An extraordinary expedition is taking place around Africa – a circumnavigation of the continent in a in a wooden replica of a Phoenician ship.
The Phoenicians occupied the coastal areas of modern day Syria, the Lebanon and northern Palestine from 1200BC to about 200BC. The historian Herodotus cites that they sailed around Africa in 600BC, and this mission, led by Phil Beal, is to see if it could possibly be true.
“We’ve been sailing for nearly two years and covered over 17,000 miles,” says Phil, who also runs travel company Pioneer Expeditions.
“Sailing a vessel like Phoenicia with a single square sail and no keel to speak of has been a huge challenge even with modern navigation equipment. It’s rather like trying to sail a giant bathtub that leaks. So we’ve really learnt to respect the Phoenicians for what they achieved.”
The expedition started in the Red Sea and is now on the homeward voyage to Lebanon and Syria. The ship’s multi-national crew consists of three Muslims from Indonesia, an American, three Brits, a South African, a Swede and a Brazilian – so they must have a lot to talk about in the evenings.
For more on the expedition, see www.Phoenicia.org.uk.