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Taiwan to restore historic boat

2012/05/22 22:31:40

Taipei, May 22 (CNA) A group of restoration experts said Tuesday that they will restore a historic sailing boat to its original look based on old photographs of the boat.

Around 10 restoration experts that day boarded the historic "Free China," which left Taiwan 57 years ago on a cross-Pacific voyage and was returned to the country May 17 after years of being abandoned in the United States.

Lwo Lwun-syin, director of the preservation evaluation program for the boat, said the old photos of the boat show that it had the Chinese characters for "Free China" emblazoned upon it and said they plan to repaint the characters onto the boat while maintaining its antique look.

The team also decided to drain water out of the wooden boat to dry it out and prevent it from decaying further.

Lwo said the team hopes to complete the restoration project by the end of June so that the vessel will be able to be put on public display before July.

The boat, 23 meters long and 5 meters wide, embarked from Keelung Port in 1955 on what was the first trans-Pacific voyage by a Chinese sailing boat, heading for San Francisco, California. It was crewed by then-U.S. Vice Consul Calvin E. Mehlert and five Taiwanese fishermen, three of whom have since passed away.

The boat is believed to be one of the oldest existing Chinese sailing boats built according to ancient methods and the only one of its kind that has made a passage across the Pacific.

It was transported back to Taiwan from Oakland, California aboard a Yang Ming Marine cargo ship.

(By Liu Li-ron and Ann Chen)