A ship is being built in San Diego that will present a look back to the early history of California as well as Spain's Age of Discovery The ship is San Salvador which Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Harbor on September 28, 1542, the first European to do so.
A replica is currently being built at a site called San Salvador Village in the Marina at Spanish Landing. It is a project of the San Diego Maritime Museum, which laid the keel in 2011 and will be completed midyear in 2014.
For this Writer seeing this galleon being built was a 'must see'. With Juan Cabrillo, as master and commander, three ships left Guatemala with orders to explore the Pacific Ocean Coast north of Baja California, all unknown territory to Europeans. He had three vessels, his flagship, a galleon San Salvador, as well as the Victoria and San Miguel. Besides galleons two other type vessels were used by Spain during that era of discovery, Caravels and Naos.
Other famous Galleons were the Golden Hind of Sir Francis Drake and the Mayflower that sailed for America with the Pilgrims. Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria was a Naos as were the Portuguese ships that explored the coast of Africa. Columbus' Nina was a caravel.
On our visit to San Salvador Village we were fortunate to meet Docent Richard Williams who had ready answers for many of our questions. The San Salvador is being built almost exclusively by volunteers, about twenty each day. Since many of these volunteers are retired they sometimes require a shorter work schedule.
There are also some exhibits that explain much about the construction as well as the history of the ships used in that Age of Discovery. One exhibit displays the eight kinds of wood being used in construction. Some hard woods like Purple Heart from tropical forests, hard woods like white oak, and Douglas Fir for much of the planking.
Other exhibits describe the life and living conditions of the seamen, another with the life of the native Americans Juan Cabrillo met in his exploration which extended up the coast past Ventura and the Channel Islands to Point Reyes. He died on this voyage and is believed to be buried on Santa Rosa Island. Originally Cabrillo named the Bay he discovered after his ship San Miguel but the name was later changed to San Diego.
San Salvador Village is considered part of the Maritime Museum and a ticket purchased for the Museum is accepted at the ship building site. Otherwise the fee is $5. When complete the San Salvador will be a part of the Museum and offer a historic prospective to that Age of Discovery.
San Salvador Village is part of the Spanish Landing Park at 4216 N. Harbor Drive past Harbor Island. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is free and available at the Park which offers wonderful views of the Yacht Marina and the San Diego skyline.
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