In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Possible Insights on the sailing route of Lehi and Nephi's Ship

While recently attending a Book of Mormon Evidence Conference that was put on by the FIRM Foundation which included presentations from Rod Meldrum and Wayne N. May and a few others, I was impressed by some of the findings in particular of one of Rod Meldrum’s presentations entitled, “The Phoenicia Expedition: New Evidence for Lehi’s Ocean Voyage”. Although it is known that I support a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, I do think that there is sufficient evidence for a Heartland” or North American setting that as sincere seekers for additional truths from the Book of Mormon we need to take an investigative look at all perspectives.
In this presentation Meldrum used a recent expedition put on by Philip Beale and his crew of Mariners who took the time to build a replica of an ancient Phoenician Ship that would date back to 600BC. They would then attempt to sail from Syria down the east coast of Africa and around the Horn of Africa and back up the west coast of Africa through the Straights of Gibralter and through the Mediterranean and back into Lebanon and Syria. Basically sailing all the way around Africa.
The crew made this trip in just shy of a year (two weeks shy). They did have to add a few extras to make their ship a bit more safe to sail and living conditions easier for the team of mariners such as a small engine that made it easier for going into and coming out of docking areas (instead of manually paddling) and an oven for cooking food and a navigational system to be able to track the journey for research purposes. The thing that I found most interesting in this journey was the route they sailed. When heading down the east coast of Africa and then sailing around the Horn or Mozambique area they found themselves in an ocean current that helped them start back up towards the west coast of Africa instead of keeping them along the coast of Africa it took them in a north western direction. Although they tried to fight against it for a few days they eventually had to ride it out. It actually lead them right past Central American and towards the Florida Coast.

I find this particularly interesting because it has been a common thought that Lehi and his family landed somewhere on the west coast of South or Central America. This would have meant that they sailed in an eastward direction and would have been sailing against ocean currents. Even if this had been during an El Nino type of season it would have pushed then in a southerly direction. With this said we are able to get some very insightful information on Nephi and Lehi's boat from the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi chapter 18 we learn how Nephi's ship was made. Nephi said,

"and we did work the 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. Now I Nephi did not work the timbers after the manner of which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men: but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me: wherefore, it was not after the manner of men."

So basically we know that the Lord completely guided Nephi in the process of building the ship so there is a possibility that it was nothing like manner of ships that were being built in Nephi's day. The best sea farers in Nephi's day were the Phoenicians who would have been in the same vicinity of Nephi's youth in Jerusalem. They are the ancestors of modern day Palestinians. What we are to understand about the manner of ship Nephi built is still up for speculation. We don't know if it was built in a manner that required them to have to follow the ocean currents or if the curious workman ship allowed a keel which would have allowed Nephi and his family and friends to have tacked against the wind allowing them a better ability to move and reguardless of the ocean current. This keel technology was not in use at Nephi's time with the Phoenicians but the Lord works in mysterious ways.

I submit this evidence as an added idea for the route which Nephi and Lehi's boat could have traveled to the Western Hemisphere. This route works as a landing spot for both those who support the Mesoamerican setting or Heartland North American setting because it literally sails right by one into the other. I have included a video link that is directly off of the website of the Phoenician Expedition that shows some of the building of the ship. As you can see it would have been quite the undertaking. Maybe we can cut Laman and Lemuel a little bit of slack as far as the murmuring is concerned. The video is one of 8 clips on the expedition so feel free to watch them all if you would like. I would recommend at least the first two. For more information on the Phoenician Expedition check out their website at http://www.phoenicianexpedition.org.uk/. Of course these travel routes are all speculation and there is evidence that they may have sailed to the Pacific coast which is the more common theory. I just add this post in support of Rod Meldrums evidence that it is at least possible for a vessel constructed in the like manner of 600BC to make it via the Atlantic coast route no matter which geographic location best suites you.

for the video click below:

Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TsEgnbGEVI
Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v3YMn5o5cM&feature=related

6 comments:

  1. Awesome article I've always been interested in evidences and geography of the Book of Mormon. I have a question and some speculation I'd like to run by you. I recently started a new hobby putting ships into bottles and have learned a lot about ships in the process. I have thought about doing Nephi's ship in a bottle and have been doing some research as to what the ship might have looked like. My speculation is it would have looked much like early Tongan or Samoan ships being they were decedents of the Nephites from the people that followed Hagoth in Alma:63. I figure Hagoth would have had access to records that we do not and may have had detailed descriptions of Nephi's ship and based his ships on them. So my speculation is Nephi's ship may more closely resemble early Tongan and Samoan ships. I haven't found much information so far regarding those early ships but from what I can tell it may have been a kind of Lateen rig. It was common in the Mediterranean and easy enough it only takes two or three people to sail. If this is the type of boat Nephi used it would have been about 200 years ahead of his time. That's my speculation let me know what you think. danielspinnacle@gmail.com

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    1. I emailed you a few days ago with an interesting link from www.BMAF.org that covers the possible design and different ideas surrounding Nephi's ship let me know if you didn't get it.

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  2. I am not of the Mormon faith. I am, however, a BOM believer as a member and elder in the RLDS church in Independence, MO. I was always a believer of the Mesoamerican theory for the BOM lands until just recently. I even spent 3 years living in Honduras and sharing with what I believed to be the BOM peoples. I met Mr. Meldrom and Mr. May recently and have seen their videos and have to say that I am in full belief that the evidence strongly supports the Heartland theory (The United States is the land of the BOM). Obviously the message of the BOM is not to prove it is true, so for me where it took place is not as important as what took place. The book has always been spiritual and not historical in nature (although it is historically true). The thing that make me most excited about the Heartland theory and the coinciding evidence is the fact that we are living in the promised land of the Nephites and Jaredites! The promises that are given about those that possess this land apply to us all. It deepens my patriotism as I believe our founding fathers were inspired by God and were necessary to create an environment where the true church could be restored through Joseph Smith. Thank you for taking the time to post this blog and I wish all my Mormon friends the blessing of His Holy Spirit. Take care.

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    1. Thank you for writing this. You are obviously a good person.

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  3. I appreciate you reading my blog and love any feedback. I am not a supporter of the Heartland theory for many reasons....but we are all entitled to our opinions but with that said I love the research of all new world locations North, Central, and South America as long as they are from credible sources.

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  4. Is another possibility that they went south along the east coast of Africa, and then crossed the South Atlantic rather than turning north? If they then went around Cape Horn and north along the west coast of South America that would permit a first American landfall in Chile as some early Church members believed Joseph Smith taught, and allow them to make their final landing on the Pacific coast of Central America as posited by the Mesoamerican theory. A route that largely hugs the coasts of Africa and South America is much more plausible for an ancient wooden sailing ship (even if built with divine guidance) than one which crosses the entire Indian and Pacific Oceans.

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