Friday, May 31, 2019

What Exactly is a Narrow and Small Neck of Land? – Part I

Many theorists try to find certain matching areas between the scriptural record and modern maps in order to locate the Land of Promise. Unfortunately, this often leads to mis-statements of scriptural descriptions, such as the narrow neck of land, where theorists claim this or that feature on a map to be the narrow neck. Since this is often the case, which leads to erroneous choices, perhaps we should once again state the obvious that seems to be so often over looked by these many theorists.
    First of all, the Prophet Mormon, near the end of his life in the 4th Century AD, gave us some information during his abridgement of the records Ammaron entrusted to him (Mormon 1:2-3), regarding the landmark referred to as a small or narrow neck of land. The first mention of this topographical feature in the scriptural record is in Mormon’s 568-word insert where he covers in eight verses the basic outline and directions of the layout of the Land of Promise. About this small or narrow neck of land, he stated:
The neck of land that connects the Land Northward to the Land Southward was described by Mormon as both small and narrow, such as the narrow neck shown here

“And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32, emphasis added).
    When he came to the event in the Book of Alma about the Lamanite king sending a proclamation throughout his domain, Mormon inserted into the record information he thought would help his future readers better and more clearly understand the location of the various lands within the Land of Promise, stating where the Lamanite lands were located (Alma 22:27) in relation to the Nephite-held lands (Alma 22:29-33).
    In this brief eight-verse description, Mormon tells us:
1. The Land Southward ran from the Sea East to the Sea West (Alma 22:27);
2. The Land Southward was nearly surrounded by water (Alma 22:32);
3.There was a Land Northward (Alma 22:31);
4. A small neck of land connected the Land Southward and the Land Northward (Alma 22:32);
    Thus, a small (Alma 22:32) or narrow (Alma 63:5) neck of land ran between the two larger land masses of the Land Northward, which included the Land of Desolation and the Land of Many Waters (Alma22:32; Mormon 6:4), and the Land Southward, which included the lands of Bountiful, Zarahemla and Nephi (Alma 22:31,32)
    Also, since this neck was the only land between the two larger land masses, and that there was a narrow passage between these two lands (Alma 50:34), the narrow pass had to have been within the small or narrow neck of land.  This is evidenced by the fact that the narrow neck led into the Land Northward (Alma 63:5) as did the narrow pass lead unto the Land Northward (Alma 50:34; 52:9)—and also led into the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29:3:5)
A Mesoamerican model showing (White Circles) the Narrow Neck to the south and the Narrow Pass to the north

One of the problems that arises among theorists is when they try to separate the narrow neck from the narrow pass or passage. Since there was only one land area that connected to two larger land masses, this idea would be incompatible with Mormon’s clear and simple descriptions. This is quite clear when Mormon tells us that the Land Southward was nearly surrounded by water except for a small or narrow neck (Alma 22:32; 63:5).
    Now since this narrow neck was the only part of land that blocked the sea from completely surrounding the Land Southward, there could be no other means of crossing from one land to the other than this narrow neck of land. What the shape of these three lands (Northward, Southward, and the narrow neck) were is unknown from the scriptural record; however, since the Land Northward had an east sea directly to the East (Ether 14:26), and also along the northeast shore (Ether 9:3), as well as the southeast shore (Ether 14:12-13). There was also an area of waters that “exceeded all” (Ether 15:8) in the north, since from that location during the Jaredites battles, they headed south (Ether 15:10).
    All of this, of course, agrees with the comment that the Land of Promise had a north, south, east and west sea (Helaman 3:8). In fact, all of this also agrees with Jacob’s statement that “we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
    Now scholars and readers from Joseph Smith’s day to the present have tried to locate some of the key features and sites mentioned in the scriptural record, and one can count several dozen scenarios proposed over the years. There are those who take the unnamed hill in western New York and make it the hill Cumorah of the Nephite land, including the North America, Heartland, and Great Lakes theorists. As an example, Phyllis Carol Olive, in the Preface of her book The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon (Bonneville Books, Springfield UT, 1998) states “Perhaps the time has now come to concentrate more heavily on those lands surrounding the only known landmark we have – the Hill Cumorah in New York state...only by doing so will the lands of the Nephite and Jaredites begin to unfold.”
    Unfortunately, such approaches tend to discount the scriptural record and place Mormon’s comments and descriptions in a less prominent position to the writer or theorist’s own personal views as he writes about determining the geography of the Book of Mormon. This is clearly seen when one starts with a known and unmovable location (the hill) and then tries to arrange the other lands in relation to it. The result is claiming that rivers were seas, as Olive does, and adding seas not mentioned (Helaman 3:8), and not matching Mormon’s description that the Land Southward was nearly completely surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land).
    Or , take Rod L. Meldrum claiming the Sidon River flowed to the south instead of to the North; or John L. Sorenson claiming the entire Land of Promise was really oriented east and west because the Hebrews had a different way of listing directions, instead of north and south as stated in the scriptural record (Alma 22:27-34).
A Heartland model showing the Land of Bountiful to the East of the Land of Zarahemla, and Bountiful’s common border with the Land of Nephi, both contrary to Mormon’s description, as well as Meldrum having no sea that divides the land

Or Heartland theorists, such as Rian Nelson, Bruce H. Porter, and Jonathan Neville, whose maps show the Land of Bountiful to the east of the Land of Zarahemla, and not the north, and the Land of Bountiful bordering along the northern border of the Land of Nephi, both against the descriptions given us by Mormon.
    It seems that if once a theorist makes up his mind regarding a location, then if the rest of the land doesn’t fit the scriptural record, he ignores that fact and starts placing lands and places where he wants them, regardless of their not being consistent with Mormon’s descriptions.
(See the next post, “What Exactly is a Narrow and Small Neck of Land? – Part II,” for more on the Heartland Theory narrow neck of land).

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Let’s End This Silly Idea of Lehi Rounding Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean – Part IV

Continued from the previous post, regarding the dogged insistence by Heartland and North America theorists to insist that Lehi sailed around Africa and across the Atlantic to the south or east coast of what is now the United States.
The Agulhas Current as it retroflects (to turn or redirect back upon itself) as it nears the cold waters of the Benguela Current coming up from the Antarctic, creating huge eddies or rings

It is easy to see that if this was the area that Nephi’s ship encountered the storm, he could hardly say that “there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days…And on the fourth day, which we had been driven back, the tempest began to be exceedingly sore” (1 Nephi 18:113-14, emphasis added). In the Agulhas current, if a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” hit a current and drove them off course, as Nephi claims, then the direction of the storm force would not be back to the north (the way they had come), for that would be against a very strong southward moving current. However, such a current would carry the ship to the east, and not back upon the waters for the space of four days (11 Nephi 18:14). If his ship was not driven along the current, then it would have been driven into the rocks along the cape and gone to the bottom as happened with thousands of others.
   It also might be of interest to know that the storm Nephi describes, that he and his brothers would have never before seen and most likely never heard about, such storms, in the Indian Ocean are called “severe tropical cyclones.” While hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon, scientists call such storms by different names depending on where they occur.  As an example, in the north Indian Ocean, they are called “severe cyclonic forms,” but in the southern part of the Indian Ocean, they carry the name “tropical cyclones.” To be classified as such, winds need to reach speeds of at least 74 miles per hour, if they exceed 111 miles per hour, they are upgraded to an “intense hurricane.” If one reaches 150 mph, it is upgraded to an “supertyphoon,” and if it exceeds 155 mph, it is referred to as a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale—the strongest storms ever known. This is readily apparent at sea, where winds can reach speeds of up to 160 miles per hour.
    The cause is when heat and water vapor coming off the warm pool generate thunderstorms so powerful and towering that their influence extends out of the tropics to the jet streams that blow across the middle latitudes. As the warm pool shifts back and forth along the Equator, the wavy paths of the jet streams shift north and south—which changes the tracks that storms follow across the continents. An El Niño, as an example tends to push drenching storms over the southern U.S. and Peru while visiting drought and fire on Australia. In a La Niña the rains flood Australia and fail in the American Southwest and Texas—and in even more distant places like East Africa.
Storm front forming at sea

Storms appear to be worse at sea because it provides more water vapor in the atmosphere than the land. Summer temperatures over open ocean gives rise to temperature, warms up the water and pumps heat into big storms, adding buoyancy that causes them to grow in size and power, which in turn creates more severe thunderstorms. To understand how a storm at sea can suddenly arise, as Nephi explains, we first need to understand that a jet stream is a fast flowing, narrow, meandering air current in the atmosphere that forms high in the upper troposphere between two air masses of very different temperatures.
    Even though this atmospheric wind "tries" to flow from high pressure to low pressure, the turning of the Earth causes the air flow to turn to the right (in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere). This causes the jet stream, a river of air with wind speeds often exceeding 100 mph and peaking over 200 mph, flows around the air masses, rather than directly from one to the other.
    Since colder air is more dense than warmer air, an air pressure difference between them is created at any altitude. And if the warm and cold air masses are quite deep, higher altitudes in the atmosphere experience progressively larger air pressure differences. The altitude at which the winds are strongest is considered to be the jet stream level, so the strongest jet stream winds occurring between air masses having the largest temperature differences over the deepest layer of the troposphere, which can descend to any level, even the tops of a mountains.
The Jet Streams steer the oceans low pressure systems, but are highly complex and multi-layered living dynamic systems barely understood, but are affected by sun activity, ocean temperatures, the Great Ocean Conveyor and volcanic activity
All of this is controlled by air movement, ocean and air temperatures, and the northern or southern rotation of the planet. When a jet stream becomes stalled or trapped over a general area, it can create strong differences in temperatures which lead to severe weather conditions, heavy rainfall and winds that churn about creating the cyclone or hurricane, or typhoon. This can happen quite suddenly to the average person who is not adept at reading the signs in the heavens (or instruments today).
    Such would appear to have been the case as Nephi said, “there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest” (1 Nephi 18:13). And as happens when a jet stream gets stuck over an area, there is one thunderstorm after another that sucks up the warm, humid air from the ocean and can move it hundreds of miles along its path, dumping water as it goes. When Nephi said, “after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore, they came unto me, and loosed me” (1 Nephi 18:15).
    For those who have never been in a type of severe storm that never lets up for four straight days, it can become frightening, with no end in sight. It is not like the downpours most of us have experienced for a few hours, then is over. Such would have been the type of storm that Nephi described, so severe that it ended up frightening these hardened older brothers and their cohorts into succumbing to their younger brother whom they had grown to hate because of his preferential position among them.
    Such would have been the type of weather in going around the Cape had they done so, and certainly not something they could have handled, especially since it would have taken days even a week to transit the Cape in such a storm. However, the reason and point for all this is to show that such a weather front as described, is far more likely in warm water areas, or tropical seas, such as the Indian Ocean toward the north, not as far down as the Cape of Africa.
    It is also unbelievable that anyone would think an ocean-going vessel like the one Nephi built could have sailed from either the North Atlantic up the St. Lawrence River or from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River or from the Atlantic seaboard up one of the numerous inland waters (rivers) off the eastern seaboard and get to any of the Great Lakes, or even within hundreds miles of one.
On a flat map, it looks like the (Red Line) course around Africa and across the Atlantic  to North America is shorter than than the (Blue Line) course down across the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and up to Chile; However, the Earth is curved and the distance around the Southern Ocean is far less than around the Equator, resulting in the Pacific course much shorter than the Atlantic course

Obviously, whoever thinks that isn't knowledgeable of the makeup of the U.S. interwater way system that the Corps of Engineers began work on in the early 1800s that eventually cleared these waterways, built locks and channels, diverted entire systems and made it possible for an ocean going vessel like Nephi's ship to reach past Montreal on the St. Lawrence and beyond Baton Rouge on the Mississippi, and until the Erie Canal was built no vessel of any kind could reach the Great Lakes. Reality always trumps peoples' opinions, no matter how smart people think they are. Nor did Lehi land along the coast of the Atlantic or the Gulf and walk to the Great Lakes area (or the Heartland areas) since he was old and feeble at the time they reached the Land of Promise and Nephi had feared he was on his death bed the final stages of the ocean voyage. As Nephi put it: "and my parents being stricken in years, and having suffered much grief because of their children, they were brought down, yea, even upon their sick-beds" (1 Nephi 18:17).
    It is highly unlikely Lehi went anywhere away from the landing site. As Nephi wrote: "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 18:23). So given all that, how do you claim Lehi, Nephi and the others all got to the West Sea of the Great Lakes area (or the Heartland people think he got to Nauvoo/Zarahemla, Iowa area) to land?
    So why don’t we put to bed this silly notion that Lehi sailed around Africa, across the Atlantic, and landed in North America. There is no way that could have happened in 600 BC, let alone by a novice crew with no experience at sailing.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Let’s End This Silly Idea of Lehi Rounding Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean – Part III

Continued from the previous post, regarding the dogged insistence by Heartland and North America theorists to insist that Lehi sailed around Africa and across the Atlantic to the south or east coast of what is now the United States.
    In addition, for those who try to discount the Southern Ocean and its relative easy and simple course across the southern Pacific because they claim those waters would be too cold and Lehi and his people all freeze to death, a look at the comparative temperatures might be helpful. In the area of the South Pacific, which consists of some 30º north to south, including the Roaring 40s, the Furious Fifties, and the Shrieking Sixties, Lehi would have sailed in the mid 40s latitudes.
    While the water temperatures in the high latitudes of the sixties reach about 28º F., the water temp in the low forties is about 50º F., which is the same temp off Oregon and Washington, as well as the Massachusetts to Main coasts, and also England and Norway.
    The water temp in the Roaring 40s can reach as high as 62.5º F.—Columbus sailed from the Canaries to the Caribbean in the same water temperature as the Roaring 40s, and the Vikings actually sailed from their home to Iceland, to Greenland and to New Foundland in water temps much colder, from about 41º to 32º. So it is doubtful Lehi would have succumbed to such temperatures as critics of the southern route claim.
There are continual storms in this area of the Graveyard of Ships that have sent over 3000 vessels to the bottom with experienced crews on board

For those who have never been to sea during a raging storm, especially before modern conveniences, the experience can be frightening. This appears to be the attitude of Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael after four days of raging storm. Nephi wrote modestly of his brothers when he said, “my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities” (1 Nephi 18:15). Had they been rounding the Cape, with such a storm raging for four days, it seems most likely they would have been sent to the bottom to join the thousands of other vessels that have succumbed in this area.
    The point of all of this, is to show without a doubt the makeup of the Cape area of South Africa, and the tremendous dangers involved in sailing that area, particularly for ships driven before the wind, as was Nephi’s vessel. In such ships, steerage is limited, and without moveable yardarms to adjust to the wind direction and an experienced crew to maneuver them, the ships were slow to respond to the helm.
    Sailing in this vicinity in wooden ships driven by the wind and currents, with the currents not far off the Cape moving swiftly and powerfully in the opposite direction (west to east), and those close to the Cape being driven inward, toward land (east to northwest), the going in these waters was always dangerous. To add to the danger is the rocky headlands, from Agulhas to Good Hope, with the latter cape peninsula jutting out into the ocean 47 miles, blocking progress between the Agulhas and Benguela currents.
The Warm Agulhas Current retroflects back upon itself, pinching off large ocean eddies (Rings) and creating severe storms, conflicting ocean currents and dangerous circular waters

South of Cape Agulhas the warm Agulhas Current that flows south along the east coast of Africa retroflects back into the Indian Ocean. While retroflecting, it pinches off large ocean eddies (Agulhas rings) that drift into the South Atlantic Ocean and take enormous amounts of heat and salt into the neighboring ocean. This mechanism constitutes one of the key elements in the global conveyor belt circulation of heat and salt. While such eddies cause nutrients that are normally found in colder, deeper waters to come to the surface, providing excellent large ship fishing, they are circulating whirls with significant ones assigned names as they occur, that disrupt the waters, bring storms and create difficult passage.
    A current is obviously the movement of water, with ocean currents driven by several factors, such as the rise and fall of the tides, which is driven by the gravitational attraction of the sun and moon on Earth's oceans. Tides create a current in the oceans, near the shore, and in bays and estuaries along the coast, called "tidal currents." Tidal currents are the only type of currents that change in a very regular pattern and can be predicted for future dates. Another factor that drives ocean currents is wind as it moves over the ocean’s surface. Winds drive currents near coastal areas on a localized scale, and in the open ocean on a global scale
    To non-seamen, currents and winds at sea generally have little meaning; however, oceanic currents are essential for maintaining the existing balance of life on Earth. Unfortunately, they can be deadly as well. Especially, along such areas as the capes of the southern African coast. As an example, longshore currents are generated when a "train" of waves reach the coastline and release bursts of energy. The speed at which waves approach the land depends on sea floor and shoreline features and the depth of the water. As a wave moves toward the land, different segments of the wave encounter the shoreline before others, which slows these segments down. As a result, the wave tends to bend and conform to the general shape of the coastline, arriving at a slight angle, called the “angle of wave approach.”
    Because of the unique factors off the southern African coast, with the warm Agulhas Current passing the cold Benguela Current, these longshore currents are disrupted, forming the eddies and rings mentioned above. The shallow waters off the southern African coast also add to the problems, causing incoming currents to break and move differently, depending upon the shallowness or depth of the shelf, making up especially dangerous currents. Add to this the upwelling of water when the winds blow across the ocean surface pushing water away form an area, and forcing colder water to the surface.
The light blue shelf off the coast of South Africa is the Agulhas Bank, which adds to the wave and current action in these waters, helping to create the difficultconditions

The sea off Cape Agulhas creates extremely hazardous wave conditions; these are further exacerbated by the shallow waters of the Agulhas Bank, a broad, shallow part of the continental shelf which juts 155 miles south from the cape. These hazards have combined to make the cape notorious among sailors, and infamous for winter storms and mammoth rogue waves, which can range up to 100-feet high. In fact, Rogue waves (also known as freak waves, monster waves, episodic waves, killer waves, extreme waves, and abnormal waves) are unusually large, unexpected and suddenly appearing surface waves that can be extremely dangerous, even to large ships, including today’s ocean liners.
    All of these factors make sailing these waters difficult at best downright dangerous, even with today’s advanced sailing techniques, knowledge, and understanding. In 600 BC, with no experience at handling a ship at sea, Nephi and his crew would have been faced with overwhelming problems and be unable to adjust or counter them. Instructions from the Liahona as to which way to steer the ship, or where to walk along the more fertile parts of the land is one thing, requiring little preparation and simple obedience; however, the mere instruction from the Liahona would not have been sufficient when seconds count and can mean life and death.
    It should also be kept in mind that the southern coast of Africa runs 1,550 miles, across two oceans, with several conflicting currents in this unique area, where experience at handling a ship in difficult waters is all that stands between a crew and going to the bottom of the sea.
    For theorists to keep harping on such a voyage in 600 BC with a totally inexperienced crew dealing with such matters is completely out of the question and patently misleading. After all, and it should be completely understood, that the lack of ability of Nephi’s brothers and the sons of Ishmael when they encountered a “great storm—a great and terrible tempest” (1 Nephi 18:12-15). Nor was that storm one along this southern coastal area, since the Agulhas current does not blow or move backward during a storm in the same direction from which it had been coming, but is retroflected around sideways, toward the east where it picks up the main South Indian Ocean gyre.
(See the next post, “Let’s End This Silly Idea of Lehi Rounding Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean – Part IV,” regarding the dogged insistence by Heartland and North America theorists to insist that Lehi sailed around Africa

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Let’s End This Silly Idea of Lehi Rounding Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean – Part II

Continued for the last post, regarding the dogged insistence by Heartland and North America theorists to insist that Lehi sailed around Africa.
    When it comes to claiming Lehi sailed around Africa—crossing through the sea of storms that was the graveyard of more than 3000 ships, and the area of the worst sailing weather known with its constant storms, cross-winds, and converging currents—Heartland theorists are completely unrealistic.
    Obviously, Nephi and his brothers would have had extreme difficulty because of their novice knowledge of sailing, to have made such a voyage. In fact, this course around Africa was so dangerous, and such a scourge to Portuguese mariners in the 1400s, that Luís de Camões, the national poet of Portugal and the Portuguese language's greatest poet, penned an epic poem, Os Lusiadas (The Lusiad or Discovery of India), first printed in 1572, when he wrote about the Flying Dutchman, a sailing ship crewed by tormented and damned ghostly sailors who were doomed forever to beat their way through the adjacent waters without ever succeeding in rounding the headland of the Cape because of the threatening storms.
The Cape’s storm clouds, represented by "Adamastor," the Spirit of the Cape, the hideous phantom of unearthly pallor, was known in every maritime port along the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts, and became a symbol of the forces of nature Portuguese sailors had to overcome when trying to round the Cape of Storms. These infamously dangerous waters increased in such notoriety and fear that in the 1865 opera L’Africaine about Vasco da Gama trying to round the Cape, the Gerkan opera composer Giacomo Meyerbeer has the slave Nelusko sing a song about Adamastor while he deliberately steers the ship into a storm and it sinks.
    Adamaster became well known as the scary mythical figure who resided in the Indian Ocean, and made life very difficult for the sailors who dared enter his realms by going around the Cape of Storms. This giant was an inspiration for Portuguese authors who wrote about him in their works. To our beloved poet, the meeting with this gigantic force of nature represented the Portuguese ability to overcome fear and conquer the unknown, no matter how dangerous and intimidating.
    The point is, the dangers were, and still are, extreme where the warm, swift, and strong traveling Agulhas Current reaches its termination between two subtropical gyres, creating unusual conditions for inter-ocean exchanges of water kinematic masses and kinetic energy between them, the latter being the highest fluctuating current in the Southern Ocean, creating huge mesoscale eddies.
    At the same time, the cold Benguela Current moving up from the south collides with the Agulhas Current, forcing the latter’s retroflection (turning back on itself). This current has a transport of 100 Sverdrups (1 Sverdrup is equivalent to 1 million cubic metres per second, which is 264,000,000 U.S. Gallons), and more than twice that of the Kuroshio Current—it travels at such speed, the momentum of the current overcomes the vorticity balance holding it to the topography and the current leaves the shelf.
    By comparison the Indian-Pacific Ocean throughfare is 12 Sv, Humboldt (Peruvisn) Current is 18 Sv, Benguela Current 18 Sv, Gulf Stream is 32 Sv, Kuroshio Current 48 Sv, Antarctic Circumpolar Current (Southern Ocean) 125 Sv, reaching 135 Sv through the Drake Passage, and the Florida Current at 150 Sv.

Yellow Circle: The Retroflection where the Agulhas Current is turned back on itself, forming the Recirculation Region, counter currents, eddies, and the Agulhas Ring, all of which creates the tempestuous weather found there
The area of the yellow circler above, just off the southern coast of Africa, where the Agulhas Current hits the rising Buguela Current and reflects back on itself, leads to very high evaporation rates. Here, such high latent heat fluxes lead to increased low-level advection of moisture onshore and local intensification of storm systems.
    The Agulhas Current Air Sea Exchange Experiment, which showed that about 5 times as much water vapor is transferred to the atmosphere above the 50 to 62-mile-wide core of the current, far more than neighboring waters. Using NCEP reanalyses, Meteosat, and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission data, along with local station and radiosonde observations, continually measure this area.
   Here heavy rainfall occurs in two widely separated locations, along with tornadoes when the moisture flux transects through the storm region and backward trajectories of air parcels create low-level onshore flow of moisture from the Agulhas Current region, which plays a significant role in the storm evolution.
The route of Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500 AD, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Calicut, India and back. He left with 13 ships and returned with four

Again, the point of this is to show that while Portuguese sailing ships found their way around the African cape, it took many years and the loss of many ships—it was and still is a dangerous route, especially for sailing ships dependent upon the wind and currents. As an example Pedro Álvares Cabral, a Portuguese nobleman, explorer and navigator, and the first European to see Brazil, was sent on an expedition to India by King Manuel I of Portugal. He left with 13 ships on March 9, 1500, following the route of Vasco da Gama, and sighted the land now called Brazil on April 22, 1500, claiming it for Portugal and naming it the "Island of the True Cross." King Manuel renamed this land Holy Cross, but it was later renamed Brazil, after a type of dyewood called pau-brasil found there.
    Cabral stayed in Brazil for 10 days and then continued on his way to India—a trip, fraught with untold dangers, including unbelievable storms, and numerous shipwrecks (at the Cape of Good Hope) that saw him lose coming and going around the Cape nine of his 13 ships. In addition, fifty of his men were killed during an attack from Muslim traders in Calicut, India, who did not want competition on their spice routes.
    However, even if Lehi had gone this way, he would not have landed on the west coast of the Americas, which is where Mormon said he landed (Land of First Inheritance), which should eliminate this route entirely from consideration.
    Yet, it does not. The Heartland theorists continue to cling to this almost impossible feat by Nephi and his brothers, none of which had ever been to sea, nor know anything about sailing, yet are expected to have negotiated a route through some of the most dangerous waters on the planet as though they were long-time mariners with such necessary experience. But they were not. Few members of the House of Israel, at any time, were involved in matters of the Sea. Even at the time of Christ, fishermen were on the Sea of Galilee (a large lake in northern Israel), but not the Mediterranean Sea.
(See the next post, “Let’s End This Silly Idea of Lehi Rounding Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean – Part III,” regarding the dogged insistence by Heartland and North America theorists to insist that Lehi sailed around Africa)

Monday, May 27, 2019

Let’s End This Silly Idea of Lehi Rounding Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean – Part I

It is amazing that someone will look at a map and say, “Well, that is where Lehi went to land in the Americas.” However, just because a certain course looks plausible on a map, does not mean it is in reality—or more specifically, that it was in 600 BC with a ship’s crew who had never been to sea before and were not mariners, knowing exactly where they were going or what they might encounter.
    With all this sudden surge in claiming Lehi took a course from the Indian Ocean around Africa into the Atlantic, it should be noted that such a course would have been next to impossible for a “newbie” crew in 600 BC. After all, experienced mariners as late as the Age of Sail wrote of this course around Africa from the Indian Ocean into the Atlantic with great, and often fearful, concern.
    On the one hand, the course from west to east, with the winds and currents of the Southern Ocean were negotiable—as shown in a statement by one old time mariner who wrote:
“Who would have dreamed of running south to the latitude of 45º, six hundred miles below the tip of Africa, and there of swinging to the eastward and crossing the Indian Ocean in that low latitude, but this is the course I’ve always followed, as a commonplace of nautical knowledge; and the secret of it is easy to explain. In the latitude of 45º you’ve crossed the zone of variables that lies below the southeast trades, and reached the ‘roaring forties,’ where a gale of wind is blowing almost continually from the west. When you’ve reached this zone, you haul away to port and run before the gale; day after day you reel off the miles, often scudding under three lower topsails, the main-deck flooded with the tops of green seas. You could circle the world in this latitude, being hurled like a bullet, never changing your course, carrying the same gale—these are the Westerlies, where you ‘run your easting down.’ You use them as long as you want them, then swing north and leave them to blow on their eternal way” (Lincoln Colcord, An Instrument of the Gods, and Other Stories of the Sea, Macmillan Co., New York, 1922, p 274) .
    However, and this is the crux of the matter, that moving in the opposite direction, from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean (the course claimed for Lehi’s voyage), the facts are quite the opposite. Along this southern coast of Africa, today called the Cape of Good Hope (or the actual southern point, Cape Agulhas), was originally called the “Cabo das Tormentas,” or the “Cape of Storms” and one of the most dangerous areas in all of antiquitous sailing. It was called “The Graveyard of Ships” by the first Portuguese sailors and then all the other early mariners who made those attempts.
Cape of Good Hope and Cape of Agulhas at the southern tip of Africa; the Agulhas Bank, a broad, shallow continental shelf extending south of these two capes for 160-miles before falling steeply to the abyssal plain

Cape Agulhas (Cape of Needles), which is the southern-most cape or rocky headland at the eastern end of the western Cape of Good Hope (Cape of Storms), starts the rounding of Africa form the Indian Ocean. This route covers four basic areas in the rounding: Cape Agulhas is the eastern boundary current of the southwest Indian Ocean, with Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, and the western boundary (where a ship coming from the west around Africa begins its first turn more eastward than southward), with Quoin Point and Danger Point in between. Cape Hangklip is across False Bay from the Cape of Good Hope, but not really a way point on this journey.
The sources of the Agulhas Current are the East Madagascar Current (25 Sv), the Mozambique Current (5 Sv) and a recirculated part of the south-west Indian subgyre south of Madagascar, and flows down the east coast of Africa from 27°S to 40°S. It is narrow, swift and strong and considered the largest western boundary current in the world ocean.
    The net transport of this current is directed by the topography as it follows the continental shelf from Maputo to the tip of the Angulhas Bank (155 miles south of Cape Agulhas). At this point, the momentum of the current overcomes the vorticity balance holding the current to the topography and the current leaves the shelf, reaching a maximum transport near the Agulhas Bank, giving the current core an average width of 21 miles.
    The swiftness of this current effects the ocean surrounding the western entrance around Africa and entrance into the Atlantic! Of course to modern sailing ships of today, this is nowhere as critical as it in the past and especially in Lehi’s time, with fixed sails and dependent on wind for movement.  
    As this Agulhas Current flows south along the African east coast, it tends to bulge inshore frequently, a deviation from the Agulhas’ normal path which causes the current to meander. These bulges are occasionally followed by a much larger offshore bulge, known as Natal pulses, which move along the coast at 12 miles per day, with the pules bulging up to 75 miles from the current's mean position. That is, while the current passes here at 21 miles offshore, the meanders reach 76 miles offshore, broadening from 55 miles in width to 78 miles, inducing a strong inshore counter-current—this causes large-scale cyclonic meanders known as Natal pulses that form along the continental shelf on the South African east-coast (i.e. the eastern Agulhas Bank off Natal).
As these pulses move along the coast on the Agulhas Bank, they pinch off Agulhas rings from the current, such a ring shedding causes cyclonic vorticity belts around the Loop Current causing vortex ring instability resulting in cyclones and counter-clockwise anticyclones.eddies

Now, when this warm, swift Agulhas current reaches the so-called “division line” between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, it collides with the cold Benguela Current flowing up the west coast of Africa, which does not, by the way, originate from Antarctic waters in the South Atlantic Ocean as one would suppose, but from upwelling of water from the cold depths of the Atlantic Ocean against the west coast of the continent. The two currents do not "meet" anywhere along the south coast of Africa, however, as the Agulhas Current retroflects, i.e., turns back upon itself, due to sheer interaction with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current or “West Wind Drift.” Thus, the Agulhas becomes the Agulhas Return Current, rejoining the Indian Ocean Gyre, which automatically turns back upon itself and back into the Indian Ocean any drift voyage, or antiquitus sailing vessel “driven forth before the wind.”
    This coming together of these currents off the southern coast of Africa, causes an enormous filament of cold, upwelled water which extends hundreds of mile from shore in a mesoscale field of eddies and coherent vortices and cascades of other structures such as filaments, squirts and spirals of three-dimensional structures that reach down into the pycnocline. We mention all of this to suggest the uneven and tumultuous character of this ocean as it rounds the Cape of Africa, which has led to enormous casualty of ships and crews beginning in the early 1400s.
Which course seems the most likely? In addition, the Blue Arrow course is not only much safer, but is much faster, and shorter as well because of the curvature off the Earth, putting the ship in the Southern Ocean the entire distance across the Pacific Ocean

Some historians count over 3000 ships going down there in the early days of sailing, and even some into the modern era of steel ships and diesel engines. It is where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, and where huge swells move northward from the Southern Ocean across the sailing lanes around the Cape, creating enormous storms, extremely rough waters, eddies and cross-currents.
    It is amazing that anyone would suggest that Lehi sailed around Africa, nor does the experience of the Phoenician sailors play a comparative role here, since they put in at night, hugged the coast, and stopped from time to time to plant and harvest crops.
    The point is, Lehi’s voyage was a unique event conducted in a unique manner with no experienced mariners on board, and under the most unique of circumstances, that of God showing them how to build the ship and where to go, via the Liahona. However, the kind of skills needed to handle a sailing ship in tumultuous waters where so many experienced mariners have failed, with the sinking of thousands of ships in this area, makes these theorists’ views difficult and basically impossible to defend.
(See the next post, “Let’s End This Silly Idea of Lehi Rounding Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean – Part II,” regarding the dogged insistence by Heartland and North America theorists to insist that Lehi sailed around Africa)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Opinions Are Not Facts – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the comments made by a reader and our responses to the issue of having opinions about things that are not based on facts)
Comment: “If they were around the area of where today they believe the Tower of Babel to be and traveled south similar to the Nephites into the Arabian Sea and were pushed south westerly by the Agulhas current into the Benguela current, which pushed them Northwesterly up, then across the Atlantic by way of the South Equatorial current into the Caribbean, then up the East coast in the Gulf Coast current they could have easily used nothing but the sea currents to get them there.”
Dominant Blue Arrows: major currents; Red Arrows: Phoenician course taken in 600 BC; Green dots: where they set in for months to plant and harvest crops

Response: You obviously do not understand the Benguela and Agulhas currents. We have illustrated in our blog site the problems with this with maps of currents on several occasions. Let’s just say, they call that area the “graveyard of ships,” “the cape of storms,” which was all quite frightening to the mariners in the 16th century, let alone to anyone of 600 BC.  For barges to have made this trip under only wind power and ocean currents is about as improbable as one can get.
Comment: “Also when it comes to the promised land for the Jaredites it may not be the same land as the promised land of the Nephites.”
Response: The Jaredites occupied the Land Northward of the Land of Promise as outlined in the Book of Mormon. When the Nephites traveled into the Land Northward to settle in the last half of the last century BC, they “went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3, emphasis added). Now the word inherit in 1828 meant: “to receive, as a right or title descendible by law from an ancestor at his decease; a gift or divine appropriation, to inherit the promises.”
    Thus, it was part of the land promised to Lehi, who said “the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever (2 Nephi 1:5), otherwise the Nephites could not inherit the Land Northward when they finally occupied it. That is, no other land than the land promised to Lehi and his descendants forever, could be an inheritance.
Comment: “…this is evident by the fact that the promised land of the Nephites was obviously not the same promised land of the Israelites, though both were chosen of the Lord.”
Lehi’s Isle of Promise, or Land of Promise, was the entire area: the Land Northward and the Land Southward. The Jaredites were promised the area of the Land Northward (they never went into the Land Southward)

Response: The Jaredites were promised a land and when they became evil after about 1500 years, the Lord, through Ether, told Coriantumr if he did not repent, that “he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:21).
    Now, it is obvious that Coriantumr saw the Mulekites who, after joining the Nephites, became inheritors of the Land of Promise spoken of by Lehi. The Mulekites, or people of Zarahemla, buried him after his living nine months with them (Omni 1:21).
    Therefore, the Jaredites did not have a separate land promised than the Nephites, but it was the same overall Land of Promise given to Lehi, since the Jaredites no longer were worthy to keep it, just as the Nephites were not worthy to keep the Land of Promise after 385 AD., which became a land for the Gentiles (1 Nephi 13:10-20).
Comment: “I also think you are restricting the "land of Nephi" to a much smaller area than it actually was but that is neither here nor there.”
The Andean South America Land of Promise is much larger than Mesoamerica, and a little larger than the Heartland/Great Lakes area. Most of the content of the Book of Mormon is involved in the area of the red dotted line; however, just the Land of Nephi extended far to the south of the line

Response: Perhaps you have not looked at a map, but everything from just above Cuzco, Peru, southward to La Serena, Chile, is a considerable area of land. The Jaredites occupied a small portion of that overall land and the rest was divided vertically about in half, divided by the narrow strip of wilderness shown by the solid yellow line in the map above.
Comment: “Mostly I was saying that regardless of the great effort and time many have put into finding exactly where and when and how it all happened, ultimately it really doesn't matter, it is not an eternal issue that will keep people from Heaven. and we should stick to more important issues.”
Response: There is no question that the doctrines of the Book of Mormon are the important issue of the scriptural record as a Second Testimony of Jesus Christ. However, while we don’t need to know where Christ was born, lived and died, it is more enjoyable to read the New Testament when you can place the events in real places and real time frames.  I feel the same way about the Book of Mormon.
Comment: “However, it is fun to speculate.”
Response: We do not speculate—the scriptural record is not a matter of having fun creating your own scenarios, particularly when you post them for others to see. We follow the scriptural record and don’t make up things along the way for one reason or another, or follow unproven lines of thought or create scenarios on our own. We follow the scriptural record. If you really want to debate this matter, perhaps you should stop speculating and try to understand the reality of the Book of Mormon geography which is clearly stated in the scriptural record.

What needs to be understood when trying to locate the geographical setting of the Book of Mormon, is that speculation, opinions, beliefs or pet assumptions should play no role in the matter if one is going to publish their ideas for the world to see. Nephi makes it very clear how he got to the Land of Promise (driven forth before the wind); and Jacob tells us the makeup of the overall Land of Promise (it was an isle of the sea); Mormon tells us in what direction the land ran, and where each land was located in relationship to the others (north-south; running south to north: Land of Nephi, narrow strip of wilderness, Land of Zarahemla, unnamed land, Land of Bountiful, narrow neck of land, Land of Desolation and an area beyond with many waters, rivers and fountains; a north sea (Ripliancum); Helaman tells there were four seas (north, south, east, and west); Helaman also tells us there would be mountains “whose height is great”; Moroni tells us that there was a “sea that divideth the land.” 
    Mormon also tells us where the Sidon river was located (along the border of the Land of Zarahemla (not beside the city of Zarahemla), and in which direction the river flowed (south to north). Any map, location, or theory must include all of these areas, as well as many other descriptions that are spelled out with clarity in the scriptural record.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Opinions Are Not Facts – Part I

We continually either read articles or comments regarding the Land of Promise that are based on opinions, beliefs, and personally interpreted information. In so many of these cases, those opinions are so erroneous it is almost humorous, except that they are about the Book of Mormon, often treated as simply a text and of no special origin—at least that is how their comments read. We received another series of comments from a reader who disagreed with our answers to their earlier claims, and not wanting to beat a dead horse, but concerned about others picking up on such obviously erroneous comments, we are answering these comments here:
Comment: “The reason Moroni had to have made his way North at the end of his life was because he had to have been in the New York area in order to deposit the plates in the ground where Smith later found them.” 
We sing the song, “How Great Thou Art,” for he created the worlds, stars, and the Universe, meaning that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—all things are possible for Him. 

Response: It is a shame that as mortal humans we think God operates the way we do. It’s funny how, when Joseph Smith set the plates aside while removing them from the stone box in the side of the hill to look for other items of importance, that when he looked back for the plates, they were gone. Disappeared. Now, as humans, we would say that would be impossible; and of course it would be for us.
    However, the plates were gone. They had disappeared. Can we answer that with our temporal knowledge? No. Unless we think in terms of God, or an Angel operating with the full power of the Priesthood, removed them. However, for Moroni to have physically done so would have been noticeable to Joseph. But spiritual things are not noticed when operating within the veil. How the plates were transported to where they went, or in what location they were retained for 1500 years is simply unknown to us.
    We need to stop thinking in mortal terms and realize that God has a much broader plan than we understand and carries it out in what we often call "miracles."
    We do not know when Moroni buried the records, if in fact he did (we only know he intended to do so); nor do we know where he placed them. To make a statement that he did this or that when the information has not been given to us is hardly a convincing statement or argument to anyone.
    In addition, we know that several prophets and mortal beings have been given or shown a vision, as Nephi stated, he was on a mountain where he had never been before—so it is not just an imagined thing, but a physical one. As Nephi said of this occurrence: “as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot” (1 Nephi 11:1).
    For God to have had the plates in a buried stone box in a certain place on a certain hill for 1500 years seems a little confining to God and his ability. More than likely the plates rested in some physical place within the veil until it was time for them to be placed in a stone box in a hill near where the future prophet and translator was located.
Comment: “That Moroni had to have been in New York to bury the plates is plenty of evidence to me for the whereabouts of Moroni at the end of his life.” 
Response:  We do not know where Moroni was after his last entry in the record in 421 AD. We do not know when Moroni died. We do not know where it was that he died. We do not know how he died (though it has been claimed that Joseph Smith said he was killed by the Lamanites, which is based on the following: 
     "At a meeting at Spanish Fork, Utah Co., in the winter of 1896, Brother Higginson stated in my presence that Thomas B. Marsh, President of the Twelve, told him that the Prophet Joseph Smith told him that he became very anxious to know something of the fate of Moroni, and in answer to prayer the Lord gave Joseph a vision, in which appeared a wild country and on the scene was Moroni after whom were six Indians in pursuit; he stopped and one of the Indians stepped forward and measured swords with him. Moroni smote him and he fell dead; another Indian advanced and contended with him; this Indian also fell by his sword; a third Indian then stepped forth and met the same fate; a fourth afterwards contended with him, but in the struggle with the fourth, Moroni, being exhausted, was killed. Thus ended the life of Moroni” (Charles David Evans, “The Fate of Moroni, 1897,” Archives Division, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, UT).
Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith on the evening of September 21, 1823 

While it is true that Moroni was in western New York in 1823 through 1830, during the time he led Joseph to obtaining the plates, translating, and then returning them to the room that opened in the hill, we do not know of much else about Moroni’s presence anywhere. The fact that he was there in the 1800s is no indication he was there at any other time—anything beyond that is speculation, not a testimony of fact.
    In addition to these points that we do not know, we also do not know if Moroni actually buried or hid the plates as he intended, or they were delivered to someone from within the veil. We certainly do not know when those plates were placed in a stone box in an unnamed hill in western New York.
Consequently, if all of what is not known is somehow proof to you, then go for it.
Comment: “Unless of course you think as others do that Smith did not literally find them in a box on a hill but was taken in vision to a separate place where Moroni hid them and then were given the plates by Moroni.” 
Response: In all our studies over a 35-year period on this subject, we have never heard such a claim by anyone or read it anywhere. The point is, that such an idea, while of course “under the label of anything is possible,” is not at all likely, since Joseph’s account of where he found the plates was in an area well known to him, and in what manner he obtained them was clearly stated.
    As for our understanding, Joseph found the plates as he stated: “On the west side of [the] hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box.” This hill at the time was unnamed, but later called Cumorah by the early members, though Joseph smith himself never called the hill by that name, but chose instead to call it “that hill,” “this hill,” etc.
    The problem is that we just don’t know for certain how the plates got there, or when they were placed there. Again, such claims of scenarios made that are have no factual support (other than the outcome) and are not debatable issues—we do not know any more than what the prophet told us. Unfortunately, many of these unfactual statements have become “statements of fact” among members and critics alike.
Comment: “As for the Jaredites landing in the great lakes area, I was not literally meaning that the barges traveled up river into the great lakes. but more so that they arrived in the north-East coast close to the great lakes.” 
Response: The distance from Buffalo, New York, to Manhattan’s Lower Bay is 381-miles. That means the Jaredites actually landed along the Sea East and traveled through the land later occupied by the Nephites in the Heartland Theory; or they traveled 295 miles to the area of Oswego New York through the Land Southward and away from the narrow neck into the Land Northward. None of that seems consistent with the scriptural record.   
(See the next post, “Opinions Are Not Facts – Part II,” regarding the comments made by a reader and our responses to the issue of having opinions about things that are not based on facts)

Friday, May 24, 2019

More Comments from Readers-Part V

Here are more comments and questions from readers of this blog:
Comment #1: “It seems to me that you are overdoing this idea that coastal vessels could not go out to deep water. I’ve been sailing a long time in boats, like Nephi, I’ve built and I don’t find this fear of blue water like you claim” Gerard Y.
Response: The next time you go to sea and get out beyond the sight of land in some far off area, in your vessel built only for coastal streaming, throw overboard your GPS, your radio, your compass, your telephone, your diesel engine, your maps and charts, etc., and head into the nearest storm front. If you survive, write us again and tell us about no fear.
    In boat building, initially it was hulling a tree trunk to form a dugout canoe, which had no joints; next came stitching wood joints together with hemp rope for coastal voyaging; then to strengthen the joints, bolts and screws were used, then the joining shaped fillets, and later creating epoxy fillets along the chine at the bow and stern as well as stringers and frames into the hull for adding strength.
A fillet is a continuous bead of thickened epoxy mixture applied to the angle created between two parts for increased strength; a low-density fillet requires a much larger radius than a high-density fillet to achieve the same strength

Once again, sailing offshore requires a much sturdier ship construction; and hull bonding to the deck is extremely important in ocean vessels where pounding can loosen such connections that lead to difficulties—of course, a joint that does not rely on bolts, screws, rivets or adhesive for strength or water-tightness is best, but not likely available to Nephi and certainly not available to local ship builders of the time. Internal stiffening systems—grid floor systems, and full-length stringers contribute greatly to the stiffness and rigidity of a boat. If the interior woodwork is just glued or lightly attached to a hull liner pan or to the hull, it's not uncommon to discover it breaking loose after some distance of ocean sailing. From a manufacturing standpoint, hull liners are substantially less expensive than "stick-built” interiors, but not likely available to Nephi.
    The problem arising in ancient ship building was less understood than that of later periods, and mistakes were often made that did not allow for such vessels to be taken into the deep ocean, where waves and currents are so strong that small problems quickly become major issues. To the inexperienced, unknowing or uninformed, the aspects of boat building are far more complicated than one might assume, and without proper instruction (the Lord showing Nephi how to do things), coastal vessels—the only type ships known at the time, simply were unable to broach the rough pounding of deep ocean sailing. Take, as an example, deck-stepped masts that work well, but only if proper structural members transmit the load to the keel.
    Otherwise deflection and possibly delaminating under the mast occur. And the trueness of the mast can be extremely important in erection—none of which really matter in the fishery vessels of the time that set in at night, during storms, and rough weather.
    In 600 B.C. Necos, king of Egypt, sent Phoenicians in ships to sail down the Red Sea and then around Africa and return through the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians stopped several times. As the Greek historian, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, wrote in 440 BC : “So the Phoenicians set out from the Red Sea and  p241 sailed the southern sea; whenever autumn came they would put in and sow the land, to whatever part of Libya they might come, and there await the harvest; then, having gathered in the crop, they sailed on, so that after two years had passed, it was in the third that they rounded the Pillars of Heracles and came to Egypt (Herodotus, Histories 4:42, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt).
Map of the Phoenician voyage around Africa according to Herodotus.The Phoenicians made several overnight stops and two major lay overs while planting and harvesting crops. This is the route Heartland theorists claims Lehi took as well
Herodotus also wrote when it came to their attempt to round the Cape in the same way the Jaredites are claimed to have gone: “For weeks, they were struggling against the wind and the current, only to reach the African west coast in July, where they encountered the contrary Canary Current and the North Eastern trade winds. But they must have been relieved to find themselves rowing in a northerly direction again.
    Somehow they managed to beat against the wind and the current, and in November they must have landed somewhere on the coast of modern Mauritania, maybe at Bay of Arguin, where their Carthaginian compatriots were to build the trading post of Kerne in the not too distant future. The voyagers sowed their wheat, repaired their ships.”
    It should be noted that rowing against winds and currents is possible, though both exhausting and very time consuming. However, the Jaredites were in water-tight barges and could not work against the wind and currents in any fashion, therefore, this route would not have been possible.
Comment #2: ”You quote Helaman 14:23 all the time about Mountains whose height is great. Is there no other scripture regarding this event of mountains rising?” Char O.
Response: “For thus spake the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up” (1 Nephi 19:11).
Comment #3: “The “narrow pass” through the narrow neck of land in Mesoamerica, that is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, was the route used almost exclusively by pre-Columbian travelers, according to Sorenson, who walked or marched from the land southward to the land northward or vice versa. Today’s travelers through this same route can “feel” the relevance of the term “narrow pass” as they experience the impenetrable mountains to the left and right (west and east) as they travel north or south through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec” Pedro M.
Response: One can feel the same narrowness, more or less, passing through the Parowan Gap in Southern Utah, though it is rather short. The point is, in Tehuantepec, at roughly 144 miles in width, there are other ways to get from the north to the south (lots of them) and vice versa. Perhaps not comfortably, or easily, as we would travel today, but certainly for an enemy bent on the destruction of another people and the securing of a land beyond for their future safety and from which to launch attacks. In the military, one of the first things you learn in combat, is that the enemy can find all sorts of ways to get from Point A to Point B that you never thought possible. For a true choke point, i.e., a place where the enemy can be kept from advancing has to be rather small and narrow, easily defensible, and have or provide no other possible place where a break-through can be achieved. A 144-mile width is simply out of the question in a day of bows and arrow, swords, and spears.
    You might want to study and famed battle of Thermopylae where a true choke point allowed a very small force to hold off a very large force in a battle before gunpowder. After three days of  battle and thousands dead, the only way the Pass fell, is that the Persians found a way around the mountain and circled around and attacked the Spartans from the rear.
Comment #4: “You talk about ancient roads in Peru as though no other place had any. There were roads in Central America and in North America” Quinn T.
Top Left: Ancient Peruvian road; Top Right: Roman Road; Bottom Left: Mesoamerican Maya road; Bottom Right: Ancient road in the eastern U.S. 

Response: Perhaps we need to understand what we are dealing with here in roads. Mormon tells us that the Nephite roads led from city to city and region to region and to all places of the land (3 Nephi 6:8); now when a culture invests that much time and effort into building roads, it is generally going to be found that those roads are not dirt trails, but something far more substantial and permanent. In South America, along the western Andean corridor, there are remnants of the finest roads built anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, far greater than Mesoamerica and, frankly, there were no such roads at all in North America ever found. Take as an example, this vast complex of roads that covered a distance of 25,000 to 30,000 miles in length, the coastal road alone was 2,500 miles long, and the principle main north-south highway covered 3,700 miles in length. A third highway, 3,200 miles long, ran from Ecuador to Cuzco to Chile, the major highways measured 24 feet across—the width of a modern four-lane highway today. 
    Some of the lesser roads were between 15 and 24 feet in width. Some roads were stepped up steep inclines, others were cut through solid stone mountains, some crossed over as many as 100 stone, wood or rope bridges, with some rope bridges across deep ravines and wide canyons—the one across the Apurímac River spanned a distance of 150 feet. There were distance markers every 4.5 miles, rest stations for travelers every 12 to 18 miles, and communication stations every 1.5 miles, which allowed a message to be passed over 1250 miles in five days. This allowed field commanders to communicate quickly with base commanders, such as when Helaman wrote to Moroni about his stripling warriors and the result of their battles (Alma 56:1, chapters 56-57-58). Only the roads of the ancient Romans rivaled the accomplishment of the early Peruvians.