Alma Doepel


Port Macquarie, Australia

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Artist's Description

The Alma Doepel is the worlds oldest Australian built square rigger.

Built at Bellingen NSW in 1903 by Frederick Doepel and named after his daughter Alma, this three masted topsail schooner worked the East coast of Australia as a general cargo carrier and made more than 560 crossings of Bass Strait. She was officially launched on the 10th of October 1903, so she only recently celebrated her 107th birthday!
Ship, ..Stats

  • Launched: 10 October 1903
  • Registered Port: Hobart, Tasmania
  • Home Port: Melbourne, Victoria
  • Length: 35 metres
  • Length Overall: 45m (inc. bowsprit)
  • Beam: 8.6m
  • Draft: 2.29m
  • Mast height: 28m
  • Tonnage: 150.69T
  • Sail Area: 557m2

Alma was initially registered in Sydney and spent her early years travelling mainly between Sydney & Belligen carrying timber. In 1916 she was sold to Henry Jones & Co. Jam Makers, and registered in Hobart Tasmania, (James Craig, another Australian ship of great historical importance was also a part of the Henry Jones Jam Fleet). Alma mainly carried Jam, glass jars & bottles, and timber between Tasmania and the mainland. This was her life until 1942 when she was acquired by the Australian Army, whereby she was demasted, had her bowsprit sawn off and had three engines installed to make her more suitable for the Army needs. Her Army service was mostly spent between Darwin & New Guinea carrying cargo & supplies although she did on one occasion carry 400 troops to the front line near Rabaul, this work continued until 1947 when she was returned to Hobart with the Army responsible for converting her back to her former state. She resumed the timber run to the mainland, this time operating out of St Helens on the Tasmanian East coast and worked in this capacity until 1959 when she was once again stripped of her masts so she could work from 1961 – 1975 as a lowly limestone ferry!

Fortunately better days were ahead when in 1976 “Sail And Adventure” bought Alma to Melbourne with the grandiose vision of restoring her to her former glory and turning her into a Sail Training Ship for young Victorians. Over the course of 12 long years, some hired workers but mainly committed, hard working volunteers restored Alma until finally her moment of glory arrived and on the 25th of January 1988, along with the Young Endeavour, she led the Parade of Sail from Sydney Harbour. Later in 1988 she sailed her first youth voyage and in the years following thousands of teenagers experienced the joys and responsibilities of living and working aboard a Tall Ship, I was one of them. In 1990 I had the privilege of sailing on Alma for 10 days. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and it began a passion for Sailing Ships (and Ships in general) that has not lessened in 14 years. Sadly after only 10 years in operation she sailed her last training voyage in 1998, and her last half day sail in early 1999, her licence to operate was withdrawn by the Marine Board of Victoria and when maintenance /repairs became too costly she was left sitting idle at Victoria dock in Melbourne, no longer fit to go out to sea. This is where, in early 2001, I last saw her.

Again it seemed Alma Doepel faced an uncertain future until April 2001 when it appears some changes in the Board of “Sail & Adventure” prompted a move to Port Macquarie where fund-raising is taking place with a view to complete restoration, survey, registration and hopefully Sail Training, there is even talk of her spending part of each year in Melbourne & the remainder in Port Maquarie which is a very exciting prospect!

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Artwork Comments

  • Prasad
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  • Luuezz
  • Carlos Teófilo
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  • amarica
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  • Mia1
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