Our park’s namesake, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, led the first European expedition to explore what is now the west coast of the United States. Cabrillo departed from Navidad, Mexico on June 27, 1542 in search of new trade routes between Central America and the Spice Islands off Asia. Three months later he sailed into “a very good enclosed port,” known today as San Diego Bay. Historians believe he anchored his flagship, the San Salvador, on Point Loma’s eastern shore near Cabrillo National Monument.
The San Salvador was the first recorded European vessel to sail along Southern California, and the first to survey its coastline. Her expedition also established first contact with the area’s indigenous people. The San Salvador may be considered the founding ship of San Diego and California. She is an “origin symbol” ship for San Diego in much the same way the Mayflower is the origin symbol ship of New England. Her history represents the beginning of a common story for the people of California, both past and present.
The San Diego Maritime Museum, in partnership with Cabrillo National Monument, built an historically accurate, fully sailable replica of the San Salvador. Construction of the galleon was based on meticulous research in the fields of Early Modern Spanish and Portuguese maritime history and maritime archaeology. The ship was officially introduced to the public on Sept. 4, 2015 as part of the Festival of Sail. This newest addition to the museum’s fleet is now located at the Maritime Museum docks. The ship is open for dockside viewing during normal museum hours while interior construction and rigging continues.
The new San Salvador will be much more than a static museum display. With San Diego as her home port, she will sail along the coast of California, visiting cities and towns as a floating education platform for people of all ages.
Last revised 09-Dec-18