Ama Natura means "She Loves Nature" in Latin

And, that is exactly what AMA demonstrates as she visits anchorages, ports and people each year in the Inside Passage. Her design is a study in integration, focused on protecting clean water, people and wildlife.

All of her systems are part of the picture:

  • Solid modeled, highly efficient hull and propulsion system designed with a slow turning, naturally aspirated and adequately-sized (48 HP) engine, high reduction transmission and oversize (24") slow-turning prop;
  • Use of local (Oregon, for now) waste-sourced biodiesel and Renewable Lubricants (NOAA's choice) carbohydrate-based motor oil, transmission fluid and hydraulic fluid; biodiesel cookstove and fireplace, and 97% ethanol summer stove;
  • Five trials to date with copper-free bottom paints to find the most effective low impact solution (Petite Hydrocoat Eco being the best performing so far);
  • Long-lasting and maintainable renewables-sourced construction that is silicone bronze fastened and made from a combination of mostly local framing woods (Oregon white oak), and plantation-grown FSC durable carvel planking (Dark Red Meranti) that can be easily maintained and repaired if necessary;
  • 200 watts of solar panels coupled with an oversized alternator, efficient inverter and - as soon as they arrive - Firefly carbon-foam batteries that have almost twice the capacity (by discharging 80-100% without any loss of capacity), and that are 40% lighter than typical lead acid batteries.  This combination allows her to keep all systems functioning for up to 3 nights at anchor without a genset or running the engine;
  • A gaff ketch sail rig, well-suited to the Inside Passage's rare fair winds and narrow channels;
  • Virtually all LED lights, including a "old friend" brass lamp oil schooner lamp retrofitted to 12v with LED's;
  • And that super-effective green marine device - as noted by the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation - a light touch on the throttle.

 

Peter - holding a primitive type of paddle - and Bridget in the Passage in AMA

Peter - holding a primitive type of paddle - and Bridget in the Passage in AMA

Our All Volunteer Staff

Captain Peter Wilcox, Founding Director, is a USCG licensed Master Mariner, author, boatbuilder, economist, architect and longtime renewable energy user and advocate. Peter is a Cascadia Fellow and was recently named a Canadian Coastal Champion. Until early 2017, Peter was the president of Columbia Riverkeeper for four years and served on its board for 12 years. He has voyaged the NW’s Inside Passage and other saltwater in handbuilt kayaks and sailboats since the mid-1960's.  Peter’s 10-year old vessel, a 36’ motorsailer named Ama Natura (described below).  She is based on a sailing salmon troller on which Peter crewed briefly in SE Alaska. AMA was built for him and his wife, Bridget, by the NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding located on Port Townsend Bay, Washington.

An introductory ecology course, during Peter's first year of college, set the direction for Peter's life work, including the design of dozens of highly-efficient and solar buildings, clean water protection and clean energy leadership, co-designing two green boat prototypes, and helping to launch Oregon-based SeQuential Biofuels, which in 2018 will make approximately 12 million gallons of 100% waste-sourced biodiesel. 

In 2016 Peter proposed the Inside Passage Decarbonization Project to tribes/bands, fuel dealers, ports, fishermen/women and commercial and recreational boaters from Washington to Alaska, throughout the Inside Passage.  The goals of the IPDP are to make it easy for boaters who want to voyage petroleum-free in the Inside Passage, for marine dealers to gradually - beginning now - replace high carbon marine fuels with 90% or more locally made, clean and waste-based, job-creating green biofuels and renewable electricity, and for marinas and ports to shift to renewable shore power - all in the next 20 years. 

Bridget Bayer is the first mate of Ama Natura. She is an author, former restaurateur, and community organizer who helps create vibrant port and urban business districts that support local economies and local energy. Bridget fosters community involvement by creating shared events and enhancing communication streams, administrative structures, financial analysis, funding, annual planning and hands-on operational support for existing and start-up NGO's.  She has learned that shared community activities are a catalyst for change. Bridget is a committed ecological practitioner, who hates waste and dependably finds ways to either eliminate or recycle the carbon in it. 

Howard Matwick is a retired Electronics and IT Specialist with the Canadian Coast Guard and CA Fisheries & Oceans. He is an avid photographer, videographer and sailor with a growing committment to a clean environment for his children, grandchildren and future generations. Howard and his wife, Linda, who live on Vancouver Island, are experienced sailors of the Inside Passage and Haida Gwaii. They look forward to, and are working to make available environmentally-friendly biodiesel and renewable diesel at marine fueling stations to fuel their own 36' sailboat as well as others' boats.


The Problem

This is the slide show we present to raise awareness of the Inside Passge climate challenges and how individual and community action can make a positive and lasting impact. 

Just click the image to advance to the next slide.


Nanaimo pulp mill waste sawdust - a perfect source for producing drop-in Renewable Diesel (Photo by P. Wilcox)

Nanaimo pulp mill waste sawdust - a perfect source for producing drop-in Renewable Diesel (Photo by P. Wilcox)

Who's joining the cause?

  • A Southeast Alaska fishermen's/fisherwomen's co-op that wants to protect and clean the ocean where its members fish and thereby enhance its taste and safety, while receiving a deserved premium for the better quality fish that they can then provide to their customers.
  • A British Columbia marine resort with a very busy fuel dock that responsibly plans to start by switching its own fleet to clean fuels, do their own testing and, if satisfied, then begin selling Bio- and Renewable Diesel to its customers afterwards..
  • A British Columbia First Nation tribe with a fuel dock that has opposed oil tankers in the Inside Passage, along with many First Nation and other residents, and is considering whether "Boating their talk" will include clean, renewable fuels.
  • Two to three Inside Passage marine fuel dealers who, when interviewed by Capt. Wilcox in 2016, confidentially shared their strong interest in providing clean, waste-sourced fuel as soon as possible.
  • A substantial number of NW boaters - commercial and recreational - are realizing the benefits and economies of green fuels.  Some have calculated the value on their own, others have attended Peter's green boating workshops at yacht clubs or boat festivals over the last couple of decades, and some have encountered Ama Natura somewhere along the Inside Passage in the last decade and saw the benefits for themselves.
Six simultaneous humpback plumes - wildlife that an oil spill would decimate  (Photo by P. Wilcox)

Six simultaneous humpback plumes - wildlife that an oil spill would decimate  (Photo by P. Wilcox)

Our Strategy

  1. Start now to “decarbonize the passage” one boat, one fuel station, one port, and one state, province or tribal government at a time.  Our children, and future generations of people and wildlife depend on all of us taking action sooner than later.  Having local, provincial, and tribal and federal governments develop supportive policies and incentives will likely be necessary to sustain and accelerate this citizen and boater-led grass root effort. 

  2. Educate and support marine fuel station owners and ports without existing marine fueling infrastructure on how to add green biofuel pumps and renewable shore power - so that any boater who wants to voyage the Inside Passage carbon-free is able to so using easily available waste-sourced biofuels or renewable electricity that best suits their vessel’s propulsion.

  3. Encourage and support the development of local, appropriately-scaled and waste-sourced green biofuels and utility-scale tidal, solar, wind and - where essentially harmless to salmon - hydro-produced electricity made available at marinas along the WA, BC and SE Alaska coasts.

 

SE Alaska Fishboat - Switching to renewable clean fuels would help protect the fish and improve their habitat (Photo by P Wilcox)

SE Alaska Fishboat - Switching to renewable clean fuels would help protect the fish and improve their habitat (Photo by P Wilcox)

Organizational Strategy

While a new NGO/Non-Profit might be the right organizational structure, we have also initiated conversations with leading multinational NGO's whose missions could encompass this new project, such that a complete new organization might not have to be developed. A first step is to identify a fiscal agent, or agents, so that donations can be made tax free where applicable. Or, we will need an experienced volunteer to help with the paperwork for the new NGO/Non-profit option.

 

Seabirds and Basaltic columns - deep natural beauty we all need to protect from the potential for oil spills (Photo by P. Wilcox)

Seabirds and Basaltic columns - deep natural beauty we all need to protect from the potential for oil spills (Photo by P. Wilcox)

Funding

The IPDP is currently funded solely by Capt. Wilcox, using modest and rapidly declining revenues from MT and WY natural gas discoveries made decades ago by his father, a consulting geologist. In 1970, Peter's father urged him to concentrate on solar and energy efficiency, rather than fossil fuels, for his career. This was welcome advice and wholeheartedly taken.

We are also accepting donations (not yet tax deductible) - at the bottom of the Home and Start Decarb'ing pages.  These will be used exclusively to help offset the costs of the website, marina charges, biodiesel fuel and biolubricants, ferry transportation, and to fund an annual Solutions Conference, to be held next spring, probably in Port Hardy or Prince Rupert.