Paul is shipwrecked

Acts 27:7-8     Tacking against the westerly wind, the ship makes slow headway, but eventually arrives off Cnidus (the Turkish port of Knidos) (see 4 on Map 26). They then head out across the Mediterranean Sea and sail past Cape Salmone and along the south coast of Crete where it is more sheltered (see 5 on Map 26).

With some difficulty, they anchor at Fair Havens – today the tiny, remote fishing harbour of Kali Limenes near Lasea, accessible only by sea or by a steep track from the cliff top.


South coast of Crete

The south coast of Crete near Kali Limenes  (Acts 27:7)


Acts 27:9-12   It is already getting late in the Mediterranean sailing season (traditionally, 10th March to 11th November) and the Jewish Festival of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) held in late September or early October has already passed, so Paul is in favour of wintering at Fair Havens.

But the centurion and the owner want to sail further along the coast to Phoenix where the larger and more accessible ancient harbour at modern-day Lautro, west of Hora Sfakion, is better protected from winter storms.

Acts 27:13-15 So they set out along the southern coast of Crete (see 6 on Map 26). Before long, however, a hurricane-force wind from the north east drives them out to sea.

Acts 27:16-17 South of the island of Cauda, they lower the sail completely and let the ship run with the storm. They drag the heavy anchor behind them to stop the ship from running onto the sandbanks of Syrtis off the coast of Libya (see 6 on Map 26).

Acts 27:18      By the second day of the storm, the ship is suffering a violent battering and is beginning to be swamped by water. So the crew begin to lighten the ship by throwing some of the heavy clay amphorae containing grain overboard.


Roman amphorae


Roman amphorae, St Peter's Castle, Bodrum
(Acts 27:18)



Acts 27:19-26 On the third day, the ship is getting so low in the water that the crew jettison the heavy tackle used for raising the mainsail. The crew begin to give up all hope of riding out the storm, but Paul assures them that God will save their lives.

Acts 27:27-38 After fourteen days of being blown across the Mediterranean Sea, the sailors discover, in the middle of the night, that the ship is approaching unknown land in total darkness.


The sailors drop four anchors from the stern to stop the boat being smashed onto the rocks, and prepare to make their escape in the lifeboat. The Roman soldiers accompanying Paul cut the ropes holding the lifeboat so the sailors can’t escape. After a quick breakfast, they lighten the ship further by jettisoning the remains of the precious cargo of grain.

Acts 27:39-44 At dawn, they spot a sandy bay (now called St Paul’s Bay) where they hope to run the ship aground. They cut the anchors loose and try to steer the boat towards the beach using the rudders and the small foresail. But the ship runs aground on an offshore sand bar and begins to break up. Fortunately, everyone is able to swim ashore or reach the land by clinging onto the ship’s timbers.


St Paul's Bay, Malta

St Paul's Bay, Malta  (Acts 27:41)

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