The Washington Post recently had an interesting piece about an Israeli research project into how the Romans managed to sail loads of grain from the granary that was Egypt or to travel by sea from other eastern parts of the Empire against the prevailing westerly winds in the summer. Ship design did not permit setting the sails to accompany this, and delays could be long if a ship was becalmed.
The research, which involved using a replica vessel of the type used in the Roman era, looked at wind patterns - which are unchanged - as well as how to navigate such a ship.
The answer lay in catching such easterly breezes as there were early or late in the day and patiently sitting at anchor when the westerlies dominated. It made for slow progress but, in the hands of a skilled crew, the ships did eventually reach their destination with their cargo by a zig-zag or similar route.
St Paul was someone who experienced such a journey on his route from Caesarea to Italy, and there are references in Acts to making good progress, to delays and, of course to shipwreck at Malta.
The article can be seen at To study ancient seafarers, researcher built a replica ship — and sailed it