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. Chapter 27.

Paul Sails for Rome

1 WHEN IT WAS DECIDED that we should sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, of the Augustan Cohort. 2 We embarked in a ship of Adramyttium, bound for ports in the province of Asia, and put out to sea. In our party was Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3 Next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius very considerately allowed Paul to go to his friends to be cared for. 4 Leaving Sidon we sailed under the lee of Cyprus because of the head-winds, 5 then across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, and so reached Myra in Lycia.

6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian vessel bound for Italy and put us aboard. 7 For a good many days we made little headway, and we were hard put to it to reach Cnidus. Then, as the wind continued against us, off Salmone we began to sail under the lee of Crete, 8 and, hugging the coast, struggled on to a place called Fair Havens, not far from the town of Lasea.

9 By now much time had been lost, the Fast was already over, and it was risky to go on with the voyage. 10 Paul therefore gave them this advice: 'I can see, gentlemen,' he said, 'that this voyage will be disastrous: it will mean grave loss, loss not only of ship and cargo but also of life.' 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said; 12 and as the harbour was unsuitable for wintering, the majority were in favour of putting out to sea, hoping, if they could get so far, to winter at Phoenix, a Cretan harbour exposed south-west and north-west.

The Storm at Sea

13 So when a southerly breeze sprang up, they thought that their purpose was as good as achieved, and, weighing anchor, they sailed along the coast of Crete hugging the land. 14 But before very long a fierce wind, the 'North-easter' as they call it, tore down from the landward side. 15 It caught the ship and, as it was impossible to keep head to wind, we had to give way and run before it. 16 We ran under the lee of a small island called Cauda, and with a struggle managed to get the ship's boat under control. 17 When they had hoisted it aboard, they made use of tackle and under-girded the ship. Then, because they were afraid of running on to the shallows of Syrtis, they lowered the mainsail and let her drive. 18 Next day, as we were making very heavy weather, they began to lighten the ship; 19 and on the third day they jettisoned the ship's gear with their own hands. 20 For days on end there was no sign of either sun or stars, a great storm was raging, and our last hopes of coming through alive began to fade.

21 When they had gone for a long time without food, Paul stood up among them and said, 'You should have taken my advice, gentlemen, not to sail from Crete; then you would have avoided this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you not to lose heart; not a single life will be lost, only the ship. 23 For last night there stood by me an angel of the God whose I am and whom I worship. 24 "Do not be afraid, Paul," he said; "it is ordained that you shall appear before the Emperor; and, be assured. God has granted you the lives of all who are sailing with you." 25 So keep up your courage: I trust in God that it will turn out as I have been told; 26 though we have to be cast ashore on some island.'

27 The fourteenth night came and we were still drifting in the Sea of Adria. In the middle of the night the sailors felt that land was getting nearer. 28 They sounded and found twenty fathoms. Sounding again after a short interval they found fifteen fathoms; 29 and fearing that we might be cast ashore on a rugged coast they dropped four anchors from the stem and prayed for daylight to come. 30 The sailors tried to abandon ship; they had already lowered the ship's boat, pretending they were going to lay out anchors from the bows, 31 when Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay on board you can none of you come off safely.' 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes of the boat and let her drop away.

33 Shortly before daybreak Paul urged them all to take some food. 'For the last fourteen days', he said, 'you have lived in suspense and gone hungry; you have eaten nothing whatever. 34 So I beg you to have something to eat; your lives depend on it. Remember, not a hair of your heads will be lost.' 35 With these words, he took bread, gave thanks to God in front of them all, broke it, and began eating. 36 Then they all plucked up courage, and took food themselves. 37 There were on board two hundred and seventy-six of us in all. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted they lightened the ship by dumping the corn in the sea.

The Shipwreck

39 When day broke they could not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a sandy beach, on which they planned, if possible, to run the ship ashore. 40 So they slipped the anchors and let them go; at the same time they loosened the lashings of the steering-paddles, set the foresail to the wind, and let her drive to the beach. 41 But they found themselves caught between cross-currents and ran the ship aground, so that the bow stuck fast and remained immovable, while the stem was being pounded to pieces by the breakers. 42 The soldiers thought they had better kill the prisoners for fear that any should swim away and escape; 43 but the centurion wanted to bring Paul safely through and prevented them from carrying out their plan. He gave orders that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land; 44 the rest were to follow, some on planks, some on parts of the ship. And thus it was that all came safely to land.

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