Among those critical of the Church, often you will hear them ask for non-Mormon corroboration of the Book of Mormon. In my latest interview with non-Mormon Philip Beale, he discusses his journey around Africa in a 600 BC ship. The funny thing is, after he left Cape Town, South Africa, the wind blew him almost to Florida. It would have been easier to go to Florida than return to Africa, but his aim was to circumnavigate Africa, so he did. He unintentionally sailed a possible route of Lehi.
Philip’s Navy Background
Philip 01:21 Hi. My name is Philip Beale. I’m captain of the Phoenician ship or I was the captain of the Phoenician ship. And I’m from the United Kingdom.
GT 01:29 All right, right outside London?
Philip 01:32 Yeah, I live down on the south coast in Dorset, near Lulworth Cove and port.
GT 01:38 Okay. I’ve been there one time. We went to Wimbledon and Guernsey Island, I remember. So that’s really cool. So, you have a background in the Royal Navy. Is that right? Can you tell us more about that?
Philip 01:55 Yeah. Well, as a school kid, I was interested in sailing and the history of the Age of Discovery and sailing ships, and there was a strong appeal of joining the Navy as a seamanship officer. So, I went through the Dartmouth, or Britannia Royal Naval College as a junior officer. And then I served on a couple of ships in, at the time, Her Majesty’s Navy. But then I saw that the expeditions and voyages I wanted to do, which was in the mold of Kon-Tiki, that Thor Heyerdahl did, that I needed to leave the Navy and pursue a career that enabled me to undertake these historic voyages.
GT 02:50 Okay. How long were you in the—do we call it the Royal Navy?
Philip 02:55 Yeah, in the Royal Navy. I was only there for three years.
Where are Phoenicians From?
GT 20:39 Okay, so when I think of Phoenicians, and maybe I’m just an uneducated whatever, I always think of Greece or Greeks, or, like, they were pre-Greeks. Is that true?
Philip 20:51 Yes, the Phoenicians were the dominant traders in city states, in the eastern Mediterranean, from Tyre, in the south, Sidon, Beirut, Byblos, and Aradus or Arwad, in modern-day Syria. And they were the competition for the Greeks. Now, the Phoenicians were several hundred years ahead of them in terms of sailing expertise. And the Greeks acknowledged that the Phoenicians had the fastest ships, the strongest ships, and they were the best sailors. But there was that rivalry between them. And there were clearly some wars between the Greeks and various Phoenician factions fighting over resources and the like. So, they were competitive.
GT 21:49 Okay, so they were competitive with the Greeks, because I guess the Greeks named them the Phoenicians. That’s not what they called themselves.
Philip 21:56 That’s correct. So, the Greeks named them the Phoenicians or Phoeni or the purple Empire, if you like, so they sort of classified them. I think the Greeks were the first to sort of pigeonhole the Phoenicians. But the Phoenicians were never a single nation. They were individual city states. So, there were the Sidonians or the Tyronians. They were Arwadians, if you like. They were not [unified.] Each city state had its own culture. They had their own amphora and different styles, but there were some common characteristics. They were never actually a nation as such.
GT 22:43 Okay, so they weren’t really a nation. Because it sounds like they were in the same basic area as what we would call the Canaanites or the Israelites. Right? Is there any difference between the Phoenicians, the Canaanites and the Israelites?
Philip 22:56 So the Canaanites were the former Phoenicians, if you like. Some academics/historians would say, “Actually, the Phoenicians are no different from the Canaanites.” So, if you might say the Canaanites generally started say maybe around 2200 BC, up until say 1200 BC, and then we sort of say there was a Phoenician era, from 1200 BC to 146 BC, when the Romans finished them off at Carthage in modern day Tunisia. But, as I say, some academics think it was pretty much a continuous development of these people.
GT 23:48 So, the Canaanites became Phoenicians and then became Israelites. Can we say that?
Philip 23:53 I’m not sure and I’m not qualified to really comment on the Israelites. But certainly, I know that some academics say we shouldn’t really be distinguishing between the Canaanites and the Phoenicians. They were basically the same peoples.
GT 24:11 See, that’s funny, because I’ve always heard that the Canaanites and the Israelites were the same people.
Sailing Around Africa
GT 28:52 Okay. And you mentioned America, I want to get into that in just a minute. Okay. So, you had read that Herodotus had said 150 years earlier, in 600 BC that the Canaanites had traveled around Africa. Is that right?
Philip 29:08 Yeah, the Phoenician mariners had basically organized an expedition to circumnavigate Africa. And it took them three years to complete the voyage.
GT 29:21 Okay, and so you wanted to replicate this voyage?
Philip 29:24 Yes.
GT 29:25 And you did it in less than three years, though, I’m guessing.
Philip 29:28 Well, it still took a long time, two years and two months.
GT 29:30 Oh, did it take that long?
Philip 29:31 Yes.
GT 29:33 And so where did you take off from as you tried to circumnavigate Africa?
Philip 29:39 So we started from Syria. We went through the Suez Canal. Now, you may wonder about that Suez Canal. The current Suez Canal is the third Suez Canal. And in the time of Pharaoh Necho, he built the first Suez Canal. Now, to be fair, he didn’t finish it. But there would have been probably about a 10 Kilometer gap where they would have pulled boats through the land part of it that wasn’t finished. But getting through the Suez area…
GT 30:16 So did you start in, like, Jerusalem and then go through the Suez Canal?
Philip 30:21 We started from Arwad in Syria. We went down to port Suez and then through.
GT 30:27 Okay, down through the Red Sea.
Philip 30:29 Through the Red Sea. And we had a few problems in the Red Sea. We went to the Yemen, to Al Hudaydah and Aden, and then to Salala, in the south of Oman, okay, before taking on the pirates in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Somalia in the Horn of Africa. So, we were doing this in, by this time we were in 2009, at the height of the…
GT 30:57 Somali pirates were going crazy, yeah. You said you took them on. You tried to avoid them, right?
Philip 31:05 We tried to avoid them. So, we had satellite communications and email. And every day, we would get a report of where the latest attacks were happening. And because of those pirate attacks, we kept on having to sail further to the west, as best we could, to avoid those attacks.
Blown off course, almost to Florida!
GT 38:35 All right. So, you had those rough winds around Cape Town, South Africa. What happened next?
Philip 38:44 So, we then made our way towards Saint Helena and the Ascension Islands. Because one of the challenges with modern-day replica ship sailing, is that we have new challenges that weren’t really there in the ancient times. So, in the Nile Delta, there was quite a lot, and there still is, quite a lot of piracy there. So, we wanted to cut the corner. So, we cut the corner and sailed to the Ascension Islands. Well, first of all Saint Helena, and then the Ascension Islands, which are pretty much in the middle of that southern part of the Atlantic. And from there, we wanted to get to the Azores. But we have this challenge of, again, easterly winds and currents blowing across the Atlantic. So, as we left the Ascension Islands, we got up to the equator, these trade winds were pushing us right across the Atlantic, in fact, more than I thought they would. I mean, I had allowed about 60 days, two months to sail that part up to the Azores. But it actually took us 82 days of sailing from the Ascension Island, up to the Azores. And we came within about 600 miles of the Florida coast. So, we got really close, because we were trying, I was trying my very best to turn the ship. But we were sort of waiting for the currents and the Gulf Stream to take us back towards the Mediterranean and towards the north of Europe. So, that was, that was challenging, because, although we take, probably about three tons of water and lots of dry food, and we can fish, we hadn’t expected to be out in the ocean for that long. So, we had to ration the water. And there was–undoubtedly the worst–some parents of the crew members that were getting quite concerned that we were bobbing around in the middle of the Atlantic, thinking that this was a foolhardy expedition, as opposed to one that was planned and prepared.
GT 41:12 So, you ended up going a lot closer to Florida than you were expecting, just because that’s the way the winds took you and the currents?
Philip 41:22 Yeah, totally. As I say, I knew we would get pushed across quite a way. But I had not envisaged that we’d get pushed so far, so close to Florida. I knew we would get pushed. As I say, I had estimated it would take a couple of months. But I thought we’d better–you can see from the wind charts that the winds do turn and change direction. But it took certainly longer than I thought, and it was harder. But we could only turn an old-style ship fairly gradually. We don’t have triangular sails that can point the boat into the wind. You have to have the wind on the beam or astern of you, so you have to wait. So that’s why we got pushed right across the Atlantic.
GT 42:13 So then you ended up sailing east again. So, you, basically, did circumnavigate Africa, replicating the old Herodotus story. Is that right?
Philip 42:25 Yes, that’s right. We showed it could be done. Of course, they might have stayed a little bit closer to the coast than we did. But, as I say, there were other factors, like piracy, that meant we went further out. Nonetheless, nobody could sail up the coast of West Africa. Because as I say, the winds, the northeast winds and trade currents push you out into the Atlantic, so it was always going to be that way.
Philip’s Feelings about Book of Mormon Voyages
GT 1:08:54 So you’re not LDS.
Philip 1:08:57 I’m not LDS, np.
GT 1:08:58 So, what do you think of this story? Is it a crazy story? Of course, you’re a crazy captain. So, I guess if it all fits together. Right?
Philip 1:09:05 It all fits together. I mean, I’ve always said about my expeditions, that I don’t really mind who joined or helps, and who we partner with, as long as it’s for good reason. So, for example, I wouldn’t accept any sponsorship from a tobacco company, because I don’t believe what they do is honorable, but as long as it’s for a good, peaceful purpose, then I’m very happy to work with anyone. So, I’m delighted to work with LDS and the Heartland Research Group, because I think it’s only a positive thing. And it helps to bring the whole story of what we’ve been doing with the Phoenician project overall to many, many more people. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be as well known. So, it’s a sort of win-win situation, as far as I’m concerned.
GT 1:10:08 Yeah. Okay. But I guess it would probably be safe to say you haven’t become a believer in the Book of Mormon, yet, or have you?
Philip 1:10:20 No, I haven’t become a convert, yet. I’m sure one or two people would like me to be a convert. I haven’t become a convert. But I’m open minded about these things. I think it’s a great story. And I think if people get comfort from it, and it helps in everyday life, then, I haven’t got a problem with it.
Then he repeated the feat, this time sailing purposely from Syria through the Mediterranean, straits of Gibraltar, and then to Florida, once again, unintentionally showing Mulek’s route was possible. It wasn’t until he landed in Florida that he found out about the Book of Mormon. I was surprised to find out how open he is to the Book of Mormon, and I even asked him about a Jaredite submarine! Amazingly cool conversation!
Yuri & Vera Sanada are experienced sailors. Hailing from Brazil, they contacted Philip Beale to join his journey aboard a 600 BC Phoenician ship to both circumnavigate Africa and sail to America! Yuri is a documentarian and chronicled the journey via film. Rick Bennett spoke with them about their journey through pirate infested waters of Somalia, big storms near Cape Town, South Africa, and their experience building a better rat trap while on the ocean, so that the rat quit eating their food! Check out our conversation…
GT 03:43 Well, very good. Now are you guys, are you LDS?
Yuri 03:47 No, we are not.
GT 03:48 That’s what I thought. And so, what do you think of this, what I would like to call a crazy story about going from the Middle East to America?
Yuri 03:58 Yeah, that’s strange. We didn’t know about this. We never read the Book of Mormon before. We read it now. But it’s interesting that after we sailed that the whole trip around Africa, almost got to America, but that wasn’t the plan, so we returned to Europe. Then [we sailed] across the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic Ocean, then we learned about Mulek and Lehi’s voyage, and it kind of makes sense.
GT 03:58 So did you go on both voyages or just the first one?
Yuri 04:24 Both voyages.
GT 04:26 Okay.
Yuri 04:26 We had one member of the Church there with us. He told us a little bit, but not very much. He didn’t want to reveal a lot, maybe. I don’t know why. Anyway, but then we learned after. We came here 2019, before the second expedition, we met Rod Meldrum, his conference. We came here with Philip Beale and watched the conference. We saw our videos that have been playing, like videos we made 10 years ago. It was playing now, so it’s very, very interesting.
GT 04:39 (Chuckling)
Yuri 04:57 Yeah, but the nice part is this. For us, non-LDS [people,] there’s a group who believe the same things we believe, that ancient people could have sailed all the way from the Old World to the Americas. And we have this research going for 20 years or more, for the historical and archaeological point of view. And then we have this group here, the LDS, who believe the same things, for religious reasons, and we are going the same direction. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we joined forces, because it’s the same theories, the same history we are defending, but for different reasons, but it’s the same. Yeah.
Avoiding Somali Pirates
Yuri 14:11 It was a grace passage, but there’s nothing we could do. We had to continue the project, sail, right? We couldn’t put the ship in a truck and have it shipped. So, we had to sail it. So, we did that. So, instead of two weeks, our original plan, because of pirate attacks, we ended up running away from the pirates, so it took us eight weeks. So, it was eight weeks, two months of sailing.
GT 14:33 Just to get around Somalia?
Yuri 14:35 Because we had the, I don’t think I told you, but we had the reports come from the satellites. And every time we heard about the pirate attack, we plotted on the on the nautical chart and had to go a little bit more to the east. So, we kept going, going, going, going, 1000 miles from the Somali coast.
GT 14:52 Oh, my goodness.
Yuri 14:53 Because they had so many pirates. That’s funny. I don’t remember. There’s a movie called, Captain Phillips.
GT 15:01 Yeah with Tom Hanks.
Yuri 15:03 Yeah, when it came out it was pretty funny. “Captain Philip, they make a movie about you?”
Yuri 15:07 “No, it’s another Captain Phillips.” But, the capture of Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks in April, the true story, April 2009. We were there in October or November. So, the same year, they had 1500 pirate ships, big ships, small ships, skiffs on those waters. So, it was really, really bad situation.
Storm after Cape Town
Vera 26:35 Sorry, four hours, yes, instead of two hours. Yuri is sleeping and the other guy is probably looking at the danger or the building. He’s not outside the bilge. He’s not outside with us. It’s just me and Aziz, the Indonesian journalist. We are in the helm, and we are looking. It’s really, really, really strong wind and we looked at the sails. The sail is so full of wind. We know something’s happening, because we need to put down a little bit the sail and we couldn’t, because you cannot leave the helm. We needed to stay there, because if one of us goes out, we cannot keep the same direction. We have the compass here. We need to check the compass all the time, because you cannot see the stars. [We need to check the compass] to help us to find our direction. And when we looked at each other, we were feeling scared about that. We know something happened. We looked again. He came out. We can see Philip come out and he said, “Well, it’s good.” But it’s not good. It was just at that time the sail ripped in the middle. It was like we had two sails. I was really, really scared. What are we going to do? Because we know we need to turn the boat to put the horse or the nose of the ship to the wind. [We need to] put down the sail. We are very, very scared. I’m scared that night. But I trust in Philip and I trust in my husband. Because of this, I’m there. And I know they can fix it and change the sail. But, during the work, I don’t remember, but Philip said it’s takes around 45 minutes to put down [the sail], to put all the team on the deck to do this job.
Yuri 28:54 To put the storm sail up.
Vera 28:55 Yes, and he put the storm sail [up.] It’s a little, small sail. And [during] that time I’m [wondering.] What’s going to happen? Because the boat moves like that. Sometimes, the head of the horse [is] in the water and come up and come down. And I’m really scared that time. But we are here. We did it. We survived.
GT 29:13 (Chuckling) I know, because you said that the wind was howling so bad and you’re there at the helm trying to steer the ship. And the other person, you were trying to talk to him, and he couldn’t hear.
Vera 29:38 It’s impossible, because it’s a strong wind. We cannot scream with each other. It’s impossible.
GT 29:48 Right. So, it was a good thing Philip came up and then just [the sail ripped.]
Vera 29:52 Yes, exactly [at the right] time. I asked Phillip, “How did you come out at that time?”
Vera 29:59 [He said,] “I don’t know.” But I understand, because I’ve been sailing before. I lived on a sailboat. We know each noise when something happens. I say all the time, the boat has a soul. We can feel the boat’s soul and probably Philip was feeling the spirit of this boat.
GT 30:23 So, he knew something was wrong and he got there just in time.
Vera & Yuri’s Thoughts on Book of Mormon
GT 38:46 So what do you think? I mean, you guys are not Mormons. Right? What do you think of this whole story of Lehi and Mulek? I mean, do you think it’s a plausible story?
Yuri 38:56 We make documentaries. Right? We make projects like the Phoenicia ship. So, we are involved with American universities and American institutions, as well, in different projects, like slave ships and other things. And we talked to them about the Phoenicia. They love what we did in the Phoenicia. And the funny thing is, when I talked about the Mormon connection, of course, these guys, they don’t know about the Book of Mormon, Lehi, Mulek, as we learned. They don’t know about that. When I explained to them the thing, they came to say, “Okay.” Yeah, sometimes, you’re looking for a lost city, and you have local legends, or local people who believe, who learned from their grandfathers and great-grandfathers about that place, and it turns out to be true. So, maybe the legend or the story passed on by generations, it’s true. It’s just not officially recognized by science. So, when I spoke to these guys, it’s a few of them and I’m dealing [with] in different [places] from Brazil, from America, from Europe, different places. They say, “Okay, there must be something true there. There could be something true there. Even though we don’t recognize it. We don’t know about Book of Mormon.” I just explained to them. They said, “There must be something true there, because you have this group believing something very strongly. “You don’t have the scientific evidence of Phoenicians across the ocean, and they go the same direction. They tell the same story. So why not? That’s one thing. You cannot force the other. So that’s what you get. And we believe, that’s why we’re here. We believe what the Book of Mormon says. Apart from all religions, and everything that people believe, the description of the trip, the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, that can be done, we just proved it.
GT 40:33 So, you’re open to the idea that the Book of Mormon might be true.
Yuri 40:37 Yes, yes. Yes, of course.
Yuri 40:39 Yeah. So, like I said, if you look at the Book of Mormon, if you go to the Bible, if you’ve got the Book of Kings, this voyage stuff here, it had to be somewhere. They had to have strong ships like Phoenicia, and they are Phoenician sailors going across oceans to bring all the gold to the temple in Jerusalem. Why not? If they knew, that’s a thousand years, that’s 1000 B.C., right? 900 B.C., Solomon’s time, before the Phoenicians, before Mulek and the high voyages, 300-400 years before that. So, imagine if they did these voyages to bring the gold of Jerusalem, if you believe that, why not three centuries later? They could have made Mulek and Lehi’s voyage. So, there’s a lot of evidence. People, sometimes they disdain, but I think, “That must be something true.” I mean, their stories are not there just somebody’s evidence. They learn from other sources, divine or from their fathers or grandfathers. So, what they tell, if you can use science to test and that’s what we did, okay, that could be true, yes. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.
Vera 40:39 Yeah.
GT 41:46 Okay, so does this lead you to think it is true?
Vera 41:50 Yes.
GT 41:51 Really?
Vera 41:52 I believe that.
Yuri 41:53 Yeah. Yeah. Why not? I mean, yeah. We are proving that.
GT 41:58 So, you know, and I’m not trying to play missionary, but are you guys going to get baptized anytime soon here?
Yuri 42:03 (Chuckling)
Vera 42:03 You never know about this. We trust in Christ. We trust in God. You know?
I don’t see them joining the LDS Church anytime soon, but I was quite surprised to see how open not only Vera and Yuri were to the Book of Mormon, but Philip Beale as well? I also wanted to point out that an Atlantic crossing around Africa is 6000 miles, but the way through the Indian & Pacific Oceans is about 12000 miles long; plus the winds are against you. So, an Atlantic crossing is shorter and has been demonstrated to be more feasible? What are your thoughts on Philip, Yuri, & Vera’s journey?
Interesting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last Brits you featured found gold plates in their basement. FWIW one month in my ward would cure them forever of Mormon Fascination Syndrome.
Rick this was a great find!
There’s also the middle passage.
So experienced sailors with a compass and nautical charts (and satellite communication)managed to make the trip. I think that’s cool.
I thought Lehi and co. sailed to America over the *Pacific*
That’s what the Meso people claim, but Heartlanders have proved an Atlantic crossing is easier and more likely.