One who navigates or assists in the operation of a ship; a sailor or seaman. (1Ki 9:26, 27; Eze 27:8, 9; Re 18:17-19) The life of ancient mariners was a perilous one. In a storm-tossed sea they were practically helpless. Wrote the psalmist: “Because of the calamity their very soul finds itself melting. They reel and move unsteadily like a drunken man, and even all their wisdom proves confused. And they begin crying out to Jehovah in their distress.”—Ps 107:26-28.
Acts 27:15-19 contains a vivid account of the measures taken by mariners during a storm. The skiff, which was towed along and evidently served as a lifeboat when needed, was hoisted aboard. Helps, possibly ropes or chains, were used to undergird the boat, that is, were passed around the hull of the ship and tightened on deck. The gear was lowered. This may mean that the mainsail was reduced. Items were thrown overboard to lighten the vessel, serving to increase the ship’s buoyancy.—Compare Jon 1:5; Ac 27:38; see SHIP.