November 9, 2021, San Diego- Three teams of fourth grade students manned a rope each, and carefully maneuvered the empty steel safe into position, in the hold of the Star of India, a barque that is the world’s oldest active sailing vessel and is the centerpiece of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Below is a photo of the ship’s miniature, taken during my last visit to the Museum, in 2012.
It is always a joy to see children engaged in an activity that involves a fair amount of thought, and all the better when that activity requires teamwork. There were four sets of students each involved in ship-related activities, during the time I was aboard. It was the only place in the museum where face masks were required. With the children’s safety in mind, all but two people were in compliance. Fortunately, the teachers and parent chaperones made sure those two got nowhere near the kids.
There are two ships that have been added to the Museum’s collection, since 2012: The galleon, San Salvador, a replica of the vessel which Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo used to sail into San Diego Harbor, in 1542 and a Patrol Craft Fast (Swift Boat). I took a fifteen-minute walk around San Salvador, joining a party of visitors from Mexico. Here is a view of the galleon.
It is notable that Cabrillo, one of the wealthiest men in Spanish America at that time, contracted food poisoning either whilst in this area, or shortly after leaving. He never got to see the successful settlement, which was fostered sixty years later, by Sebastian Vizcaino (Viz-ka-YEE-no), who gave the settlement the name, San Diego.
One ship will soon leave the Museum: The B-39 Soviet submarine. I made one visit aboard this vessel, in 2012. Here are the way it looked nine years ago, and how it looks now.
After visiting or re-visiting several of the vessels, I headed over to Little Italy, which lies between the waterfront and San Diego’s downtown core. There, a stop was made for lunch, at an old favourite: Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. It was the first restaurant I visited in San Diego, back in 1979-then, as now, accessible by entering through the market and kitchen.
This was a most gratifying day, made all the more so by the presence of so many young people, who are enthused by embracing their city’s maritime heritage-and learning teamwork in the process.