A fun harbor tour on both land and sea!

Two tours in one! That’s what it felt like today when I explored San Diego’s harbor on a SEAL Tours boat with wheels!

It was my very first time experiencing one of these unique tours.

Passengers boarded the amphibious SEAL vehicle at Seaport Village and started down Harbor Drive along San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero. We passed the airport and Spanish Landing and entered Point Loma. All the while, our tour guide (the boat’s first mate), provided a fun and spirited narration. My love of San Diego was renewed once again.

At the Shelter Island boat ramp we seamlessly entered San Diego Bay and headed out across the sparkling water!

Of course there were amazing views of downtown San Diego across the gentle water. And, of course, we had to swing by the bait dock near the entrance to the bay where sea lions entertained kids with their antics.

We saw several Navy facilities and were surprised to learn how super high-tech robot ships are autonomously interdicting drug smugglers. We also saw where the Navy trains sea lions and dolphins to detect underwater objects. And we saw the R/P FLIP, a very long, very strange Scripps research vessel that plunges 90 degrees into the ocean to become a sort of floating tower! There was so much cool stuff to see, I couldn’t begin to describe it all.

The tour was a lot of fun. Our guide, Bret, was a ham and everyone was always smiling and laughing. Personally, I learned quite a lot about my city that I hadn’t known before.

Are you a San Diego resident? This month–January–Old Town Trolley Tours is offering locals free rides. That includes the SEAL Tours, which they operate!

If you do partake of this harbor experience, make sure to bring a jacket. The wind out on the bay can be quite chilly!

Here’s a tiny taste of the experience…

Both the captain and first mate were really nice. As we got started visual aids helped to explain the coming attractions.

Two huge cruise ships were docked on the Embarcadero today.

Passing the beautiful, historic Star of India, world’s oldest active sailing ship.

We’ve arrived at Shelter Island, where we saw many boats moored in America’s Cup Harbor.

About to enter San Diego Bay! How cool is this?

The transition to water is so smooth you hardly notice it.

Another perfect San Diego day.

Hello!

The bait dock had everyone taking a million photos. Those sea lions are digesting their breakfast.

How cute!

A bunch of cormorants were hanging out on this section.

A view of downtown San Diego skyscrapers over the large naval air base on Coronado’s North Island.

That narrow ship on the right operates autonomously. If it detects a drug runner out on the Pacific Ocean, the Coast Guard is notified.

Here’s where sea lions are trained by the U.S. Navy. We learned they are actually a bit more intelligent than dolphins.

Here comes another SEAL Tour! That’s Harbor Island behind it.

Back to land! Before heading again down city streets, our captain checked for seaweed caught in the wheels!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Ringing the Japanese Friendship Bell!

The Japanese Friendship Bell on San Diego’s Shelter Island is rung perhaps twice a year: typically for the New Year and during special occasions.

Yesterday, the completion of the Pacific Rim Park Friendship Walk was one such occasion!

Those who participated in this walk for peace were invited up in groups of four to ring the large bell, which was forged in Japan. The bell was given to San Diego in 1958 by the city of Yokohama, its Sister City, as a token of eternal friendship. The bell symbolizes the hope for everlasting peace.

The traditional bronze bell, six feet high and almost two and half tons, was cast by Masahiko Katori, who has been called a Living National Treasure by the government of Japan.

I was expecting a loud booming clang when the swinging wooden pole struck the bell, but the sound was surprisingly low and mellow. It was a dignified, subtle, spiritual sound. The bell spoke with a voice that was strangely sublime.

Before the ringing of the Japanese Friendship Bell commenced, the taiko drumming group Genbu Daiko performed nearby.

In groups of four, people approach the Japanese Friendship Bell on Shelter Island.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

San Diego’s Pacific Rim Park Friendship Walk!

A very special event was held today on San Diego’s Shelter Island. The Pacific Rim Park Friendship Walk brought together many people who desire a better world, where everyone everywhere lives in peace.

The Friendship Walk was created by the Ilan-Lael Foundation, which was established in 1982 by world-renowned local artists James Hubbell and his wife Anne.

As we walked along Shelter Island’s Shoreline Park, led by the fun Chunky Hustle Brass Band, we saw several works of public art created by James Hubbell, and inspiring messages, and a sparkling view of San Diego Bay.

We started at Hubbell’s fanciful Pacific Portal, passed his female sculpture Pacific Spirit, and ended at the amazing Pearl of the Pacific. The Pearl of the Pacific is one of several Pacific Rim Parks uniting many nations, all inspired by Hubbell and built with many volunteer hands.

As you can see in the upcoming photos, we also passed the Shelter Island Pier and the Tunaman’s Memorial.

An awesome Japanese taiko drumming performance by Genbu Daiko was followed by many honorary speakers, including from a group that traveled to San Diego for the event from South Korea, and Drew, son of James Hubbell.

After checking out a couple of food trucks and an Ilan-Lael Pop-up Gift Shop, it was time to head over to Shelter Island’s historic Japanese Friendship Bell, to hear it ring. I’ll be blogging about that coming up!

I was told this was the first ever Friendship Walk. I hope there are many more to come!

Friendship begins with a smile.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Photos of more sculptures on Shelter Island!

There’s a surprising abundance of public art on Shelter Island. Sculptures seem to be everywhere! I’ve already shared photos of most.

Amazing sculptures along the length of Shelter Island can be seen here and here and here and here and here and here and here!

As you might recall, yesterday’s blog post featured a few photographs from a walk in front of the Silver Gate Yacht Club. I looked skyward at a bronze sailor high on a ship’s mast holding a spyglass. During that same walk along Shelter Island Drive yesterday, I paused to admire three additional sculptures!

The first graces a parking entrance to Humphrey’s world-famous outdoor concert venue. I’m not sure who created the artwork. I could see no plaque, nor find any information. Part of the metal sculpture looks like an electric guitar. Or perhaps it’s an abstract face producing jagged sound waves! I hope someone out there knows more about it.

The next photo is of a small sculpture perched outside the lobby of the Island Palms Hotel.

It appears to have been created by Alber de Matteis, the same artist who created that very first sculpture I linked to. He has a distinctive style.

Lastly, the third sculpture is definitely by Alber de Matteis! According to a nearby plaque, it’s titled Timeless Wave.

Like a blue wave curling in to the earthy shore, the graceful artwork stands between Shelter Island Drive and a hotel parking lot, directly in front of the Island Palms Hotel’s Casa Del Mar Building. It was dedicated June 2009.

The plaque features a short but evocative poem that begins:

The Waves ebb and flow,
they are the breath of the ocean.
Like two hands reaching out for one another…

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Sculpted sailor on mast at Silver Gate Yacht Club.

A fantastic sculpture rises into the sky in front of the Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island.

The artwork, by renowned Encinitas-based artists T.J. Dixon and James Nelson, depicts a sailor high atop a ship’s mast holding a spyglass, searching for land. On a plaque at the sculpture’s base is a poem titled Homecoming by John Alger.

I’ve transcribed the first stanza:

When sailors set for distant shore, with songs upon their ears
They dream of seas both fair and strong, to leave behind the tears
Of loves and those who dwell on land, and ne’er know the sea
Or ports o’ call in distant land, this yearning to be free…

The sculpture–mast and figure–is made of steel and bronze. The sculpture was created in collaboration with Brian Thomas of Thomas Marine. It was dedicated in 2011.

I’ve photographed other great sculptures by T.J. Dixon and James Nelson all around San Diego. You can see them here and here and here and here and here!

Plaque at base of the Silver Gate Yacht Club sculpture includes the poem Homecoming by John Alger.
Plaque at base of the Silver Gate Yacht Club sculpture includes the poem Homecoming by John Alger. (Click this photo and it will enlarge for easier reading.)

Sculpture of sailor on mast with spyglass, by artists T.J. Dixon and James Nelson, at San Diego's Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island.
Sculpture of sailor on mast with spyglass, by artists T.J. Dixon and James Nelson, at San Diego’s Silver Gate Yacht Club 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!

Pumping sewage and Emerson’s mutable cloud.

What words would you expect to read on the side of a sewage pumping station?

Caution? Beware of spill? In case of vile stink, call an emergency phone number immediately?

Pump Station #4 in Point Loma is different. You can find it at the corner of Carleton Street and Shafter Street, near the entrance to Shelter Island. Large words on the small pump station might cause those walking by to stop and wonder. Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.

It’s a quote by transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson.

If you think about it, sewage is simply another part of nature. And it’s a sort of mutable cloud, always and never the same. It’s a liquidy cloud that’s kept safely unseen and unsmelled.

This very unusual public art was created by Marcos Ramirez and Teddy Cruz. The otherwise ugly cinder block pump station was painted blue and made interesting with an adjacent sculpture of beams, and the steel lattice on two sides containing Emerson’s strangely appropriate philosophical quote.

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Life returns to Shelter Island!

A busy Sunday at the Shelter Island Launch Ramp.
A busy Sunday at the Shelter Island Launch Ramp.

Life has returned to Shelter Island! How quickly circumstances change!

For several months, during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, San Diego Bay was an inactive blank–virtually no boats, almost no people along its shoreline. But now that society is well along in the process of reopening, appearances have radically changed!

I took a walk around the Shelter Island today. It looked like a typical Sunday in June. People picnicked on the grass, fished from the pier, and launched their boats into the bay.

The playground was closed and some people wore facial protection, but otherwise it felt like just another summer day…

As life returns to Shelter Island, a line forms at the boat ramp.
As life returns to Shelter Island, a line forms at the boat ramp.

Various types of boats are gathered inside the recently renovated launching basin.
Various types of boats are gathered in the recently renovated launching basin.

This boat is heading out into San Diego Bay.
This boat is heading out into San Diego Bay.

These guys are coming in. Pelicans stand on the rail across the water.
These guys are coming in. Pelicans stand on the rail across the water.

A cool little wooden sailboat sets out into the bay.
A cool little wooden sailboat sets out into the bay.

Still working to get that sail up!
Still working to get that sail up!

A sea lion goes from boat to boat hoping for fishing bait leftovers.
A sea lion goes from boat to boat hoping for fishing bait leftovers.

I believe this might be Wally the sociable sea lion. I blogged about him a couple times before. He hangs out here.
I believe this might be Wally the sociable sea lion. I blogged about him a couple times before. He hangs out here.

Today is Flag Day, so this sign works perfectly.
Today is Flag Day, so this sign works perfectly.

The huge Stars and Stripes racing yacht is passing the Shelter Island Pier. I haven't seen it on the bay for a very long time.
The huge Stars and Stripes racing yacht is passing the Shelter Island Pier. I haven’t seen it out on the bay for what seems a very long time.

The pier is filled almost end to end with people.
The pier is filled almost end to end with people.

This gull has landed atop a box at the foot of the pier. It would probably like some leftovers from Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle.
This gull has landed atop a box at the foot of the pier. It would probably like some scraps from Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle.

A perfect sunny day on the Shelter Island Pier. Across the bay you can see North Island Naval Air Station.
A perfect sunny day on the Shelter Island Pier. Across the bay you can see North Island Naval Air Station.

Somebody caught a little mackerel!
Somebody caught a little mackerel!

Lots of sails in the distance. Beyond them rises downtown San Diego's skyline.
Lots of sails in the distance. Beyond them rises downtown San Diego’s skyline.

Another sail seen from one of the lath shelters along Shelter Island’s Shoreline Park.
Another sail seen from one of the lath shelters along Shelter Island’s Shoreline Park.

Walking, bicycling, sailing... What could be better?
Walking, bicycling, sailing… What could be better?

A bright sailboat about to pass Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel Sally Ride. You might remember I took a tour of her when she debuted and blogged about it!
A sailboat about to pass Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel Sally Ride. I took a tour of her when she debuted and I blogged about it!

If you want to see what it’s like inside the oceanographic research vessel R/V Sally Ride, which is in the above photo, click here!

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 cool sculpture at Humphreys on Shelter Island.

I’ve always wondered about the cool sculpture that stands in front of Humphreys Half Moon Inn on Shelter Island. It’s situated right next to one of the hotel’s driveways.

Last weekend, during my walk along Shelter Island Drive, I paused by the sculpture and looked about for some information. And I found it!

A plaque at the sculpture’s base reads:

OCEAN SONG

The sculpture is inspired by waves
breaking on the shores of the bay.
It Reflects the play of sunlight throughout
the day on the surface of the ocean.
It recalls the connection of the moon and
the tides.
So as waves on the ocean it also portrays
waves of sound.
The mass of the sculpture transforms itself
from baritone to soprano
Creating a song that tells the story of the
place where we have found shelter.

ALBER DE MATTEIS, SCULPTOR

To have discovered such a poetic description was a wonderful surprise. I also noted the sculpture is dated 2004.

If the name of this artist seems familiar, you might recall seeing photographs of abstract sculptures by Alber De Matteis in National City and Liberty Station.

I blogged those photos years ago here and here!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

A fun walk along Shelter Island Drive.

Fun shark street art on a utility box at the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Rosecrans Street.
Shark street art on a utility box at the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Rosecrans Street.

This morning I headed to Point Loma to visit three sites participating in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO. All three are located in a neighborhood at the foot of Shelter Island–an area once populated by many Portuguese fishermen. I think you might enjoy a look at Little Portugal’s history and some of its landmarks.

Before I sort through all those photographs, however, please enjoy others photos I took during a fun walk down Shelter Island Drive, from Rosecrans Streets to the recently improved Shelter Island boat ramp.

(To see additional street art I photographed along Shelter Island Drive a couple years ago, click here!)

The Union Bank on the same corner has a colorful mural depicting fishermen near its entrance.
The Union Bank on the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Rosecrans Street has a colorful mural near its entrance. Tuna fishermen with poles out on the Pacific Ocean.

Plaque describes the artwork. Sean Wells - Art Teacher. Mural completed Spring 2010 depicting historic scenes of the Point Loma region.
Plaque describes the above artwork. Sean Wells – Art Teacher. Mural completed Spring 2010 depicting historic scenes of the Point Loma region.

As I began walking along Shelter Island Drive, a gigantic yacht passed down the street!
As I began walking along Shelter Island Drive, a gigantic yacht passed down the street!

A few benches overlook a corner of the Shelter Island Yacht Basin. It's a nice place to sit and relax.
A few benches overlook a corner of the Shelter Island Yacht Basin. It’s a nice place to sit in the sun and relax.

I spotted this cool stained glass panel in a window of The Marlin Club.
I spotted this cool stained glass panel in a window of The Marlin Club.

I remember seeing some huge fish suspended here years ago, before I began taking photos for this blog.
I remember seeing several huge fish suspended here years ago, before I began taking photos for this blog.

Someone bikes past a huge boat lift at the Shelter Island Boatyard.
Someone bikes past a huge boat lift at the Shelter Island Boatyard.

Those yachts being repaired seem to be up in the sky!
Those yachts being repaired seem to be up in the sky!

People bicycle near the Ocean Song sculpture in front of Humphreys Half Moon Inn.
People bicycle near the Ocean Song sculpture in front of Humphreys Half Moon Inn. This cool public art was created by Alber De Matteis.

As I approach San Diego Bay, I see the Pacific Portal sculpture by local artist James T. Hubbell.
As I approach San Diego Bay, I see the Pacific Portal sculpture by local artist James T. Hubbell.

I've arrived at the recently improved and enlarged Shelter Island Launch Ramp. Many recreational watercraft enter San Diego Bay here.
I’ve arrived at the recently improved and enlarged Shelter Island Launch Ramp. Many recreational watercraft enter San Diego Bay here.

Looks like these guys backing their boat into the water intend to spend the day fishing.
Looks like these guys backing their boat into the water intend to spend the day fishing.

Someone hangs out nearby, sitting among beached dinghies.
Someone hangs out nearby, sitting among beached dinghies.

Looking across the boat launch basin, the San Diego downtown skyline in the distance.
Looking across the boat launch basin, the San Diego downtown skyline in the distance.

I see some sailboats racing in the distance, between here and Harbor Island.
I see some sailboats racing in the distance, between here and Harbor Island.

Here comes an amphibious SEAL tour boat. These cool boats head out toward the entrance to the San Diego Bay channel and turn about near the submarines at Naval Base Point Loma.
Here comes an amphibious SEAL tour boat. Tourists float out toward the entrance of San Diego Bay, then turn around near the submarines at Naval Base Point Loma.

These cool vessels drive right out of the water and up onto the boat ramp!
These cool vessels drive right out of the water and up onto the boat ramp!

After walking a bit, I'm nearer those small sailboats that were racing in the distance.
After walking a bit, I’m nearer those small sailboats that were racing in the distance.

Some people by the rocky shore watch even more distant sailboats with binoculars.
Some people by the rocky shore watch even more distant sailboats with binoculars.

My camera zooms and just manages to capture a nice image.
My small camera zooms and just manages to capture a nice image.

Look! Here comes San Salvador, the Maritime Museum of San Diego's amazing Spanish galleon replica!
Look! Here comes San Salvador, the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s amazing Spanish galleon replica!

Now that is one very cool sight!
Now that is one very cool sight!

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 photos for you to enjoy!

A taste of San Diego’s historic Little Portugal.

Design on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.
Image on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.

The history of the Portuguese community in Point Loma is fascinating. During a walk along a block of Avenida de Portugal, I got just a small glimpse of it.

Many have heard of Little Italy in San Diego, but I suspect few have heard of a neighborhood that some call Little Portugal. It can be found near the entrance to Shelter Island, an area settled by many families of Portuguese fishermen when the tuna industry flourished in our city. The neighborhood was once called Tunaville. Two landmarks that were built by the Portuguese almost a century ago still exist today: the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall where the community gathers and a small Catholic chapel beside it.

I spotted some round plaques in the sidewalk and images on tile on the hall’s exterior during my walk beside these two buildings. They provide a small taste of Little Portugal’s history. I thought you might enjoy taking a look at a few of them.

Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes called Little Portugal.
Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes referred to as Little Portugal.

Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.
Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.

Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.
Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.

In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.
In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.

Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.
Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.

The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.
The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.

Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.
Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.

Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.
Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.

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!