At long mast! Alma Doepel a step closer to setting sail

Sean Car

The restoration of the Alma Doepel celebrated a significant milestone in June as crews worked seamlessly during a six-hour process to erect the historic tallship’s masts.

Under the unwavering and meticulous leadership and guidance of the Alma’s passionate restoration director Dr Peter Harris, each of the ship’s three 18-metre masts were carefully installed without any hiccups on June 5.

With the assistance of crews from Bhagwan Marine, which kindly provided the 60-metre-long barge complete with a 250-tonne crane required to lift each mast into place, Dr Harris told Docklands News that the day couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Around 25 people worked on the installation, including the barge team, shipwrights, riggers, and volunteers, as small crowds gathered throughout the day to witness each three-tonne mast being craned into place.

Dr Harris said the team was relieved to have been blessed with perfect weather on the day.

“The weather was really good,” Dr Harris said. “We were a bit worried there because they had forecast Wednesday [June 5] to be pretty windy with quite a lot of rain, which is not good for heavy lifting with a very accurate target in a particular direction, but it all went perfectly.”  

With the masts now in place, the Alma is now starting to look like a complete ship again, which Dr Harris said had already attracted new interest in the project throughout the community.

“It’s certainly raised the profile,” he said, adding that the team was working towards sailing again and launching its youth training programs by early December 2026.

“Now having got the masts in we’ve got to finish the rigging, we’ve pretty well finished the deck and then we’ve got a deck house to build,” Dr Harris said.

“There is quite a lot of rigging work that will go on and things will gradually build on the deck, and we’ve got a pretty comprehensive schedule for finishing the engine room.”  

“Then the next highlight will be starting the engines up, which will be a couple of months away.”   

The restoration of the Alma Doepel is a $5.5m project and more than $4.3 million has been raised in the 15 years to date since the project began. •

Watch aerial footage of the Alma Doepel’s mast installation.

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