Cruising

'Round Africa the Old Way

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If it gets your juices flowing to imagine circumnavigating Africa on a replica of an ancient ship, the Phoenicia Expedition is for you.

The story begins with one Philip Beale and his conviction that Phoenicians in ancient times, not Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias in 1488, were the first to make the 17,000-mile voyage around the African continent.

Drawing parallels to the discovery voyages of Columbus (crossed with evidence that Vikings made the transatlantic trip long before him), the Phoenicia Expedition sets out to support archeological evidence by proving that such voyages were possible. Beale, described as a businessman and adventurer, was scheduled to depart from Syria on August 10 with a crew of 20. The route travels clockwise, upwind (most likely) around the tip of South Africa and into the Atlantic, finishing in the Med.

As described by the project team, "The Phoenicia measures 70 feet in length and is built based on careful historical research of Phoenician ships at the time, including ancient drawings and archeological digs. A construction team in Arwad, Syria has spent nearly a year constructing the vessel, using actual materials that would have been used by Phoenicians at the time the ship is believed to have sailed."

You can learn more about the Phoenicia Expedition at the team's web site, phoenicia.org.uk.

Posted August 11, 2008 by KL

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