Monday, May 23, 2016

PHOENIX and GOLDEN RULE (1) First Encounter

     Our official circumnavigation didn't end in Hilo. We still intended to sail back to Hiroshima. With that in mind, we pulled into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Honolulu, May 2, 1958, for our final fitting-out (painting, overhauling engine and radio, making a new mainsail, studying charts and pilot books) before re-crossing the Pacific.

  Across the dock from the Phoenix was a smaller yacht which was also getting publicity, more controversial publicity than we were. It was the Golden Rule and three of the four men aboard were Quakers, a category of people we had never met before.
     The captain was Albert Bigelow, 52, a former Navy commander during World War II--an unlikely convert to pacifism, one might think. With him were Bill Huntington, a rather tall, scholarly-looking man, about 50; George Willoughby, a short intense man in his forties with a doctorate in political science and Orion Sherwood, an earnest, cheerful young man in his twenties, a Methodist.

     On March 25, the crew of the Golden Rule had sailed from San Pedro, California to Hawaii with the intention of continuing on into the area of the Pacific Ocean where our government was testing atmospheric nuclear weapons. They intended to protest radioactive fallout with their own bodies.
     A hastily-imposed injunction, dated April 16, made it illegal for American citizens to enter this 390,000 square miles of open ocean. In other words their trip, legal when they left California, was illegal by the time they reached Honolulu.
     In spite of the injunction, on May 1 the sailors had left Honolulu bound for the forbidden zone.
     They were intercepted by the Coast Guard. The Golden Rule was towed back and the four men were put under arrest.
     This is where things stood when we arrived in Honolulu the very next day. We were curious about these men and their strong convictions about "nuclear explosions, by any nation," being "inhuman, immoral, contemptuous crimes against all mankind."
     But Skipper was even more concerned with the fact that the huge area of the Pacific Ocean declared off-limits to American citizens blanketed any reasonable route by which we could sail the Phoenix back to Japan.

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