The keel of a full-scale replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's flagship he used in 1542 when he sailed into San Diego Bay was laid Friday at Spanish Landing Park.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego is building the faux San Salvador, with an eye towards opening the exhibit this summer.
"This is going to be a full-scale, working replica of Juan Cabrillo's ship the San Salvador," said Maritime Museum Executive Director Ray Ashley.
Mayor Jerry Sanders said, "The replica of the historic San Salvador ship will join the ranks of all the other cherished attractions that make San Diego such a wonderful place to visit and even better place to live."
"And like all the best attractions, the ship's value to the city will be multi-dimensional," Sanders added. "It will be a visually stunning addition to our waterfront. It will attract tourists. And it will be a rich educational resource."
Cabrillo, who sailed from Portugal, was the first European to explore San Diego Bay -- he named the area San Miguel -- and the coast of California.
While there's a statue of Cabrillo at the monument that bears his name atop Point Loma, there is no physical evidence of the ship he used to get here, until now.
"There were no plans left around that we could use," said Bruce Heyman, who is one of the ship-building volunteers.
Naval historians helped draw plans up on a computer and have been transmitted to a 93-foot by 35-foot lofting floor where the crew can see a virtual slice-by-slice drawing of the ship for the construction.
The ship will measure 92 feet from bow to stern.
As part of the ship build, a Kumeyaay Indian village will also be built to represent the Native Americans who called San Diego home before Cabrillo, the first European, arrived.
Beginning on June 24, a ticket to the Maritime Museum will allow visitors into the ship's construction site for an entire year, said Ashley.
The public will be able to go to the park to watch the construction of the fully functional ship, which will be used to travel along the California coast as an ambassador for the city.
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