By Ann Wright
The 1,000 passenger PEACE BOAT http://www.peaceboat.org/english/
with 500 citizens of Japan and 500 from South Korea sailed into Taiwan Tuesday, October 22, 2013 on its voyage to the hot spots of North East Asia-- Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Okinawa and China. The PEACE BOAT docked at port of Keelung on the north coast of Taiwan. Also moored at the same dock were two warships from the Taiwan Navy.
Our 10 story PEACE Boat towered above the two war ships and for once we are able to say to this military, at this port, our ship of PEACE is bigger than your ships of WAR!
However, leaving from Taiwan to our next port of call-Okinawa, we found that Mother Nature was bigger than all our ships.
Typhoon 27 had picked up speed and had veered toward Okinawa. During Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, we could feel the seas getting rougher and rougher. As our ship approached Okinawa at 4am, the port authorities in Naha, Okinawa closed the port to all vessels.
Our Captain set a new course for our next port of call, Shanghai, China and for the next 40 hours we were bounced around the sea as we navigated on the outskirts of the typhoon.
Typhoon 27 was the third typhoon I have experienced in the two weeks I have been in North East Asia. While on Jeju Island, South Korea, the edge of one typhoon hit and while on the mainland of Japan, a second one hit. Now on the high seas, a third one has arrived.
After 40 hours of very rough seas, as we headed out of the South China Sea into the mouth of the Yangtse River, the sea turned deep brown. The Yangtze River is third longest river in the world and brings a huge amount of silt from the interior of China. The river is filled with huge cargo ships carrying cargo made in China for all parts of the world and the shoreline has endless docking facilities and huge cranes for lifting the containers off trucks and rails and onto the ships. The Shanghai port is one of the largest and one of busiest in the world.
This week, I have been a guest speaker on the Japanese operated PEACE BOAT’s 10 day North East Asia trip. The PEACE BOAT has been sailing the world for the past 30 years taking persons from all nationalities to places of peace and social justice interest. Our voyage began in Hakata/Fukuoka, Japan and we will visit Busan, South Korea, Taiwan, Okinawa and Shanghai, China. At each port of call, passengers learn about issues affecting the local community.
Every day on board the PEACE BOAT is filled with lectures on the areas we are visiting and with activities to bring together the passengers from different countries. This is the 30th year that PEACE BOAT has sailed. Most passengers on the PEACE BOAT are from Japan, as it is a Japanese initiative. Passengers can book on the 3 month Around The World cruises or book for portions. Students are regularly picked up in one country and dropped off it other countries for their flights home.
The PEACE BOAT has Non-Governmental Organization status with the United Nations and frequently hosts important international conferences on peace, disarmament and nuclear issues. It is a remarkable opportunity to interact with people from around the world on issues that affect us all.
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.