From Myra to Fair Havens
There the commanding officer found an Egyptian ship from Alexandria that was bound for Italy, and he put us on board. We had several days of slow sailing, and after great difficulty we finally neared Cnidus. But the wind was against us, so we sailed across to Crete and along the sheltered coast of the island, past the cape of Salmone. We struggled along the coast with great difficulty and finally arrived at Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea. We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it. “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.”
But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. And since Fair Havens was an exposed harbour—a poor place to spend the winter—most of the crew wanted to go on to Phoenix, farther up the coast of Crete, and spend the winter there. Phoenix was a good harbour with only a southwest and northwest exposure.Acts 27:7-12
Normally a journey from Myra to Cnidus would have been accomplished in a day. However this time the journey took them about 25 days to travel approximately 200 kms from Myra to Cnidus. According to a number of commentators normally they could expect favourable winds in August before the seas turn nasty in late autumn. But on this occasion the winds had turned into north westerlies; the winds normally expected at the end of summer. Other commentators say these are the Etesian gales which predominate during later July and throughout August. This wind blowing out of the north west was too strong for them to put into Cnidus and forced them to keep going across the Mediterranean to Crete. They could make no progress toward Cnidus because of the northwesterly headwind. They allowed the northwesterly gale to blow them down to Crete. Once they rounded the point at Salmone they sailed under the leeward, sheltered side of Crete over to Fair Havens. As the name suggests this was normally a safe port in a storm. So on this occasion it was a good sheltered port against the northwesterly gale.
From ISBE (E-Sword)
A roadstead on the South coast of Crete, about 5 miles East of Cape Matala, the most southerly point of the island. The harbour is formed by a bay, open to the East, and sheltered on the Southwest by two small islands. Here Paul waited for a considerable time but while it afforded good anchorage and a shelter from North and Northwest winds, “the haven was not [suitable] to winter in”.
A town on the South coast of Crete, 5 miles East of Fair Havens (Act 27:8). The ruins were examined in 1856 by G. Brown (see Code of Hammurabi (St. P), chapter xxiii, 640). If Paul’s ship was detained long at this anchorage, it would be necessary to purchase stores from Lasea; and this in addition to the inconvenience of the roadstead (see FAIR HAVENS) would probably explain the captain’s reluctance to winter there.
The journey had taken considerably longer than expected to this point. They would have needed to take on supplies at Fair Haven because they had already been almost a month at sea after setting sail from Myra. The weather now had turned dangerous with the winter storms coming early. Despite its name Fair Haven was not the best port to spend winter in. It was exposed to the winter storms when the winds turned again.
“By this time the fast had already gone by” 27:9 (LITV) – Luke’s reference to the fast having been completed is a good time marker for us. From mid-September to mid-November was a dangerous season to navigate the Mediterranean. Normally from November 11 until March 15 it appears historically all open-sea sailing was stopped. The ship likely reached Fair Havens in late September and didn’t leave until October 5th. (Ramsay)
One of you drew attention to “the captain and the owner of the ship”. Were these two different people or one and same? It seems strange that the owner of the ship was travelling with them as well. The Greek terms are [kubernetes] “steersman or pilot” and [naukleros] “ship owner” but this second term can also mean “captain”. The one responsible for navigation and for protecting the owner’s interests, his representative. This person [naukleros] who have been employed by the civilian owner of the ship but would also have been under contract to the Imperial government of Rome. But it certainly seems that we have two men who are involved in this discussion along with all the crew on board.
At this point Paul, a prisoner, speaks up. Some see Paul’s statement here as a prophetic word. But the word [theoro] simply means “Sirs I perceive . . . “ Paul was not making a prophetic statement from God but merely giving his considered opinion related to the danger of continuing at this time. The determining factor in the decision made was that Fair Havens was not a suitable port in which to winter. At which point the crew entered into the discussion and the decision was made to try for Phoenix at the western end of Crete which was a better port in which to winter.
Clearly the owner (or his representative) wanted to get the corn to Rome as soon as possible. Besides, Phoenix was a better port to winter in as it faced northeast and southeast. Well protected against the norwesterlies.
Phoenix (From the ISBE)
(KJV Phenice): A harbor in Crete (Act 27:12). The Alexandrian corn ship carrying Paul and the author of Acts, after it left Myra in Lycia, was prevented by adverse winds from holding a straight course to Italy, and sailed under the lee of Crete, off the promontory of Salmone. The ship was then able to make her way along the South shore of Crete to a harbour called Fair Havens (Kaloı́ Liménes), near a city Lasea (Lasaı́a). Thence, in spite of Paul’s advice to winter in Fair Havens, it was decided to sail to Phoenix. The description which has been translated in two ways: (1) “looking toward the Southwest wind and toward the Northwest wind, i.e. looking Southwest and Northwest”; (2) “looking down the Southwest wind and down the Northwest wind, i.e. looking Northeast and Southeast” On the way they were struck by a wind from the Northeast, called Euraquilo, and ran before it under the lee of an island, called Cauda or Clauda.
The ship, when it left Myra was obviously making for Italy (Puteoli or Ostia) by the shortest route, round Cape Malea, but off Cnidus it encountered a Northwest wind and had to sail for shelter under the lee of Crete. Salmone, now called Cape Sidero, was the promontory which forms the Northeast corner of the island. Thence along the South shore of Crete, as far as Cape Matala, a sailing ship is sheltered by the mountains from the violence of the Northwest wind; West of Cape Matala, where the coast turns toward the Northwest, there is no such shelter. Fair Havens must therefore be looked for to the East of Cape Matala, and there is a harbour, lying 6 miles East of Cape Matala, which is called Fair Havens by the modern Greek inhabitants of the island. There is no doubt that this is the harbour in which the Alexandrian ship took shelter. It is sheltered only from the North and Northwest winds.
The ruins of a city which has been identified with Lasea have been found 5 miles East from Fair Havens, and 12 miles South of the important city of Gortyna. It has been suggested that Paul’s desire to winter at Fair Havens may have been due to its proximity to Gortyna, and the opportunity which the latter city afforded for missionary work. There were many Jews in Gortyna.
From Fair Havens, against the advice of Paul, it was decided to sail to Phoenix, there to pass the winter. While the ship was on its way thither, it was struck by a violent Northeast wind from the mountains, called Euraquilo, and carried under the lee of an islet called Cauda or Clauda. When this happened, the ship was evidently crossing the Bay of Messariah, and from this point a Northeast wind must have carried her under the lee of an island now called Gaudho in Greek and Gozzo in Italian, situated about 23 miles Southwest of the center of the Gulf of Messariah. The modern name of the island shows that Cauda (Caudas in the Notitiae Episcopatuum), and not Clauda is the true ancient form.
The writer of Acts never saw Phoenix, which must have been a good harbour, as the nautical experts decided to winter there (Act 27:11). Now the only safe harbour on the South coast of Crete in which a ship large enough to carry a cargo of corn and 268 souls could moor is the harbour beside Loutro, a village on the South coast of Crete, directly North of Cauda. All the ancient authorities agree in placing Phoenix in this neighbourhood. The harbour at Loutro affords shelter from all winds, and its identification with Phoenix seems certain. An inscription belonging to the reign of Trajan found at Loutro shows that Egyptian corn ships often laid up there for the winter.
The decision has been made; we will leave Friday morning. Hang on to your hats. Make sure you have your wet weather gear with you and keep your life belt fastened at all times. Make sure you are prayed up as well. We are going to leave Friday against Paul’s better judgement. (Why Friday? How do I know they left on a Friday? I don’t; it is simply the next Gem day.) If you’re not living life on the edge, you’re just taking up space!
If every picture is worth a thousand words; does that mean every map is worth 10,000?Ian Vail
When all is said and done, more is said than done.Anon
It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.Anon
Your future is assured; just go out and be yourself.Anon