The Ma‘agan Mikhael 2 – The Replica Ship

Sailing a 5th century BCE Replica

The Ma‘agan Mikhael ship, dated to 400 BC, was built shell-first, with keel and endposts assembled first, and then the planks, connected edge-to-edge by mortise-and-tenon joints to form the shell, and finally the frames fastened to the planking by double-clenched copper nails. Due to the significance of the archaeological find, the remains were completely excavated, retrieved from the seabed and conserved, and are now on display at the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. The construction of a sailing replica was a research project directed by Prof. Yaacov Kahanov. Participating in the project were researchers, carpenters, youth, students and volunteers. The construction of the replica was carried out at the Nautical Officers School in Akko, and took two years (2014‒2016), using the techniques of the ancient shipwrights. This was a challenging task that provided essential information on ancient shipbuilding techniques.

The replica was launched in December 2016, and since then has made more than 50 sailings along the Israeli coast, which have provided essential information on ancient sailing techniques, seamanship, and life on board a ship of that period. Sailing from Haifa to Ashdod and back in July 2018, including overnight sailing, a distance of 80 nautical miles each way, was practice for the longer voyage to Cyprus and back.

The Ma‘agan Mikhael ship on display at the Hecth Museum, University of Haifa. Photo by A. Efremov

The Ma‘agan Mikhael 2 left Herzliya Marina on 26th November 2018, and sailed to Cyprus with an accompanying safety yacht. On 29th November, the Ma‘agan Mikhael 2 berthed in Limassol Marina next to the Kyrenia Liberty. The crossing had taken 74 hours. During her stay in Limassol the ship hosted visits by Professor Stella Demesticha and students from the University of Cyprus, local community and press, and an exchange of information was held with Glafkos Cariolou, the skipper and project leader of the Kyrenia Liberty.

This is the first project of its kind in Israel and one of the very few of its kind anywhere, and will strengthen the status of Israel at the forefront of global academic research. The crew maintains an open-door policy to the local community with lectures for the public and by including youth in the work (for example, cadets from the Nautical Officers School in Akko and the Sea Scouts).

Cover photo: The replica ship under sail. Photo by A. Efremov