Philip Beale (74-79 C) hopes to sail a replica Phoenician boat 10,000 kilometres across the Atlantic in an ambitious voyage that could challenge maritime history. As a former naval officer, Philip aims to show the ancient Mediterranean civilization that prospered from 1500BC to 300BC had the capability to sail to America. “Of all the ancient civilizations they were the greatest seafarers — Lebanon had cedar trees perfect for building strong boats, they were the first to use iron nails, and they had knowledge of astronomy and currents.” This type of voyage is not new to Philip as he sailed the same boat around Africa in 2010. Setting sail from Syria in 2008, The Phoenician covered 32,000 kilometres over two years, battling everything from six-metes waves off the Cape of Good Hope to Somali pirates.
The boat was modelled on an ancient 19-metre Phoenician shipwreck excavated off the coast of Marseille. Using locally-sourced materials, shipbuilders stayed true to the original down to the exact thickness of the planks and position of the mast.
The crew of volunteers ranged from six to 15 people at any time, with 53 sailors from 14 different countries taking part over the entire journey. The final leg of the journey took them wide out across the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. It was here Beale got his inspiration for his next journey
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has already invited him to display the boat as part of their upcoming exhibition on the Phoenicians, opening in September 2014.