Ships, water, light and magic.

I finally got my act together. Late this afternoon I renewed my annual membership in the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Why?

Perhaps it’s that deep feeling of living inside history.

Perhaps it’s the light-splashed ships.

Perhaps it’s the water like molten silver and its dancing, inexpressible magic.

Perhaps it’s the sea, and my longing for a far horizon.

I can’t think of the right words.

So I’ll let my small camera speak its own language. (I took these photos before sunset.)

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The mystery of a strange lighthouse in Old Town!

The top section of a historically important lighthouse now stands on a sidewalk in Old Town San Diego!
The top section of a historically important lighthouse now stands on a sidewalk in Old Town San Diego!

A lighthouse that once guided ships into San Diego Bay now stands on an Old Town sidewalk? How strange is that?

Well, not an entire lighthouse–just the lantern room of the 1890 Ballast Point Light Station!

The other day while walking down Congress Street, a few steps southeast of Harney Street, I paused to more carefully examine this mystery. (I’ve driven past the kiosk-like structure often, without really giving it a second thought.)

First, you should note Ballast Point is about 6 miles southwest of Old Town. The spit of land juts down into San Diego Bay from Point Loma; it’s where tall ships used to load ballast stones for their return trip around Cape Horn to the East Coast. Today it is part of Naval Base Point Loma.

So how did this top section of Ballast Point’s historic lighthouse end up on an Old Town sidewalk?

Some interesting photos behind a glass pane provided me with a few clues. The Ballast Point Light Station was built in 1890 and eventually dismantled in 1960. (Click the images and they will expand so you can read much more.)

After doing a little research, I learned the lantern room was found in 1998 by the owner of an Old Town nautical antiques store–West Sea Company–in a classified ad. At the time the Ballast Point lantern room was located at someone’s Bonita residence! Purchased and transported by flatbed truck to Old Town, it was placed on a cement pad near West Sea Company–and here it “mysteriously” remains today!

The 1890 Ballast Point Light Station was an example of Railroad Gothic. Its sixth order lens can be seen today at Cabrillo National Monument, in a museum near the old lighthouse.
The 1890 Ballast Point Light Station was an example of Railroad Gothic. Its sixth order lens can be seen today at Cabrillo National Monument, in a museum beside the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
Historical photo and some words explain the light at Ballast Point. It guided sailors past Middle Ground Shoal and into San Diego's harbor.
Historical photo and some words explain the light at Ballast Point. It guided sailors past Middle Ground Shoal and into San Diego’s harbor.
A public domain photo of the Ballast Point Light Station, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
A public domain photo of the Ballast Point Light Station, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The lantern room that housed a light that guided ships into San Diego Bay now can be seen on Congress Street in Old Town!
This lantern room housed a light that guided ships into San Diego Bay. It can now be seen on Congress Street in Old Town!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Photos of the San Diego Wooden Boat Festival!

A few vessels the public can visit during the San Diego Wooden Boat Festival at the Koehler Kraft boatyard on Shelter Island.
A few vessels the public can visit during the San Diego Wooden Boat Festival at the Koehler Kraft boatyard on Shelter Island.

Yesterday I headed over to Shelter Island to check out the annual San Diego Wooden Boat Festival. The event is taking place all Father’s Day weekend at the Koehler Kraft boatyard. Proceeds from the festival help out local charities.

Koehler Kraft is where many wooden boat owners head if their vessel needs a repair or upgrade. The boatyard was founded in 1938. I enjoyed poking around the place, and examining some very cool vintage wooden boats. There were also beautiful newer boats, and a few had unusual, fascinating designs.

Enjoy my photos and read the captions to learn more!

A look at the Koehler Kraft boatyard from a platform that juts out over the edge of Shelter Cove Marina in Americas Cup Harbor.
A look at the Koehler Kraft boatyard from a platform that juts out over the edge of Shelter Cove Marina in Americas Cup Harbor.
People walk out to look at some wooden boats during a very cool festival on Shelter Island.
People walk out to look at some wooden boats during a very cool festival on Shelter Island.
Koehler Kraft's San Diego Wooden Boat Festival is taking place on Father's Day weekend.
Koehler Kraft’s San Diego Wooden Boat Festival is taking place on Father’s Day weekend.
Various boats in the boatyard are being worked on. Some displays show the public how wooden boats are made.
Various boats in the boatyard are being worked on. Some displays show the public how wooden boats are made.
One can see the framework of this small wooden boat.
One can see the exposed framework of this small wooden boat.
Inside the Koehler Kraft building are several more wooden boats. The big one being worked on is Siwash, a 1910 yawl that held the round Catalina time record for 27 years.
Inside the Koehler Kraft building are several more wooden boats. The big one being worked on is Siwash, a 1910 yawl that held the round Catalina time record for 27 years.
Friendly folks show off lots of cool stuff at Koehler Kraft.
Friendly folks show off lots of cool stuff at Koehler Kraft.
I love how wood is everywhere. Working here must be a woodworkers dream.
I love how wood is everywhere. Working here must be a woodworker’s dream.
Another boat is being worked upon. The varnished wood is simply beautiful.
Another boat is being worked upon. The varnished wood is simply beautiful.
Now we're outside again, looking down at the water where many boats crafted from wood await.
Now we’re outside again, looking down at the water where many boats crafted from wood await.
Boats can be moved into and out of the water using these old rails and a wheeled platform.
Boats can be moved into and out of the water using these old rails and a wheeled platform.
The Marjorie is an elegant wooden boat.
The Marjorie is an elegant wooden boat.
Visitors to the San Diego Wooden Boat Festival check out a variety of interesting vessels.
Visitors to the San Diego Wooden Boat Festival check out a variety of interesting vessels.
This small boat is named Tom. It's a 2015 catboat. Carvel planked Port Oxford cedar on white oak frames.
This small boat is named Tom. It’s a 2015 catboat. Carvel planked Port Oxford cedar on white oak frames.
The stern of Old Glory.
Water reflects rippled light on the smooth stern of Old Glory.
Some guys and a dog on the deck of Sally, of the San Diego Yacht Club.
Some guys and a dog on the deck of Sally, of the San Diego Yacht Club.
Wooden boats have amazing character. Even the weathering adds personality.
Wooden boats have amazing character. Even the weathering adds personality.
One's eyes can take delight in these boats all day long.
One’s eyes can take delight in these boats all day long.
I believe I've seen the Patricia Belle at the yearly Festival of Sail. It's a schooner cargo type boat built in 1998.
I believe I’ve seen the Patricia Belle at the yearly Festival of Sail. It’s a schooner cargo type boat built in 1998.
Everyone is checking out these great boats!
Everyone is checking out these great boats!
Someone peers down into a beautiful wooden sailboat.
Someone peers down into a beautiful wooden sailboat.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Carefree street art on Shelter Island Drive!

Sailboats are painted on the side of the building at 2608 Shelter Island Drive in San Diego.
Sailboats are painted on the side of the building at 2608 Shelter Island Drive in San Diego.

Today I headed over to the San Diego Wooden Boat Festival on Shelter Island. As I walked to the festival down Shelter Island Drive, I noticed several works of sun-splashed, carefree street art! Here they are!

The beautiful mural shows sailboats racing on the blue ocean.
One side of the beautiful mural shows sailboats racing on the blue ocean.
The artwork reflects the beautiful marinas and busy boatyards around Shelter Island on San Diego Bay.
The artwork reflects the busy marinas and boatyards around Shelter Island on San Diego Bay.
Electrical box on Shelter Island Drive has two seagulls.
An electrical box on Shelter Island Drive has two seagulls.
Make that three!
Make that three!
The water off Point Loma in this painted street art seems to glisten and sparkle.
The water off Point Loma in this painted street art seems to glisten and sparkle.
One side of a utility box shows the back of a young boy playing on a bench with a toy boat.
One side of a utility box shows the back of a young boy playing on a bench with a toy boat.
One side of the same box. We now see the side of the boy who is holding his boat.
Another side of the same box. We now see the left side of the boy who is holding his boat.
And now the front. All four sides show the same happy scene. Some fun 3-dimensional street art on Shelter Island!
And now the front. All four sides show the same happy scene. Some fun, creative 3-dimensional street art on Shelter Island!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

The strange, wonderful beauty of nautical ropes.

Late this afternoon I discovered strange and wonderful beauty.

As I relaxed on a comfortable wooden bench on the poop deck of the Star of India, enjoying the sea breeze and sunlit bay, my eyes were drawn to the riot of ropes that were coiled, knotted, stretched and dangling all about the deck, in every direction. How strangely beautiful they appeared.

I took a few photos.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Restored foremast installed on Star of India!

Member of the Maritime Museum of San Diego points to work being done on the Star of India while passersby watch with interest.
Member of the Maritime Museum of San Diego points to work being done on the Star of India while passersby watch with interest.

Look what I chanced upon today. As I approached the Embarcadero, I noticed a huge crane next to the Star of India. The restored top third of the foremast had just been installed! (You might recall from an earlier blog post this wooden section had suffered from rot and needed some work.)

While I stood and watched, the crane lifted two shrouds, one after another, to be attached to the foremast. Then came several cables! The activity above and below was fascinating to watch. I wish I had a more thorough understanding of all that I saw. Volunteers and employees of the Maritime Museum of San Diego were using their knowledge and skills to help preserve an important part of San Diego and world history!

Crane lifts up guys with a shroud, part of the tall ship's standing rigging, to be attached to the starboard side of the newly installed, refurbished top third of the foremast.
Crane lifts up guys with a shroud, part of the ship’s standing rigging, to be attached to the starboard side of the newly installed, refurbished top third of the foremast.
The ladder-like shroud dangles in the air, near the top of the foremast.
The ladder-like shroud dangles in the air, near the top of the foremast.
Volunteers and employees of the Maritime Museum of San Diego watch from the deck below.
Volunteers and employees of the Maritime Museum of San Diego watch from the deck below.
Working high in the San Diego sky, above the oldest active sailing ship in the world, Star of India.
Working high in the San Diego sky, above the oldest active sailing ship in the world.  The beautiful Star of India was built in 1863.
That first shroud is done. Those working on the Embarcadero beside the ship prepare the second shroud to be hoisted.
That first shroud is done. Those working on the Embarcadero beside the ship prepare the second shroud to be hoisted.
Now it's time to attach the second shroud to the port side.
Now it’s time to attach the second shroud to the port side.
Workers on the foremast grab hold.
A worker on the foremast grabs hold.
Back down again to solid ground!
Back down again to solid ground!
Lots of cables still need to be attached to the foremast, to help it resist the force of the wind, and gravity and inertia when the ship pitches and rolls.
Lots of cables still need to be attached to the foremast, to help it resist the force of the wind, plus gravity and inertia when the tall ship pitches and rolls.
One super strong, tarred cable awaiting installation is the starboard royal backstay. It will be attached to the masttop.
One super strong, tarred cable awaiting installation is the starboard royal backstay. It will be attached to the masttop.
Guys watch from the ship's rail.
Guys watch from the historic ship’s rail.
Up goes one of the many cables that are part of the forward rigging.
Up goes one of the many cables that are part of Star of India’s rigging.
A small bit of history.
A small bit of history in San Diego.
Up they go! I bet the view is great!
Up they go! I bet the view is great!
The bottom end of the cable was attached, now back up to the top of the foremast...
The bottom end of the cable is in place, now back up to the top of the foremast…
Up, up...
Up, up…
Higher...
Higher…
Intrigued by the operation, people watch from below. A member of the Maritime Museum of San Diego explains the proceedings.
Intrigued by the operation, people watch from below. A member of the Maritime Museum of San Diego explains the proceedings.
Another (pleasantly crooked) photo of a shroud being hoisted. I was told this work began early in the morning. As much work will be done today as possible!
Another photo of one shroud being hoisted. I was told this work began early in the morning. As much work will be done today as possible!

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A short tour of San Diego Bay on the Pilot boat.

Ready to board the small Pilot boat, one of many historic vessels at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. We're going to enjoy a short harbor cruise!
Ready to board the small Pilot boat, one of many historic vessels at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. We’re going to enjoy a short harbor cruise!

A couple months ago I went on a short tour of San Diego Bay on the Pilot, a historic vessel owned by the Maritime Museum of San Diego. When you buy a ticket for the museum, you can pay a little extra and enjoy a fun look at San Diego’s harbor in the open air aboard the Pilot. I recommend it!

Come with me and get a small taste of what you’ll experience. Obviously, these few photographs are no substitute for the ocean breeze, sunshine and sparkling blue water.

A plaque indicates the 1914 Pilot Boat has 82 years of service and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A plaque indicates the 1914 Pilot Boat has 82 years of service and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  For decades it helped thousands of ships safely enter and exit San Diego Bay.
Captain of the Pilot is getting ready to pull away from the floating museum.
Captain of the Pilot is getting ready to pull away from the floating museum.
Here we go out onto San Diego Bay! I see Californian, the official tall ship of the state of California, to our left.
Here we go out onto San Diego Bay! I see Californian, the official tall ship of the state of California, to our left.
It's a pleasant day out on the water. We head initially in the direction of Shelter Island and Point Loma.
It’s a pleasant day out on the water. We head initially in the direction of Shelter Island and Point Loma.
We've turned southward and pass the ships of the Maritime Museum. Some of San Diego's skyline is visible in this photo.
We’ve turned southward and pass the ships of the Maritime Museum. Part of San Diego’s skyline is visible in this photo.
There are two big cruise ships in port today. Some of these ships are larger than downtown buildings!
There are two big cruise ships in port today. Some of these ships are larger than downtown buildings!
Out toward Point Loma many sailboats are participating in a regatta.
Out toward Point Loma many sailboats are participating in a regatta.
We're continuing south and now I see the second cruise ship by the Port Pavilion.
We’re continuing south and now I see the second cruise ship by the Port Pavilion.
We've passed the USS Midway. Just enjoying the blue water and sunshine.
We’ve passed the USS Midway. Just enjoying the blue water and sunshine.
Yay! We get to slow down to photograph sea lions sleeping on a harbor buoy.
Yay! We get to slow down to photograph sea lions sleeping on a harbor buoy.
Beautiful sailboats were tilting in the breeze and many passed so close we could hear the canvas flapping.
Beautiful sailboats were tilting in the breeze and many passed so close we could hear the canvas flapping.
Looking south as we approach the Coronado Bay Bridge. Way off in the distance I see Mexico. Nearer, to the right, is a part of Coronado--the Naval Amphibious Base where Navy Seals train.
Looking south as we approach the Coronado Bay Bridge. Way off in the distance I see Mexico. Nearer, to the right, is a part of Coronado–the Naval Amphibious Base where Navy Seals train.
Under the bridge we go, looking east at two Navy ships.
Under the bridge we go, while looking east at two Navy ships.
Shortly after passing under the bridge, we turn around and head back north near the shipyards. I see BAE Systems Ship Repair's huge dry dock. These two folks were visiting San Diego.
Shortly after passing under the bridge, we turn around and head back north near the shipyards. I see BAE Systems Ship Repair’s huge dry dock. These two friendly passengers were visiting San Diego.
Back north of the Coronado Bay Bridge, now passing the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.
Back north of the Coronado Bay Bridge, now passing the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.
A magical look west toward sails, clouds and the descending sun.
A magical look west toward sails, clouds and the descending sun.
Here comes a speedy sailboat behind us!
Here comes a speedy sailboat behind us!
The handsome Manchester Grand Hyatt buildings. One can observe San Diego from special windows on the 40th floor. They are in the tower on the right. This Hyatt is the tallest waterfront hotel on the West Coast.
The handsome Manchester Grand Hyatt buildings. One can observe San Diego from two large windows on the 40th floor. They are in the tower on the right. This Hyatt is the tallest waterfront hotel on the West Coast.
Our tour guide points toward Seaport Village. I see the silvery Marriott Marquis to the right.
Our tour guide points toward Seaport Village. I see the silvery Marriott Marquis to the right.
I love the G Street Pier and the fishing vessels that dock by it. Just beyond is Tuna Harbor. Sometime I post photos of lobster traps and other cool stuff piled on this working pier.
I love the G Street Pier and the fishing vessels that dock by it. Just beyond is Tuna Harbor. Sometimes I post photos of lobster traps and other cool stuff piled on this working pier.
This harbor tour is going fast! We're already passing under the immense bow of the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum.
This harbor tour is going fast! We’re already passing under the immense bow of the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum.
Some guys watch us from the end of Navy Pier near the USS Midway Museum.
Some guys watch us from the end of Navy Pier near the USS Midway Museum.
We've returned to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. There's the beautiful Star of India, oldest active sailing ship in the world, one of our city's prized gems.
We’ve returned to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. There’s the beautiful Star of India, oldest active sailing ship in the world, one of our city’s prized gems.
And here's HMS Surprise. If this replica Royal Navy frigate looks familiar, you might have seen Russell Crowe walking her decks in Master and Commander.
And here’s HMS Surprise. If this replica Royal Navy frigate looks familiar, you might have seen Russell Crowe walking her decks in the great movie Master and Commander.
It's the distinctive County Administration Building.
It’s the distinctive County Administration Building.
About to tie up near the museum's restored Swift Boat. I went on a ride aboard her some time ago. We went further south in the bay on that tour and got a good look at many active Navy ships.
About to tie up near the museum’s restored Swift Boat. I went on a ride aboard the Swift Boat some time ago. We went further south in the bay on that tour and got a good look at many active Navy ships.
While I linger at the museum and check out lots of cool nautical stuff, the Pilot takes off on another fun tour. Should you visit San Diego, I recommend buying a ticket!
While I linger at the museum and check out lots of cool nautical stuff, the Pilot takes off on another fun tour. Should you visit San Diego, I recommend buying a ticket!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!