To all our supporters, we hope you are keeping safe and well in these difficult times
Alma Doepel Newsletter - February 2021
We hope all our supporters are staying safe and well during these challenging times. The Covid restrictions have slowed down progress on the restoration, but we have come through it and full steam ahead! Here is our progress report.
Alma with all but 1 plank in place. Caulking 90% complete with caulk sealing now underway
Work on completing the hull has progressed slowly during the Covid lockdowns and restrictions. There was a time when donation funds literally dried up through hardship and uncertainty – when along came a small number of saviours who could see the value of the project and were in a position to help out financially.
I am delighted to be able to report the planking stage has been completed. A total of 350 planks have been used. The final plank (known as the “whisky plank”) is about to be ceremoniously put in place as I write. As this is a traditional occasion for shipwright celebration the event requires as many of those involved as possible to be in attendance to witness the final nail!
All the while the caulking phase has been underway – calculated at approximately 3 kms of caulk to seal the hull. Volunteers have been trained to assist with the sealing of the caulk to give an effective watertight finish. There is probably another month of work left to do to complete the remaining 10% of the caulking.
The caulk sealant is applied with this Bosch sealant gun generously donated by Bosch who have donated many power tools to the project over the past few years. Thank you Bosch
Other work that has been in progress – the ship’s rudder is ready to be put in place. The stock has been faithfully re-created from grey gum and the old blade, still in good order, has been reassembled with lead sheathing to protect the stock from attack by marine borers.
The new engines have been delivered and the gearboxes are on their way from Germany. The bow thruster tunnels are in place with just the flanges to be welded in place. The propellors have now been made and delivered to be fitted to the new shafts – we are in a good place! The engine beds are being laid down as I write. The existing bolts are being refurbished and will be installed to hold the beds in place ready for the engines to be installed once Alma is back in the water.
The engines, under wraps, sit in the shed for the day when they will be fitted to Alma
The bow thruster tunnel under construction. This is now complete
A shipwright skillfully drilling a hole through an engine bed, frame and plank to secure the engine beds
The bronze engine bolts used to secure the engine beds, undergoing final refurbishment
Water lines have been marked on the hull. These have been calculated using old images and regulatory approved formulas.
Notwithstanding funding, COVID-19 has presented the project it’s challenges. Unrelated, but presenting challenges, remedial work is underway at North Wharf to repair piles making access to the site difficult. This work is expected to take several months and during this time North Wharf has been closed to the public. Development Victoria and the Alma team have developed a safe working plan that enables the Alma project to continue throughout the remediation works.
Plans are underway for the Alma’s hull to be refloated around April/May. The exact date will be advised as soon as possible. It is important to distinguish the “Return to Water” of the hull and the completion of the project. The hull needs to be refloated as quickly as possible to prevent drying out of the timbers and new caulking. The next phases of the restoration involving completion of the deck, rig, engineering and accommodation will then commence. The estimated cost to do this is $1.5m and is expected to take 2 years.
This final refit is an expensive and complex task as it requires the ship to be compliant with strict maritime regulations and still retain as much as possible the historic character of the original vessel built in 1903. The refit requires:
Repairs to the deck beams
Refitting the masts, booms, gaffs and yards. 16 of the 17 spars are fully restored or rebuilt
Rigging and fitting of sails
Plumbing and electrical installations
Fit-out of bunk rooms, wheelhouse, mess rooms, navigation cabin and engine room
Following the Christmas break, shipwrights are back at work, with volunteers re-emerging following the lifting of restrictions and work on the ship is resuming again at a pace. Despite all the challenges and difficulties of 2020, the project has continued and all is going well! We are always looking for volunteer helpers, so if you are interested, get in touch and we will meet with you to determine how best you can help and get you started.
Alma Doepel Tour of Discovery an Australian Heritage Festival Curtain Raiser
Restrictions in 2020 meant we were unable to run our normal annual events.
Event casualties have been:
Voyage of a Lifetime Annual Gala Luncheon
Annual Alma Birthday Dinner
Australian Heritage Festival
"Behind the Scenes" tours and Open Days
New Year's Eve
On a positive we did manage to run the 2020 "Leap Day" Cruise on the Victoria Star just before the Covid Iron Curtain came down and put a stop to just about everything - starting with the Australian Formula 1 - remember that!!!
Whilst the Gala Luncheon could not proceed for the same reason, we turned to technology and went down the virtual path and successfully ran two Virtual Wine Tasting events which were well attended and from the feedback, thoroughly enjoyed by those who participated. It's time like these you learn you learn a new way of doing things!
The "Leap Day" Cruise on board the Victoria Star 29 Feb Star 2020
To celebrate "Getting Back to Normal" the Alma Doepel Supporters Club plan to host another Cruise and we will call it the "Alma Doepel Tour of Discovery". The aim is to hold this on Sunday 18 April - exact time to be confirmed, and dependent on Covid restrictions in force at the time, but will be a 3 hour afternoon cruise with a late afternoon lunch or early dinner served on board.
All going to plan, this will be our Australian Heritage Festival event that will run from Sun Apr 18 to Sun May 2, We see this as a festival "Curtain Raiser" in many respects.
Bookings are not yet open, but you can register your interest now (click on the "Email me" button) and qualify for the early bird discount.
Tickets will be $85 a head.
Early Bird, Financial ADSC Members and National Trust members $75.
Children under 14 $50. Infants Free.
Tickets will be strictly limited to 120 passengers to comply with Covid regulations.
This will be a compliant Covid Safe venue.
If you register by midnight Sun 28 Feb and you are a Financial Member of ADSC (you can join now to qualify), you will go into a draw for a free ticket to the cruise. We will offer 1 ticket to the first 50 registrations. If we get more than 50 expressions of interest we will offer a 2 tickets. Register your interest today (and make sure you are financial).
In Other News
Alma Doepel Supporter Graham Pilkington has written an article describing the life and times of the Alma Doepel. Graham has looked at the life of the Alma Doepel taking the view of what was going on in the rest of the world as the history of Alma unfolded.
With the kind permission of Graham Pilkington, I would like to present his version the life and times of the Alma Doepel..
An interesting fact I learned about the Alma Doepel recently is Alma was built before the 3 masted barquentine "Endurance" - which was launched in 1912 (9 years after Alma) and was crushed by pack ice 3 years later in the Antarctic during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. That puts things in perspective... and here she is today undergoing a restoration that could see her last another 100 years.
Alma Doepel Membership
An important word about membership
Subscriptions are a major part of funding for the restoration. As already mentioned the Covid-19 lockdowns meant our fundraising events could not take place in 2020 resulting in significant loss of revenue for the restoration.
Now, more than ever, we need our financial members.
You represent more than membership revenue, you represent a level of physical community support that potential sponsors look for, when considering applicants. So we ask you to please become a finacial member today. If you can afford it, a 5 year membership represents excellent value.
You get 1 year free and you do not have to worry about renewal for some time to come.
So please download the Application for your 2020-21 subscription today.
President – Norm Boreham
Vice President – Bill Reid
Secretary – Karin Otto
Treasurer – Tom Parks
Membership - Rod Alsop
Members – Tim Horton, Graeme Webb, Val Webb, Peter Harris, Daryl Brooks,
Colin Lill, Andrew Cohen, Peter van Duyn (2 positions remain vacant)
Thank you for taking the time to read the February 2021 Alma Doepel Newsletter