A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published October 2nd 2014
Restoring a grand old lady
The Alma Doepel is a three masted topsail schooner, Australian built and operated, celebrating her 111th year this year. She is one of the oldest surviving ships of her type.
Alma arriving in Port Phillip (January 2009). Image credit: Andrew MacKinnon
Built in 1903 by Finnish sailor turned shipping agent Frederik Doepel, she was named after Doepel's youngest daughter. The Alma has a rich history, having originally plied Australian waters carrying timber and wheat, then being used as a supply vessel in World War II in Papua New Guinea. Having later been stripped of her rigging to carry limestone, she was sold for the scrap value of her engines in 1976.
Since 2009 she has been berthed at Docklands, Melbourne, where she has been undergoing extensive renovation, with the goal of returning her to her former sailing glory, or "commercial survey certification" standard, to be more technically correct. Current owners Sail & Adventure Limited are currently developing refit plans and reports in close consultation with Marine Safety Victoria. If the goal of a return to commercial survey can be achieved, then it is hoped the Alma can become self funding, through a program of sail training, day cruises under sail, alongside functions, and more specialised activities such as involvement in marine science programs.
The workshop where restoration is being carried out
A major restoration of this type does not come cheaply, and that's where you come in. There are a number of ways you can help to restore the Alma. You can buy a plank for $500, or buy a piece of artwork of the Alma (from $200, artists donate a percentage of the sale proceeds to the fundraising effort), or arrange a special event - a guided tour, with a sausage sizzle and drinks, from $10 per person. You can also purchase fundraiser wine from $10 per bottle (minimum 3 bottles), or buy the book Alma Doepel – The History Of An Australian Schooner for $40.
The group is also looking for a generous benefactor to donate a good quality (around 1000W) mains-powered 235mm circular saw for wood cutting. This will be used for cutting heavy hardwood frames and rounding spars.
The Alma is open to the public each Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, at the Alma Doepel Restoration Site, Shed 2, North Wharf Road, Victoria Harbour, Docklands.