Around mid-afternoon today – Friday, September 4th – the replica of the San Salvador – Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s flagship galleon – will be motored out to lead the 10th Annual Festival of Sail – opening the gala nautical Labor Day Weekend.
The ship, which cost $6.2 million, built mostly with thousands of hours of labor donated by the some 400 volunteers, and 2 years behind schedule, will not have sails itself, as the rigging is still being prepared, but it will be powered by an auxiliary engine.
The replica, a project of the San Diego Maritime Museum, is the closest resemblance to Cabrillo’s galleon that modern engineers and naval experts could come up with as blueprints were never discovered for it. And this weekend is the ship’s debut as it is expected to lead the parade of 16 tall ships. It’s billed as “the West Coast’s largest exhibit of tall ships, complete with cannons and sea battles.”
The parade also features the Californian, the state’s official tall ship, and one of the central exhibits of the museum. Other tall ships will be sailing into the San Diego Bay for the festival, from LA, Dana Point and San Pedro. With the numbers as high as 125,000, many locals and other spectators are anticipated to line the shores watching the annual entry, from along Point Loma, Harbor Island, Shelter Island, Coronado and the Embarcadero.
Leading this nautical procession from around 3 p.m. to roughly 5 p.m – it’s hoped – will be the San Salvador. It has been resting at the Marine Group Boat Works since late July in Chula ever since it slid off its platform at Spanish Landing and floated down to South Bay on a barge.