13When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.14But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.15So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. ~Acts 27:13-15 NKJV
Euroclydon is a violent Nor’easter – a Levanter, or Mediterranean typhoon. We’re not talking a few whitecaps here. No, this is more like Perfect Storm weather.
The captain sets a course a lee of a small island named Clauda. They scramble to bring the skiff onboard, as it is swamping off the aft tow line. Counting the waves, the more experienced crew tag a good one coming alongside and heave the skiff onto the deck. Off they go – cabling up the ship; but soon realize the ship is about to run aground upon the looming sandbars of the Syrtis.
Once I was in the Bering Sea on a crabber and holding watch with the skipper. We were running northerly about 10 knots heading to Unalakleet in a driving rain storm chatting about nothing much when I happened to notice what looked like waves breaking over a sandbar! I hollered and the skipper opened his side window to stick his head out for a better look. It was raining so hard the water was standing against the windows, blurring our vision. Nothing on the radar; I grabbed a chart and saw nothing noted; but in a shallow sea like the Bering, it’s common for bars to materialize and then disappear year after year. They go uncharted but vessels beware! Sure enough, we could hardly believe our eyes, but the boat was about to ground on a ghost bar! The skipper hit the jog lever hard port and reversed throttle, jarring our vessel into a change of course while throwing all loose parts and persons down onto the floor from the braking action. The boat shuddered once, then veered to port, nearly grazing the bar.
Likewise, Paul’s captain orders to strike sail in defeat of Euroclydon, and narrowly misses the Sartys. Off they go again; away from the Sartys Sands and into the hungry jaws of the tempest. After jogging up and down the Adriatic all night pitching and tossing to and fro; they lash each other to the deck to avoid being washed overboard by walls of water. The next day all unnecessary goods, cargo, and ballast are thrown into the angry sea.
The ship is far off course now and no effort to lighten the ship has eased their plight. On the third day in a last bid for survival, captain gives the order to throw all the ship’s tackle overboard. Without gear to assist, the crew throws it over by hand and fear begins to gnaw at their shrunken bellies.
Amazingly, for many days not much changes. Imagine the darkness. The skies are totally black. No sun by day, or moon nor stars by night. The sea is a dark, clawing hole. No light anywhere day after day. Wave after wave washes over the deck as the lurching ship threatens to roll over … but doesn’t.
Euroclydon reminds me of a bully grabbing someone and shaking them upside down until everything in their pockets dumps out onto the ground. If you have ever been on the sea in the grip of a serious storm, you know what I mean. The sheer power of a great typhoon like this little ship endured is terrifying and humbling. The keel visibly twists and groans while those on deck pray that it does not snap!
I wonder what Julius, the soldiers, captain, ship owner, crew, and the other prisoners are thinking by the first week of this storm? … The words hopeless, helpless, or defeated come to mind. They may be praying to their gods, who they must believe are very angry. How about by day ten? After that, it would most likely be downright fear. Only Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus would likely be praying and trusting in our Heavenly Father YHWH for deliverance.
Until next post we must leave our beleaguered group in the deathly grip of Euroclydon; which is still raging with no end in sight.
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