The full-scale replica of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s Spanish galleon, the San Salvador, is ready for launch. But the champagne bottle won’t be broken just yet.
Originally planned for fall of last year, the re-creation of the first ship to sail into what would become California, in 1542, will be launched into San Diego Bay on April 19.
The Maritime Museum’s spokesperson, Robyn Gallant, says while the ship is seaworthy now, there are a lot of logistics to deal with, which caused the delay. The museum had to find dates and times when tides would be cooperative for a launch; also, a date when no cruise ships would be in port.
Here’s the museum’s remaining to-do list:
• Get completely rigged, installation of ropes and sails.
• Coast Guard inspection and certification of seaworthiness and ability to take on passengers. (One has to ask how would the Coast Guard know if a 500-year-old designed ship is seaworthy. An insider on the construction crew said the Coast Guard has no idea, other than to say it will safely float and be able to navigate.)
• Slowly transport the tall ship on North Harbor Drive from Spanish Landing to the launch site.
• Remove streetlights and traffic signals along route.
• Check with engineers to determine weight load on the pier.
• Coordinate with the Port District, City of San Diego, Harbor Police, and the SD Regional Airport Authority.
• Send media alerts with all the details.
• Invite author to an up-close look on day of launch (added by author).
Shortly after the boat hits the water, it will be ready for tours and sailing. The museum plans a goodwill cruise up the coast, stopping at ports-of-call along the way to promote San Diego and the museum.
4216 North Harbor Drive, Point Loma
In the meantime, the build site at Spanish landing (across Harbor Drive from the airport) is open to the public daily from 11am to 4pm for exterior viewing and historical displays. $5 admission. Free four-hour parking.