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Phoenicia braves the Cape of Good Hope

by Alice Chutter on 26 Feb 2010
Phoenicia - about to challenge one of the great capes SW
A primitive sailing vessel, based on designs of Phoenician cargo ships from circa 600 BC, will soon face its biggest challenge yet as the international crew members onboard attempt to navigate a stretch of the worlds most dangerous coast line; Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of Africa, and its more famous brother, the Cape of Good Hope.

Phoenicia, the Phoenician Ship Expedition, is a project conceived by local expeditioner and entrepreneur Philip Beale from his base near Lulworth Cove in Dorset. Beale is Expedition Leader onboard Phoenicia bringing together sailors and adventurers from across the globe as part of his crew.

Phoenicia (www.phoenicia.org.uk) is attempting to illustrate that 2000 years before the European, Bartholomew Dias, rounded the Cape of Good Hope the Phoenicians had already achieved a circumnavigation of Africa. As such the expedition is attempting to put African history in its true context.

Many people have considered the idea “madness” according to Beale but as Phoenicia approaches the half way mark of the voyage in Cape Town they are beginning to prove sceptics wrong. The South African public and media have really got behind the project as the ship makes her way along the East and Western Cape with features on national television and headlines in all the South African newspapers.

The expedition launched from Syria in summer 2008. Over the course of the last 18 months an international crew, of up to 16 people on any one leg, have battled against the elements to re-trace the Phoenicians ancient route around Africa. No mean feat on a ship of this type which is based on a traditional sixth century BC Phoenician cargo ship and has few modern luxuries onboard.

“There is no doubt in my mind that navigating the Cape of Good Hope will be one of the most difficult stretches of our 17,000 mile voyage. We are preparing ourselves for this next passage and praying for fair winds and currents to help us on our way.”

Phoenicia’s progress around the Cape can be followed online the website over the course of the next week www.phoenicia.org.uk.
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