Dateline Montrose, Iowa July 14th, 2023 by Donna Lawson, Nauvoo, Illinois
THE WORLD’S OLDEST SHIP REPLICA, THE PHOENICIAN, REVEALS ANCIENT MARITIME LGEGACY
In an extraordinary display of seafaring craftsmanship, the Phoenician people constructed ships in 600 BC that proved resilient against the treacherous waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Crafted from black walnut, olive wood and cedar of Lebanon, these vessels boasted a unique combination of strength and flexibility. Preservation efforts have allowed one such ship, the Phoenician, to be restored as the world’s oldest ship replica, dating back to 600 BC. Philip Beale, a retired Royal Navy officer, maritime history explorer, entrepreneur, adventurer, sailor,, and motivational speaker, has been captivated by the Phoenician’s historical significance. Beale firmly believes that the Phoencians reached the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus. In 2008, he undertook a voyage around Africa and, in 2020, embarked on his final expedition aboard the Phoenician, setting sail from Carthage with Florida as the ultimate destination. During his journey, Beale was pleasantly surprised by the immense interest in the Phoenician.
However, after covering an impressive distance of 32,000 nautical miles, the Phoenician faced a sudden decline in interest, prompting Beale to make the difficult decision to dismantle the ship. While the bow of the vessel was sent to England, the Coast Guard considered sinking the stern in the ocean. Ultimately, due to the inoperable diesel engine, the Phoenician was put up for sale.
Numerous individuals and organizations expressed keen interest in acquiring the Phoenician, including the Heartland Research Group. Unfortunately, the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led potential buyers to withdraw their offers. Nevertheless, Betty Red Ant’s persistence and determination prevailed, eventually leading to an agreement with John Lefgren, President of the board of directors.
The restoration efforts of Mike LaFontaine, a renowned expert, have been integral to the realization of this ambitious project. LaFontaine and his dedicated team are currently focused on meticulously restoring the stern of the Phoenician, ensuring its optimal condition. The ultimate goal is to allow visitors to board the ship, granting them the unique opportunity to touch and admire the extraordinary piece of seafaring history.
In addition to exploring the Phoenician, visitors will have the chance to pursue a gift shop showcasing various artifacts from the ship. Among the items available for purchase are books, including the Torah, the Koran, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, alongside a range of merchandise such as t-shirts. This inclusive approach seeks to pay homage to diver cultures and provide visitors with a comprehensive experience.
Open house days have been scheduled for Friday, July 14th, and Saturday, July 15th, during specific visiting hours. Visitors are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity, although appointments are required for Saturday visits. To schedule an appointment, please contact Mike LaFontaine at 904-435-4416. The exhibition is located at 2495 280th., Montrose, IA. For further information and updates, interested individuals are encouraged to view www.phoenicia.rocks.
The Phoenician serves a remarkable testament to the ancient seafaring prowess of the Phoencian civilization. Its restoration and exhibition are not only a celebration of maritime history but also an invitation for visitors to immerse themselves in an unparalleled voyage back in time.
Inner keel of the Phoenician, a recreation of an ancient trireme circa 600 BC. The Phoenician is being restored in Montrose, Iowa, following its journey across the Atlantic Ocean from Carthage, Tunisia on Sept. 28th, 2019, arriving in F. Lauderdale, Flor. on Feb. 4th 2020.