Juan Rodríquez Cabrillo would be proud — and probably have a heart attack viewing the behemoth Navy ships of San Diego Bay.
Ships evoking an ancient era — including a replica of the Portuguese explorer’s San Salvador — sailed by futuristic high-rises, under the Coronado bridge and past warships Friday in what organizers called the largest Tall Ship festival on the West Coast.
Hosted by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the annual Festival of Sail featured an appearance by the faux San Salvador.
In 1542, it was the first European vessel to arrive at the port now called San Diego.
The new San Salvador — weighing 190 tons and measuring 92 feet long by 24 feet wide as a square/lateen rig — took more than four years to build, organizers said. San Diego is its home port as well.
The San Salvador led a parade of 16 vessels under her own power (iron wind).
Festival events continue through Monday and include a vendor area (free admission), a Kid Zone with petting zoo and jump house, and cannon demonstrations (and simulated battles).
Vietnam-era Swift Boat tours are available, for a price, as well as bay cruises and Mid-Day Sails aboard the yachts Amazing Grace, Curlew, JADA and Tiama.
Twilight Sail is Saturday and Sunday only — a 2-hour cruise.
The San Salvador was under construction by around 500 volunteers at Spanish Landing Park and was moved by barge to a Chula Vista shipyard for its launching.
The vessel, which will sail along the California coastline as a floating classroom, underwent sea trials Monday, according to the museum.
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.
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.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: