Sunday, November 30, 2014

While We’re on the Subject

We have often been accused of beating a dead horse in relationship to the ships, sea currents, and winds that existed and were involved in bringing Lehi to the Land of Promise. However, we do this from time to time because of the lack of knowledge and understanding regarding sailing vessels in 600 B.C., and the description of the ship Nephi built that he gives us and how it was propelled. 
    All of which tells us where, when, and how he sailed, and in so doing, where he would have landed.
    Despite this information Nephi discloses, and the impact it should have on understanding where he sailed and that course would have taken him, we are frequently confronted with comments from readers, especially those who support the Mesoamerican theory, or the Heartland and Great Lakes theories, that Lehi just “sailed across the Pacific” or Atlantic, as though it was an open highway like I-15 that takes one from southern California through Las Vegas and on to Salt Lake City.
    However, as discussed in the last two posts, the ship that the Lord showed Nephi how to build, would have been built to accomplish a certain purpose (taking Lehi’s family across the ocean to the Land of Promise), and would have been designed to accomplish that task based upon the course the Lord had in mind for Lehi to travel (open ocean or island-hopping, free sailing or maneuvering through changing currents and winds).
    Thus, a ship’s design would have to be sufficient to accomplish that particular purpose and course (sailing conditions). This means, Nephi’s ship would have been designed to sail the deep ocean waters (strong, fast, and durable in order to withstand the constant pounding of deep ocean waves, currents, wind and overall weather), and since Nephi tells us it was “driven forth before the wind,” it would have been designed to sail freely in deep water and not be encumbered by maneuvering through islands, archipelagos, through narrow channels, and having to avoid shoals, reefs, and shallow waters.
    Leaving the southern Arabian coastline and sailing out into the Sea of Arabia and Indian Ocean, two things become apparent: 1) the only course available because of existing winds and currents, and 2) a ship designed to sail that particular course the winds and currents allowed.
The world’s oceans are a mass of constantly traveling flows moved by trade, monsoon, and Coriolis currents and winds, and any ship “driven forth before the wind,” as Nephi’s ship is described, could only sail where the winds blew it
    So many Theorists seem to think that Lehi just got into the open ocean and sailed across the Pacific without a concern for these wind patterns. However, as we have tried to explain many times in these posts, open seas are a mass of currents and winds that are both constant and powerful. Before the Age of Sail that brought the design of moveable yards, stacked masts, lateen and square-rigged sails, and the type of ship’s overall rigging that allowed sailing into the wind, tacking and maneuverability of ships at sea, sailing the open oceans was difficult and fraught with danger and failure. This is because it simply was not possible to sail just anywhere in a ship requiring a following wind (like Nephi describes his ship to have been)—the direction of sail was in the direction of the wind, so if you wanted to end up in a specific location, you had to find a wind that would take you there or not sail.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center “Perpetual Ocean Graphic” of the mass of constantly moving currents and winds across the Indonesian waters and the Pacific. Every white line indicates moving water paths—the bolder the line the stronger the current. Note there is no place where the water is stagnant—its movement in constantly diverging directions is indeed perpetual
    As simple an understanding as this is, far too many Theorists ignore it completely and just move Lehi across the ocean as though it were a super highway. However the knowledge of winds and currents was known as early as the Portuguese sailors who knew all about Volta do mar (“turn of the sea”), which refers to winds and currents in the ocean—which was many years before Columbus.
    Before he sailed and discovered the New World, mariners knew of the brisk trade winds from the east, commonly called “easterlies,” that took Columbus west from the Canary Islands across the Pacific to the Caribbean. The problem at the time was not in getting westward into the Pacific, but in getting back—to return to Spain against this prevailing wind would have required several months of an arduous sailing technique called beating (zigzagging to port or starboard), during which time food and drinkable water would obviously have been exhausted. Even today it is virtually impossible to sail directly into the wind or even on a course that is too close to the direction from which the wind is blowing (called the “no-go zone”) which, depending on the design of the boat, its rig, and its sails, as well as on the wind strength and the sea state (currents), this zone can vary from 30- to 50-degrees to either side of the wind. Square-rigged sailing vessels were never able to “point” anywhere near that close to the wind, though it is still considered the most efficient running rig (that is, running before the wind, or having a “tail-wind”—what Nephi called “driven forth before the wind”).
First steam engine ships late 1800s to the early 20th century when they were replaced by reciprocating (piston) engines
    Not until the age of steam engines and later diesels, was it possible to run (point) directly into the wind, or on any course desired, with the understanding that the speed of the current, if flowing against you, diminished the progress of the forward speed of the vessel. As an example, a ship making 10 knots into a current that is traveling at 5 knots, means the vessel is making 5 knots headway—with a 5 knot following current, the vessel is making 15 knots headway.
    The same is true with a “tacking” sailing vessel, making 10 knots into the wind, sailing against a 5 knot sea current, is still making 5 knots headway, but losing distance because of the zigzagging. On the other hand, a sailing vessel “driven forth before the wind” would make no headway sailing into the wind, but be driven backward, which is why some ancient mariners wrote of passing the same point of land several times in an attempt to make headway into the wind.
    However, a sailing vessel being driven forth before the wind that is making 10 knots, but in a 5 knot following current, is making 15 knots headway, or, as in the Southern Ocean, with the wind blowing at thirty knots or higher, and the current moving at five to ten knots, a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” would actually be making 35 to 40 knots headway, or about 40 to 46 miles per hour. This is why the Southern Ocean is today used for numerous sailing vessel regatta races, such as the single-man "Vendée Globe" and the two-man crew "Barcelona World Regatta"—both non-stop around the world races in the Southern Ocean along the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties.
    This Southern Ocean distance around the world is approximately 10,000 miles—the shortest of any distance measured around the globe—of which Lehi’s course would have taken him only about 7,000 miles through the Southern Ocean, where the Prevailing Westerlies wind runs at 25 to 35 knots, the faster winds around 50 knots with highs reaching 70 knots (80.5 miles per hour). When you add the speed of the West Wind Drift (Antarctic Circumpolar Current) and the drift of the ocean current, modern regatta vessels can achieve 500+ miles in a single day.
    This West Wind Drift (ACC) current is circumpolar due to the lack of any landmass connecting with Antarctica, which keeps warm ocean waters away from Antarctica, enabling that continent to maintain its huge ice sheet.
The convergence (meeting) of the Pacific and Southern Oceans, usually heralded by dense fog, increasing numbers and varieties of sea birds, and an abrupt drop in the sea temperature. The convergence area is rich in wildlife, drawn by the churning up of nutrients as the Antarctic waters are pushed deeper by the warmer, northern currents
    At the same time, in the northern edges of this current, the waters are warmer due to the inflow of southward flowing Equatorial Current that merges into it. In addition, this current greatly speeds up any voyages from west to east around the globe as it transports 125 Sverdrups per second in its flow, which is a measure of the volumetric rate of transport of ocean currents, and equivalent to one Sverdrup or 264,000,000 U.S. gallons of water, moving per second (33 billion gallons per second), making the Southern Ocean the largest ocean current in the world.
Water temperature of the Southern Ocean ranges between 60º (light green) and 50º (dark green), with the western winds causing air temperature around 60º (light green area) dropping to 32º in the (dark blue area)
    One can only wonder why anyone might think that Lehi sailed to the Land of Promise along any other route—especially where island-hopping, extreme maneuvering conditions, dangerous side-currents, shoals, reefs, sand bars and narrow channels existed as they do through Indonesia. Consider the advantages of this course through the Southern Ocean:
    1. Shortest route to the Western Hemisphere;
    2. Fastest route to the Western Hemisphere;
    3. Straight sailing with extremely strong following winds all the way to the Western Hemisphere;
    4. Non-stop currents flowing directly to the Western Hemisphere;
    5. With the Liahona’s tutelage, the simplest sailing to the Western Hemisphere, requiring the least amount of knowledge;
    6. No difficult maneuvering through narrow channels, shoals, or side currents;
    7. No need for stops for replenishment of supplies;
    8. No tempting islands to cause further mutiny;
    9. No possibility of anyone knowing where Lehi went or arouse any curiosity as they passed;
    10. Whether, conditions, and speed would have created a distinct fearful reliance of the wayward sons on both Nephi and the Lord.
    11. Would have led to a simple entry into the record as Nephi made: “I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land. And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:22-23).

Saturday, November 29, 2014

How Seaworthy was Nephi’s Ship? Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the building of Nephi’s ship and what would have been involved and why it is important to understand what was written about it. 
   The Lord told Nephi to build a ship once they reached the area Lehi called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:7-8) along the coast of the Sea of Arabia, which Lehi called the Irreantum Sea. Nephi’s brothers and the sons of Ishmael laughed at such a task and called him a fool (1 Nephi 17:17) for none had ever been to sea and knew nothing about ship building. But the Lord showed Nephi how to build the vessel (1 Nephi 18:1-2) and, unfortunately, most readers of the scriptural record let it go at that, without bothering to learn the importance of this information.
    “Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee” conveys some interesting and vital information for those interested in learning where Lehi sailed and where he landed.
    At the same time, though, being shown how something is to be done is not the same as being capable of doing it. Consider what is involved in building a ship large enough to carry Lehi and Ishmael’s families across the deep ocean.
    This would have been no small fete.
    As stated in the last post, ship design is based on several factors, and in realizing what those factors, or requirements, were, is to better understand what Nephi’s ship was like and what it was meant to do.
Note the design of early sailing ships in the Mediterranean abut the time of Lehi—the curvature of the centerline (red arrows) shows the instability of the vessel in high seas; not only the rocking fore and aft, but the inability to ride through high waves, into a trough, and survive the next wave. Mediterranean sailing did not require deep ocean type designs, and except for the addition of ramming requirements of warships, this design lasted for several millennia
Note the design of early ocean sailing vessels nearly two millennia after Lehi sailed. The bow (blue arrows) was straightened with only a slight curve to force water down and away, which added forward stability; (red arrows) the centerline was straightened and reinforced with a keel, in some cases extending a blade downward to increase side-to-side stability; (green arrows) the stern was vertical, adding an inboard rudder and bringing the keel straight back
    As stated in the previous post, building a ship to hug the coasts of Arabia, India, and Sumatra/Malaysia is one thing; to build a ship that would be capable of crossing the deep ocean is quite another. To build a vessel meant to drift with the current (a raft) is different than building a ship to be blown or driven by the wind (sails). To build a ship capable of negotiating narrow channels (Malucca Strait), set in at various islands along the way (Indonesia), and maneuver through shallow waters, shoals, reefs, etc. is very different than building a ship meant to sail from one place to another across the deep open seas.
Left: A cog, used for trading and coastal waters because of its flat bottom and high sides; Right: The Caravela Latina that discovered and sailed the coasts of Africa
    As an example, during the first half of the 15th century, the Caravel was the ship chosen by Portuguese mariners to sail the coast of Africa. Before that time, most used cogs of about 25 tons, which had a single mast, and were replaced by the Caravels which had greater speed and an ability to tightly maneuver in coastal waters. However, according to Richard W. Unger (The Ship in the Medieval Economy, 600-1600, 1980, Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press), when these small, maneuverable ships of discovery (running coastal waters around Africa) became impractical for deep ocean exploring, the caravela latina was transformed into the caravela redonda, a three-masted vessel wielding square sail, and lateen sails were generally converted to square-rigged sailers. Before crossing the Atlantic, Columbus stopped in the Canary Islands and converted the lateen sails on two of his ships to square-rigged canvas. 
The Caravela Redonda. This is like La Niña (Little Girl), Columbus’ favorite ship in which he logged over 25,000 miles. At 50-60 tons, she was originally built to travel the Mediterranean Sea, and not designed for open water as ships over 100 foot in length and upwards of 1000 ton
    To speak of courses taken by early traders in comparison with that needed by a far more heavily-laden vessel designed for deep ocean sailing is to show an obvious lack of knowledge of such matters and ignore the different requirements needed and fulfilled by those seamen. So is to speak of the simple and easy voyages of Vikings, Columbus, Magellan, Drake, and others, without knowing anything more about them than what they probably learned in school or read about in simple history. However, each of these voyages were neither simple nor easy.
Viking ships sailed close to land and in the calm waters of the far north, along the coasts of the Shetlands, Faeroe, Iceland, Greenland to New Foundland
    Despite what may have heard or earlier learned, the Vikings did not sail out to sea—they hugged the coasts of known lands, or sailed short distances to nearby lands they believed to have existed just over the horizon, often first discovered and reported by survivors of coastal vessels that had been blown off course.
    As an example, the Vikings first went to sea sailing from Norway 160 miles across the Norwegian Sea to the Shetland archipelago, which consists of 116 islands with an land area of 567 miles and 1,679 mile coastline, that lie 50 miles northeast of Orkney (Scotland), between the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. From there they sailed 170 miles to the Faeroe (Færøerne—”the islands of sheep”) archipelago, a group of 18 islands covering an area 70 miles long and 50 miles wide, about 540 square miles roughly in the shape of an arrowhead, lying between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, 200 miles north-northwest of Scotland.
    From there they sailed to Iceland, 300 miles to the West, and then about 185 miles to Greenland, and from there likely took a short route across the Davis Strait to Baffin Island and down the coast to New Foundland. The point is, they pretty much were moving along the southern coasts of islands all the way to their eventual destination in New Foundland, where they attempted a short-lived settlement.
As ship designs became more stable, the width and length of the ship in the water was increased; Left: White arrows show the beam of the ship sitting in the water; Yellow arrow shows the length of the ship in the water; Light green arrow shows the inboard rudder on a vertical plane, giving the vessel much greater steerage; Right: Even the Chinese junks were increased in size and strength during the Age of Sail, with the stern (red arrow) still curved, but not as much, and the (light blue arrow) showing a straighter center line resulting in more of the vessel from bow to stern in the water for increased stability
    It should also be kept in mind that these early voyages were accomplished by:
    1. Ships designed to sail the blue waters (deep oceans) and were strong enough to withstand constant wave pounding;
    2. They had captains who had been to sea for many years (Columbus went to sea at the age of 10; sailed the Mediterranean, had been to England, Ireland, and Iceland; traded along the coasts of West Africa; had extensively read and studied astronomy, geography, and history, including Ptlomy, Imago Mundi, travels of Marco Polo, Mandeville, Pliny, and Pope Pius II’s Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum; he also knew celestial navigation, which used the position of the sun and the stars in the sky that had long been in use by astronomers and implemented by mariners;
    3. They had experienced pilots (navigators) who knew the waters through which they sailed or had the knowledge passed on from other navigators;
    4. They had crews of experienced mariners to handle the rigorous jobs of taking in canvas, changing sails, tightening or loosening rigging, etc., and
    5. They had sufficient numbers of men to handle the day-to-day jobs of running a ship at sea.
    Toward the end of the Age of Sail, large, heavy ships were designed, adding multiple masts and stacked sails (topgallants and royals; with upper topgallants, skysails, and moonsails later added for increased canvas, giving the heavier ships more speed; and even later (side) studding sails stacked three or four high were added both port and starboard for even more canvas (speed) to compensate for the added weight of construction, crew and cargo.
Despite all the canvas possible, including the studding sails, ships were often becalmed in the seas, requiring manned longboats (barge), attached with long ropes, to pull the ship through the water in search of a following wind that would fill the sails and move the ship forward
    It is obviously apparent that not only was Nephi’s ship seaworthy, that it was designed by the Lord and built under direct and specific tutelage of Nephi’s continual visits with the Lord where he learned many “great things” (1 Nephi 18:3), but that it was designed for Lehi’s specific voyage where the wind and currents took the vessel. Obviously, the Lord was involved in all aspects of leading Lehi from Jerusalem to the Land of Promise, including the specific and detailed design and construction of Nephi’s ship.
    With this understanding, then, all that is needed is to know where the winds blew and the currents flowed from the southern coast of Arabia to the Western Hemisphere. Once that path is followed, one can find the location of the Land of Promise. And once located, see if it matched allof the descriptions given by Nephi and Mormon regarding its location.

Friday, November 28, 2014

How Seaworthy was Nephi’s Ship? Part I

The Lord told Nephi to build a ship once they reached the area Lehi called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:7-8). His brothers and the sons of Ishmael laughed at such a task  and called him a fool (1 Nephi 17:17) for none had obviously ever been to sea and knew nothing about ship building. But the Lord showed Nephi how to build the ship (1 Nephi 18:1-2), and most readers of the scriptural record let it go at that. 
    However, seeing how something is to be done and being able to do it are not necessarily the same thing. Consider what is involved in building a ship large enough to carry Lehi and Ishmael’s families across the deep ocean—this was no small fete.
It is not like building a boat in your garage or back yard to sail on a glass-smooth lake, down a river or across a harbor—this is a ship that would be required to carry 50 or more people with tons of provisions and equipment across thousands of miles of deep, wave-pounding, wind-driven ocean. As an example, a designer of a sailing ship must give it sufficient capacity (burden) and speed to carry out its mission—in this case, sailing across the open ocean carrying several people half-way around the world, including cargo of their personal belongings, provisions, supplies, and equipment to start a new life;  yet without unduly compromising its seaworthiness. And seaworthiness itself is a complex concept, embracing water-tightness, buoyancy, stability, hull strength, weatherliness, handiness, and freedom to enter shallow or constricted waters.
    Obviously, the Lord would know how this was to be built and accomplished, but he still had to work through inexperienced individuals with varying talents and abilities, evidently none of which had ever been utilized in building a ship. While Nephi and, no doubt, Sam, would have attacked this project with enthusiasm, it seems doubtful that Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael (and their older sons) would have shown much passion for the venture.
    In addition, Nephi’s vessel had to be built in a manner and with such use as could be manned by an inexperience crew—a few men and boys who had never been to sea and knew nothing of sailing coastal and deep ocean waters. It is one thing to understand how rigging is to be used through instruction, quite another to actually develop the skill to do it while on a tossing ship in rough seas with no land in sight.
The design also would be limited both in terms of volume (by the dimensions and layout of the ship) and weight (too much, and the ship sinks). Until the nineteenth century, it was probably the single most important requirement for a ship (other than staying afloat). The different demands on capacity compete with each other; for example, putting on more food and provisions (and the space to hold them) increases survivability of the people, but reduces the space for cargo and equipment that would be required in the Land of Promise where obtaining such things might prove impossible once landed.
    The modern day formula, developed in 1852 by the Elizabethan shipwright Matthew Baker, was “keel length times maximum beam (width) times depth of hold (in feet) divided by 100." This formula resulted in a value in “tuns” burden or volume measurement equivalent to about one English long ton (2240 pounds). There was also the tonnage (one-third of the burden weight). As an example, in 1534, a Spanish ordinance limited New World-bound ships to 60 passengers per 100 tons burden, though some carried almost 100 passengers per 100 tons (1 per 1), while Europe-bound ships carried 40 per 100 tons in the mid-1700s and 66 per 100 tons in the late 1700s, and U.S. ships were limited to 40 per 100 tons. Of course, this was because these ships carried cargo for sale to offset the price of sailing and increase profits—something Nephi’s ship did not require, nor did it carry cannon and crew to man them, thus more people per tonnage was available than later shipping could manage.
    For Nephi’s ship to be buoyant, the design had to limit the ratio of its mass to its volume so that its overall density was less than that of water, which means the type of wood used in its construction was a critical issue. Thus, when theorists write about there being plenty of trees in an area that could have been used to build Nephi’s ship, they may or may not have considered whether that type of wood, its density and strength, would have sufficed for the particulars of weight and mass required of the ship being built. Once again, the Lord would have known all this and much, much more, but the point is, theorists often write about things they do not know and are unaware of the importance of what they do not know. This is why we keep harping on the importance of Nephi’s ship and how it was propelled and what that means to an overall course.
Arbitrarily drawing random lines on a map shows the lack of knowledge regarding winds, currents, and numerous other factors involved in sailing a ship across the oceans in 600 B.C.
    This, then leads, to a design that meets the requirements of the voyage. If winds and currents would have allowed Lehi to journey toward and through Indonesia to the Pacific, as Sorenson and numerous other Theorists insist, then the design of purpose of his ship would be one thing; if his course was in the direction and location the winds and currents would have taken him, across the Southern Ocean as has been proposed here many times, then the design of his ship would have been something else entirely.
The monsoon, trades, and gyre winds move in predetermined directions and with a constancy that makes it clear where Lehi would have had to sail to reach the Western Hemisphere from his starting point on the southern coast of Arabia
    Sorenson has mentioned time and again that Lehi would have sailed through Indonesia and across the Pacific, however, the ship design for such a voyage would be that of a long-distance trader, which would have required a large displacement because of the large cargo to be carried in order to make such trading voyages profitable. So, if that truly were how Lehi reached the Pacific, then his ship would have been large, bulky and difficult to handle, since large displacements typically resulted in larger, less maneuverable vessels. To offset that, the early traders in Indonesia reduced the size requirements of their ships by limiting the crew number to balance profitability which, in turn, required an easier to handle vessel—the dhow, and the lateen sail.
An early trading dhow along the Arabian Sea that plied the waters of Indonesia. These small coastal vessels could sail those waters with eaqse, but were not strong enough to handle wave-pounding deep ocean waters
    Such a vessel worked marvelously for early traders in Indonesia since their voyages were short and direct, in coastal waters for the most part, and far simpler to handle maneuverability needs with small crews. They also spent little time at sea, setting in often, and especially every night, limiting their sailing to good weather and easy-to-handle distances.
    This was not Lehi’s requirement.
    Lehi needed a ship that would take him into rough waters, with the simplest of courses that required the least amount of knowledge about ship handling and maneuvering. He needed a large enough vessel to handle at least 50 people (perhaps as many as 62), including women and children, yet be crewed by as few as 12 to 15 men and boys (Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, Zoram, the two sons of Ishmael and his older sons). By way of comparison, Columbus’ flag ship, Santa Maria, the largest of his three ships, was about 60 feet long, around 100 tons, and had a crew of 40 (all experienced seamen from the port of Palos in Andalusia, or Galica in northwest Spain), at least half of which would have been handling the ship’s rigging at any one time during the voyage, and especially in rough weather. Magellan’s ship, Victoria, which circumnavigated the globe, was about 65 feet long, 85 tons, with a crew of 42, while his flagship, Trinidad, was about 110 tons with a crew of 55.
    Thus we can see somewhat the size and tonnage of Lehi’s ship, which would have sailed a similar deep ocean, with a similar number of people aboard.
(See the next post, “How Seaworthy was Nephi’s Ship? Part II,” for the continuation of the ship Nephi built and how the scriptural record gives us information to better understand where Lehi sailed and landed)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Was Lehi’s Journey a Non-Stop Voyage?

The consensus among Theorists seems to be that Lehi’s voyage across the Irreantum Sea was an “island-hopping” event. As Sorenson has written: “Our record doesn't say but reason and similar experiences quickly fill that gap. If for nothing else, stops would be necessary to replenish their water supply. Repairs, other provisions, and the scraping of barnacles are other conditions which have forced all ancient seamen to make frequent stops as they have pursued similar voyages. Lehi's journey would have taken them more than half way around the world. For comparison, Lehi's voyage would have traversed at least 200° compared to about 55° for Columbus's voyage to America. Of course, Lehi did not travel in a straight line. Sorenson estimates that Lehi's journey would have been about seventeen thousand miles as compared to about three thousand for Columbus. No, this was not a non-stop voyage” (John L. Sorenson, Nephite Culture and Society, 1997, Sage Books, pp54-57). 
    The problem with this type of thinking is two-fold. First, to get to Mesoamerica, Sorenson has to get Lehi across the Pacific Ocean, which violates all the winds and currents along his route, and 2) The very nature of the rebellious sons of Lehi and Ishmael would have either precluded such an island-hopping voyage, or obviously caused Nephi to mention the actions of these wayward sons once given the opportunity to rebel again and take over as they had earlier.
Can you imagine Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael ignoring the beauty and beckoning of these islands as they stopped from time to time on Sorenson’s course across the Pacific? Hard to imagine they would have obediently gotten back on board the ship and sailed off into the open sea after such exposure. They were not, after all, a willing crew
    We have spent much time in these posts talking about the ocean currents and winds that would have kept Lehi from going eastward from the southern Arabian coast in the Indian Ocean and he never could have reached the Pacific in his ship, which was “driven forth before the wind.” But just to satisfy the idea of “island-hopping,” let’s take a look at some of the rest of these “reasons” why Lehi is said to have made numerous stops along his journey.
    Sorenson suggests that “we can get some feel for this time from the voyage of a Polynesian canoe named Hokule'a. This vessel, sailing about eight thousand miles in comparable waters, averaged about ninety-eight miles per day. While this represented eighty-two days at sea, stops for repairs, rest, and supplies, extended their voyage over more than a year.”
The Hokulea was a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a wa’a kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe that set sail in 1976
    Response: The Hokulea was built and launched in 1975, for the purpose of sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti, a voyage which took place the following year for the purpose of “reviving the legacy of exploration, courage, and ingenuity that brought the first Polynesians to the archipelago of Hawaii.” Borrowing a navigator from Micronesia since there were no Polynesians capable of doing so, the journey was completed. Unfortunately, on the second attempt two years later, the canoe capsized in stormy seas off of Moloka’i and the crew would have all died had there not been a fortuitous rescue “hours away from losing people.”
    In addition, at most, these canoes carried about 20 people, usually closer to a dozen, while Lehi’s ship would have had at least 60-65 crossing the ocean. In addition, outrigger canoes can lower the sail and proceed with oars, while Nephi’s ship would not have had that ability based on its size and Nephi’s descriptions of it. However, the main point here is that these were not “comparable waters.”
    Sorenson also wrote: “Unlike Lehi's experience, the Hokule'a encountered nothing but good winds for their entire journey. If all other factors were comparable, this would suggest a time of two to three years for Lehi's voyage.”
The early Polynesians sailed north across currents in small outrigger canoes
    Response: One of the reasons for this is that these waters, despite Sorenson’s claim to the contrary, were not comparable waters. Sailing from Polynesia to Hawaii and back, is a course sailing cross-currents from north to south, which is obviously not the same as trying to buck opposing currents throughout an entire voyage. In fact, these voyages were within the two Pacific Gyres where the currents and winds are far calmer, somewhat like being inside the eye of a hurricane. This is not to say it is not dangerous, arduous and a lot of hard work, requiring experienced or well trained seamen, but the waters being sailed are not comparable in any way.
    It should be remembered that when sailing into the wind, a sail does not push the ship ahead, as Nephi said his ship was propelled (1 Nephi 18:8-9). Rather it acts as an airfoil, creating an area of low pressure in front of the sail, pulling the ship forward. As one Captain of a three-masted schooner was quoted as saying, when asked just how his vessel could sail headlong into the winds blowing against them: “When a sailboat is sailing against a strong wind, the vessel can’t make progress, and, in fact, endangers itself. What the ship has to do is to tack back and forth–sail at an angle, creating a vacuum on the back side of the sail that actually pulls the ship forward—this in effect creates a “wind pull.”
Tacking into strong, opposing winds also includes angling your path through the waves, allowing the bow to cut through the wave and not be bounced back by it, requiring an angle of attack and knowledge of spilling air (from the sail) while maintaining control
    Sailing on the course Sorenson suggests, through islands, channels, narrow passes on an irregular course with achieving landfall every so often—a fete far more difficult and dangerous than it sounds, would hardly have been achievable by Lehi’s inexperienced family. The type of sailing into winds Sorenson’s course required would have been even more difficult, for this type of sailing requires experience, not just knowledge. It is doubtful that Lehi’s family could have gained sufficient experience while building and sailing their ship to be able to handle opposing winds and currents, let alone learning all the intricacies of sailing back and forth, cutting the waves, spilling air, and keeping their ship from being pounded into bits coming off waves and slamming into troughs.
    The much simpler sailing effort would have been to take Nephi’s ship where the winds and currents flowed, where experience is required far less and the dangers much reduced—which takes us to the Southern Ocean—the shortest, simplest, and fastest course between Arabia and the Western Hemisphere on the face of the earth.
The circumpolar Southern Current (black circular arrows) is the fastest and shortest route from Arabia to the Western Hemisphere—instead of 17,000 miles across at the Equator like Sorenson projects, it is less than 10,000 miles where Lehi enters this route and exists it (black arrows)
    In addition, this course would not have allowed Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael any opportunity to take over the ship, for the entire voyage would have been a rough ride, requiring constant activity, including bailing water and, if nothing else, hanging on for dear life. The fast moving waters and gale force winds driving the ship forward, surfing over and down waves, for such an inexperienced crew would have caused near panic with no way to express it.
    The sheer fear of such a voyage in those fast and heavy conditions would have kept the wayward and mutinous sons from laying a further hand on Nephi, for experience had taught them that to do so would mean a watery grave from relentless waves crashing over the bow and bouncing off rails and masts, and thick foam spraying across the deck.
    In fact, such a voyage would have humbled even the most belligerent attitudes for little else than wind, waves, and relentless water exist—there was no land to beckon to them, nothing but unremitting ocean, constant birds, and steady breezes. When Nephi wrote: “And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts” (1 Nephi 18:20), it would be apparent that the fury of this ocean would have kept the belligerents at bay, believing it was the wrath of the Lord that threatened them.
Top: Where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, a distinct line is visible; Bottom: The Southern Ocean is more empty of sights and without land obstruction than any ocean on earth
    In addition, the emptiness of this ocean would have caused them all to know they were the only ones in the world out there—a feeling that would have drawn them out of necessity toward reliance on the Lord and the Liahona Nephi held as he steered his ship across the sea. The voyage across this ocean would have been fast, fearful and quick. It would have been so uneventful, that all Nephi would have had to write about was “I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land. And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:22-23).
    Was Lehi’s Journey a Non-Stop Voyage? Out of necessity, it would have had to be a non-stop voyage.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Were Lehi’s Family Mariners?

While records show that Jewish seamen cropped  up as early as the first century A.D., beginning with navicularii (shipowners) in Alexandria in 39 A.D., when cargoes of Jewish ships during the anti-Jewish riots were carried off and burned; and Augustine and Jerome both recorded encounters with Jewish mariners; and an intact lower hull of a boat dated to the first century A.D. was excavated on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, much of the record and writing of Jewish mariners is found from about the third century onward. When Solomon had his ships built in 900 B.C., he imported seamen from Lebanon to man them. In fact, there seems to be no evidence showing Israelites as mariners in B.C. times at all.
    Nor do we have any evidence that any member of Lehi's company had any experience at sea, nor in the building of ships. Both Ishmael and Lehi lived outside the city walls, in an area where agriculture fed Jerusalem, and merchants traded with Arab caravans along the Frankincense Trail (King’s Highway) and sold these goods to Jerusalem vendors who, in turn, sold them within the city where the caravans never traveled. Yet, when Lehi reached the area along the southern Arabian coast, which he called Bountiful, Nephi was told by the Lord, “Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters.” (1 Nephi 17:8).
Looking down on the area that Lehi called Bountiful from a 2500-foot mountain top where Nephi may have received instruction from the Lord
    Nephi’s immediately response sets him apart from his brothers and the sons of Ishmael at an early point when he merely responded, “And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?”
    We also learn from that comment that the Lord, in telling Nephi he was to build a ship, showed him in a vision of some sort the ship he was to build—“after the manner which thou has shown unto me"—tells us Nephi, before he ever began, knew what the ship was to look like, its size, and overall appearance.
    Obviously, when Nephi told his father much earlier, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7), he knew to trust the Lord. Now, in the command to build a ship, Nephi trusts completely in the Lord, and in his word, and only needed to know how to go about it—first, he needed tools and asked where there would be ore that her could fashion them. Whether Nephi already knew how to make tools from metal ore is not told us, but either he did, or the Lord showed him how during that vision of the ship, or he trusted that the Lord would show him once he had the ore to use.
That Nephi had no experience in building, or knowledge of ships, also seems borne out by the reaction of Nephi’s brothers, who scoffed: “And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters” (1 Nephi 17:17). Obviously, the idea was so foreign to them and the entire family that it elicited this scorn—not only in the building of a ship, but in the idea of them all sailing across the huge ocean before them. Nephi adds that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael “did not believe that I could build a ship” (1 Nephi 17:18), nor that the Lord had instructed him to do so—which would have meant the design, fashioning of timber, and actual construction.
    Many have thought it was simply because the brothers were lazy and “were desirous that they might not labor,” but their incredulity in Nephi thinking he could not only build a ship but would know how to sail it was obviously beyond their comprehension.
    It seems accurate in understanding that neither Lehi nor any of his family had been around ships or been to sea in any way. Despite this, some Theorists point out Nephi’s comment when he said, “Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:2), as proof that Nephi knew how ships of his day were built.
    However, Nephi also said, “we did work timbers of curious workmanship and the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1), and also “I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men” (1 Nephi18:2). It seems obvious that Nephi understood the difference because the Lord told or showed him how other ships were built in his day and how he would be building his ship differently. After all, when instructing someone how to do something they know nothing about, it is far easier to show them why building it like other ships would not work and why building it differently would work—otherwise, there are unanswered questions that can get in the way of doing it the right way during the construction.
On the other hand, it would not be realistic to think Nephi had never seen another ship. After all, he traveled within close proximity to Ezion-Geber, a ship-building and shipping port at the head of the Aqaba Sea (a finger of the Red Sea), and later, traveled along the Red Sea where he would have seen numerous Arabian fishing dhows sailing up and down the waters there, yet it would not be realistic to think Nephi knew how the ships were built merely from seeing them, even if he had a very close look.
    As an example, ships of antiquity (1000 A.D.) were built with plank on frame construction rather than the earlier method that had lasted for at least three thousand years. The old method consisted of first building the skin and then inserting framing pieces for added strength; plank on frame first built the framework and attached the planks to it, which allowed for stronger and larger ships to be built--for a novice, merely looking at a ship would not tell him that.
Dhows sailing along the Red Sea during the time of Lehi. Such ships could sail the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, and along the coast of the Abrabian Peninsula, but were built to sail in blue-water, deep-sea conditons and would not last under the pounding of the deep seas, nor the gale-like force of winds in the Indian and Southern Oceans
    The point is, in 600 B.C., despite all the rhetoric to the contrary on the internet written by individuals who simply lack knowledge on the subject, man had not yet learned how to build a ship that could sail the deep waters and take the constant pounding against the hull, and the gale force winds that drove the sails of later ships—especially during the Age of Sail. And, too, Nephi tells us that his vessel, though steerable, was “driven forth before the wind,” meaning that the wind was the vessel’s propulsion and the ship was driven before the wind in the direction the wind blew.
    If one has never been in the deep ocean, or been involved in ship design, one may not know that in the high seas, the wave action and winds pound the hull of any ship from astern, the sides, and the bow—what is called a pounding “from every quarter.” Such pounding, especially in wooden vessels of antiquity, caused considerable damage and the reason why a ship would need to be repaired and refitted before each voyage, and a major refit was conducted every few years. By the time the Carrack (early 15th century) was designed for ocean-going sailing (improving the Naos, which had replaced the coastal Cog vessels), using both northern and Mediterranean building arts, an extensive refitting was not needed as frequently, and the even later Caravel (1450) design was smaller and far more maneuverable with its lateen rigging.
    The point is, ships had to be built to withstand the heavier seas in the deep oceans with their constant pounding. As an example, the RSS Discovery, a later three-masted wooden British research vessel, was “nearly pounded to smithereens” by a massive storm in the North Atlantic. Instruments on board measured the "significant wave height" (an average of the largest one-third of the waves) at 61 feet—“the largest ever scientifically recorded in the open ocean" (some spiked as high as 100 feet). The episode added to growing evidence about the prevalence of so-called rogue waves, which can rise up unexpectedly from much smaller seas.
Top: Pounding waves in the Southern Ocean, some have reached heights of nearly 100 feet; Middle: A trawler being pounded in high seas, its bulbous bow keeping it stable; Bottom: A wave crashing onto the flight deck of a U.S. Carrier with a deck 70’ foot above the water line
    The important issue here is that the Lord did not leave these inexperienced “land-lubbers” alone to the dangers of the deep ocean, to cope with the unfamiliar process of sailing a ship and maneuvering among the high seas. Nephi tells us that the Lord was involved not just in the overall design of building of the ship (1 Nephi 18:2), but in such minor details as “working the timbers” (1 Nephi 18:1), and whatever else was needed through the completion of the project (1 Nephi 18:4). We also know that Nephi “did go into the mount oft, and did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed him great things” (1 Nephi 18:3), which would have had to include how to outfit, sail and steer the ship.
    This obviously would have been done through the Liahona after they set sail and while at sea (1 Nephi 18:12, 21). However, no amount of instruction can give someone experience. Even during their rebellion, Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael "knew not where to steer the ship." It seems obvious, the course set for Nephi's ship would have been the more simple one, not involved in intricate maneuvers, landings, and steerage.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bison, Buffalo, Corn and People – Part V

Continuing from the previous post regarding the website article of Richard G. Grant (Come to Zarahemla) and the article written in it called “Lehi in the Promised Land: What did he Find?” And with a sub-heading “When they arrived, what did they Find? Cows and horses? Were there others there?” 
     The last post continued with Grant’s writing, mostly a repeat of Sorenson’s issues about population and the need for additional groups of people other than Lehi’s posterity.
Grant Writes: “Sherem is not family. The story gives no hint that Jacob recognizes Sherem as the descendent of one of his brothers.
    Response: Another specious comment. First of all, we don’t know who Sherem was, or what his lineage might have been. Sherem does use the term “Brother Jacob,” which is a title and has no specific reference to blood line, nor is one implied here or elsewhere. Today, we use it in the Church regularly, and there is no reason to believe it was not used in the same way with the Nephites. If Sherem was of some direct relation, such as a descendant of one of Jacob’s brothers, he might have been listed as such in the first verse (chapter 7) when he is first introduced, however, Jacob merely says, “there came a man among the people of Nephi,” which could mean he was of the Nephite lineage (Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob or Joseph), or one of those Nephi took with him, who are not specifically identified other than Zoram, Sam, Jacob, Joseph and his two sisters, “and all those who would go with [him]" (2 Nephi 5:6).
Grant spends a lot of time and effort speculating about things that are simply not suggested or inferred in the scriptural record. Such writing has little value and certainly not beneficial to any further or deeper understanding.
    Grant Writes: “Population, cultural differences, and the story of Sherem all suggest that there must have been others.”
    Response: None of this suggests anything of the kind. All these factors can and are explained by the facts listed. Speculating on issues not suggested only clouds the scriptural record with valueless ideas that are unsupported by anything other than the writer’s (Grant’s) mind.
    Grant Writes: “A look at the language diversity in Mesoamerica at the time of Columbus again leads linguists to conclude that the cultural history is complex.”
    Response: Before one can begin writing about such matters regarding Mesoamerica, as Sorenson, Allen, et al, and now Grant, choose to do, one should first make a legitimate case for Mesoamerica from the facts and descriptions found within the scriptural record—a fact Sorenson and others have never done (see the book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists).
Grant Writes: “Recent studies have demonstrated that about 200 languages were spoken in Mesoamerica alone at the time of the arrival of the Spanish.”
    Response: From the time of Lehi’s landing and the Spanish arrival was approximately 2100 years. How anyone got the number 200 is an interesting issue, since the early Priests, the only ones who would have understood different languages, were not out counting languages, but were heavily involved in trying to convert those few indigenous peoples they encountered. The U.S. has been populated for only about 400 years and there are more than a hundred different languages and dialects stemming from the original settlers. What does any of that suggest? In addition, what exactly are the “recent studies”? Anything done today or recently regarding what existed in the Americas before or at the time of the Spanish conquest is hardly going to be accurate in any way and would be used only for “wishful thinking.”
    Grant Writes: “Br Sorenson concludes that this evidence "cannot accommodate the picture that the book of Mormon gives us of its peoples without supposing that 'others' were on the scene when Lehi's group came ashore,” then adds: “With careful reading, we can see that the Book of Mormon give rather explicit hints of other peoples. For example, Alma, praying about the dissenting Zoramites, says, "O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren" (Alma 31:35). In other verses, Lamanite, Mulekites, and even Jaredites, are referred to as brethren. Who, then, are these people that Alma alludes to who are apparently not Lamanite, Mulekite, or even Jaredite?”
    Response: “Our brethren” in this case refers to Alma talking about those that are members of the Church. Those that are not “our brethren” would be those who are not members of the Church. If one would read before and after this quoted passage, they would see that Alma is on a missionary journey, converting people to the gospel, and talking about those who he was trying to convert.
    Grant Writes: “Following several such examples, Dr. Sorenson concludes: Hereafter, readers will not be justified in saying that the record fails to mention "other" but only that we readers have hitherto failed to observe what is said and implied about such people in the Book of Mormon.”
    Response: Such is the thinking of Sorenson. He makes up things, then uses them as fact, and finally tells us that we have no right to disagree with him and his findings. The first thing anyone needs to do to find other people in the scriptural record is to point out that they are referred to as such. Nowhere is any other people mentioned in the entire scriptural record of 14 books and nearly 20 writers.
    Simply put, no other group of people are mentioned, suggested, or inferred!
    Sorenson can make people up, Grant can mimic Sorenson’s words, but that does not change the scriptural record. Not one single writer in the entire Book of Mormon, not Mormon or Moroni who abridged those records. Not Joseph Smith who translated them, nor the Spirit who verified that translation, ever suggests in any way there were any other people.
    In fact, the writers seem to go out of their way to describe, or at least mention in some detail, all those people, places, and events, which interacted with the main Nephite story. Not one mentions or suggests another people anywhere in the record.