Acts 27:14-26 — Caught in a Storm

14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.

15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.

16 And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty.

17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands , they struck sail and so were driven.

18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.

19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands.

20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us , all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.

22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.

23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve,

24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’

25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.

26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

not long after (v.14) — after rounding Cape Matala

arose (v.14) = lit. “came down it” — winds off the 7,000-foot mountains on Crete

Euroclyldon (v.14) = lit. “wind causing broad waves” — the Northeaster or Levanter

Cauda (v.16) — A small island 23 miles south of Phoenix — today called Gozzo

secure the boat (v.16) — hauled in the ship’s boat which had been towing behind the ship — it was surely filling with water

undergirding (v.17) — The process called “frapping” by sailors, stout ropes being passed under the vessel transversely to prevent the timbers from starting apart.

Syrtis Sands (v.17) — There were two formidable quicksands of this name, the dread of sailors, Syrtis Major (referred to here) and Syrtis Minor, on the north coast of Africa, the one off the shores of Tripoli, and the other off Tunis more to the west. The east-northeast wind would drive them straight on to it, in the direction which they had been following from Crete to Cauda.

struck sail (v.17) — They now lowered the great main-sail, which they had not been able to reef and set before because of the rough weather. With that still set, the wind would drive them rapidly on to the quicksands. It may also include the lowering of the heavy yard-arm and other gear from aloft, except a small storm-sail necessary to enable them to keep the ship’s head to the wind and to alter her tack. Under such circumstances, sailors would bring the head of the vessel as near to the wind as possible and adjust a small sail to steady her. She would then be driven leeward, and, with a strong east-northeast wind blowing, would drift west by north, the average rate of drift being about a mile and a half per hour. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, pages 553-554.

lightened the ship (v.18) = lit. “began to do a throwing out” — a technical term for tossing cargo overboard

tackle (v.19) — spare fittings, furniture, everything that wasn’t essential

neither sun nor stars (v.20) — they could not navigate and had no idea where they were

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