Between 1954 and 1973 owner and captain Earle Reynolds sailed the Phoenix around the world, into the Pacific Proving Grounds to protest American nuclear testing (1958), to Nakhodka, USSR to protest Soviet nuclear testing (1961), to Vietnam to deliver medical supplies to the Red Cross of both North and South Vietnam (1967-68). He and his second wife Akie sailed to California in 1970, moved ashore, and sold the Phoenix in 1973.
While the boat belonged to Earle Reynolds, Bob Eaton captained the Phoenix on her second and third voyages to Vietnam. Eaton remembered reading The Voyage of the Golden Rule as a teenager and was thrilled to be able to sail on her successor. Eaton described Reynolds as “a cynic with high hopes.”
In 1973, Tomas Daly bought the Phoenix from Reynolds for $20,000, intending to sail her around the world with his family. She needed extensive repairs and he sank $40,000 into her restoration, but only sailed her up and down the California coast. (He accomplished his circumnavigation–in a different boat.) However, in 1977 Daly kept the figurehead, wheel, sidelights, radio and other loose equipment when he sold the Phoenix to Norman Sullivan (who owned the Phoenix for 14 years) in order to return them to the Reynolds family “when the Phoenix comes back into the family.”
The next owner, Al Hugon bought her at an auction in 1990, knowing nothing about her. He fixed her up hoping his girlfriend and children would want to live on her. (She didn’t.) In 1997, Hugon came across a copy of Reynolds’ book All in the Same Boat, about the building of the Phoenix and her trip around the world. As he read the description of her paneling, etc., he realized, “Oh my gosh, this is my boat!” He kept her another 10 years after that discovery until he could not afford to keep her anymore.
In March, 2007 his girlfriend, LeeAnn Roxx, tracked down Jessica Reynolds Renshaw (daughter of Earle Reynolds and one of the original crew) and offered the boat to her. She and her husband Jerry turned the offer down. Finally in desperation, LeeAnn listed the boat on Craigslist: “FREE: 50-foot yacht.”
John Gardner took over possession of the Phoenix in 2007. As he was having her towed up the Mokelumne River in the California Delta, she hit a dock, knocking a hole in her hull. Taking on water, she eventually sank in 2010.
At that point, John signed over ownership of the Phoenix to Dr. Naomi Reynolds, granddaughter of designer and first captain Dr. Earle Reynolds. Former owner Tomas Daly contacted Naomi and gave her the phoenix figurehead and other items he had saved for when the Phoenix came back into the Reynolds family, asking her to keep them on public display.
On Sept. 21, 2016 Articles of Incorporation were filed to create Phoenix of Hiroshima Project, Inc. whereupon Naomi Reynolds transferred her ownership of the Phoenix to the corporation. The corporation now has non-profit status.