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Historic "Peace Ship" Involved In 1950's Nuclear Weapons Protests Visits South Coast

A dock at Ventura County’s Channel Islands harbor has two unusual sights. On one end, more than a dozen sea lions have literally blocked the walkway, as they bask in the sun. Towards the other end is a sailboat, with one of its sails a huge peace symbol.

A ship many people call the world’s first “peace ship” is visiting the South Coast, as part of a West Coast tour.

Helen Jaccard, who’s with the “Golden Rule,” says four men left California with the intention of trying to stop an atomic bomb test in the Pacific in 1958. The Atomic Energy Commission heard about the effort, and established a rule which became known as the “Golden Rule” banning boats from the blast area. The Coast Guard stopped the boat twice as it left Hawaii for the Marshall Islands, and the men were put on trial. However, they were eventually acquitted because a court ruled that the rule was just that, a rule and not a law.

Jaccard says while their mission was never completed, it inspired another one by a boat which did make a difference.

As for the Golden Rule, it faded from history for more than a half before it literally resurfaced as a symbol for peace. It was privately owned for a half century, and ended up with a boatyard owner in Northern California. It sank in Humboldt Bay, and after it was raised, members of the group “Veterans for Peace” and other volunteers restored the 30 foot long boat.

The ship’s mission now is focused on education, highlighting its past history and its focusing on nuclear peace efforts as it tours West Coast ports.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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