Why did the Jaredites spend 344 days at sea before reaching the New World?
Because 345 days would have been too long. Just kidding. Not kidding. It really would have been too long.
But seriously, famed LDS Scholar, religious historian, and apologist John W. Welch explains in his book “The Power of Evidence in the Nurturing of Faith” that it takes just about that time for a floating mass to come from Asia to Mexico.
This can be proven by taking the average velocity of currents (somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 18 nautical miles/day) along the path of the current. Depending on where you take the measurement (the North Pacific current is not a single line, but a broad area) this distance can range between around 6000 to 8000 nautical miles (I measured from Hong Kong to Tijuana). Using average numbers, this would usually result in a voyage of 466 days. So, the question might be, why didn’t it take longer than 344 days?
While the Jaredite barges likely did not have sails, the giant mass of wood sitting above the water still had some resistance to wind and would have acted as a weak sail. Prevailing winds usually go in the same direction as (and faster than) the currents. Common wind velocities tend to be around 8 to 15 knots (relative to the current). To achieve a 344 day trip along a 7000 nautical mile trip (that would normally take 466 days) would have required the boat to move less than 1 knot relative to the current. As common small sailboats often move at 6 to 8 knots on non competitive cruises, 1 knot for a barge without a sail is entirely achievable since the barges never stopped until landfall.
If you’re wondering if there is some significant numerology associated with 344, I don’t give that much thought when a very practical condition would generate that number just fine.