SANTA CRUZ Just a few hours after an 18-hour trip from Redwood City that included a jaunt under the Bay Bridge, the Golden Rule docked in Santa Cruz Small Yacht Harbor for a two-week rest.
The sailboat, a 34-foot, two-mast ketch, is in town as part of a worldwide tour to protest nuclear proliferation, an all-encompassing mission that includes nuclear power, but focuses on weapons.
The tour, which is sponsored by Veterans for Peace, comes as the United Nations pushes a first-ever multilateral treaty to ban nuclear weapons. More than 120 countries signed the legally binding treaty on July 7, a group that did not include the United States, Russia and 48 other countries.
The treaty will become international law once it is ratified by 50 countries.
The crew of the Golden Rule hopes among other things to focus on those holdout nations, said project manager Helen Jaccard.
Jaccard said the ship will also travel along the southern states and the eastern seaboard, as well as up the Mississippi River.
After traveling through the U.S., the crew plans to go through the Panama Canal and on to Asia, she said.
The overall mission is to educate people about the overall danger of radiation, stop war and protect the environment, she said. If we reach out to a broad audience, we have a much better chance of ending the nuclear era.
The Santa Cruz stop on Thursday also came just before Hiroshima Day, the Aug. 6 anniversary of the day the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on that Japanese city in 1945.
Veterans for Peace Santa Cruz chapter president Henry Meserve called the ships arrival, a sign of the possibility of peace, and the possibility of doing away with nuclear weapons.
Meserve, who served in the U.S. Marines from 1960-65, said his father was a pacifist who knew the Golden Rules original crew. He said the ships mission is particularly relevant at a time of increasing hostility between the U.S. and North Korea, which is ramping up its nuclear weapons program.
We dont want any more veterans, he said.
In 1958, the Golden Rule became one of the first environmental activism vessels to go to sea, manned by a crew that planned to sail to the Marshall Islands. There, they wanted to stop the U.S. government from conducting aboveground nuclear weapons tests.
The ship sailed from San Pedro toward the U.S. nuclear test zone, but the trip was sidelined after a crewmember got sick and a storm damaged the boat.
On March 25 they sailed again, but the crew was arrested and jailed in Honolulu.
But that incident, coupled with growing concern and skepticism from a public against its government, resulted in the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.
The story set the stage for such environmental crusaders as Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherds.
Still, the Golden Rule languished for years in Humboldt Bay, eventually sinking thanks to two holes in its stern, Jaccard said.
The ship was removed by a salvage company and was narrowly saved from being turned into firewood by a call by its previous owner, extolling its historical virtues, Jaccard said.
After that, a group took five years to restore it, with the help of several financial contributions, Jaccard said.
The rotating crew sleeps on four bunks, and share a kitchen and a small bathroom.
Jaccard said years of living in an RV made such a cramped lifestyle all the easier.
Goldie is really lucky, she said. She is incredibly lucky or magical. When I lay on the bunk with my feet up, I think to myself how incredibly lucky I am.
The Golden Rule will be docked at P Dock through Aug. 18. The public is invited to visit through Sunday, and then Aug. 16, 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
For information, to follow the progress of the Golden Rule or make donations, visitwww.vfpgoldenruleproject.org or call (206) 992-6364.
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Following the Golden Rule – Register Pajaronian