SYRTIS (sûr'tĭs, Gr. Syrtis). The Syrtes (pl.) were the sandbars off the coast of Libya. The Greater Syrtis was located west of the Cyrene. When the northeaster hit the ship on which Paul was traveling, the sailors feared that they would be run aground on these sandbars (Acts.27.17).
SYRTIS sûr’ təs (Σύρτις, G5358, meaning uncertain). Name given to the shallow waters of the northern coast of Africa between Tunisia, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.
Today the Gulf of Sidra forms the SE corner of this bay known as the Greater Syrtis; the Gulf of Gabes, known as the Lesser Syrtis, forms the SW corner. Always a difficult place for navigation, legend exaggerated the dangers, perhaps to protect Phoen. trade by frightening off other ships. The sailors who were carrying Paul to Rome did everything to avoid being driven into this dangerous shore (Acts 27:17).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
the Ac 27:17. These sandbanks, off the northern coast of Africa, have from early times been regarded as a source of danger to mariners. Virgil refers to them (Aen. iv.40 f). In Paul’s voyage, the ship, driven by a tempestuous wind, Euraquilo, was in peril of being cast-upon them.