Cruise to help restore Alma Doepel

Cruise to help restore Alma Doepel

By Micaela Togher

A Voyage of Discovery Cruise is being held as part of ongoing fundraising efforts to restore the historic Alma Doepel tall ship.

On April 18, guests will be able to board the Lady Cutler to learn about the history of the Alma and hear updates on the restoration process.

The event has been designed to allow pas- sengers to view the progress made on the restoration and learn more about the ship’s history.

Starting in Docklands, the three-hour event will travel via the ports of Melbourne along the Yarra River through to Williamstown and back again.

Retired Major General and Vietnam War veteran Michael O’Brien will be on board to deliver a presentation on Melbourne’s maritime history – including the pre-settlement era, the development of ports and waterways and the impact of post-settlement times.

Due to remedial works on the North Wharf pier preventing public access to the ship, the traditional annual on-site event has been aban- doned in favour of the cruise.

Alma Doepel Supporters Club vice president Bill Reid said the event aimed to celebrate the maritime heritage of Melbourne by seeing the city from the perspective of the sea.

With the hull’s exterior now almost complete, the Alma is expected to be floated by the end of April or early May.

“We are ready to go – we are just waiting for the shipping company to give the go ahead,” Mr Reid said. “We are making good use of the extra time we have to get things done that are better done onshore than afloat.”

Restoration on the ship struggled last year after COVID-19 restrictions forced volunteers to stay at home. With restrictions now eased, it is hoped volunteers will return to enable paid labour to focus on the more complicated tasks.

It is estimated a further $1.3 million will need to be raised in order to complete the repairs.

Melbourne Showboat Cruises is co-presenting the event with a portion of ticket sales going towards the continued restoration effort.

Mr Reid encouraged all who are interested in Melbourne’s history to attend.

“We’d love people to come – it’s a COVID-safe event. The ship can carry 300 but numbers are limited to 120 to keep everyone safe. It’s a cele- bration of our rich maritime history,” he said •

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