Acts 27:26-30
Acts 27:26 (KJB)
Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
Paul then adds a further revelation given to him by the angel. Notice it says “we must” not that we are going to be cast. What we see here is that God Himself has ordained this storm and the shipwreck for the purpose of bringing Paul to a certain island which God did not reveal the name of at this point.
Acts 27:27 (KJB)
But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;
This must have been some storm lasting 14 days. The storm had literally blown them in the westward direction into the sea of Adria which was southeast of Italy. This was not the Adriatic Sea. Then about midnight the sailors had seen a shoreline and deemed they were near a shoreline of some country. They still did not know where they were because they were still in the grips of the storm. They may have heard the waves breaking against the shoreline. They would have an ear for something like this being seamen for a long time.
Acts 27:28 (KJB)
And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
The crew then tossed out a weighted rope to check the depth of the sea they were in and found it to be 20 fathoms. 20 fathoms would be 120 feet or 36 meters deep. Then the boat had gone a little further toward the shoreline and they again tossed in the weighted rope and the depth was now 15 fathoms which would be 90 feet or 28 meters. By doing this they knew that they were now coming closer to the shore.
Acts 27:29 (KJB)
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
At this point they heard the waves breaking upon the rocks, so they figured they were close enough to land to be able to hold position because they were not yet upon the rocks which would have torn the ship apart. The anchors which were tossed out, were tossed out of the stern which is the rear of the boat in hopes they would catch on the rocks and cause the boat to remain where it was and avoid going in any further toward the shoreline. Then they hoped that the day would bring an end to the storm. The anchor also has a great spiritual significance for the believers. Hebrews 6:19 (KJV) Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; The soul is anchored in Christ and that anchoring means that we will never be moved. This is an aside, who else but Paul faced shipwreck and would know about an anchor. I believe this is just another piece of veiled evidence that Paul penned the book of Hebrews but I cannot be sure.
Acts 27:30 (KJB)
And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
The crew had decided that it was too dangerous to wait on the ship so they were going to leave the ship and head to the shore where they would be safer and after the storm they would return to the ship and then safely guide what was left. They lowered the small boat under the false pretense of casting anchors in the front of the ship but all along their intention was to basically abandon ship. It seemed the captain did not stand in their way, knowing they were only going to the shore. These men, by abandoning the ship, were also leaving the over 200 people on board at the mercy of the storm and may have meant their deaths. These sailors received no command to put down any anchors and were thus guilty of disobedience.