Sixty-one years ago, in 1958, the Golden Rule’s crew attempted to stop U.S. atmospheric nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands by sailing from California to the Marshall Islands.

However, the U.S. Coast Guard in Honolulu stopped the captain and crew twice, arresting and jailing them.

But their attempt brought international publicity to the dangers of the atmospheric nuclear testing and helped mobilize citizens throughout the world to put pressure on their governments to stop the testing.

Atmospheric and underwater nuclear testing was finally stopped in 1963 with the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom.

Now, the Golden Rule is sailing again to raise awareness of the horror of nuclear weapons.

The Golden Rule’s Connie “C” Burton, Tom Rogers, Captain Dan Lappala and Jamie Skinner as they prepared to sail to Hawaii from San Diego.

Helen Jaccard

The first leg of the voyage began May 1 as the Golden Rule sailed from San Diego headed for her first stop — Hilo. The trip will take approximately three weeks with the Golden Rule arriving in Hilo the week of May 21.

The Golden Rule will stay in the waters around the Big Island of Hawaii for the month of June before heading for the island of Maui in July, where she will remain until Aug. 7. She will visit the small islands of Lanai and Molokai before sailing on to Oahu, where she will remain for August, September and October. She will sail to Kauai for the month of November.

In each of the islands, crew members will be speaking in schools and to civic groups about the continuing dangers of nuclear weapons to the safety of our planet.

The U.S. Coast Guard boat stopping The Golden Rule off Honolulu circa 1958.  Photo from Swathmore Peace collection

Swathmore Peace Collection

In December, the captain and crew of the Golden Rule will sail to the Marshall Islands where the U.S. nuclear testing from 1946 to 1958 blew up several islands and atolls and radiated many Marshallese who are still suffering from the effects of the nuclear explosions. The combined explosive power of all the bombs dropped on the Marshall Islands during that 12-year period equals 1.6 Hiroshima-size explosions per day.

After a month in the Marshall Islands the Golden Rule will sail to Guam where the U.S. military is increasing the size of U.S. Navy, Marine and Air Force facilities. The next stops will be Saipan and Okinawa, the site of many U.S. military bases.

The Golden Rule will arrive in Hiroshima prior to the Aug. 6, 2020, commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city and of Nagasaki.

Protests in Honolulu of nuclear tests and of the arrests of the Golden Rule crew.

Quaker House, Honolulu

For the past several weeks, the Golden Rule operations manager Helen Jaccard has been familiarizing the captain and crew to the Golden Rule. Jaccard has been sailing on the Golden Rule for the past three years on its voyages along the West Coast of the U.S.

She has been orienting the crew to the communications and navigational equipment, assuring proper rigging for a transpacific crossing, and ensuring that the crew is properly prepared with first aid training  man-overboard drills, as well as putting in the food and water needed for the three-week trip.

Hawaiian elder Puna Kalama Dawson flew from Hawaii to San Diego to give an invitation and a blessing for the Golden Rule to come to Hawaii. She thanked Veterans for Peace, the captain and crew for their commitment to peace in the world and for using the vessel as an educational vehicle for discussions about the folly of nuclear weapons.

In its four years of sailing along the West Coast of the United States, the Golden Rule has visited communities in Humboldt Bay, Eureka, San Francisco, Monterrey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Bremerton and Bangor. The Golden Rule has sailed twice to Ensenada, Mexico, to visit with deported U.S. veterans.

Follow The Voyage

The Golden Rule was found derelict in Humboldt Bay, California, in 2011. A local shipyard owner, Leroy Zerlang, discovered the history of the boat and asked for help in restoring her. Two Veterans for Peace chapters in Northern California volunteered. With Chuck Dewitt as project manager, many volunteers helped with the restoration over the next four years.

In speaking about the mission of the Golden Rule, Gerry Condon, national president of Veterans for Peace, said, “We are sailing for a nuclear-free world and a peaceful, sustainable future. Now it is time for us to visit the island nations of the Pacific, which have suffered so much damage from nuclear testing and military bases.”

You can follow the Golden Rule’s voyage on a map that updates every 10 minutes and with a daily blog. Email vfpgoldenrleproject@gmail.com to receive the blog link by email.

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About the Author

  • Ann Wright
    Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. She has lived in Honolulu since 2003.