RACINE — Nearing the end of a 10,000-mile, 15-month journey, the volunteer crew of the Golden Rule Peace Boat arrived at Racine’s Reefpoint Marina on Tuesday afternoon.
The 30-foot, two-masted wooden sailboat is a project of Veterans for Peace that visits communities to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
The Golden Rule was originally sailed by peace activists to the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands in 1958 to stop nuclear weapons testing.
The boat, and a rotating crew of six plus shore support, has been on a voyage around the Great Loop that started in Minneapolis. It has sailed down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico and around Florida, including a stop in Cuba.
From there, it’s traveled up the East Coast and into the Great Lakes for visits to U.S. and Canadian cities. The stops are generally hosted by peace organizations.
Racine is the 98th port-of-call for the Golden Rule, according to Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa one of boat’s captains. It previously made appearances in Sheboygan and Milwaukee. From Racine, it was scheduled to sail on to St. Joseph, Mich., and then to Montrose Harbor (Chicago).
It will be back in Racine later this month to be loaded onto a flatbed semi for a cross-country trip to its home port in Northern California.
Johnston-Kitazawa from Hawaii, who has guided the Golden Rule on three Great Loop segments, said the peace boat and its message are well received at every stop.
“We were asked by someone back in New York, I believe, ‘How do you push back to people against our message?’ The crew member I was with looked at each other and said, ‘What pushback?’” said Johnston-Kitazawa.
He added that while nobody believes nuclear weapons are a good idea, a lot of people seem to be resigned to the fact that such weaponry is inevitable worldwide.
“Part of what we’re proposing is changing what the money is spent on,” Johnston-Kitazawa said. “If you take it away from weaponry and apply that spending toward housing, health, education, the environment, it will be better for people and the world.”
Crew accommodations on the Golden Rule
Four bunks, a galley (including a sink fed by a 5-gallon jug), the head (toilet) and a table are crammed into space below deck.
“It’s pretty cozy and comfortable,” said volunteer crew member Tamar Elias from Hawaii, who joined up in Detroit.
She said her first trip on the Great Lakes has been nothing short of amazing.
“You can travel really, really far and find communities of people who are like-minded about peace,” Elias said. “It’s encouraging.”
Helen Jaccard, the Golden Rule project manager, has handled various onshore logistics – securing docking sites, event coordination, and presentations by the crew and staff – throughout the boat’s travels this past year.
A picture book about the Golden Rule’s 2022-23 trip is planned for the winter months, she said. Next year, the peace boat will bring its message and mission to the Pacific Northwest.
Busy Racine visit
About 50 people were on hand to watch the Golden Rule arrive at Reefpoint Marina and later to tour the boat and meet the crew. Other planned activities on Tuesday and Wednesday included a dinner and a pair of presentations at First Presbyterian Church in Racine and at Ground Zero Veterans Outreach in Union Grove.
The Golden Rule’s Racine appearance events were co-sponsored by the Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice, Ground Zero Veterans Outreach, Kenosha/Racine Quakers, Social Justice Committee of the Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, Coming Together Racine, the Racine Dominicans, Michael Kelley, First Presbyterian Church of Racine, Racine Interfaith Coalition and the Racine Yacht Club. Music was donated by Flagship Wisconsin.
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