We have received so many questions about the Ark Encounter based on misconceptions about the project itself. Some of these come from people who are supporters and others come from critics and skeptics. These types of questions give us an opportunity to correct these misunderstandings, so we’ll spend several posts addressing these issues.
Question: Why does the Ark Encounter boat have a sail?
This is perhaps the most common question we have received about our Ark’s design. The Bible doesn’t say that the Ark had a sail, so why would we include one? Some people believe this structure gives the impression that Noah was required to steer the vessel through treacherous waters rather than trusting in God to preserve him and his family.
It’s important to remember that the Bible doesn’t tell us much about the Ark’s design. Actually, it provides precious few details about the vessel:
Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. (Genesis 6:14–16)While it’s true that a sail is not mentioned, it is equally true that the Bible does not rule out the existence of a sail-like structure.
In a recent feedback article on the Answers in Genesis website, we addressed these same objections. Here is what we wrote about our Ark’s “sail” and whether it implies that Noah steered the ship:
Since the Bible does not give us detailed blueprints for the structure, we are left to speculate on how it may have looked. Throughout the years, the Ark has been depicted in various ways. One of the more popular portrayals is the box-shaped Ark based on the dimensions in Scripture. But as we have previously explained, this is not a necessary conclusion. Our Ark design is based on the biblical data and extensive research into ancient shipbuilding. . . .So the presence of the “sail,” or more accurately, bow fin, is based on detailed research into ancient shipbuilding, and it would assist in stabilizing the Ark in tempestuous seas.
The “sail” on our Ark is a rigid wooden structure rather than a traditional sail that can be moved for propulsion purposes. Rather than calling it a “sail,” it would be more accurate to call it a stem post projection or a bow fin. This design is reminiscent of many ancient ships.
A bow fin would have served as an obstruction to the wind, pushing the bow away from the wind and into the waves, which would prevent the Ark from capsizing. In tandem with the bow fin, a “stern projection” would have reduced the swaying of the Ark’s stern, thus preventing the Ark from being pushed side-on by the wind. So these additional structures on the top of the Ark were designed to provide stability instead of giving Noah the ability to steer it through the waters.
To find out more about how you can assist in building this larger-than-life attraction—complete with bow fin and all—please visit arkencounter.com.