Skip to content

Deck Preparation work in April

Timber blocking pieces are being installed to support the outer edge of the plywood deck layers. These pieces are just inboard of the yet to be installed margin and cover boards which form the very edge of the deck and surround the stanchions. This has been a lengthy process as each piece of blocking is unique in shape and individually fitted.
Finished blocking rebated into deck beams and knees, faired and ready to receive the first layer of plywood decking.
The beams and carlins around the opening of the engine room deckhouse are being prepared for the later reinstallation of the deckhouse.
In several areas of the ship, supports are being installed for later attachment of grey water tanks or other tanks or machinery.
Framing for the sole of the captains cabin being installed by one of our volunteers.

March progress update

The shipwrights have completed the deck fairing and are bolting in place the bases for reinstallation of the whalebacks on the foredeck. Fixing of the first plywood layer of the deck is expected to commence in this area before month’s end.
The forward side of this bulkhead is being lined with tongue and groove planking machined and installed by one of our volunteers. In the foreground is part of the framing for the lower deck of the chain locker.
Looking down onto that same lower deck framing of the chain locker. Water and debris from the chain will drain below this deck and be pumped out via the bilge pumping system.
The area of deck above the forward section of the engine room is to be removable so that the fuel tanks can be craned in and later craned out if necessary for maintenance or replacement. The black painted steel brackets allow for unbolting of deck beam sections to allow tank installation or removal.
Our volunteer fuel tank constructors/ welders are advancing the fabrication of the fuel tanks. After completing the internal welds of walls, floor and baffles they will install and weld the tops of the tanks.
If you were wondering what happened to the barge Alma sat on for eight years, here it is being given a face lift by its new owner.

January Progress

The main work in January has involved fairing the deck to final shape before commencing the first layer of plywood.

The foredeck area forward of the main deckhouse being faired. The two whalebacks have been temporarily removed to ensure a consistent deck shape. Work is still proceeding in the chain locker up forward as described in a previous post.
This view of the deck fairing gives an indication of the accuracy and time required to achieve deck shape in all directions. Sometimes thin layers of deck beam timber need to be added and glued in place only to be partially shaved again as the fairing continues. The photos cant really show the work involved or the skips full of shavings produced.
Some tasks, just below deck level, are more easily performed before deck placement. The winding mechanism for raising one of the centreboards is shown here being positioned on top of the forward centreboard case.
The previously removed deck planking, with its caulking and bitumen still attached, is being cleaned by volunteers so that it can be machined to its new shape.
Cleaned and machined deck planks ready to be cut in half lengthwise to form the new top layer of the deck.
In the captains cabin, ceiling planks are being replaced. Each plank is drilled in several places to allow access to the bolts from the outside hull planking, should these bolts ever need to be removed for future hull plank repairs.

Final Works for 2021

Our shipwrights are now taking a well earned break after working on the deck beams and many associated tasks. The yellow fairing battens on the deck guide the shipwrights in cambering and shaping the deck beams, knees and other timbers which are planed to receive the first layer of plywood decking. The two white steel water tanks are temporarily sitting on the engine beds awaiting installation of fireproofing material on the hull sides where the tanks will finally be positioned.
Until the main decking is installed, every opportunity is taken to complete tasks in difficult areas. This area in the forepeak functions as the chain locker for the main anchor chain at the base of the temporary ladder. An intermediate deck has been installed below the original breasthook, with an access ladder to a main deck hatch. A heavy partial height bulkhead will be installed aft of the small deck to contain the chain.
Volunteers skilled in metalwork have taken on the task of fabricating two new 4500 litre fuel tanks. These tanks will be a better shape for the engine room space, freeing more space for black water tanks and ensuring the fuel tanks meet current standards. Seen here in the middle of one of the tanks is the baffle wall which prevents fuel sloshing around in a seaway. The cutout in the baffle coincides with the inspection hatch opening in the yet to be installed front of the tank, allowing inspection of both halves of the tank.

Update on various works

At the forward end of the engine room, the shipwrights have been installing heavy timbers which will bear the weight of two 4500 litre diesel fuel tanks. New tanks are being fabricated, as the old tanks were found to be deficient in metal thickness.
A new section of deck beam was required above the bulkhead forward of the main deckhouse. The scarf joints in the old beam are seen here ready to receive the new section.
Eighty plywood sheets for the under layer of deck have been prepared with a V groove similar in appearance to the underside of a traditional laid deck. Sheets are being pre-coated with epoxy paint prior to installation. This pre-coating will minimise overhead painting after the sheets are installed and the use of epoxy paint ensures bonding with the glue applied to the deck beams.

Deck Work

Spanning between two deck beams are the timber mast partners which surround and support the mizzen mast at deck level. The mast will socket into the keelson at the base of the white temporary upright. The mast partners are of huon pine and have been reused from the earlier deck structure.
Main mast partners aft of the main deckhouse.
The lead ballast blocks (10 tonne in total) are being returned to their position on the floor frames while good access is available through the open deck areas above. The lead blocks are 45 kilogram each and are only roughly being distributed to their areas at present, as they may need repositioning to finally trim the ship. After final positioning they will be fixed to the floor frames to prevent movement at sea and will be mostly unseen under the cabin sole.

Completion of Deck Beams

The last two replacement deck beams have been laminated and placed in position. The one in the foreground sits in its final location on the bulkhead between the engine room and the accomodation wet areas. The other beam forward of this is still supported by a sling above its final position. What looks like a dividing wall under the centre of this beam, is the aft centre board casing.
Looking aft over the same area shows the beams complete around the opening above the engine room. When the final beams are bolted in place, the shipwrights will begin the process of fairing the top of all beams in preparation for laying the deck.

Return to Water, Saturday 16 October 2021

If you follow this site, you will probably have watched the live stream return to water of Alma or visited our Facebook site. The images below are just a small snapshot of the many photographs and videos from this milestone event.

The moment after eight years when Alma is free of the barge and hanging by four massive 50 tonne slings lifted by the two cranes on the lift ship. The barge was towed back to Docklands where it will await possession by its new owners.
No going back now. Alma is afloat next to the AAL Shanghai lift ship. Shipwrights and others were on board at this stage checking for leaks and ready to start emergency pumps if required. No leaks were found. Alma is floating about 3-400 mm above her final projected marks since there is about 50 tonnes of machinery, tankage, fitout, rigging etc still to go back on board.
After being towed back to North Wharf, Alma was shepherded back to her berth by the two Svitzer supplied tugs which had assisted us all day.
Our Captain for the day was Matt McDonald, CEO of Searoad Ferries. The First Mate position was filled by our Restoration Director, Peter Harris OAM. Whilst Alma was not under her own power during the day we were still required to have trained mariners in charge.
The team of shipwrights and volunteers required for the days on water activities. There would be many more if all those people working behind the scenes could be shown. Thanks to you all.
A reminder of what Alma looked like in 2013 after she had been loaded on the barge in Williamstown and towed back to Docklands.

Return to Water

How to witness the event
Live Broadcast will commence from 2pm


The Lift is happening this Saturday.