San Diego’s Maritime Museum is constructing a replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador, the one he sailed up the coast of Alta California in 1542. I’m calling it art–it is definitely an artistic endeavor, from the wooden structure to the sails which will move it through the water. It is to be a seaworthy sailing ship, not a model.
You can watch the construction at the site at Spanish Landing near the San Diego airport. Along with the shipbuilders, there is a blacksmith, a sail maker, a native American village (sort of), and a gift shop with excellent books detailing the voyages of early circumnavigators, early maps with east at the top and Jerusalem at the center, maps which were sure to lead the sailors off the edge of the world, and the ubiquitous tee shirts. All for a good cause–the San Diego Maritime Museum.
Little is know of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Interestingly, San Diego’s National Monument to Cabrillo on Point Loma is second in visitors of all the National Monuments. But, the primary records from the San Salvador are lost. It is surmised that his ship was a three masted galleon, so that is what is being constructed. Right now, the skeleton is going up and worth a visit to the site. It’s startling to see it from the highway even though it is on the bay and we are used to seeing boats and ships. Better to park and get out and walk up close and talk to the artisans.
And buy a tee-shirt.