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We Finally Did It - An Electric Ally's Way

When my son and daughter were preparing for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah, it was a long process.  There were hours of study, tears over going to Hebrew lessons when they wanted to do something else, frustration at not being able to chant the trope perfectly, and so much more.  But when the day finally arrived, they both did a beautiful job and took their place as “adults” in the Jewish community. I’m still trying to figure out who determined that a 13-year-old is an adult, but I’ll leave that for another time. The point is, that the Bar and Bat Mitzvah represent a major transition in one’s life and a milestone to be celebrated.

In a sense Repair the Sea has had milestones like that as well.  What began as a small, Jewish Scuba club under the auspices of a small Hillel at a small liberal arts college at a small city in Florida, has grown into a global organization with thousands of individuals participating in our programs around the world.  But we have held onto our roots in Florida with local programs.  In particular, our Dive Against Debris Program in Tampa Bay.  In 2016, Scubi Jew ((he Jewish Scuba Club at Eckerd College) received the donation of a 1985 34 ft. SeaRay Sport Fisherman boat.  The boat was donated by Todd and Michelle Willen of Akron, Ohio in memory of their daughter, Ally Willen (Eckerd College Class of 2016).  Ally was a member of the Hillel board and received her scuba certification through Scubi Jew.  We renamed the boat “Ally’s Way” to keep Ally’s memory alive on campus and to perpetuate her legacy of community service and environmental activism.  

Ally’s Way became the official service vessel of Scubi Jew.  We adopted the St. Petersburg Downtown Reef through Project Aware and our students regularly removed debris from the Reef.  Three and a half years ago, just before the Pandemic, as we prepared to take Ally’s Way to the Reef for another Dive Against Debris, her starboard engine died and we found ourselves in a dilemma.  To replace the old gas-guzzling, exhaust-spewing, oil-dripping engine or find out if there was some way to make her environmentally friendly.  To make a long story short…. We finally did it.  Working with Yanmar Marine, Vetus and Xantrex, Ally’s Way became one of, if not the first, old boat in the United States to be retrofitted to electric/solar propulsion.  It was a very long process and everything had to be designed from scratch, but it finally happened.  

Now, instead of the roar of two 450-horsepower gas engines, Ally’s Way runs silently in the water.  No more air pollution, no more water pollution, and especially… no more sonic pollution.  I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved with this transformation and grateful to all those who made it happen.  

This has been a major transition and milestone for Ally’s Way and, since boats are generally referred to in the feminine, to celebrate the event we are holding a “Boat Mitzvah” on April 3rd in St. Petersburg, Florida.  If any of our readers are in St. Pete on that day, we would love to have you celebrate this milestone event with us.  You can RSVP here, and the location will be sent to you with confirmation. There will be refreshments and rides aboard Ally’s Way. All are welcome.  


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