Phoenicia update: Re-routing the pirate waters to the Cape of Good Hope

Posted: Feb 11, 2010 05:27 pm EST

The Phoenicia Ship Expedition is nearing the halfway mark of their circumnavigation of Africa in a replica of a 600 BC Phoenician ship. On the East coast they re-routed away from the pirate waters. Yesterday they arrived in Durban, South Africa, on their way to one of the hardest stretches an most exciting challenges of their expedition, the Cape of Good Hope.

Re-routing for pirates

The passage from Salalah, Oman, took longer than originally planned with the vessel having to take a wide course to avoid a Somali piracy group operating to the north east of the Seychelles.

As a result of the increase in piracy activity Captain Philip Beale took the decision to re-route the expedition via Mayotte as opposed to Tanzania.

This passage took a total of 47 days and covered over 3,000 miles, reported the Phoenicia.

Hardest but most exciting stretch

From Mayotte the Phoenicia headed for Beira in Mozambique and ported on January 27 in Richards Bay South Africa.

The leg from Beira to Richards Bay took a total of 11 days at sea and covered over 700 nautical miles.

On February 10, less than 24 hours at sea from Richards Bay Phoenicia arrived in Durban where they remain in port for the next few days before setting off again.

This next leg of the voyage, around the Cape of Good Hope, will be one of the hardest but most exciting challenges of the entire expedition, stated the Phoenicia.

The Phoenician Ship Expedition is attempting to recreate the first sail around ancient Africa accomplished by Phoenician mariners in 600 BC in a replica Phoenician/Mediterranean vessel.

The ship was built according to specifications based on archaeological data from shipwrecks of the Phoenician era. It has one mast, is 21.5 m in length with 20 rowing oars (10 per side).

The expedition leader and skipper is Philip Beale. In 2003-04 he built an 8th century BC Indonesian ship and sailed it to West Africa to demonstrate that early Indonesian seafarers could have reached West Africa by sail rather than by land.

The expedition crew consists of a core expedition and an international crew of up to 14 people at any one time. The international crewmembers will rotate at port stops.

The Phoenician Ship Expedition plans to sail in three phases:

The expedition was launched from Arwad, Syria, in August 2008 and sailed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea to complete phase one when the ship reached Aden. The main ports that were visited during this phase were Port Said (Egypt) and Port Sudan (Sudan).

Phase two was launched in August 2009. Phoenicia will sail round the Horn of Africa and down the East Coast. Ports that will be visited are Salalah (Oman), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) [Ed note: re-routed to Mayotte], Beira (Mozambique). Richard's Bay and Cape Town (South Africa), The Azores, Gibraltar, Carthage (Tunisia), Alexandria (Egypt), Beirut (Lebanon) and Tartous (Syria).

The ship left Salalah port, Oman at 1800 hrs local time on Sunday 25th October 2009 to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

The circumnavigation will be followed in the third phase by another voyage to bring the ship to the United Kingdom in the Summer 2010; in all 17,000 miles and 10 months at sea, stated the website. Ports to visit during this phase are Malta, Gibraltar, Falmouth and Portsmouth (UK) and exhibiting the vessel in London.

The Phoenicians were regarded as 'rulers of the sea' (Ezekiel 26:16 cited by McGrail 2001 pg 129); occupying what is now modern day Lebanon and the coastal parts of Syria and Palestine from circa 1,200 BC for approximately one thousand years.


Phoenicia had a chance encounter with a Syrian owned and crewed ship that also headed towards Mozambique (click to enlarge)
Checking the rigging (click to enlarge)
Crossing the equator ceremony (click to enlarge)
According to the Phoenicia the stage around the Cape of Good Hope will be one of the hardest but most exciting challenges of the entire expedition.

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