Replica of Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo’s flagship to launch Wednesday


San Salvador

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A full-scale replica of the San Salvador, the ship that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542, is scheduled to be launched Wednesday.

The replica galleon was under construction for four years at Spanish Landing Park, and was moved by barge last week to a Chula Vista shipyard.

A christening ceremony and launching is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bayside Park in Chula Vista, according to the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

The San Salvador replica, which will sail along the California coastline as a floating classroom, matches the original in size, weighing 150 tons and measuring 92 feet long by 24 feet wide. It was built by about 500 volunteers associated with the museum.

The vessel is scheduled to make its public debut at the museum’s annual Festival of Sail on Labor Day weekend.

The original San Salvador came to San Diego when Cabrillo was looking for new trade routes from Mexico to Asia and Europe. The galleon was the first recorded European vessel to sail along Southern California and survey its coastline.

Cabrillo, who had settled in Guatemala, called his discovery “a very good enclosed port” and named the area San Miguel, according to the San Diego History Center. The center said Cabrillo visited many of the islands along the coast and may have sailed as far north as Oregon.

While exploring around San Miguel Island — the westernmost of the Channel Islands — Cabrillo suffered a broke leg and died of infection in January 1543.

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