Bowsprit of Forester in front of Maritime Museum.

Have you ever wondered about that massive timber that lies in front of the Maritime Museum? The one people will sit on to gaze across San Diego Bay or at several of the museum’s nearby ships?

That’s the bowsprit of the old four-masted schooner Forester, built in 1900 to transport lumber from the Pacific Northwest to ports along the West Coast and destinations all around the Pacific Ocean, including China, India, Australia, South Sea islands and Peru.

The old ship, when her life of carrying logs of spruce and fir came to an end, was used as a tidal break near the northeastern end of San Francisco Bay. Eventually it was towed to a mudflat west of Antioch (the city stated in the plaque I photographed) and beached. There it became home of its long-time captain.

In 1975 fire swept through the abandoned ship and it burned to the waterline. The remains of Forester can still be seen along the shoreline of Martinez, California.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Forester, and see several interesting old photographs of the ship, there’s a great web page that you can check out by clicking here.

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Varnishing the beautiful Star of India.

Boats require a lot of maintenance. The 157-year-old Star of India, oldest active sailing ship in the world, is no exception!

This afternoon I walked around the Star of India’s main deck and saw that new coats of varnish have been applied to some of the historic tall ship’s rails, posts, belaying pins, various panels, signs, the ship’s wheel and other wooden elements. And the work continues!

A friendly volunteer explained there’s a lot of sanding to do first.

Once the varnish is applied and dries, San Diego’s beloved Star once again shines brightly.

To my eyes more beautiful than ever!

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Many colorful birdhouses in Santee trees!

Look what I spied yesterday! As I walked along the San Diego River Trail in Santee, a bit west of Cuyamaca Street, I came upon two sycamore trees that were absolutely filled with small, very colorful birdhouses!

I noticed that names and dates were painted on the base of many houses. It appeared to me some were created in May of this year. Others were dated 2018. I don’t know whose fun project this was. If anyone knows, leave a comment!

The nest boxes–some are very tiny–have been very creatively designed and are like small works of art. I’m not sure whether any birds have used them. It does appear spiders like them! These wonderful little birdhouses dangle like ornaments from branches that are a few feet from the San Diego River Trail where many people walk and ride bikes.

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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The doors, gates and windows of Old Town.

This afternoon I walked through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, wondering if I might find any Fourth of July decorations. There were only a few. All of the museums and perhaps half of the shops are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But I did find lots of picturesque doors, gates and windows! Which gave me a unique photographic opportunity. On a typical weekend afternoon, some of these colorful wooden doors and rustic gates would be wide open, and taking such photographs would be impossible.

But not today!

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!

A thousand abstract paintings on one wall.

This morning I had to hurry through downtown to catch the trolley for work. Given more time, I could’ve taken a thousand photographs of abstract paintings on one fantastic construction site wall.

(Okay, there are fragments of wood and old peeling paper. So you might say some of these “works” are mixed media collage.)

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!

Redecking famous tall ship HMS Surprise.

Lumber is prepared on the main deck of HMS Surprise during the famous tall ship's re-decking project.
Lumber is prepared on the main deck of HMS Surprise during the famous tall ship’s redecking project.

During my Sunday visit to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, I noticed good progress has been made redecking HMS Surprise. While nobody was working on that project at the time, I was able to see some of the process that is required to put a beautiful, weather-resistant new deck on the amazing tall ship.

HMS Surprise was used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe, one of the greatest epic films depicting the Age of Sail during the Napoleonic Wars. The ship is a replica of the 18th century Royal Navy frigate HMS Rose, and is just one of several world-famous ships and submarines you can step aboard at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

As you can see in my photo of a sign, the museum welcomes new members, volunteers, docents, donors, and even sail crew! I can tell you that being a member is cool beyond description. I never tire of visiting the museum’s historical exhibits and many beautiful vessels.

An innovative technique used on Star of India is being applied here. It involves multiple epoxy layers, fiberglass layers and planking.
An innovative decking technique that was successful on Star of India is also being used for HMS Surprise. It involves multiple epoxy layers, fiberglass layers and planking.

The main deck of HMS Surprise is full of lumber, saws and other woodworking tools!
The main deck of HMS Surprise is full of lumber, saws and other woodworking tools!

In this photo you can see how some of the layered decking work is done.
In this photo you can see how some of the layered decking work is done.

Another photo of the redecking in progress.
Another photo of the redecking in progress.

Some of the hand tools.
Some of the hand tools.

The finished decking on HMS Surprise's quarterdeck is very beautiful and should last many years.
The finished decking on HMS Surprise’s quarterdeck is very beautiful and should endure sun, weather and the feet of curious visitors for many years.

There's always more work to be done at the Maritime Museum of San Diego! Your help is welcomed!
Volunteers head out to the museum’s barge with some lumber. There’s always more work to be done at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Your help is appreciated!

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An amazing Sunset Seat on the cliffs of Del Mar.

At the southwest corner of Del Mar, high atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean north of Torrey Pines State Beach, you’ll find a special seat. It’s called the Sunset Seat.

The Sunset Seat is a work of public art that was carved in the stump of a dead Torrey pine. The tree had been killed by bark beetles.

In 2015 this amazing public art took form. Inspired designer David Arnold and wood carver Tim Richards created a seat where anybody can sit and look out toward the ocean horizon, with a red-tailed hawk perched near their shoulder.

You can find the Sunset Seat a few steps west of a small parking area beside Camino Del Mar, a short distance north of Carmel Valley Road.

One day I will sit beside the beautiful hawk and watch a 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!

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A peek at Butcher Boy’s restoration at Spanish Landing.

All sorts of wood can be found under the North Harbor Drive Bridge, where the historic boat Butcher Boy is undergoing a thorough restoration.
All sorts of wood can be found under the North Harbor Drive Bridge, where the historic boat Butcher Boy is undergoing a thorough restoration.

This morning, as I drove up Harbor Drive toward Point Loma, I suddenly remembered that the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s turn-of-the-century racing sloop Butcher Boy is being restored at Spanish Landing, where the galleon San Salvador was built a few years back. Work on the much smaller Butcher Boy is being carried out in a sheltered place under the North Harbor Drive Bridge.

Even though I’m no expert when it comes to sloops–or nautical stuff in general–I do love to look at boats and ships that sail. There seems to be something about white sails, sunlight on water, and wind-lashed voyages across rolling expanses that appeals deeply to the human spirit.

So, anyway, I decided to pull into the nearby parking lot to see what progress has been made in restoring Butcher Boy to its former glory.

I was able to take a few photos.

Even though no museum volunteers were at work in the early morning, and the large ship saw was covered with a tarp, a nearby sign provided some interesting information about these unique saws used by shipwrights. The angle of a ship saw blade can be changed as a cut is being made, so that compound curves can be created with a single cut.

An internet wooden boat forum that I found has some fascinating info about the history of Butcher Boy, including:

“Butcher Boy, which had similarly named counterparts up and down the West Coast, was conceived by Charles S. Hardy, owner of the Bay City Market on Fifth and Broadway downtown.

‘Boss Hardy,’ as he was known, needed a boat sturdy enough to handle any weather and fast enough to beat competitors out to the big ships anchored offshore, off what was commonly known as Spanish Bight and Dutch Flats.

Hardy turned to boatyard owner Manuel Goularte, a native of the Portuguese Azores. The model was the double-ended salmon boat sailed so successfully on the Sacramento and Columbia rivers.

A boat-building style that originated in Italy and the Mediterranean can also be seen in Butcher Boy, said Ashley, a style then favored by first-generation Italian fishermen in San Francisco Bay.

‘The gaff rig originated with the 15th-century Dutch,’ Ashley said. ‘Even though she was built as a work boat, she was beautiful, really special even in her own time.’

‘Everybody around the bay stops to look at her now. It’s like she’s sailing out of a Winslow Homer painting.’

Framed in oak and planked in cedar, Butcher Boy is 29 feet, 11 inches long, with an 81/2-foot beam. The mainsail and jib carry 604 square feet of sail.”

If you are curious, and want to see historical photos of Butcher Boy under sail, and a detailed description of the restoration work now being done, please read the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s blog by clicking here.

A sign that describes a ship saw, recalling how this one was used to help build the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.
A sign that describes a ship saw, recalling how this particular one was used to build the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.

Lots of lumber!
Lots of lumber!

I took this photo of the unrestored Butcher Boy two and a half years ago for another blog post. At the time it was on display on the barge behind the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s steam ferry Berkeley.

Photo of the Butcher Boy's restoration in progress, taken one August 2018 morning at San Diego's Spanish Landing.
Photo of the Butcher Boy’s restoration in progress, taken one August 2018 morning at San Diego’s Spanish Landing.

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!

Cleverly designed furniture is surprising, playful art!

Artwork now on display in the SDSU Downtown Gallery includes extraordinary furniture!
Artwork now on display in the SDSU Downtown Gallery includes extraordinary furniture!

Some fantastic, highly innovative art is now on display at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is the title of the surprising exhibition.

Walk through the door of the SDSU Downtown Gallery and you might not be sure whether you’ve entered a bizarre furniture and hardware store or a dream-place where art conforms to your body. Those abstract paintings on the wall actually unfold into chairs! Those shovel handles in a row form the back of a beautifully crafted wooden bench! That colorful “luggage” tossed in a heap in one corner seems more appropriate for a comfortable living room than a cargo hold!

According to a sign in the gallery, Tom Loeser imagines new ways that the body, furniture and space can interact. He wonders: if the furniture we sit on were totally different, how might our lives be different too?

I can tell you resting on these pieces (and you’re allowed to actually sit on a few of his tumblers) would put me in a very creative and happy state of mind.

As I sat I might gaze at Tom Loeser’s artwork on the gallery’s walls, which includes fantastic blue cyanotypes and strangely elemental pyrography. Transformed by the artist’s genius, ordinary objects seem to radiate a weird spiritual essence. The images, like his furniture, seem to present a vision of unexpected potentialities in our practical, solidly physical world.

If you love really clever art, check out the SDSU Downtown Gallery before this exhibition ends on October 28, 2018!

The art exhibition Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is now showing in downtown San Diego.
The art exhibition Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is now showing in downtown San Diego.

Two works of art by Tom Loeser. Not a Dozen Even, 2014, cyanotype. Double Dig, 2016, white oak and shovel handles.
Two works of art by Tom Loeser. Not a Dozen Even, 2014, cyanotype. Double Dig, 2016, white oak and shovel handles.

S/M/L, 2014, cyanotype by artist Tom Loeser.
S/M/L, 2014, cyanotype by artist Tom Loeser.

A room full of practical objects made dreamlike.
A room full of practical objects made dreamlike.

Dig for Three, 2015, walnut and shovel handles by artist Tom Loeser.
Dig for Three, 2015, walnut and shovel handles by artist Tom Loeser.

LA/Chicago/New York, 2016, plywood, wood, felt, paint by artist Tom Loeser.
LA/Chicago/New York, 2016, plywood, wood, felt, paint by artist Tom Loeser.

A colorful tumbler that can be sat upon comfortably any which way.
A colorful tumbler that can be sat upon comfortably any which way.

Folding Chair, 1987, painted plywood, maple, stainless steel by artist Tom Loeser.
Folding Chair, 1987, painted plywood, maple, stainless steel by artist Tom Loeser.

Scythe by Scythe, 2016, maple, hickory, scythe handles by artist Tom Loeser.
Scythe by Scythe, 2016, maple, hickory, scythe handles by artist Tom Loeser.

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!

Create a cool beehouse for your garden!

Anyone can create a cool beehouse for their garden. All you really need is a drill!
Anyone can create a beehouse for their garden. All you really need is a drill!

Before my hike through the Sweetwater Marsh on Saturday, I took a stroll through the Native Pollinator Garden just outside the Living Coast Discovery Center. After reading a variety of informative signs, I paused in the garden to look at some very cool beehouses!

As I read about the beehouses, it occurred to me these would be extremely easy to make.

I took photographs just in case anyone reading this blog would like to make a beehouse for their own garden! Read the captions to learn more about the habits of ground-dwelling solitary bees and the materials you can use to make them a beehouse!

The Native Pollinator Garden at the Living Coast Discovery Center includes some very cool beehouses!
The Native Pollinator Garden just outside the Living Coast Discovery Center includes a couple of very cool beehouses!

Bees are extremely important. More than two thirds of the world's crop species rely on pollinators.
Bees are extremely important. More than two thirds of the world’s crop species rely on pollinators.

A large Feed a Bee Pollinator Habitat in the native garden provides shelter for solitary bees and information for the curious.
A large Feed a Bee Pollinator Habitat in the native garden provides shelter for solitary bees and information for the curious.

The rear of this bee condo! Holes have been drilled in a variety of materials, including logs, lumber and bricks.
The rear of this bee condo! Holes have been drilled in a variety of materials, including logs, lumber and bricks.

Solitary bees don't live in colonies. They often seek out hollows of fallen logs, bark and branches. They make up a majority of the 4000 bee species in the United States.
Solitary bees don’t live in colonies. They often seek out hollows of fallen logs, bark and branches. They make up a majority of the 4000 bee species in the United States.

A close look at the fun beehouse. I think even I could make one of these.
A close look at the fun beehouse. I think even I could make one of these.

Creating various hiding places attracts solitary bees, which can be as small as an eighth of an inch.
Creating various hiding places attracts solitary bees, which can be as small as an eighth of an inch.

Feeling inspired? Handy with a hammer and nails? Make your beehouse into a cool work of art!
Feeling inspired? Handy with a hammer and nails? Fashion your beehouse into a unique work of art!

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!