Historic Chinese junk in U.S. is endangered

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Half a century ago, six men with no sailing experience climbed aboard an aging Chinese junk in Taiwan and survived a typhoon that nearly wrecked the little ship. But after sailing nearly 7,000 miles, or about 11,000 kilometers, across the Pacific, they were greeted by cheering crowds as they sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now that turn-of-the-century junk, which experts say may be the last salvageable vessel of its type, could be destroyed if it does not find a permanent home by the end of December.

With it would go a piece of U.S. and Chinese history - the boat's name, the"Free China," evokes Cold War rhetoric. But the ship also holds the unwritten knowledge of traditional Chinese boat building, said Hans Van Tilburg, a historian with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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