San Salvador replica christened and launched - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Salvador replica christened and launched

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CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A full-scale replica of the San Salvador, the ship that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542, was launched Wednesday following a christening ceremony at Bayside Park in Chula Vista.

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.

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.

The vessel, built by about 500 volunteers associated with the Maritime Museum of San Diego, 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 as the leader of three ships, 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. 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 broken leg and died of infection in January 1543.

Bartolome Ferrelo took command of the San Salvador and the other two ships and explored as far north as Cape Mendocino, where they were caught in a storm and turned back. The returned to their point of origin -- Manzanillo, Mexico -- in April 1543.

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