on Acts 27 :40
Taken up the anchors - Weighed all the anchors that they had cast out of the stern. Some think the meaning of the word is, they slipped their cables; and so left the anchors in the sea.
Loosed the rudder bands - Or, the bands of the rudders; for large vessels in ancient times had two or more rudders, one at the side, and another at the stern, and sometimes one at the prow. The bands, ζευκτηριας, were some kind of fastenings, by which the rudders were hoisted some way out of the water; for, as they could be of no use in the storm, and, should there come fair weather, the vessel could not do without them, this was a prudent way of securing them from being broken to pieces by the agitation of the waves. These bands being loosed, the rudders would fall down into their proper places, and serve to steer the vessel into the creek which they now had in view.
Hoisted up the mainsail - Αρτεμονα is not the mainsail, (which would have been quite improper on such an occasion), but the jib, or triangular sail which is suspended from the foremast to the bowspirit; with this they might hope both to steer and carry in the ship.
on Acts 27 :40
Had taken up the anchors - The four anchors with which they had moored the ship, Acts 27:29. See the margin. The expression may mean that they slipped or cut their cables, and that thus they left the anchors in the sea. This is the most probable interpretation.
And loosed the rudder bands - The rudder, in navigation, is that by which a ship is steered. It is that part of the helm which consists of a piece of timber, broad at the bottom, which enters the water, and is attached by hinges to the stern-post on which it turns (Webster). But what was the precise form of the rudder among the ancients is not certainly known. Sometimes a vessel might be steered by oars. Most ships appear to have had a rudder at the prow as well as at the stern. In some instances, also, they had them on the sides. The word used here in the Greek is in the plural τῶν πηδαλίον tōn pēdalion, and it is evident that they had in this ship more than one rudder. The bands mentioned here were probably the cords or fastenings by which the rudder could be made secure to the sides of the ship, or could be raised up out of the water in a violent storm, to prevent its being carried away. And as, in the tempest, the rudders had become useless Acts 27:15, Acts 27:17, they were probably either raised out of the water, or made fast. Now that the storm was past, and they could be used again, they were loosed, and they endeavored to direct the vessel into port.
The mainsail - ἀρτέμωνα artemōna. There have been various explanations of this word. Luther translates it as "the mast." Erasmus: "the yards." Grotius, who supposes that the mainmast had been cast away Acts 27:17, thinks that this must mean "the foremast" or "the bowsprit." The word usually means the "mainsail." The Syriac and Arabic understand it of a "small sail," that was hoisted for a temporary purpose. Mr. Smith, in his work on this voyage of Paul, supposes that it was "the foresail." Others translate it "a jib." "The mainsail (foresail) being hoisted showed good judgment, though the distance was so small, as it would not only enable them to steer more correctly than without it, but would press the ship farther on upon the land, and thus enable them the more easily to get to the shore" (Penrose).
on Acts 27 :40
27:40 Loosing the rudder bands - Their ships had frequently two rudders, one on each side. were fastened while they let the ship drive; but were now loosened, when they had need of them to steer her into the creek.