Chinese boat heads home 57 years after US landing

April 30, 2012 - 8:35 PM
Junk Journey

In this Monday, April 30, 2012 photo provided by Chinese Junk Preservation, "Free China," an old wooden sailing vessel, is loaded aboard a Yang Ming freighter in Oakland, Calif. After years of effort the historic ship is being shipped to Taiwan where it will become part of an exhibit in a new museum in Keelung, outside of Taipei. The "Free China" was saved by Dione Chen, whose father was one of six men who who sailed from Taiwan to San Francisco in 1955. (AP Photo/Chinese Junk Preservation, Raj Dhingra)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A vintage Chinese fishing boat is going home to Taiwan more than a half-century after it crossed the ocean and landed in the San Francisco Bay area.

The Free China, a commercial vessel built about 100 years ago and thought to be one of the last salvageable boats of its kind, was loaded onto a Taiwanese freighter in Oakland on Monday for the return leg of its journey.

Dione Chen, the daughter of one of the six men who sailed the junk to California during a 1955 yacht race and made headlines with their daring voyage aboard the provocatively named Free China, says the Taiwan government plans to restore the boat and place it in a new maritime museum.

Chen, who lobbied to save the historic junk from a demolition yard, joined surviving crew members and members of the preservation effort aboard a small sail boat to bid the junk bon voyage as a crane lifted it onto the Yang Ming freighter for its 18-day trip.