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Waves Collide and Shipwrecks Happen

Excerpt from A Child’s Geography: Explore the Classical World

The islands of Malta are located south of Sicily, Italy’s largest island. Malta, however, is not part of Italy. It is an independent nation, not subject to outside rule by any other country. Malta sits in the center of the sea, where east meets west and north meets south. Cultures meet on Malta, but they do not collide, as the islands offer a refreshing blend of African climate and European architecture, eastern tradition and western advancement.

However, currents do collide where Malta rises from the foaming waters of the sea. While there are no other names for the Mediterranean at this particular juncture of the waters of the Great Sea, the currents are certainly going in different directions where they meet at St. Thomas’ Bay. With your parents’ permission, watch the waves collide off the coast of Malta in this YouTube video:

Smashing currents and raging tempests make the Malta islands a shipwreck disaster zone when storms blow up. The turquoise waters surrounding Malta are a scuba diver’s paradise, as hundreds of pieces of shipwrecked boats have been pulled up from the tangle of seaweed just off shore. The iron crossbars of ancient Roman anchors found at 90 feet deep off the coast give evidence to Malta’s most famous shipwreck.

In October of the year AD 60, a Roman galley was caught in a terrible storm on its way to Rome. The sailors battled the storm and fought to keep the ship afloat for two weeks before spotting land. However, with the colliding sea currents and the howling winds of a nor’easter, the crew was unable to prevent the great boat from smashing into the reefs and running aground.

The Roman galley was sailing from Jerusalem to Rome, carrying a famous prisoner, the Apostle Paul. After the ship ran aground, the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners onboard to make sure they didn’t swim to shore and escape, but the commanding officer wanted to spare them, especially Paul. Every last man jumped overboard and swam toward land or floated on the debris of the broken ship. All two hundred and seventy six men survived, dragging themselves ashore on an unknown beach, hungry, exhausted, and soaked to the bone.

Once they were safe on shore, they learned that they were on the island of Malta. The islanders were very kind and showed great hospitality to the shipwrecked men. They stayed for three months and then continued their journey to Rome on another ship that had wintered on the island. You can read the unabridged story in Acts 27 and 28.

Published in: A Child's Geography