THE Alma Doepel was moved into the water this past weekend in a significant milestone in its restoration process. The procedure was carried out with the help of the AAL Shanghai’s onboard cranes at the Port of Melbourne.

Anyone can watch a real-time video of the refloating of the vessel here. Included in the video are informative pieces on the history of the vessel and commentary from people involved in Sail & Adventure, the not-for profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of youth through sail training.

Logistics expert Peter van Duyn gave an account of the operation:

The procedure took about five hours, starting at 1400 and the vessel was back alongside North Wharf in Melbourne at about 1900, with no water ingress. A generator with pumps was standing by just in case.

The operation started when two Svitzer tugs towed the barge with the Alma Doepel on it alongside AAL Shanghai.

The vessel’s two cranes got ready with all the gear, spreader beams, slings, steel grommets and heavy shackles (75 kilograms each), and lifted the Alma Doepel off the barge.

The heavy-lift gear is rated to 700 tonnes. With the Alma Doepel weighing 150 tonnes, there was plenty of safety margin.

The tugs pulled the barge away and towed it back to North Wharf, then came back to pick up Alma. In the meantime, the Alma was gently lowered in the water and we checked her for water ingress.

Once the tugs had made fast to the Alma, the ship then loosened the slings and we released them (lots of pulling and pushing as it was very heavy gear).ill be completed in the next 18 to 24 months (depending on available funds) and ready to take on her role for trips around the bay and for youth development.

Image: Patrick Ellaby