Ship noted for peace activism visits Bellingham for sails, tours

The VFP Golden Rule is shown in San Francisco Bay with the city’s skyline in the background.
The VFP Golden Rule is shown in San Francisco Bay with the city’s skyline in the background. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A ship with historic ties to the global nuclear disarmament movement will visit Bellingham next weekend for free dockside tours, sails and a community meeting.

VFP Golden Rule is a twin-masted 34-foot ketch whose maiden voyage in 1958 with a group of Quaker peace activists was an attempt to disrupt atomic weapons testing in the U.S. Marshall Islands, where 23 nuclear devices were detonated from 1946 to 1958 during the height of the Cold War.

Their anti-war mission was halted when the ship was stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard in Honolulu.

But their actions influenced a new generation of activists, said Helen Jaccard, VFP Golden Rule project manager, in a phone conversation. The ship’s home port is Humboldt Bay, Calif.

“Greenpeace was directly inspired by the Golden Rule,” Jaccard said.

Jaccard said the Golden Rule, with its distinctive red sails, will visit Bellingham from Saturday, Aug. 20, through Monday, Aug. 22.

Free tours and trips on the ship will be offered, with no set schedule, from a mooring in Squalicum Harbor near Zuanich Point Park, 2600 Harbor Loop. Donations will be accepted.

A four-month Pacific Northwest tour, which has included appearances in opposition to military displays at festivals such as Fleet Week in Portland, Ore., and at Seafair in Seattle, is nearing an end.

Golden Rule next sails to the Wooden Boat Festival in Vancouver, B.C., from Aug. 25-28.

Jaccard said crew members will be available to discuss the ship, its history and its mission as a symbol of peace and environmental activism.

The public is invited to bring a dish to a potluck gathering hosted by the Veterans For Peace Chapter 111 and Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, near the ship. Look for signs and Veterans For Peace flags. Crew members will be part of a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22, at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St.

For information, call 206-992-6364, contact Ellen Murphy at ellenkavanagh@yahoo.com, or go online to vfpgoldenruleproject.org or the VFP Golden Rule Project on Facebook.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty