On October 21, 1961, the yacht Phoenix of Hiroshima, with five Americans aboard, was stopped 10 miles outside of Nakhodka, Siberia, boarded by Soviet military authorities and, while under surveillance by three Soviet vessels, was refused permission under any circumstances to enter the port.
We were carrying messages and petitions from thousands of Japanese and Americans, protesting the resumption of nuclear testing and appealing for a positive approach to world peace through understanding.
The Soviet authorities put food and supplies aboard our yacht, but refused to accept any of the petitions or to permit any communication whatever with the Russian people.
Therefore, after 16 days at sea, under very severe weather conditions, the Phoenix then put about without making port and started her return voyage. For over one day she was followed by a Soviet vessel.
On October 28, almost exactly 5 weeks after sailing from Hiroshima on our mission, we dropped anchor in the harbor of Fukuoka, under stress of weather.
The entire voyage was the most difficult passage the Phoenix has encountered in over 60,000 miles of sailing around the world, during the past seven years.
We, the crew of the yacht Phoenix, are deeply disappointed at the refusal of the Soviet authorities to accept the messages and petitions. We continue to strongly protest the testing of nuclear weapons by any nations.
Fukuoka, Japan, October 29, 1961
Earle Reynolds (Captain)
Mum (Barbara) wrote our friends, "Our reception has been heartwarming. Taxi drivers, shop-keepers, even strangers who pass us on the street, bow and said: "O-kaeri" (Welcome home!). To meet with such affection in Hiroshima touches us deeply and makes us very humble. More than ever, we are determined not to let these people down, these people who have suffered so much and are still falling ill and dying from the effects of a bomb dropped 16 years before."
She wrote to the Peace Action Center in Washington, D.C. on December 6, 1961 (By the way, we had no organization sponsoring or underwriting either of our protest trips): "As you may know, the Russian authorities refused to accept our letters and petitions. (They suggested that we take them to the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo--which is coming full circle and promises no opportunity of getting our concern to the Russian people.) We are now trying to consider what we ought to do with this responsibility and trust, as we still feel obligated to get the feelings of the Japanese people to the world.
"It has been suggested that we raise money to send one or two representatives from Hiroshima to the UN, to deliver the messages in person to Zorin or to U Thant.
Documents quoted in Friends of the Hibakusha, Virginia Naeve, Editor. Denver: Swallow Paperbooks, 1964.