Alma's still sailing, 106 years on
A SCHOONER built on the Coffs Coast more than a century ago is heading to her new home in Melbourne this week.
The Alma Doepel is a three-masted topsail schooner that was built at Bellingen in 1903, and after being based at Port Macquarie for the past seven years, she is now bound for Melbourne to undergo further restoration work.
The 106-year-old ship, which was originally used to carry timber from Port Macquarie to New Zealand, has performed numerous other tasks over the years, including a stint with the Australian Army during World War II as a training ship for novice sailers, and sailing beside the Young Endeavour for bicentennial celebrations on Sydney Harbour.
The history of the Alma Doepel begins in the 1870s, when immigrant Frederik Doepel jumped ship in Sydney and came to settle in the Bellinger Valley.
Frederik became a shipping agent and acquired a timber mill, as well as starting his own company of coastal sailing vessels, most of which he named after his daughter.
The Alma Doepel was launched on October 10, 1903, and named after his youngest daughter, who was a baby at the time.
When Henry Jones & Co bought the ship, Alma was 13 years old and she wrote to Henry asking him to retain the name.