|The Discovery of New Worlds|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book II of the Story of the World series. Relates the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the middle ages in Europe, the rise of Islam and the Crusades, and finally the age of exploration, and the establishment of trade with the Far East. The book concludes with the discoveries of Columbus and the Spanish settlements in the New World. Ages 10-18 |
VOYAGE AND SHIPWRECK
"Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
—ACTS XV. 26.
 TO appeal to the great Roman Cęsar the apostle Paul now set sail for his longest voyage. A convoy of prisoners was
starting for Rome, and with them Paul embarked at Cęsarea, a new Roman seaport named after Cęsar:
with a fair wind the ship soon reached Sidon. It was the last city on the coast of Syria he ever saw.
Leaving Sidon, the old Phœnician port, the wind
 blew from the north-west and drove them to the north of the island of Cyprus. Still beating against a contrary
wind, the ship reached the shores of Asia Minor, and put into the port of Myra, one of the great harbours of
the Egyptian service. Here was a ship carrying corn from Alexandria to Rome, a large merchant vessel, which had
probably been blown out of her course and taken refuge at Myra. On board this ship Paul and the prisoners were
put, and off they sailed once more. Slowly they sailed south against heavy winds and high seas till they
reached Crete, where in the harbour, which is known as "Fair Havens" to this day, they anchored to wait for a
change of wind.
Time passed, and they were still wind-bound: autumn was coming on, and it was time for navigation in the
Mediterranean to cease. The old ships were not fit to brave the storms of winter in the open sea. A discussion
took place as to whether they should winter in Crete or push on farther. The owner of the ship was for going
on: Paul advised caution.
"Sirs," he said, "I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the cargo and
ship, but also of our lives."
In spite of this advice, however, they determined to make for a safer harbour in which to spend the winter.
With a south wind blowing softly they set sail, and had neared their desired haven, when a sudden violent wind
came down from the
moun-  tains of Crete and struck the ship, whirling her round so that steering became impossible. An ancient ship with
one huge sail was exposed to extreme danger from such a blast as now blew. The straining of the great sail on
the single mast was more than the hull could bear, and the ship might any moment founder in the open sea.
The hurricane blew her southwards, away from Crete, and towards the dreaded quicksands of the African coast
The violence of the storm continued. After drifting helplessly at the mercy of the wind and waves for two days
and nights, they began to throw overboard the cargo to lighten the ship, and then "with our own hands," says
the writer of the Acts, "we threw away all the ship's fittings and equipment."
Here is a striking picture of the growing panic. Still the wind blew, no sun shone by day, no stars lit the
dark sea by night; cold and wet and very hungry, they drifted on towards death and destruction.
At last Paul made his voice heard above the storm. "Sirs, ye should have hearkened to my counsel, and not have
set sail from Crete," he said; "thus you would have been spared this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be
of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but only of the ship."
 The gale continued day and night for fourteen days. At the end of that time, towards midnight, the sailors
heard the breaking of waves on a shore.
They were nearing land, but the danger was still great, for the ship might be dashed on the rocks and go to
pieces. In an agony of terror they waited for the dawn. No coast was visible, only a wild waste of waters. The
sailors, under pretext of casting anchors, lowered a boat, intending to row off and leave the sinking ship and
its two hundred and seventy-six passengers to their fate. Paul saw their intention.
"Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved," he said to those in authority. They had learnt to listen
to the words of this remarkable prisoner. The ropes of the boat were instantly cut, and the sailors' selfish
"This is the fourteenth day that you watch and continue fasting, and have taken nothing. Wherefore I beseech
you to take some food: for this is for your safety."
Again Paul's advice was taken. Daylight came, land was visible, and they made for a pebbly beach and ran the
ship aground. By means of boards and broken planks they all reached land safely, while the old ship which had
borne them through the storm went to pieces before their eyes.
They had reached Malta, and the bay where they landed is known to-day as St Paul's Bay. The sight of the ship
attracted the natives on the
 island—Phœnician and Greek settlers, subject now to Rome—and they treated the shipwrecked crew with unusual
For three months, until February opened the sea again to navigation, they stayed at Malta. Then another
corn-ship from Alexandria—the "Castor and Pollux"—took the passengers on board, and sailed for Syracuse in
Sicily. Here they waited three days for a good wind, which carried them through the narrow straits of Messina,
dividing Italy from Sicily. They passed between chains of snow-clad hills, till at last the merchant ship
sailed into a beautiful calm blue bay to unload its cargo, and very soon Paul found himself in the great city
of Rome herself.
He had already sent a long letter or epistle to the men of Rome.
"I long to see you," he had written to them three years before this; "I am ready to preach the Gospel to you
that are in Rome also."
Now he was among them. True, he was a prisoner: a light chain fastened his hand to that of a soldier who was
guarding him, though he had his own house in the city.
And here Paul preached the good news he had brought, and the Romans became Christians in such numbers that they
were recognised in the city by the emperor.
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