by Des Ryan
Leg by leg, they're getting there.
Recreating the first circumnavigation of Africa in a 600BCE replica boat was never going to be easy.
But this week Phoenicia was greeted with a very warm welcome at Richards Bay in South Africa, a little north of Durban.
A convoy of 21 yachts came out to meet Phoenicia and back at the Zululand Yacht Club a party of journalists, television cameras, port officials and local supporters were ready to welcome the Phoenician Ship Expedition team to South Africa.
Their expedition is aiming to re-create the first circumnavigation of Africa, believed to have been achieved by Phoenician mariners around 600BCE, and is an approved voyage with the Royal Geographical Society.
The ship is now successfully past the pirate zone in East Africa, although they were forced to detour almost to the Chagos Archipelago to avoid the area. The leg from Beira, Mozambique took a total of 11 days at sea and covered over 700 nautical miles. The team will have a week long break in port before setting off again towards the Cape of Good Hope.
There is an international crew on board the vessel, with sailors from Indonesia, Sweden, Brazil joining the British Captain Philip Beale, and also five members of the Royal Oman Navy.
The expedition will sail to continue around the African coastline then head to the Azores, Gibraltar, Tunisia, Egypt, and Lebanon before returning to Syria, hopefully by July 2010 to complete the circumnavigation of Africa. For further information or to inquire about joining the vessel for a leg, visit www.phoenicia.org.uk.
About the Phoenicians and the vessel:
The Phoenicians were arguably the first ‘global’ civilisation. From around 1200 BC they established a civilisation on the coast of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine which spread throughout the Mediterranean and lasted nearly one thousand years.
The vessel is a replica Phoenician ship which was built using traditional Phoenician construction methods and materials. The ships design specification has been created using evidence from relevant shipwrecks and archaeological finds of artefacts such as vases and coins, as well as advice from eminent scholars and shipwrights.
The 20m long replica Phoenician ship was built in Arwad Island, an ancient Phoenician city state just off the Syrian coast, by Syrian shipwright Khalid Hammoud. Up to 16 crew are sailing the vessel on any one leg.