Acts 27:29 And fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak.
As noted previously, the captain, sensing that the ship was approaching land, cast off four “storm anchors” to secure the ship. Mark Gatt notes, logically, that the ship did not spend the night directly above where the anchors had been cast into the sea (= Ancient Anchors + Artifact below). He notes that “good seamanship shows us that for the safest anchoring, the length of the anchor rope has to be ten times as long as the depth of the sea. A longer rope secures better anchorage and allows the ship to better ride the waves in a storm” (p. 104).
This being the case, it seems to me that the ship spent the night riding out the storm at the entrance to Salina Bay, not too far from Qawra Point—see on the map below “Night Anchorage in Storm?” and the following picture.
Acts 27:39 “And when day came, . . .”
The following picture is of the rocky promontory called “Qawra Point.” This may have been the view, in the overcast dim of the dawn while the storm was still raging, that the 276 people on Paul’s ship would have seen. If the storm anchors would have given way—the ship probably would have crashed into Qawra Point!
The Qawra Peninsula forms the northwestern shore of Salina Bay. the Salina Bay is off the left (southwest) edge of this photo. The Qawra Peninsula/Point is what Mark Gatt believes to be the place where the “two seas met,” near which was the reef on which Paul’s ship eventually ran aground (Acts 27:41).
Acts 27:39 And when day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a certain bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could.
Salina Bay, with shallow reefs and some sandy beaches, fits the above description very well.
The photo above was taken near where the “Night Anchorage In Storm” is marked on the map above. This may be the spot where they cut the anchors loose and attempted to head straight into Salina Bay. (see text below)
40 And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders, and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach. 41 But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves. (NASB)
Mark Gatt believes that Paul’s ship ran aground on a sand reef [now just below the surface] that is in the center of Salina Bay—and broke apart there (Acts 27:41; text and picture above). It was from there that the 276 people made their way to safety on the island of Malta from the shipwreck on the reef in Salina Bay.
You are invited to join us on our April/May 2022 following Paul from Shipwreck on Malta to Martyrdom in Rome Click Here.
For a complete discussion of the shipwreck of Paul see Mark Gatt, Paulus The Shipwreck 60 A.D. Second edition, 2017. Malta: Allied Publications.
For a good discussion of the shipwreck, ancient anchors, etc., and a vigorous interaction with the views of Robert Cornuke, see Gordon Franz “Does the ‘Lost Shipwreck of Paul’ Hold Water? Or, Have the Anchors from the Apostle Paul’s Shipwreck Been discovered on Malta?”