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Vintage Chinese junk boat is homeward bound for Taiwan 57 years after Pacific crossing

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OAKLAND, Calif. - 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 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.

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