Acts 27:13 – 44
13When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. 14But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. 15Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head-on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. 16By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. 17After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven. 18We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, 19and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard. 20When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
21Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. 22I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ 25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26But we will have to run aground on some island.” 27When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. 29Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, 31Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift. 33Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. 34Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.” 35After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. 36Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. 37(We were in all two hundred seventy-six persons in the ship.) 38After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea. 39In the morning they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned to run the ship ashore, if they could. 40So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea. At the same time they loosened the ropes that tied the steering-oars; then hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. 41But striking a reef, they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves. 42The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none might swim away and escape; 43but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44and the rest to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
From the harbor at Fair Haven, they needed only to sail to the west, then north around the tip of Crete. A moderate south wind seemed ideal, and so they set sail, hugging the shore of Crete. But the wind changed. A violent north-easter blew down, and there was no way to keep the little ship, with its square rigged sails, on course. They find space from the fierceness of the wind in the lee of a small island, where they undergirded the ship, lowered the sea anchor, and were driven on. They are pounded so violently that the sailors, and soldiers, throw the cargo overboard, and the next day the ship’s tackle. They are working around the clock, without food or rest, in a desperate attempt to save the 276 souls on board.
Paul now speaks to them all, saying that they should keep up their courage. The ship will be lost, but no lives will be lost. For an angel had appeared to him with a message from God – the God to whom he himself belongs and whom he worships, telling him that he must yet stand before the emperor, and God had granted safety to those who travel with him.
They were adrift, and during the night uncertain where they were – they had been off course for two weeks. The sailors saw signs that land was near, and fearing running into a rocky shore, they put out anchors. In the morning they saw the land and plan to run the ship aground on the beach. Instead, they struck the reef, and the ship began to break up. The soldiers planned to kill all the prisoners, but were stopped by Julius. He ordered those who could swim to make for shore, and the others to follow on planks or pieces of the ship. In this way all made it to shore safely.
Notice: Luke gives a great deal of detail here – Paul had experienced other ship-wrecks that he has not recorded, but here he was an eye-witness, a participant. The story is vivid. When we give testimony, it is most effective when we tell our own eye-witness story!
Are there any of us who has not experienced a change in the wind? We are sailing along, doing very well with the wind blowing the way we want to go – when suddenly, the wind changes – there is a diagnosis, an accident, a betrayal, a slip, a giving in to something that takes over our lives. And we make a shipwreck of our lives so very quickly. But God is waiting for us to call on him. He may not save the ship; he may not take us where we intended to go; but he will take us into his arms and be our comfort and lead us through the storm, and bring us safely to shore.
photo attached is a merchant ship from roughly that time