Tag Archives: Shipwreck

Paul’s Shipwreck on Malta — Final Part

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!

View looking west at Qawra Point (see map) that is located on the northern tip of the Qawra Peninsula. To the right of center is squat square tower is visible. This is called “Qawra Tower.”

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.

View looking south-southwest into Salina Bay.

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.

For a complete discussion of the shipwreck of Paul see Mark GattPaulus 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?”

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Paul’s Shipwreck on Malta — Casting The Anchors and Dinghy

Acts 27:27 . . . about midnight the sailors began to surmise that 1they were approaching some land. 28 And they took soundings, and found it to be twenty fathoms; and a little farther on they took another sounding and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 And fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak.

The captain and sailors on Paul’s ship found themselves in a very dangerous situation that called for a desperate measure—the casting of the “storm anchors” into the raging sea.

Please note, that under normal circumstances (relatively calm harbors) they would use “composed anchors” to secure the ship.

Two Composed Anchors on display in the Hecht Archaeological Museum in Haifa, Israel. Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

A “Composed Anchor” is made out of a large chiseled stone and has at least three holes in it. A rope was tied in the upper hole—to lower and hoist the anchor—and wooden stakes were inserted into the two lower holes in order to grip the sea bottom. These anchors weighed between 45 and 170 pounds and could be lowered and hoisted by one or two seamen.  This type of anchor was used from the late second millennium BC on.  Please note that this type of anchor would not be able to secure the large Alexandrian Grain Ship in a raging sea!

Acts 27:40 “And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea.

These four anchors were very large and were “storm anchors.”  The “Isis – Sarapis” anchor stock found by Mark Gatt would be an example of this (as would the 3.5-ton anchor stock discovered in the same general area).

A replica of the “Isis – Sarapis” anchor discovered by Mark Gatt.

In this area please note that five “storm anchor” stocks were found that weighed 200, 489, 117, 500 pounds and the 3.5-ton stock plus the massive “Isis Sarapis” stock (Gatt p. 98 citing Scicluna).  These types of anchors were very heavy and were the last hope of securing a ship during a storm—both because of their weight and especially being fastened to the sea bottom.  But, once the storm anchors were cast overboard, and they were once secured on the seabed, they could not be lifted back on board, so they had to be abandoned!  As Acts 27:40 says, “And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea.

On the map note “Ancient Anchors.” This is where Scicluna noted all the relevant anchor stocks.  They had been abandoned as described above.

Acts 27:29 “they cast four anchors from the stern

The bow of a cargo ship with two “storm anchors” secured in place.

On this model the huge storm anchors are lashed onto the bow of the boat, ready to be deployed in a storm.  Under normal circumstances, the anchors would be lowered from the bow (see photo above) to secure the ship.  This would mean that the bow would be facing the oncoming waves because that would be the best way to deflect the waves and to ride out the storm.

But Acts 27:29 says they were lowered from the stern!  Gatt graphically describes how he thinks they were lowered and then the sailor had to quickly run, with ropes in hand, to secure them to the stern of the boat.  Gatt credits the wisdom of the captain in doing this, for this meant that the bow of the boat was facing the shore and it would be much easier to run it aground—once the time had come to abandon the storm anchors!

Acts 27:29 And fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the 1rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak. 30 And as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship, and had let down the ship’s boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the aropes of the ship’s boat, and let it fall away

A sarcophagus that has a sailing ship and its “dinghy” engraved in bas relief.  The projection on the bow of the boat, on the left, may be a SSS sail, OR it might be a representation of a “storm anchor” with its anchor stock.

In the archaeological museum in Sinope Turkey, on the Black Sea, is a sarcophagus that has a sailing ship and its “dinghy” engraved in bas relief.  Behind it there is a small vessel, with a sail, that may be in tow.  Might this be a “dinghy” like the one described in Acts 27:30?

The Apostle Paul, and companions, may have sailed on such vessels. Note the steering oars at the stern of the ship, the billowing mainsail and what looks like a jib (Gatt, p. 18 calls this an “artemon”) near the bow of the boat—or could this represent a storm anchor with its anchor stock? Even the guy-lines are visible in the image.  An inscription on the sarcophagus reads: “Cornelius Arrianus is lying here. His age is 60.”

A line drawing of the bas relief on the sarcophagus in the museum in Sinope.

Alternatively, note that the “dinghy” has a  billowing sail and thus might be a second ship that is being depicted as being in the distance—and thus is smaller than the nearer vessel.

 

For a complete discussion of the shipwreck of Paul see Mark GattPaulus 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?”

Saint Paul’s Islands — Shipwreck on Malta Part 2

View looking north at Saint Paul’s Islands that are located at the entrance to Saint Paul’s Bay that is located on the northwest coast of Malta.

Saint Paul’s Islands have been suggested by some to be the place where the ship that the Apostle Paul was on ran aground (Acts 27:6–28:1; see a brief evaluation of some of the evidence at the end of this post).

On the left (west) side of the map, note the location of St. Paul’s Bay and St. Paul’s Islands.  Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The tip of this peninsula has been suggested by some to be the place where the “two seas met,” near which was the reef on which Paul’s ship ran aground (Acts 27:41).

Acts 27:41 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

View looking north at the rocky cliffs of the northern tip of Saint Paul’s Island. A statue of the Apostle Paul is on the left.

 

View of the modern “dock” on Saint Paul’s Island.

Trekking up to the “summit” of Saint Paul’s Island. On the right is a large statue of the Apostle Paul.

View a large statue of the Apostle Paul on the northern tip of Saint Paul’s Islands that are located at the entrance to Saint Paul’s Bay.

Evaluation of some of the evidence:

Acts 27:39 states:

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.

Saint Paul’s Bay would qualify as “they could not recognize the land”—for Alexandrian grain ships did not frequent this part of the island of Malta and thus the captain and crew would not have recognized this area.  The captains of grain ships heading from Alexandria (Egypt) to Rome would have headed north for Sicily and the Straits of Messina before reaching the east end of Malta, or in some cases would have wintered in what today is the “Grand Harbor” of Valletta, Malta.

BUT, Saint Paul’s Bay’s shoreline is basically rock scarp, and it lacks sandy beaches, and thus would NOT qualify as  “a certain bay with a beach” where the captain attempted to steer his ship.  Thus, Saint Paul’s Bay was probably not the place of the shipwreck.  (see Gatt pp. 107-109).

An example of the rocky shoreline of Saint Paul’s Bay. The Bay actually lacks beaches! Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

In our next post, we will examine the “Isis/Sarapis” anchor stock that Mark Gatt discovered.


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?”

The Shipwreck of Paul on Malta — Part 1

On a recent trip in which we followed in the Footsteps of Paul from His Shipwreck on Malta to His Martyrdom in Rome, we were able to do something very special.  We were able to prevail upon Mark Gatt not only to lecture to us about his discovery of the “Isis/Sarapis” lead anchor stock to the north of Salina Bay (map below), but we were also fortunate enough to have him lead us on a boat trip out on to the waters in and around St. Paul’s Bay and the Salina Bay—two prime candidates for the location of the Shipwreck of Paul (Acts 27:26–28:1).

Mary and Carl with researcher/diver Mark Gatt (center) next to our Luzzu.

To do this, we boarded a traditional Maltese boat called a “Luzzu.”

Our group boarding the Luzzu.

Our nautical adventure took us to two of the places that are candidates as being the site of Paul’s Shipwreck: namely to St. Paul’s Islands and Salina Bay (favored by Gatt).

Who is Mark Gatt?

Mark is a man on a mission. His PAVLVS The Shipwreck 60 AD is the result of a wondrous underwater discovery while scuba diving just off Qawra Point – the remains of a huge Roman-period lead anchor stock embossed with the names of the Egyptian gods ISIS and SARAPI(S). He has been scuba diving for the past 30 years and has been an active volunteer in Civil Protection for the same number of years. For most of this time, Mark was commanding and coordinating a group of rescue divers and was involved in many underwater search and recovery operations for missing persons at sea.

In our next post, we will take a look at St. Paul’s Islands.

The Largest Anchor Stock — Paul’s Shipwreck—Part 2

In my earlier post, I wrote of the 11 Anchor Stocks that are currently in storage at the Malta Maritime Museum—and I described how they worked.

Among the 11 is the largest ancient anchor stock ever to be discovered!

View of the largest anchor stock ever found from the ancient world. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

This anchor stock weighs over 5,500 lbs [2,500 kg.] and is 13 ft. 6 in. long [4.1 m.].  A careful look at the left end of the anchor shows that it was not solid metal, but had a metal shell that encased a wood “soul.” (see below for what is an “anchor stock”)

Note the size of the Anchor Stock in comparison with the woman in the picture!

Gordon Franz (see below) quotes the Museum Archaeological Report that this “enormous Roman anchor stock [was] found lying on the seabed 120 feet below the surface 300 yards off Qawra Point….” [CR=near Salina Bay]. It is dated from “the second half of the second century BC to the middle of the first century AD.” It “… most likely came from an Alexandrian grain ship” [CR: like the one Paul was being transported on? Acts 27:6, 27–29].  It should be remembered that the large “Alexandrian” grain ships could be 180 feet long! — Paul traveled on two Alexandrian grain ships (Acts 27:6; 28:11)

It was discovered near Salina Bay, on the NE coast of Malta.  This is near two of the bays that are “traditional” candidates for the site of the shipwreck of Paul (Acts 27—28:10).


A modern reconstruction of an anchor (with an “Anchor Stock”—right side of image) from the Roman Period.

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?”

A Major New Development in Underwater Archaeology

In the October 9, 2018 online edition of Haaretz there is an article entitled “Meet Zeno, the Tiny Sub Discovering the Secrets of Israel’s Coasts.”

… the Italians are developing the Archeosub – an autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV, called Zeno. It’s a tiny unmanned submarine that will be able to discover, survey and monitor large areas of the seabed.

The AUV nicknamed “Zeno” at the port of Caesarea, Israel, September 2018 Credit: Walter Daviddi from the Haaretz Article

The article states

institutions usually do not have large budgets and cannot afford expensive underwater excursions. Indeed, it costs more than $100,000 a day to operate a large research ship, plus the divers’ equipment itself usually costs millions.

The Italian teams aim to produce an AUV that will collect a great deal of material – on a single mission, said Sharvit, of the IAA: “The major advantage of such a vehicle lies in the fact that it permits the researchers to use it to carry out surveys over a wide area in a short period of time, and under various and unstable conditions. The results are received in real-time.” The hope is that by means of small and relatively inexpensive equipment, information will be generated in real time or just after a survey takes place.

The article contains 11 instructive photos and a 2:33 min. video [not to be missed].  It sounds like this technology is going to open up many new horizions in underwater archaeology.


Two Samples of Boat Discovered in Israel — Below

First century BC and AD boat from the Sea of Galilee.

The Galilee Boat was discovered on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee in 1986.

A fifth century BC ship discovered off the coast of Kibbutz Ma’agan Mikha’el.

The 41 foot long sea–going ship was discovered in the Mediterranean Sea a few miles north of Caesarea near Ma’agan Mikha’el.


To be frank, I am a bit fearful of what will happen when this inexpensive technology becomes weaponized for military purposes. Sigh!

Fair Havens (Acts 27:8)

229_FHavensMap031225Acts 27 describes Paul’s journey, as a prisoner, from Caesarea in Palestine to Rome.

Paul, in the custody of a centurion, sailed W from Cnidus on an Alexandrian grain ship.  the weather forced them to sail on the S side of Crete.  They passed Cape Salmone … and took refuge at Fair Havens.  Since Fair Havens was only an open bay, the centurion, the captain, and the owner of the ship decided to attempt to reach Phoenix ….”
(A. Rupprecht in The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible)

However, the strong wind blew them off course and this led to eventual shipwreck on Malta before continuing on to Rome.

GICRFH12

Kali Limones — Acts 27:8 Fair Havens
The Bay plus the modern dock for small boats

Today the site is called “Kali Limones.”  It is somewhat difficult to get to for one must drive for 45 minutes through some rugged mountains.  The port today is basically a swimming beach with very few structures, an island on which four large oil tanks have been built, a dock (under development 2013) for small boats, and the Chapel of St. Paul—with an associated cave.

ChapelCave01

Chapel of St. Paul (white church)
Cave of St. Paul (the brown doorway to the left of center)

GICRFH14

Port of Fair Havens
Note the island with the oil tanks (sigh)

To view 15 high-resolution images of Fair Havens, including more of the port and the interiors of the Chapel of St. Paul and the Cave of St. Paul Click Here.

When the apostle Paul was traveling as a prisoner from Caesarea, in Palestine, to Rome, after leaving the southwestern coast of Turkey

“… we sailed to the lee of Crete opposite Salmone … and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea … after the fast [Day of Atonement in late September] … the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there … so they weighed anchor and sailed along the [southern] shore of Crete … the ship was caught by the storm … we passed to the lee [south] of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure.”  (Acts 27:7-16; NIV translation)