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Israel Photography by Yoav Cohen

The Netz - Shipwrecked on Habonim Beach

The Netz Shipwreck, Habonim Beach

Take a walk along the Habonim Beach, just north of Caesarea, and you will encounter the rusting hull of The Netz, a fishing boat that has been resting here for over 50 years.

Unlike the wrecks in Jaffa and Arsuf Kedem, time the tide right, and you can explore the wreck yourself as I recently did, right on the beach.

But how did it get here?

As it turns out, the story of this vessel is one with repetitive bad luck.

Built with pride in the 1960s in Haifa by Yitzhak Ariel, the boat was originally named Elisheva, after Ariel's sister. She was a fishing vessel custom made to fit the entrances of ports along Israel's coast, with a hull designed to ease navigation over the shallow rocks of ports like Ashdod and Jaffa.

Despite the care he put into planning and building the Elisheva, just one year after she first set sail, Ariel found himself in financial trouble, and was forced to sell his pride and joy.

The boat was taken over by a crew from Jaffa, who also re-christened the ship "The Netz" (hawk in Hebrew). She continued to be used as a fishing trawler, and was put into periodic service to tow smaller boats when needed.

The Netz Shipwreck, Habonim Beach

However, the change of ownership, change of name and change of home port was to have little effect on the boat and its owners' luck.

On March 17, 1970, The Netz left Ashdod Port to pick up and tow three small motor boats to Haifa. She would never reach her destination. Close to Hadera, she encountered a storm more intense than anticipated. The boat suffered damage to her hull and began taking on water quickly.

Immediately the crew sent out a distress call to the Israeli Coast Guard, who relayed it on. The Panther, a similar size boat, left the Haifa Port to assist, but it was too late.

The Netz Shipwreck, Habonim Beach

Even before The Panther reached the stricken Netz, the final nail in the coffin was hammered into place, as the boat's towing rope got entangled in its own motor, killing the engine immediately and leaving it to the mercy of the waves and the tide. Within a few hours, the Netz was washed ashore, beached in its final resting place.

Captured just hours after the storm, this photo shows the beached boat at the time of the accident, almost intact. Fast forward 52 years, and all that remains is her rusting shell, a ghost of what she was. She lies in the same spot where her crew abandoned her, a curious relic on a pristine beach that draws the attention of anyone walking by.

And if you do happen to walk by, be sure to (carefully) step aboard and walk around. It's worth the wet shoes and shorts.

Research & Story credit: Iftach Kozik | Seven Wonders

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