26th January 2008, 14:35
Alma Doepel, a three masted topsail schooner built in 1903 was a feature in Port Phillip as a sail training ship from the mid 1970's to the 1990's. Initially built in northern NSW as a flat bottom centre board vessel intended to carry timber from up river locations on the east coast across estuary sandbars. After struggling in Melbourne, including the odd run in with the Wattle, she went north to Port Macquarie to "try her luck". During the 1990's she ran out of survey and has not been operating for some time. A Melbourne group has now been formed to raise funds to tow her back to Melbourne from Port Macquarie and refit her to survey. They are initially seeking a $100,000 to do this. It is good to see community groups emerging that are willing to have a go at keeping our maritime heritage. Their website is www.almadoepel.com.au A number of photographs of her are in the tall ships part of the SN photo gallery. A history of her was published in about 1978 by Captain Ralph McDonell - Alma Doepel The History of an Australian Schooner 1903 - 1975. ISBN 0 7316 1931 5. PS I am not associated with this group.