Book Review: “Sailing Close to the Wind”

Rod Meldrum first introduced this book as an example of early sea voyages. And I highly recommend any serious researcher to review this book with an open mind. The author, Philip Beale left a successful career in 2003 to peruse the reconstruction of a ship originally built in 600 BC by the Phoenicians.

To set the stage, I am going to quote directly from the introduction: “Had Bartolommeu Dias been the first to round the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 or Vassos da Gama to circumnavigate Africa a decade later? The more I researched the more I believed the Phoenicians had sailed around the entire coast of Africa two thousand years before these first Portuguese explorers.”

And he goes on and records his attempt to prove history wrong (the kind of people I love to read from). He says he also read from the Greek historian Herodotus who told of a time when the Phoenicians had sailed around the continent of Africa in 600 BC sponsored by the pharaoh Necho.

While the journey of his research and rebuilding of the ship was impressive, totally in the spirit of Thor Heyerdahl’s Ra II in the 1960’s, what is most impressive is the route he took by following the natural winds around the continent and matching it with the possibility of where Lehi and his family could have could have sailed.

If you look on the map, you can see how as they went around the Cape of Good Hope and into the Atlantic, the natural winds kept sending them toward the Gulf of Mexico. The drama comes from the parts of the ocean where no communication is present and their fight to keep on course toward the northern coast of Africa.

Beale went on to write: “By heading so far west, we found we were fueling another debate: had the Phoenicians reached the Americas two thousand years before Columbus”.

The journey is riveting. It is also exciting that Beale would recall history in many of the steps he took in an effort to prove his journey legitimate. You can purchase the book at

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