Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Was There Really an Alternative Course for Lehi to Take? – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding the answers to a Reader’s questions about Lehi sailing to the Land of Promise.
    Fifth, the fastest and easiest point of sail is the beam reach, with the wind on the starboard beam as you bear away from the wind, or wind on the port beam, where you head toward the wind—in both cases with the sails half in and half out of the wind. Again, this required the movement of the yards carrying the canvas and not only required advanced construction, but an expertise in handling that usually takes some time to acquire.
There is an area about 40º to 45º wide directly into the wind which is called a “no sail zone” or “dead zone” into which no sailing ship can sail, referred to as “in irons”

No sailing vessel can move directly upwind, or directly into the wind) though that may be the desired direction. This requires making this an essential maneuver of a sailing ship

Tacking or coming about is a maneuver necessary when sailing into the wind. In such cases the ship’s bow is turned toward the wind so that the direction from which the wind blows changes from one side to the other, allowing progress in the desired direction; however, since you don’t travel in a straight line with such tacking, the vessel is maneuvered into a zig-zag pattern, which again requires skill at both the sail and tiller. The opposite maneuver to tacking is called jibing (Gybing) or wearing on square-rigged ships where the stern is turned through the wind rather than the bow. This maneuver is used for different effects in races, where one ship is not only sailing in a desired direction, but also concerned with slowing the progress of competitors.
    Obviously, it was not a matter of Nephi building a ship that could tack, with moveable or adjustable yards—the Lord, of course, could have told him how to do that. However, as shown, a crew of novice, never having been o sea, would not be able to pick up such an ability with any degree of success without years of experience. 
    While it is true thatSince we do not know the extent of how God instructed the building of the ship,” we can easily see that whatever the design it did not allow for or require tacking for Nephi and his brothers—the latter, by the way did not even know how to steer the ship (1 Nephi 18:13). 
• Reader : “Since at the time, there was a shipping trade on the other side of the world or old world, they must have had some ability to maneuver the oceans.” 
As late as the 13th century the ancient Phoenician and Roman trade routes in the Mediterranean were still being followed by sailing ships—little maneuvering was needed, since these routes were basically coastal and in the calm waters of the Med 

Response: First of all, having a trade route for ships is not the same as sailing into deep water or across an ocean. Trade routes were based on land access, suitable ports, and coastal waters in which to sail. All early trading routes followed this pattern. To move out of sight of land, the mariner needed to know with certainty the winds and currents and where they would take them. Often such information came when a ship was blown off course and accidentally discovered a wind and current route previously unknown. Such was the case with Vasco da Gama 
    Setting off in July 1497, da Gama's expedition took advantage of the prevailing winds by sailing south down the coast of Africa, then veering far out into the Atlantic (as Bartolomeu Dias had accidentally been blown) and swinging back in an arc to arrive off the southern African coast.
    Secondly, these early mariners maneuvered the oceans by sailing with the winds and currents, which over time they learned to understand and use. They often had to wait in port for such winds until they were favorable (trade winds) to make such voyages. Or, if at sea and tried to go where no current or wind took them, they could end up being becalmed at sea waiting for a favorable wind, which they took out of desperation though it might have taken them in a direction they did not want to sail.
    The story of Columbus should make that crystal clear to us. Once he discovered the Atlantic gyre, that is the clockwise circular current in the Atlantic Ocean, that carried a ship from the Canary Islands westward across the Atlantic, then, when returning had to go north to pick up the top of that circle and take it back to Spain. Until Columbus discovered this, the oceans were not maneuverable except along the coast, which is where everyone sailed in their small, more fragile coastal vessels.
• Reader: “It is the better judgment to say they went around south America and to North America.” 
Going around South America would have been foolhardy, making the voyage twice as long, fighting currents in the Drake Passage and trying to sail north up the Atlantic 

Response: Such a course as you suggest from west to east around South America would have taken Lehi through the Drake Passage, a rough water voyage in the coldest climate and coldest water, and beyond, into the teeth of the south moving Brazil Current which would have taken Lehi “driven forth before the wind” across the Atlantic to the northward moving Benguela Current along the coast of Africa. Not a viable course.
• Reader: “They found an old Viking style ship in the Mississippi because the natives along the Mississippi were known for shipbuilding.” 
Response: The remains of this vessel were found near Memphis, Tennessee, in 2014. Dug out from the river banks were several boards of a hull encased in mud. According to the report, “a group of volunteers cleaning up the shores of the Mississippi river near the biggest city in Tennessee, have stumbled upon the remains of an ancient boat encrusted in mud. A team of archeologists from the University of Memphis that was rapidly called to the site, confirmed that the ship is most certainly a Viking knar, suggesting the Norse would have pushed their exploration of America a lot further than historians previously thought.”
    For those willing to look into this article, it was first published in the World News Daily Report on 13 August 2014. However, this website is “a satirical fake news website.” It is run by Canadians Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault, and follows the old-school Tabloid-styled faux-journalism of its predecessors, such as the Weekly World News.
    According to, formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, which claims to be one of the first online fact-checking websites, a "well-regarded source for sorting out myths and rumors" on the Internet. It has also been seen as a source for validating and debunking urban legends and similar stories in American popular culture (Melissa Allison, “Companies Find Rumors Hard to Kill on Internet,” March 4, 2007; Corporations Combat Insistent Urban Legens on Internet,” the Courier, March 4, 2007; Neil Henry, “American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege in an Age of New Media,” University of California Press, 2007, p285). 
    However, soon after its first publication, links and excerpts referencing this item were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered it mistaking it for a genuine news article. However, that article was just another spoof from World News Daily Report, a fake news web site whose stock in trade is publishing fantastically fictional stories.
The Viking longships were narrow and streamlined for speed and ease of handling in coastal waters 

The site’s disclaimer page states that: “WNDR shall not be responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by website users or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this website or by any technical or human error which may occur…All characters appearing in the articles in this website—even those based on real people—are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.”
    One might want to check out the information they are repeating by looking into its origin, the people presenting it, and the research behind it, before passing it along as a factual argument.
    The point is, Lehi's course was restricted by winds and currents and despite what it might look like on a flat map, his course was easily followed and understood once one understands the makeup of the ocean, its currents and the winds involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment