At first glance passages like this aren’t very exciting, are they? Acts 27.1-12 is filled with details, dates, and directions. However, when we pause and see that they add a great deal of authenticity to what we are reading our attitude towards them should change.
First, from the perspective of good story telling, if we went from Paul in Caesarea to Paul in Rome the Biblical narrative could be accused of missing out such great periods of time that suspicion would be raised: ‘So how did he get from there to there?‘
For the continuity and authenticity of the narrative, we need to know how and when Paul got from A to B.
Second, the places listed in vv.2-12 are real and historically documented (see map below). Again, for the authenticity of the account that Luke is writing (1.1, cf. ‘we‘ 27.1) a comprehensive list of places is invaluable. Add to this the date he provides and what was known about seasons for sailing the open seas 2000 years ago (vv.9-10) and we begin to see that this is not a fabricated story but actually an eye-witness diary, so to speak.
There may not be much action or excitement in the first twelve verses of Acts 27, but there is certainly enough substance to substantiate that what we are reading of actually happened. When we see this and accept this, we read with fresh eyes the words Paul is recorded as having said, the truths he is recorded as having proclaimed, and the Saviour that is central to all that Paul did.
Calendar showing dates of sailing falling into northern hemisphere winter – http://www.cgsf.org/dbeattie/calendar/?roman=59
Grain ships of the day, section 4 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cura_Annonae#Ships