Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Reaching Mesoamerica from the East

Mesoamerican theorists claim that the Jaredites and the Mulekites landed on the eastern shore of Mesoamerica. To do that, the barges and ship would have had to enter the Caribbean from the Atlantic as Columbus did, and then move westward through the Caribbean Sea to the middle area of Central America, which Columbus did not do until his third voyage, and only after he had been assured by several Indians that there was an ocean further to the west.
Columbus’ four voyages, touched on (white circle) Central America only on the ( lines) fourth voyage
While Mesoamericanists claim Lehi sailed across the Atlantic to Central America, and th Heartland theorists claim he landed along the southern coast of the United States, in the Gulf of Mexico, actually at no time did Columbus enter the Gulf of Mexico, and when in the Caribbean Sea he stayed south of the Yucatan, sailing toward the northeast shores of South America. At no time did Columbus turn north and work his way through the Straits of Florida to the north of Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico, or to the west through the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and the Yucatan and into the Gulf of Mexico.
    In fact, during Columbus’ four round-trip voyages to the Caribbean Sea between 1492 and 1503, he only touched along the eastern shore of Central America in Honduras during his fourth voyage and explored in Trujillo, Nicaragua and Costa Rica before arriving in Almirante Bay, Panama, in 1502. Until then, his entire effort had been basically in the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and the Antilles down to northeastern shore of South America. For those exclusive North American or U.S. theorists, it might be important to consider that in Nephi’s vision of Columbus, he writes: “I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12), yet Columbus never touched North America, nor landed in what is now the United States, yet he was “in the promised land.”
    One might wonder why, since Columbus’ voyages were ones of discovery, that he never discovered the United States or Mexico, the areas of landing claimed by Mesoamericanists and Heartland theorists. Perhaps it was because sailing into this area that is full of islands, one did not know there was anything beyond them to the north or northwest. Might not Lehi, had he come this way, done the same? It is especially problematic that they would have done so because of the rebellious nature of Laman and Lemuel who would have wanted to stop the ship the first chance they got.
Red Lines: Columbus fourth voyage, the only one where other than the Caribbean islands were visited. Blue Circle: Columbus never entered the Gulf of Mexico, visited North America or saw Mexico
It should be noted that there is no mention in Columbus’ logs why he did not turn north past Cuba and enter the Gulf of Mexico, nor why he did not sail along Central America north of southern Honduras, but the fact is he limited his exploring to the many chains of islands that separate the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea.
    His first voyage reached an island in the Lucayan archipelago in the Bahamas the natives called Guanahani. Exactly which island this is today is unknown, but believed to be Samana Cay, Plana Cays, or Watling—an island named San Salvador in honor of Columbus in 1925. In all, ten islands have been suggested, all in the Bahama chain. On this first voyage, Columbus also explored the northeast coast of Cuba and the northern coast of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti), where the Santa Maria ran aground and had to be abandoned.
    The second voyage, Columbus reached the Lesser Antilles, also known as the Caribbees that, together with the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos, and Greater Antilles, form the West Indies, a long island arc which wraps around the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea on the western boundary with the Atlantic Ocean, from the tip of Florida down to the southern fringe off the north coast of South America. On this voyage Columbus also set in at Hispaniola once again, then sailed north along the southern coast of Cuba, which he believed to be a peninsula, not an island.
    On his third voyage, he sailed to Hispaniola (Haiti), then turned south and reached the northeast coast of South America, exploring the Gulf of Paria, which today separates Trinidad from Venezuela. His fourth voyage reached Hispaniola once again, then sailed to Jamaica, and then on to Honduras in Central America, spending a month exploring the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, before arriving in Panama.
    In fact, for those who always want to suggest that deep sea sailing vessels can sail around coastal waters with ease, it should be noted that on Christmas Eve, 1492, Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria, a slow-moving vessel with three masts and sails and only a ten-foot draft, ran aground when the currents carried the ship onto a sandbank a few miles east of present-day Cap Haitien and the ship sank the next day. Coastal waters have always been dangerous for deep sea sailing vessels because of the depth of their hulls, the configuration of their sails, and the limited ability to angle sails to adjust to wind changes, gusts, and unforeseen and sudden changes in the depth of the waters.
    It should also be noted that on Columbus’ first voyage, after leaving the southern Bahamas, he stayed along the southeastern shores of Cuba (Juana), and the eastern shores of Haiti and the Dominican Republic (Hispaniola)—never actually entering the Caribbean Sea. This was due in part to the numerous islands of the Bahamas running from Florida down to Cuba and further south into the Antilles. It did not seem to Columbus there was any ocean further to the west (to the west of Cuba and Hispaniola) in which to adequately maneuver. Not until his second voyage did he learn from the natives that there was more ocean to the west, which is when he sailed around to the west coast of Hispaniola and Cuba.
Columbus’ flag ship, the Santa Maria, a Nao ship, the largest of Columbus’ three ships, which was lost on the first day of the return voyage

Lastly, we should remember that despite some reports to the contrary, his crew were not criminals pressed into service but experienced seamen from the port of Palos in Andalusia and its surrounding countryside as well as from the region of Galicia in northwest Spain, and Columbus himself, the explorer and navigator, was a very experienced sailor who first went to sea at the age of ten, having said of himself, “I passed twenty-three years on the sea. I have seen all the Levant, all the western coasts, and the North. I have seen England; I have often made the voyage from Lisbon to the Guinea coast. I went to sea from the most tender age and have continued in a sea life to this day. Whoever gives himself up to this art wants to know the secrets of Nature here below. It is more than forty years that I have been thus engaged. Wherever any one has sailed, there I have sailed."
    He was shipwrecked off the coast of Lisbon after a battle with a Venetian vessel which set fire to his ship, and between 1461 and 1463, he was a captain in the Genoese Navy and commanded a Genoese galley near Cyprus in a war with the Venetians.
    There was very little that might have deterred Columbus, but it would appear that he did not want to sail into the Gulf of Mexico when he sailed around Cuba. In his day, captains of such sailing ships stayed at sea rather than sailing up rivers or in tight places or waters they didn’t know.
    It is for this reason that the Heartland and Great Lakes theorists should take note, for sea captains simply did not sail up inland rivers in ocean going vessels, for it was the easiest way to run aground, irreparably damage a hull, or strand yourself in an unknown land.
The lesser Antilles, a series of islands blocking the southern approach to the Caribbean Sea. One could sail through them, but it is doubtful Lehi’s crew could have done so. In fact, the Caribbean is completely surrounded by hundreds of islands on a half-moon circle from Florida (Bermuda) to South America (Gulf of Paria)

Now, having said all that, the idea that novice crews would take a sailing vessel through the many islands of the Caribbean Sea to land on the east side of Mesoamerica, or for the submersible barges of the Jaredites to be able to negotiate such numbers of islands and do so, is beyond maritime reason. For a theory to work, it first has to be believable and workable, and such a scenario is neither.
    For those who have never been to sea, have never tried to sail in a vessel “driven forth before the wind,” or put to sea without backup engines, GPS, radios, charts and maps, would be better served if they would study the sea and learn something about sailing in such conditions before they start plotting out sea voyages taken by such a crew in such a day without such little knowledge and ability.
    Numerous drift voyage are started today to prove this route or that for one reason or another, but most do not end well, and all involved very experience mariners with knowledge of what they were doing and how it was to be done. Lehi had none of the conveniences of sailing available today, and the Lord sent him on a course that would take the least amount of knowledge and ability and the least chance of failure. As Nephi said, “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).

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