The vessel in which Paul sailed, with certain other state prisoners, was "a ship of Adramyttium" apparently engaged in the coasting-trade, and at that time (probably the end of summer or the beginning of autumn) bound on her homeward voyage. Whatever might be the harbors at which she intended to touch, her course lay along the coast of the province of Asia.
Adramyttium was itself a seaport in Mysia, which was a subdivision of that province, Since Apostle Paul, however, never reached the place, no description of it is required.
It is only needful to observe that when the vessel reached the coast of Asia, the travelers would be brought some considerable distance on their way to Rome. Once they arrived there would be a good prospect of finding some other westward-bound vessel, in which they might complete their voyage.
Apostle Paul's two companions, besides the soldiers, with Julius their commanding officer, the sailors, the other prisoners, and such occasional passengers as may have taken advantage of this opportunity of leaving Caesarea, were two Christians already familiar to us.
The two men who traveled with Paul were Luke the Evangelist, whose name, like that of Timothy, is almost inseparable from the Apostle, and whom we may conclude to have been with him since his arrival in Jerusalem, and "Aristarchus the Macedonian, of Thessalonica," whose native country and native city have been separately mentioned before (Acts 19:29, 20:4).
Aristarchus seems, from the manner in which he is spoken of in the Epistles written from Rome (Philemon 1:24, Colossians 4:10), to have been, like Apostle Paul himself, a prisoner in the cause of the Gospel.
On the day after sailing from Caesarea the vessel put into Sidon (Acts 27:3). This may be readily accounted for by supposing that she touched there for the purposes of trade or to land some passengers.
Westerly and north-westerly winds prevail in the Levant at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn and we find that it did actually blow from these quarters soon afterwards, in the course of Apostle Paul's voyage. Such a wind would be sufficiently fair for a passage to Sidon and the seamen might proceed to that port in the hope of the weather becoming more favorable, and be detained there by the wind continuing in the same quarter.
Sailing out to sea
On going to sea from Sidon, the wind was unfavorable. Hence, whatever the weather had been before, it certainly blew from the westward now.
The direct course from Sidon to the "coasts of Asia" would have been to the southward of Cyprus, across the sea over which the Apostle had sailed so prosperously two years before. Thus when Luke says that him and Paul "sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary" (Acts 27:4), he means that they sailed to the northeast and north of the island. The reasons why this course was taken will be easily understood by those who have navigated those seas in modern times.
The Lycian harbor, in which the Adramyttian ship came to anchor on this occasion, after her voyage from Sidon, was Myra. Its situation was at the opening of a long and wonderful gorge, which conducts the traveler from the interior of the mountain region of Lycia to the sea. A wide space of plain intervened between the city and the port. Strabo says that the distance was twenty stadia, or more than two miles.
Andriace, the port of Myra, was one of the many excellent harbors which abound in the south-western part of Asia Minor. From this circumstance, and from the fact that the coast is high, and visible to a great distance, it was common for ships bound from Egypt to the westward to be found in this neighborhood when the winds were contrary.
It was therefore a natural occurrence, and one which could have caused no surprise, when the centurion met in the harbor at Myra with an Alexandrian corn-ship on her voyage to Italy (Acts 27:6). It is probable that the same westerly winds which had hindered Apostle Paul's progress from Caesarea to Myra had caused the Alexandrian ship to stand to the north.
Thus the expectation was fulfilled which had induced the centurion to place his prisoners, including Paul, on board the vessel of Adramyttium. That vessel proceeded on her homeward route up the coast of the Aegean, if the weather permitted. They would then make their way to Rome.