January, Lehi would have ridden the Indian Northeast Monsoon Current, along with the Kaskazi Monsoon Wind, to the south into the Somali Current as noted earlier. As for the sea currents, the Monsoon Current, also called Monsoon Drift, is a surface current of the northern Indian Ocean. However, unlike the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, both of which have strong currents circulating clockwise north of the Equator and counter-clockwise south of the Equator, the northern Indian Ocean has surface currents that change with the seasonal monsoon. During the northeast monsoon (November–March), the Indian North Equatorial Current (or Northeast Monsoon Drift) flows southwest and west, crossing the Equator.
    It also might be of interest to know that anciently, the month of July was known as the “closed season,” with most if not all ports being closed at this time due to high swell and strong winds at the height of the southwest monsoon. This combination of winds and currents from November to March, would have driven Lehi’s ship south out of Khor Rori and toward the Indian Ocean, where it would have picked up the southern east flowing arm of the South Indian Ocean Gyre.
Lehi would have been driven southwest by the aforementioned currents, then pushed somewhat eastward by the Kusi Winds balanced by the South Equatorial Current and into the Madagascar Current which is the westward arm of the Indian Ocean Gyre to run parallel with the Southern Ocean, both at this point would have been moving from west to east. It would have been a simple matter for Nephi, with an understanding from the Liahona, to drop out of the Gyre and into the Southern Ocean, since the wind and current force were running the same direction.
    The point is, of course, that the location of Khor Rori and Salalah lead into the ocean winds and currents of the Sea of Arabia, the Indian Ocean and finally the Southern Ocean, moving Lehi eastward across the southern Pacific (Southern Ocean) toward the Drake Passage, south of South America, where the continental shelf turned his vessel upward into the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current.

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