Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Importance of Winds and Currents on Nephi’s Ship – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the importance of winds and currents and the history of ships to better understand where Lehi sailed to reach the Land of Promise.
    The carrack was a ship of such prestige that they were frequently referred to as Great Ships and Charles the Bold used a procession of 30 for his wedding ceremony in 1468. 
    The carrack is at once a strikingly beautiful and amazingly ungainly looking vessel, and the first of the “tall ships.” They were three-masted, originating in Genoa in the 1300s.     
    So, in the question of when sails were used on modern ships, and when the Age of Sail came about, and its importance is to the course Nephi’s ship followed to reach the Western Hemisphere and the Land of Promise—1900 years or more after Nephi finished his ship, the basic design of the so-called modern sailing ship was introduced in Europe, bringing about the carvel design or type with planking framed on ribs all the way to the keel and butted together.
    This also reintroduced the square sail since it took much smaller crews to man large square sails than large lateen sails. It was Columbus in 1492 that pulled into the Canary Islands after leaving Portugal to exchange the rear or mizzen mast from square sail to lateen-rigged and became one of the first to use both sails in his voyage to the New World. Such invention of the triangular sail allowed sailors to travel further from home since it allowed ships to harness the power of the wind to travel in any direction.
Replica of the 1510 Mary Rose, called “the noblest ship of sail of any great ship, at this hour, in all of Christendom”

A good example of a carrack of the period was the English ship Mary Rose, which was built in 1510—a warship during Henry VIII's reign that often served as the flagship of the fleet. It was built in Portsmouth, England, between 1509 and 1511 and served in the Royal Navy until it was sunk in 1545. The wreck was raised in 1982 and later put on display.
    At 105 feet long (Columbus’ Santa Maria was 161-feet) with a 37-foot beam (width) and a draft of 14.8 feet (distance below the water line), she was regarded as a huge ship in her time of about 700 tons. The main mast was around 114 feet high with a 9-foot circumference, the yard holding the mainsail was 31 feet long, with a forecastle that rose about 52 feet above the waterline. She carried a crew of 500 hands, about 1 man for every 3 tons (standard for the day was 1 man for every 5-8 tons).
    One of the important things to keep in mind is that throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and all up and down the Atlantic, nations in their ship building were neither experienced ship builders nor shipwright engineers, resulting in enormous experimentation, a noticeable lack of standardization, and a glaring problem with stabilization; but resulting in many different designs, some of which were small differences, like in size of beam, or large differences, like in ratios of beam to length. One of the first major problems resulting in this was the frequent sinking of a ship whose builders neglected to understand where to put gun ports when first introduced, with some so close to the water line that the ships took water and flooded when blown to the side by high winds.
    The biggest problem, however, was in trying to find ways to increase speed, in the placement of masts and yardarms, and the amount of sail that could be handled by the masts.
    An early sailing ship of size was the Cog. It had one mast, usually mid-ship, and one square-rigged sail. It was a type of ship that first appeared in the 10th century, and was widely used from around the 12th century on. Cogs were clinker-built, generally of oak, which was an abundant timber in the Baltic region of Prussia. This vessel was fitted with a single mast and a square-rigged single sail. These vessels were mostly associated with seagoing trade in medieval Europe, especially the Hanseatic League, particularly in the Blatic Sea region. They ranged from about 49 to 82 feet in length with a beam of 16 to 26 feet, with the largest cog ships could carrying up to about 200 tons.
Square rigged sails on a small boat and a large ship

Single sail square rigs were used by the ancient Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Celts. Later the Scandinavians, the Germanic peoples, and the Slavs adopted the single square-rigged sail, with it becoming one of the defining characteristics of the classic “Viking” ships. The early, simple square-rigged ships, having only the one square sail, were more limited in their ability to sail into the wind than multi-sail square-riggers. That, along with the vulnerability of a single large sail after guns began to be used in naval warfare, led to the single sail square rig being largely abandoned beginning in the medieval period, in favor of multi-sail, multi-mast square rigs.
    Following came the carrack, which was a ship type invented in southern Europe in the 15th century and particularly developed in Portugal in the same century. It was a larger vessel than the caravel. Columbus’s ship, the Santa María was a famous example of a carrack. The ships commanded by Vasco da Gama as the São Gabriel, with six sails, a bowsprit, foresail, mizzen, spritsail and two topsails, already had the complete features and the design of the typical carrack. This was the beginning of the modern era of sailing, often called the Age of Sail.
Tall ships, sometimes called Clipper Ships were fast, narrow and sleek

“Tall ships,” became a meaningful term as masts grew, and courses of sail continued to increase, and rigging expanded. The main mast, called a Course, was increased to include a topsail, which later was divided into lower and upper Topsails, then a Topgallant sail was added, a Royal sail on top of that, then a Skysail, then a Moomraker, or seven courses in all per mast. With additional sails, rigging expanded to include the standard rigger, then running rigger, lines, stays, shrouds, vangs, boom vangs, sheets, halyards, and blocks; sprit and stays expanded to bowsprits, bobstays, Whisker stays, Jib boom, dolphin striker, martingale backstays, and martingales.
    We could go on with other facts, but the point is that when the Lord showed Nephi how to build a ship different than that of man, He had an enormous catalogue of factors at His disposal few of us would correctly understand, even today. Of course, he also had the limitation of the inexperience of Nephi, his brothers, and the sons of Ishmael and their sons. This obviously would have had a huge impact on what the Lord could have Nephi design, for it would have needed to be quite simple to a non nautical people, easy to use sails, and square-rigged, fixed sails on a single yardarm would have been the simplest. 
    Then, too, the Lord knew the course or route the ship was to take (for he had originally created that), led Lehi to the point along the coast where winds and currents would have taken him the easiest and simplest and shortest route to the Land of Promise. This would have involved one launching and one landing for anything else would have required an ability in seamanship none on board would have possessed or been able to develop in a short time.
    It would also have involved the hull design, keel type, etc. As an example, historically there are two-dozen different rigging designs for a two-masted ship, each requiring a different understanding of how to use for setting sails, furling, unfurling, and knowing windage (which is the force created on the sail when there is relative movement through the air creating friction), including cross winds, deflection, etc. All of this would require great expertise if trying to sail other than with the wind and currents. However, staying within the wind and currents, which tend to blow for hundreds of miles in a relatively straight course, or for thousands of miles in gentle curves (such as a gyre) in the open sea—but change course rapidly and sometimes sharply in areas where islands and land obstructs the winds—would have been necessary for Lehi’s accomplishment.
    Thus, the success or failure of Nephi’s ship reaching the Land of Promise was tied to the course the Lord sent them over—a course He created millennia before when the Earth was organized and not discovered by man until well into the Age of Sail and later referred to the Course of the Clippers.

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