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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Like everything else in Kentucky's Ark Experience Old Testament judgment park, the vessel's design is deliverately backward.

In the news this week after Australian young-earth scammer Ken Ham sold it to a nonprofit he controls to avoid local fire protection and law enforcement taxes, The Ark Experience cost $102 million. Bolted to the ground in Kentucky, the wooden structure is, Ham says, built to exacting Bible measurements and design specs: 510 feet long, 51 feet high, and 85 feet wide, with three decks full of plastic animals and animatronic animals, including friendly dinosaurs.

In recent months, we have received numerous comments about the large bow fin on the roof of our life-size Ark in Northern Kentucky and the stern projection on the opposite end. These questions have been asked on the Ark Encounter Facebook page, via email correspondence, and directly to me.

We have several articles explaining and defending the design of these two objects and why we believe Noah’s Ark may have included structures like these. The primary function of the bow fin and stern projection is to help the Ark point into the waves and reduce the likelihood of it turning side-on into the waves, which is worse for the passengers.

Some people who are interested in the Ark and are somewhat familiar with naval terminology have expressed concern over our labeling of these structures, believing we have confused the front from the back of the Ark. One gentleman wrote to us and kindly asked about our labeling of the bow and stern. He included the following definitions:

Bow: the forward part of a ship. Also called going "for'd."
Stern: the back part of a boat or ship. Also known as "aft."

Defining the terms in this way is helpful because they provide the solution to the dilemma. We just need to dig a little deeper.

Because the bow fin is not a moveable sail, it is not built for navigation or propulsion purposes. In fact, our design for the Ark does not have any built-in method of propulsion. Since the bow fin and stern projection would point the Ark into the waves, and since the Ark has no self-propulsion, it would be pushed by the wind and waves so that it would actually float in the same general direction as the wind and waves. That is, rather than being pushed through the waves by a motor or oars, the Ark would be carried along with the waves.

This means that the leading edge of the Ark is actually the side with the large, rigid sail, which is why we have called this end the bow. The trailing end of the Ark would have the stern projection in the water to help catch the water and keep the Ark turned into the waves.

So even though it may seem as if we have confused the bow and stern, we have labeled them accurately according to the direction the Ark would travel, because it has no means of self-propulsion.

Here are two more possible reasons for the confusion. The first is that the stern happens to look a bit like a modern bulbous bow, which reduces drag when traveling the other way. The second is that modern ships are often seen driving bow first into a storm. However, with a sailing ship, it is impossible to head directly into the weather. I hope this response has brought clarity to the issue.

Ham's Ark is the only one so designed. The bulbous bow, now commonplace on large ships, was not tried until the 1890s and did not come into wide use until the 1960s.

A millionaire Dutch construction company executive, Johan Huivers, has also built an Ark, and his floats:

Huibers' Ark actually floats (and has windows), and is also faithfully recreated from the inerrant Bible; 410 feet long, 95 feet wide, and 75 feet tall. It has five decks full of cages containing stuffed and plastic animals, including two male lions living in the same container as a fawn. Huibers has had it towed to North and South America for religious pilgrimages.

It cost $4 million.

The Dutch version also has a mini-me, Huibers' first run at the project after a dream of The Netherlands being flooded again. It's 230 feet long, 31 wide, and 43 high, so it can be towed through Dutch canals. In 2016 it collided with a Norwegian Coast Guard Cutter in Oslo Harbor and was severely damaged.

Huibers' Arks are built in the traditional re-imagining: a big wooden tub whose only job was to float, then settle on land when the waters receded. It had no means of sailing, or other propulsion, or steering, and therefore no need to reduce water drag as Ham's version claims, nor to have a non-rudder at the otherwise blunt-ended bow, to make for a more comfortable ride for the passengers: who, having never seen the world inundated, had little concept of naval architectural design principles.

Other notable Ark recreations include a 450-foot beached one in a Hong Kong amusement park; a 2/3 scale version in New Brunswick, Canada; a cement and iron construct in France; and a forty-footer originally in a Turkish village. It was relocated there after Greenpeace built it on the slopes of Mount Ararat in 2007.

In 2012 an Ark being built for the movie Noah, with Russell Crowe, was severely damaged at its Oyster Bay, NY construction site by Hurricane Sandy, which caused heavy flooding in the New York City area.

There is no ark in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, however.

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