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Tall Ships Set Sail In San Diego Bay

A flotilla of more than a dozen tall ships will enter San Diego Bay today as the San Diego Maritime Museum's 2012 Festival of Sail gets under way.

The parade, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., will be visible from the downtown waterfront, Coronado, Harbor Island and Shelter Island. It will be lead by the Californian, the official tall ship of California.

The Californian was built at Spanish Landing in San Diego Bay in the early 1980s by the National Nautical Heritage Society. It is a loose replica of the 1849 cutter C.W. Lawrence, which patrolled the California coastline enforcing federal law after the United States gained control of California from Mexico in 1848.

The main part of the annual five-day Festival of Sail program begins Friday and continues through Labor Day. During the festival, North Harbor Drive between Ash and Grape streets is turned into a nautical theme park, with tours of the vessels from around the world, cannon battle reenactments, pirate ship cruises and other live entertainment.

Participants can visit the construction site of a replica of the galleon San Salvador, the ship sailed by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo when he explored the coast of California. Participants can also watch blacksmiths, the making of sails and demonstrations by Kumeyaay Indians at San Salvador Village, at Spanish Landing Park across from Lindbergh Field.

There is no cost to watch today's parade but a one-day ticket for other festival activities starts at $10 and $20 for a multiple-day pass. For a full list of activities or to purchase tickets, visit sdmaritime.org.

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