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Pauls Shipwreck

When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, Paul and certain
other prisoners were placed in charge of Julius, an officer of the
Emperor's regiment. We went on board a ship which was bound for the
seaports of Asia Minor. The next day we stopped at Sidon, where Julius
very kindly allowed Paul to visit his friends and be entertained by
them. Putting to sea again, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, for the
wind was against us. Then after sailing past Cilicia and Pamphylia, we
came to Myra in Lycia. There the officer found a ship from Alexandria
bound for Italy and put us on board. For many days we made slow progress
and it was only with great difficulty that we arrived off Cnidus. Then
as the wind was against us we sailed under the lee of Crete, opposite
Cape Salmone, and after coasting along with great difficulty came to a
place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

As our voyage had taken some time and sailing had become dangerous (for
it was already late in October) Paul warned them, saying, "Men, I see
that the voyage will mean serious injury and loss, not only to the cargo
and the ship but also to our own lives." But the officer paid more
attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul
said. As the harbor was not a good one in which to winter, most of them
advised putting to sea from there, hoping that they could get to
Phoenix (a safe harbor) so as to winter there.

When a light breeze from the south sprang up, they thought that they
could reach Phoenix. So, after lifting up the anchor, they ran close
along the coast of Crete: but in a short time a tempestuous wind called
a "Northeaster" beat down upon them. The ship was caught in it and was
unable to keep her head to the wind. So we had to give up and run before
it. Running under the lee of a little island called Cauda, we managed
with difficulty to haul in the ship's boat. After lifting it on board,
the men used ropes to bind together the lower part of the ship. As they
were afraid that they might run ashore on the African quicksands, they
lowered the sail and drifted. But as we were being terribly battered by
the storm, the next day the men began to throw out the ship's cargo. On
the third day, with their own hands, they threw overboard the ship's
tackle. For many days neither sun nor stars were seen and the heavy gale
continued, so at last all hope that we would be saved was given up.

When the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up among them
and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from
Crete, then you would have escaped this hardship and loss. But now I
urge you to cheer up, for there will be no loss of life, but only of
the ship. For last night, an angel of the God, to whom I belong and whom
I serve, stood beside me and said, 'Paul, have no fear, for you must
stand before the Emperor. God also has granted you the lives of all of
those who sail with you.' Therefore, men, cheer up! For I believe God
and am sure that it will be just as I have been told; but we will be
wrecked on a certain island."

When the fourteenth night came and we were drifting about in the
Adriatic Sea, the sailors about midnight thought that they were nearing
land. So they took soundings and found one hundred and twenty feet of
water; and when they had gone a little farther they found ninety feet.
Fearing that we might be wrecked on the rocks, they threw out four
anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. The sailors wanted to
escape from the ship and had even lowered the boat into the sea,
pretending that they were going to lay out anchors from the bow, when
Paul said to the officer and to the soldiers, "Unless these men stay on
board, we cannot be saved." Then the soldiers cut the ropes which held
the boat and let her drift away.

Just before daybreak Paul begged them all to take some food, and said,
"This is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly on the watch,
taking little or no food. Take some food, then, I beg of you, because
this will keep you alive, for not one of you will lose even a hair from
his head." When he had said this, he took bread, and gave thanks to God
before them all, and he broke the bread and began to eat it. Then they
were all cheered up and they also took food. There were about
seventy-six of us on board. When they had eaten enough, they lightened
the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

When it was day they could not make out what land it was; but they saw
an inlet with a sandy beach on which they planned, if possible, to run
the ship ashore. So cutting away the anchors they left them in the sea.
At the same time unloosing the ropes which tied the rudders and hoisting
the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach; but coming to a place
where two seas met they ran the ship aground. The prow stuck fast and
could not be moved, but the stern began to break up under the beating of
the waves. Then the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners for fear some
of them might swim ashore and escape. But as the officer wished to save
Paul, he kept them from carrying out their plan, and ordered those who
could swim to jump overboard and get first to the land; the rest
followed, some on planks and some on other things from the ship. In this
way they all got safely to land. After we had escaped we found that the
island was called Malta.

Next: The End Of Pauls Long Journey

Previous: A Prisoner Who Preached To His J

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