Acts 27:17
Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) They used helps, undergirding the ship.—The word “helps” answers to what we should call “precautions,” or “remedial measures.” The process described, technically known as “frapping,” consisted in carrying a strong cable several times round the ship from stem to stern, so as to keep the planks from starting, and guard against the consequent leakage. The practice has always been a common one. Thucydides (i. 29) mentions the Corcyreans as having recourse to it. The Russian ships taken in the Tagus in 1808 were kept together in this manner in consequence of their age and unsound condition (Arnold, on Thuc. i. 29). We have probably an allusion to it in the lines of Horace (Od. i. 14).

“Ac sine funibus,

Vix durare carinæ,

Possint imperiosius

Æquor.”

[“And scarcely can our keels keep sound,

E’en with the ropes that gird them round,

Against the imperious wave.”]

Fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands.—Literally, the Syrtis. There were two quicksands of this name, the Greater and the Lesser, on the north coast of Africa. The former lay just to the west of Cyrene, the latter further west, and nearer Carthage. St. Luke probably speaks of the Greater. These quicksands were the terror of all Mediterranean sailors (Jos. Wars, ii. 16, § 4). A fine description of them is given by the Evangelist’s namesake, Lucan, in his Pharsalia (ix. 303-310):

“When Nature gave the world its primal form,

She left the Syrtes neither sea nor land.

There neither sinks the shore and welcomes in

The deep sea’s waters, nor the coast can hold

Its own against the waves, and none can track

Their way within the uncertain region’s bounds.

The seas are marred with shallows, and the land

Is broken by the billows, and the surge

Beats on the shore loud-sounding. Nature leaves

This spot accursed, and of use to none.”

Comp. Milton’s Paradise Lost, ii. 939:

“Quenched in a boggy Syrtes, neither sea

Nor good dry land.

The voyagers knew that the gale was bearing them in that direction, and did not dare to let the ship sail on full before the wind any longer.

Strake sail.—The English fails to give the sense of the original. Had they struck sail altogether the ship would simply have drifted in the very direction which they were anxious to avoid. Some sail was absolutely necessary to keep the ship steady. What is meant is that they “lowered the ship’s gear,” the spars and rigging, and especially, perhaps, the heavy yard and ropes which the ancient ships carried, and which would, in such a gale, make the ship top-heavy.

And so were driven.—Better, thusi.e., in this state, undergirded and with storm-sails set. They aimed at sailing as close as possible to the wind, making for the north-west, so as to avoid the Syrtes.

27:12-20 Those who launch forth on the ocean of this world, with a fair gale, know not what storms they may meet with; and therefore must not easily take it for granted that they have obtained their purpose. Let us never expect to be quite safe till we enter heaven. They saw neither sun nor stars for many days. Thus melancholy sometimes is the condition of the people of God as to their spiritual matters; they walk in darkness, and have no light. See what the wealth of this world is: though coveted as a blessing, the time may come when it will be a burden; not only too heavy to be carried safely, but heavy enough to sink him that has it. The children of this world can be prodigal of their goods for the saving their lives, yet are sparing of them in works of piety and charity, and in suffering for Christ. Any man will rather make shipwreck of his goods than of his life; but many rather make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, than of their goods. The means the sailors used did not succeed; but when sinners give up all hope of saving themselves, they are prepared to understand God's word, and to trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ.Which when they had taken up - When they had raised up the boat into the ship, so as to secure it.

They used helps - They used ropes, cables, stays, or chains, for the purpose of securing the ship. The danger was that the ship would be destroyed, and they therefore made use of such aids as would prevent its loss.

Undergirding the ship - The ancients were accustomed to pass cables or strong ropes around a vessel to keep the planks from springing or starting by the action of the sea. This is now called "frapping" a vessel. The operation of "frapping" a vessel is thus described in Falconer's Marine Dictionary. "To frap a ship is to pass four or five turns of a large cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of a ship to support her in a great storm, or otherwise, when it is apprehended that she is not strong enough to resist the violent efforts of the sea." An instance of this kind is mentioned in Lord Anson's voyage round the world. Speaking of a Spanish man-of-war in a storm, he says, "They were obliged to throw overboard all their upper-deck guns, and take six turns of the cable round the ship to prevent her opening."

Lest they should fall into the quicksands - There were two celebrated syrtes, or quicksands, on the coast of Africa, called the greater and lesser. They were vast beds of sand driven up by the sea, and constantly shifting their position, so that it could not be known certainly where the danger was. As they were constantly changing their position, they could not be accurately laid down in a chart. The sailors were afraid, therefore, that they should be driven on one of those banks of sand, and thus be lost.

Strake sail - Or, rather, lowered or took down the mast, or the yards to which the sails were attached. There has been a great variety of interpretations proposed on this passage. The most probable is that they took down the mast, by cutting or otherwise, as is now done in storms at sea, to save the ship. They were at the mercy of the wind and waves, and their only hope was by taking away their sails.

And so were driven - By the wind and waves. The ship was unmanageable, and they suffered it to be driven before the wind.

17. undergirding the ship—that is, passing four or five turns of a cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of the ship, to enable her to resist the violence of the seas, an operation rarely resorted to in modern seamanship.

fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands—"be cast ashore" or "stranded upon the Syrtis," the Syrtis Major, a gulf on the African coast, southwest of Crete, the dread of mariners, owing to its dangerous shoals.

they strake—"struck"

sail—This cannot be the meaning, for to strike sail would have driven them directly towards the Syrtis. The meaning must be, "lowered the gear" (appurtenances of every kind); here, perhaps, referring to the lowering of the heavy mainyard with the sail attached to it [Smith].

They used helps; not only using all instruments fit for their purpose, but all hands were employed too.

Undergirding the ship, with cables, to keep the sides of the ship the closer and faster together.

The quicksands: there were two quicksands especially famous in Africa, the one the greater, the other the lesser, called Syrtes, because these mountabes of sand under water did seem, as it were, to draw and suck up ships, they were so soon swallowed up by them.

Strake sail; by the word here used, sails and their tackle, or the top-mast, may be understood decks.

Which when they had taken up,.... When they had got the boat into the ship:

they used helps; the mariners made use of other persons, called in the assistance of the soldiers, and passengers, and prisoners; or for the help of the ship, they made use of cords, chains, and such like things:

undergirding the ship: with cords and ropes, which they drew under the keel of the ship, and so bound both sides of the ship, that it might not split and fall to pieces; which may be what is now called "frapping", and is done by putting large ropes under the keel, and over the gunwale; and is used when a ship by labouring hard in the sea breaks the bolts in her sides, and this keeps her from parting. Horace (z) refers to this use of ropes in tempests, when he says, "Nonne vides ut--sine funibus vix durare carinae possint imperiosius Aequor?" do not you see that without ropes the keels can scarcely endure the more imperious sea? Isidorus (a) makes mention of several sorts of ropes made use of in storms; "spirae", he says, are ropes that are used in tempests, which the mariners after their manner call "curcubae; tormentum" is a long rope in ships, according to the same writer, which reaches from head to stern, by which they are bound faster together:

and fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands: which were on the African coast, here called "Syrtes"; either from the conflux of sand and slime, and such like things, which made them very dangerous for shipping, and being covered with water, could not be seen and guarded against, and especially in a storm; or from their drawing of vessels into them, which they retain, suck in, and swallow up; and such the mariners might know were not far off: there were two very remarkable ones on the coast of Africa, the one is called the greater "Syrtes", the other the lesser (b); the greater was more to the south than the lesser, and also more to the east, and the lesser was to the west: of these "Syrtes", Jerom (c) says, they are sandy places in the great sea very terrible, and to be feared, because they use to draw all into them; they are near the Egyptian sea; the Lybian sea, which washes the African shore, is by Seneca called from them the "Syrtic sea" (d): wherefore,

they strake sail; let down their sails; so read some manuscripts in New College, Oxford; in the Greek text it is, "they let down the vessel"; not the boat they had taken in, of which we read after; nor an anchor, or anchors, which would have been improper in a storm; nor the mast, it can hardly be thought that should be the first thing they should cut down, when they did not cast out the tackling till the third day; the storm was vehement on the first, more vehement on the second, when they lightened the ship, and most vehement on the third, when they cast out the tackling; and as Scheffer (e) observes, the mast is never cut down before the loss of other things; wherefore this is to be understood of letting down the sail yard, and contracting the sails; the Syriac version renders it, "we let down the main sail"; or, "the sail", using the Greek word "Armenon", which signifies "a sail":

and so were driven; about in the sea, wheresoever the winds and waves carried them; or very likely the ship was driven before the wind under her bare poles.

(z) Carmin. l. 1. ode 14. (a) Originum, l. 19. c. 4. p. 163. (b) Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 4. Sallust. in Jugurtha Melam. l. 1. c. 7. (c) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 96. I.((d) De Militia Naval Veterum, l. 1. c. 4. p. 35. (e) Scheffer, ib. p. 297-300.

Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 27:17. And after they had drawn this up, they applied means of protection, undergirding the ship. This undergirding (Polyb. xxvii. 3. 3) took place, in order to diminish the risk of foundering, by means of broad ropes (ὑποζώματα, tormenta) which, drawn under the ship and tightened above, held its two sides more firmly together.[172] Comp. Plat. Rep. p. 616 C: οἷον τὰ ὑποζώματα τῶν τριήρων, οὕτω πᾶσαν ξυνέχων τὴν περιφοράν; Athen. v. 37; and see generally, Boeckh, Urkunden üb. d. Seewesen des Attischen Staats, p. 133 ff.; Smith (The Ships of the Ancients), p. 173 ff.; Hackett, p. 426 ff. By βοηθείαις is to be understood all kinds of helpful apparatus (Aristot. Rhet. ii. 5) which they had in store for emergencies, as ropes, chains, beams, clamps, and the like; see Wetstein. The referring it to the help rendered by the passengers (Grotius, Heinsius, and others), which was a matter of course amidst the common danger, makes the statement empty and unnecessary.

φοβούμενοί τε κ.τ.λ.] and fearing to strike on the (nearest) Syrtis. It is entirely arbitrary to understand τὴν Σύρτιν, without linguistic precedent, in the wider sense of a sandbank (θίς, ταινία, ἕρμα, στῆθος), and not of the African Syrtis. Of the two Syrtes, the Greater and the Lesser, the former was the nearest. As the ship was driven from the south coast of Crete along past the island of Clauda, and thus ran before the north-east wind, they might well, amidst the peril of their situation, be driven to the fear lest, by continuing their course with full sail, they might reach the Greater Syrtis; and how utterly destructive that would have been! See Herod. iii. 25 f., iv. 173; Sallust. Jug. 78 f.; Strabo, xvii. p. 834 f.

ἐκπίπτειν, of ships and shipwrecked persons, which are cast (out of the deep, navigable water) on banks, rocks, islands, shoals, or on the land, is very common from Homer onward; Locella, ad Xen. Eph. p. 239; Stallb. ad Plat. Phil. p. 13 D.

τὸ σκεῦος] the gear, the tackle, is the general expression for all the apparatus of the ship (Plat. Crit. p. 117 D: σκευῶν ὅσα τριήρεσι προσήκει, Dem. 1145. 1 : ΣΚΕΎΗ ΤΡΙΗΡΑΡΧΙΚΆ, 1145. 9; Xen. Oec. viii. 12. Polyb. xxii. 26. 13; and see Hermann, Privatalterth. § 50. 20). The context shows what definite tackle is here meant by specifying the aim of the measure, which was to prevent the ship from being cast upon the Syrtis, and that by withdrawing it as far as practicable from the force of the storm driving them towards the Syrtis. This was done by their lowering the sails, striking sail, and accordingly choosing rather to abandon the ship without sails to the wind, and to allow it to be driven (οὕτως ἐφέροντο), than with stretched sails to be cast quickly, and without further prospect of rescue, on the Syrtis. Already at a very early date ΤῸ ΣΚΕῦΟς was justly explained of the sails, and Chrysostom even read ΤᾺ ἽΣΤΙΑ. According to Smith, the lowering of the rigging is meant, by which the driving of the ship in a straight direction was avoided. But this presupposes too exact an acquaintance with their position in the storm, considering the imperfection of navigation in those times; and both the following description, especially Acts 27:20, and the measure adopted in Acts 27:29, lead us to assume that they had already relinquished the use of the sails. But the less likely it is that in the very exact delineation the account of the striking of the sails, which had not hitherto taken place (in opposition to Kypke and Kuinoel), should have been omitted, and the more definitely the collective meaning is implied in τὸ σκεῦος, the more objectionable appears the view of Grotius, Heinsius, Kuinoel, and Olshausen (after the Peshito), that ΤῸ ΣΚΕῦΟς is the mast. Still more arbitrary and (on account of ἐφέροντο) entirely mistaken is the rendering of Kypke: “demittentes ancoram,” and that of Castalio and Vatablus: “demissa scapha” (see, on the other hand, Acts 27:30).

[172] Yet it is doubtful whether the procedure was not such, that the ropes ran in a horizontal manner right round the ship (Boeckh, Stallb. ad Plat. l.c.). But see Smith.

Acts 27:17. ἣν ἄραντες: “and when they had hoisted it up” into the ship, see on Acts 27:13.—βοηθ. ἐχρῶντο: they used helps ὑποζ. τὸ πλοῖον undergirding the ship, A. and R.V., on ἐχρῶντο see Acts 27:3, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:12; 1 Corinthians 9:15; often compared to the custom called in modern language frapping, or undergirding the ship with cables to prevent the timbers from being strained, or to hold them together during a storm, Plato, Rep., 616, , Polyb., xxvii., 3, 3, Horace, Od., i., 14, 6. The difficult point to decide is whether the girders were put longitudinally round the ship, i.e., passed from stem to stern, or under the ship transversely. Breusing, p. 670 (so Goerne and Vars), defends the former at great length, following Böckh. The passage from Plato, u. s., he admits may possibly make for the latter view, but it is evident that the description is not very definite or precise, and the passage in Isidore of Seville, Orig., xix., 4, 4, “tormentum (ὑπόζωμα) funis in navibus longus, qui a prora ad puppim extenditur, quo magis constringantur,” which Böckh quotes (so also Vars, L’Art Nautique, p. 219) is much clearer. Moreover, the girding was often performed when the ships were on land, on the stocks, and it is not likely that the operation in the circumstances under discussion could have meant passing a cable under the keel. Further, by girding the ship transversely, i.e., underneath the ship (p. 175), only the timbers in the middle of the ship would be held together, whilst a girding longitudinally was needed to secure the whole plankage of the ship. But see on the other hand Ramsay, p. 329, who agreeing with Smith holds that the cables were passed underneath round the ship transversely. Either operation, one would suppose, would have been difficult during a storm. For instances of this practice in modern times, see Smith, and C. and H., small edit., p. 645. Wendt (1899) refers to Naber’s conjecture of βοείαις for βοηθ. as very plausible.—μὴ εἰς τὴν Σ.: “on the great quicksands,” Ramsay; “the Syrtis,” R.V., not merely “the quicksands,” as A.V., but the Syrtis Major, “the Goodwin Sands of the Mediterranean”(Farrar), lying at a distance to the south-west of Clauda; upon them the sailors knew that they would be cast, unless they could manage by some means to alter their course.—ἐκπέσωσι: a regular nautical term, to fall off, ἐκ, i.e., from a straight course, εἰς—Eur., Hel., 409, Herod., viii., 13, others supply “from deep water” and render ἐκπ. to be cast away, Grimm-Thayer, sub v., cf. Acts 27:26; Acts 27:29.—χαλάσ. τὸ σκεῦος: “lowered the gear,” R.V., they reduced sail,” Ramsay; here and in Acts 27:30 used as a nautical term; the tempting reference to Isaiah 33:23, LXX, cannot be sustained, for the meaning of the words is very doubtful. The article with the singular (in Acts 27:19, the plural) seems to indicate “the gear,” the mainyard carrying the mainsail (so Page, Wordsworth, Humphry). Of the A.V., J. Smith says that no more erroneous translation could be imagined, as “they struck sail” would imply that the ship had no means of escaping danger, but was left to flounder hopelessly in the storm, although Meyer-Wendt take the words to mean that they preferred to let the ship drift without any mast or sail than to be driven on upon the Syrtis, as was inevitable with the ship kept in full sail. Chrysostom explains τὸ σκ. as = τὰ ἱστία, but some sail was necessary, and they had still the artemon or storm sail, so J. Smith, who thinks that they lowered the great sail and mainyard some way, but not apparently entirely. The aim of the sailors was not merely to delay their course (which would only bring them upon the Syrtis), but to alter it, and it is therefore quite possible that χαλάσ. τὸ σκεῦος may denote a series of operations, slackening sail, lowering as much of the gear as they could, but leaving enough sail spread to keep the ship’s head to the wind, i.e., to the north instead of drifting to south-west upon the quicksand (Ramsay). Breusing, p. 177 ff., who thinks that the mainsail had been lowered at the commencement of the storm, adopts quite a different meaning for the words, and interprets them as implying that weights and great stones were let down by ropes into the sea for the purpose of retarding the progress of the vessel, and with this view Blass and Knabenbauer are in agreement (Wendt, 1899, evidently inclines to it, and Goerne adopts it); this curious view, which Ramsay finds it difficult to regard seriously, Breusing supports by a passage in Plut., Moral., p. 507, A (so Hesychius’ explanation, ἄγκυρα τὸ ναυτικὸν σκεῦος), which intimates that σπεῖραι and ἄγκυραι were frequently employed to check the course of a ship in a storm; but even if the Greek words admit of this explanation, the object of the sailors was nothing less than to alter the course of the vessel, and Breusing’s supposition would not conduce to this.—οὕτως ἐφέροντο: “so were driven,” R.V., i.e., in this state, “and drove on so,” Rendall; meaning that we let the ship drift in that position, viz., undergirded, with storm sail set and on the starboard tack; J. Smith, so Ramsay, not simply “were driven hopelessly”. For οὕτως, Acts 17:33, Acts 20:11.

17. which when they had taken up] [R. V. “and when they had hoisted it up”]. The sense of the verb is thus fully brought out, as it indicates the labour which the work required.

helps] These were strong cables, which were drawn several times round the hulls of vessels, to help in keeping the timbers from parting. The technical term for the operation is “to frap” a vessel, and it is only in modern times that the process has been abandoned.

should fall into the quicksands] [R. V. “lest they should be cast upon the Syrtis”]. The Syrtis Major and Syrtis Minor are two quicksands on the north coast of Africa, of which the Syrtis Major lies most to the east, between Tripoli and Barca, and was the shoal on to which the sailors at this time were afraid of being driven.

strake sail] [R. V. “lowered the gear”] The noun is a very general one, signifying “tackling” or “implements” of any kind. What was done was to lower everything from aloft that could be dispensed with. They could not have struck sail, because to do so would be to give up all the chance which remained of using the wind to avoid the Syrtis, which was what they desired to do.

Acts 27:17. Ἣν, which) the boat.—βοηθείαις, they used helps) which the boat afforded.—ὑποζωννύντες, undergirding) Gyraldus, in his book concerning voyages, says (ch. xv), that the “mitra” (girdle) is the rope with which a ship is girded in the middle. Add Raphelius.—τὴν Σύρτιν, the Syrtis) quicksands towards Africa.—τὸ σκεῦος; the tackling) [that wherewith the ship was furnished]) the sails, etc., Acts 27:19, in order that they might be driven on the Syrtis with less violence.

Verse 17. - And when they had hoisted it up for which when they had taken up, A.V.; be cast upon the Syrtis for fall into the quick-sands, A.V.; they lowered the gear for strake sail, A.V. Helps; βοηθείαις, in the New Testament only here and Hebrews 4:16; but frequent in medical language, for "bandages, "ligaments," "muscles," and all kinds of supports both artificial and natural, and generally to medical aid. Undergirding the ship; ὑποζωννύντες, only here in the Bible; but found, as well as its derivative ὑπόζωμα, in classical Greek, in the same sense as it has here. In medical language it is used of certain membranes which "under gird" and so strengthen and hold together certain parts of the human body, and specially was applied to the πλευρά. As regards the nautical sense in which St. Luke here uses the word, Dean Howson, in his excellent chapter (23.) on the 'Navigation and Ships of the Ancients,' writes as follows: - "In consequence of the extreme danger to which the ships of the ancients were exposed from leaking, it was customary to take to sea, as part of their ordinary gear, ὑποζώματα, undergirders, which were simply ropes for passing round the hull of the ship, and thus preventing the planks from starting;" and he adds in a note that "within the last twenty years (in 1837) marble tables had been dug up in the Piraeus, containing a list of Athenian ships and an inventory of their tackle, and that they all carried, as part of their "hanging gear," ὑποζώματα. Another great ship described by Athenaeus carried twelve such. The operation of undergirding is still occasionally performed, and is called by seamen "frap- ping." The German word is umgurten (Howson). Among ether recent examples (Howson, p. 33) the Albion was frapped with iron chains after the battle of Navarino. Cast upon the Syrtis. The wind was driving them straight toward the Syrtis Major, "the Goodwin Sands of the Mediterranean" (Farrar), and another twenty-four hours of such a gale might bring them there. The Syrtis Major was a wide gulf off the northern coast of Africa, now the Gulf of Sidra, lying between Tunis and Tripoli, considered very dangerous from its rocks and shoals. Be east upon (ἐκπέσωσι). The verb ἐκπίπτειν is the classical word (Homer, Herodotus, Euripides) for being driven or thrown ashore, and is used in this sense in vers. 26, 29 of this chapter, and in a slightly different sense in ver. 32. They lowered the gear (χαλάσαντες). Σκεῦος is a very common word, variously rendered "goods," "stuff," "vessel," according to the material to which it is applied (Matthew 12:29; Luke 8:16; Luke 17:31, etc.). In the LXX. it is used of agricultural implements (1 Samuel 13:20, 21), of weapons of hunting (Genesis 27:3), of household furniture (Genesis 31:37), weapons of war (Deuteronomy 1:41), instruments of music (2 Chronicles 5:13). This is the only passage in the Bible where it is used in its technical sense as a nautical term. In classical Greek, when applied generally to ships, it means the whole tackling, sails, ropes, yards, stores, engines, etc. The meaning, of course, is narrowed when applied to some particular part of the ship. Here, on the whole, it seems to mean the "great yard," or, if that had been already lowered, the heavy "head-gear," ropes, pulleys, and the like, which, under the circumstances, would contribute to make the ship roll and be unsteady. The word rendered "lowered" is χάλασαι. It is rendered "let down" in Mark 2:4; Luke 5:4, 5; Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:33; and ver. 30 of this chapter (A.V.). In the R.V. it is sometimes rendered "let down" and sometimes "lowered." In the LXX. it is used in the sense of "spreading" a sail (Isaiah 33:23), which would be equivalent to "let down," if the sails were reefed at the top of the mast; and of "letting down" (Jeremiah 38:6). The R.V., therefore, is correct. The object of what they did was to enable the ship to go as near the wind as possible, and with as little straining and rolling as possible. The operation is called by sailors "lying to." Were driven (see ver. 15). Acts 27:17Helps (βοηθείαις)

Any apparatus on hand for the purpose: ropes, chains, etc.

Undergirding (ὑποζωννύντες)

In modern nautical language, frapping: passing cables or chains round the ship's hull in order to support her in a storm. Mr. Smith ("Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul") cites the following from the account of the voyage of Captain George Back from the arctic regions in 1837: "A length of the stream chain-cable was passed under the bottom of the ship four feet before the mizzen-mast, hove tight by the capstan, and finally immovably fixed to six ring-bolts on the quarter-deck. The effect was at once manifest by a great diminution in the working of the parts already mentioned; and, in a less agreeable way, by impeding her rate of sailing."

Quicksands (τὴν σύρτιν)

The rendering of the A. V. is too general. The word is a proper name, and has the article. There were two shoals of this name - the "Greater Syrtis" (Syrtis Major), and the "Smaller Syrtis" (Syrtis Minor). It was the former upon which they were in danger of being driven; a shallow on the African coast, between Tripoli and Barca, southwest of the island of Crete.

Strake sail (χαλάσαντες τὸ σκεῦος)

Lit., as Rev., lowered the gear. See on goods, Matthew 12:29. It is uncertain what is referred to here. To strike sail, it is urged, would be a sure way of running upon the Syrtis, which they were trying to avoid. It is probably better to understand it generally of the gear connected with the fair-weather sails. "Every ship situated as this one was, when preparing for a storm, sends down upon deck the 'top-hamper,' or gear connected with the fair-weather sails, such as the topsails. A modern ship sends down top-gallant masts and yards; a cutter strikes her topmast when preparing for a gale" (Smith, "Voyage," etc.). The storm sails were probably set.

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