Harbor Tour of Portsmouth New Hampshire

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:27 pm, July 17th, 2010  

This past Thursday night I had the opportunity to go on a harbor tour/cruise of Portsmouth, New Hampshire along the harbor out to where it runs into the Atlantic Ocean.

Portsmouth harbor portsmouth new hampshire

Portsmouth New Hampshire harbor view

Portsmouth is a beautiful coastal city on the northern end of the New Hampshire seacoast. In the harbor view above you can see a new, waterfront condo project under construction and the white steeple of the Old North Church to the far right.

At only 17 miles long, the New Hampshire coastline is shorter than any other state that borders an ocean.

Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River, portsmouth nh

Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River connects Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine

Because Portsmouth is a working harbor with lots of large ship traffic in and out, two of the bridges over the river are drawbridges which raise every 30 minutes from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM to accommodate harbor ship traffic. In this photo the middle section of the bridge is starting to lift.

portsmouth nh harbor moran tugboat company

Moran Tugboat & towing company tugboats

The Piscataqua River is the third-fastest tidal river in North America and also very narrow by modern shipping standards. Local river pilots take the helm of in and outbound commercial vessels and guide them safely through the channel. These two large tugboats are operated by Moran Towing & Tugboats. Because the Piscataqua flows so fast these tugs only operate at “slack tide”, roughly four hours a day.when the incoming tides temporarily balance the outgoing river currents. Check out this Portsmouth harbor cam to watch river traffic live. The images refreshes every 10 seconds.

portsmouth naval shipyard portsmouth nh

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established in 1800

The Shipyard’s primary mission today is the overhaul, repair and modernization of Los Angeles-class submarines. The dry-docks have recently been enlarged and upgraded to accommodate the new and larger Virginia class submarine with the first due in for a tune up later this month.

USCGC Campbell (WMEC-909) is a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter based at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine and is the 5th Coast Guard Cutter to bear the name. She regularly patrols the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Maine to the Caribbean Sea

USCG Cutter Campbell based at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

The Campbell regularly patrols the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Maine south to the Caribbean Sea.

Portsmouth Naval Prison, Kittery ME

Portsmouth Naval Prison

This is Portsmouth Naval Prison which is curiously actually located in Kittery, Maine just across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth. The prison has been closed and abandoned since the 1970s as too expensive to rebuild or to tear down. Scenes from the movie “The Last Detail,” starring Jack Nicholson were filmed there.

new castle nh harbor smallest town in nh

New Castle, New Hampshire the smallest city in NH

This is some of the waterfront of New Castle, the smallest city in New Hampshire and the only one located entirely on islands. New Castle is also home to a US Coast Guard station and the historic Wentworth by the Sea hotel.

setting sun over portsmouth new hampshire

Setting sun over Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

portsmouth light at New Castle Coast Guard Stations setting sun over portsmouth new hampshire

The green light at right is Portsmouth Light on the New Castle Coast Guard Station grounds.

Portsmouth light was originally established before the Revolutionary War when American was still a British Colony.

In 1946 the current lighthouse keeper’s wife Connie wrote a book titled not surprisingly “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife” and described the view from the top of Portsmouth Light. “I looked down forty feet to the little white scallops of incoming tide washing over the rocks, caressing each one lovingly. …We could look up the Piscataqua River to Portsmouth, with its gleaming white belfry of North Church, a landmark for sailors, silhouetted against the sky. …At the center of the harbor was Whaleback Lighthouse, and ten miles out to sea from that was the lighthouse on White Island, part of the Isles of Shoals. Both sent their beams across the water.”

Lighthouse keepers were or often became, a little ‘different’ from the rest of us. Imagine your job was taking care of Whaleback Lighthouse on an uninhabited, rocky small island day in and day out.

One lighthouse keeper was reported to use the top of his light to shoot passing ducks. He also had a small dingy that he used to row to shore occasionally where he would borrow a resident’s car to visit the local grocery store.

Whaleback island lighthouse entrance to portsmouth harbor

Whaleback Island lighthouse marks the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor

Whaleback Island is actually part of  a  jagged ledge known as Whaleback. This ledge is completely underwater at high tide and is a continuation of the southern portion of Gerrish Island in Maine.  The little dots you see in the water are buoys for lobster traps.

whaleback island lighthouse at darkness falls and a light fog starts to roll in

Whaleback Island at twilight as a light fog starts rolling in.

By the way, this is a working light house; the reason it appears dark in the photos is that the light only flashes on and off every few seconds but trust me, you do not have any problem seeing it when its light flashes. Whaleback light gives 2 white flashes every 10 seconds and during foggy weather, 2 blasts on its foghorn every 10 seconds. Click here to hear the Whaleback Light fog horn. It’s not too loud so it won’t blast you out of your seat. ;)

portsmouth nh harbor at night

Portsmouth Harbor at night is a beautiful sight too.

We got back to the dock around 10:00 PM after a great tour of Portsmouth Harbor. If you ever in the area I recommend a harbor tour as a ‘must do’ part of your visit.

40 tips to make your Knoxville, TN home sell faster

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 8:16 am, May 27th, 2010  

knoxville tennessee real estate listings

These 40 Free or inexpensive tips can make your home show better, sell faster, and put more money in your pocket at closing.


1. Be sure your lawn and shrubbery is kept trimmed at all times. Consider
removing overgrown trees and shrubs that  hide the house from the street.

2. Keep the garage doors down at all times.

3. For a touch of color, have seasonal flowers growing in beds and containers.

4. Make sure your driveway is in good repair. Pressure wash concrete drives
and walks to remove stains and car drippings, and put a fresh coat of
sealer on asphalt drives.

5. Make sure patios and decks are clean and in good repair.  Replace any
rotten wood and nail down loose boards on decking or steps; pressure wash
if needed.

6. Garage sale time! Clear out everything you don’t intend to keep and tidy
up what’s staying.  Make sure garage doors and openers are in proper
working order.

7.Check all railings and fencing to make sure it’s in good repair and
freshly painted.

8. Pay special attention to the area around your front door; make sure your
doorbell works, clean all cobwebs, leaves, and other debris that may have
accumulated there. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint if needed;
paint is one of the most cost effective fix up items you can do.

9. Check for broken windows or leaking seals on thermo pane windows;
replace if necessary.

10. Clean all the cobwebs from around the front door.  Make sure all
outdoor lighting (especially front porch) is clean and shiny; replace if
necessary. It is especially important that the entrance to your home make a
good first impression on prospective buyers.  This sets the tone for the
whole showing.

11. Check your mailbox. Is it straight and upright? Neatly trimmed around?

12. Before you start indoors walk across the street in front of your house
and look back (like a buyer will see it).  Does it present an appealing


13. Start by walking through the house and making a list. Do your carpets
need shampooing? Floors need a fresh coat of wax? Dust all ceiling fans
especially the blades and wash light
14. You’re going to have to pack when you move anyway, so go through all
your closets and pack up everything you don’t need for the next couple of
months. A closet with only a few neatly arranged items creates an
impression of abundant storage space.

15. Thin out overcrowded rooms. Ever notice the model homes sparse
furnishings?  They make the rooms look larger. Consider renting a storage
facility to store excess lamps, tables, and large items that eat up space
in a room.

16.Go through and pack up most of your family pictures and collections of
model ships, stamps, quilts, or anything that might cause a buyer to stop
and look at your collections of stuff instead of your house.

17.Check all light fixtures to make sure all the bulbs burn.  Use the
largest wattage bulb that you safely can to give off more light.

18. Wash all your windows and make sure window treatments are clean and in
good repair. Keep the window coverings open whenever possible to let in
more light.

19. With a good degreaser, wipe down everything in the kitchen so it feels
clean to the touch. Clean your stove and oven; replace stove eye pans if needed

20. Go through your kitchen cabinets and pantry to make sure they’re neat
and tidy; give any food that you don’t plan to use right away to the local
food pantry.

21.Make sure your sinks are clean at all times and free of dirty dishes and

22. Remove all excess items from your counters to give the impression of
lots of work surface.

23. Pleasing aromas add to the appealing atmosphere we’re trying to
establish for your buyers; consider keeping a saucepan of potpourri on the
stove to give off an appealing scent.

24.Clean all light switch places by taking them off and washing with soap
and water; replace if necessary.

25.Make sure the bathrooms are spotless at all times with fresh towels,
decorative soaps, and all fixtures are shiny, scrubbed, and in good repair.

26. Check all faucets and shower heads to make sure they’re spotless and
free of leaks and drips.

27. Repaint interior rooms if needed with neutral colors.

28.Don’t forget your ceilings too; years of living in a home with cooking,
smoking, and other everyday activities can stain ceilings.  Paint ages;
repaint if needed.

29. Don’t have large, space eating house plants sitting around; give them
away or ask a neighbor to store them until you move.

31.The more light you can get into a room the bigger and more spacious the
room will appear. When you leave for a showing, turn on lights in rooms
that are normally darker than you would like and make sure the window
coverings are open to admit outside light.

32. An old decorator trick to bring in more light as well as make rooms
appear larger are mirrors; either hanging on a wall or on a stand.

33. Pack away and store out of season clothes. Get rid of extra hangars.
Straighten up your shoes (consider some inexpensive shoe racks from a
discount store like K-Mart or Wal-Mart).

34. When painting don’t forget the interiors of closets and the closets
doors; make sure all closet and interior doors open and close correctly.

35. Check where ceilings meet wall and clean all cobwebs, this is a
commonly overlooked area when cleaning, along with tops of tall furniture
items such as hutches, entertainment centers, etc.

36. If you have a pet make sure there are no odors. You may not notice
odors since you live with your pet every day, have a neutral third party
give your home a “sniff” test for objectionable odors that may turn buyers off.

37. Also, when buyers come to visit, keep your pet under control, or better
yet, get a friend or neighbor to “pet sit” for you while the buyers are

38. It’s important that you leave the house for all showings. Buyers feel
less inhibited if you’re not around and will usually take a closer look in
closets and in kitchen cabinets, as well as voice any objections that your
agent can then deal with. If the buyers won’t make comments because you’re
following them around pointing things out then your agent can’t deal with
any potential problems that may hinder making an offer.

39. If you have several vehicles make sure the spot closest to the door
buyers enter through is empty for them.

40. Freshly baked or even store bought cookies & little snacks along with
an appropriate beverage (hot in winter, cold in summer) along with a sign
saying “Please Sit Down and Enjoy a Treat While You’re Here” will make your
home more memorable even if they don’t take anything. Remember little
things can go a long way towards getting your home sold quickly for the
best price.

Visit www.KnoxvilleHomeCenter.com for more selling tips, staging, finance information, and much more including all greater Knoxville area real estate Realtor listings.

Thanksgiving turkey leftover recipes

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 2:52 pm, November 30th, 2008  
Thanksgiving turkey, just out of the oven

Image by Kitty Sonnenschein via Flickr

If you still have Thanksgiving turkey left over here are 2 quick and easy recipes to deliciously get rid of it.

One of my favorites I fixed last night.

Grilled Turkey Rubens, serves 2

4 slices rye bread

1/2 cup sauerkraut

2 slices of Swiss cheese

1,000 island dressing


Butter or apply spread to outside of rye bread, place one slice butter side down in skillet.

layer on some turkey, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.

Butter other side of bread and place on top with butter side facing up.

Grilled until toasted on one side, turn over and toast other side.

Enjoy, grilled turkey Rubens are delicious especially with a crisp pickle and some chips.

Crunchy Turkey Salad, serves 2

coarsely chop cooked turkey, from 1/2 cup to 1 cup

Mix in a coarsely chopped tart apple like Granny Smith

Throw in a handful of nuts, pecan or walnuts work best.

Fold in some low fat mayo to taste.

You can either use this on a sandwich, by itself, or put a big spoon on top of some torn salad greens.

Both the Reuben and turkey salad recipes are very easy to prepare and both are very tasty.

www.KnoxvilleHomeCenter.com is another great recipe to help you find a new home, no mixing, stirring, or cooking necessary.

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Who else wants their Knoxville or Farragut Tennessee home sold fast?

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 3:21 pm, June 26th, 2008  

If your Knoxville or Farragut Tennessee home is on the market for sale and not selling here’s some things you can do to change that and help it to sell quickly.

  • dress your knoxville home for success with great curb appealCheck your home’s curb appeal. Go out your front door, walk across the street, and take a hard look at the view potential buyers see when they drive by. Are your lawn and shrubs neatly trimmed? A touch of seasonal flowers visible? Garage doors down and all bikes, big wheels, and toys put away? The first thing buyers have to do to buy your house is be attracted to it. Good curb appeal sets the stage for a positive visit. You might also check any online photos, especially the first one people see.
  • Check your price. What have similar homes to yours sold for in the past few months? What price range are pending sales of homes similar to yours in? Hows your market absorption rate right now? This is a very strange market we’re in all across the country and you need to know what the situation is locally; in your town, in your area, in your neighborhood. Make sure your house is priced competitively.
  • Have your home professionally “staged” inside. Staging is part art form, part science. Successful staging is much more than interior decorating; it’s literally setting a stage to make your home look like a model home. Declutter and put away personal “stuff” that detract buyers from looking at the actual house. Refresh tired and outdated paint colors. ‘Lean out’ over crowded rooms and consider renting a storage locker to store excess furniture and large possessions that take up floor space.
  • Instead of dropping the price, consider offering some incentives for potential buyers. Paying some or all of their closing costs is a tried and true inducement. Try and think of some unusual incentives such as paying their moving expenses. What buyer wouldn’t be attracted to the notion of not having to lift a finger on moving in day but rather directing free movers where to locate their heavy furniture.
  • Offer an incentive to local Realtors. Money works well. ;-). Adding 1% to the fee a buyer’s agent can earn is a small portion of your sales price but it can attract more agents to push your house to their buyers. Let’s face it, money is a powerful motivator.

None, or even all, of these things are guaranteed to make your house sell but I think most would agree that the more you tilt the odds in your favor the better your chances of a sale become.

Visit Knoxville Home Center for 40 free tips to make your home sell faster and for more money. You can also request a free copy of my 52 page eBook titled “450 Ideas To Help Your Home Sell FASTER!”. Just click the “Free Stuff” link for this and more selling ideas.

“Rock harvesting” moves closer to the greater Knoxville, Tennessee area.

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 3:27 pm, January 17th, 2008  

The first question you may ask youself is just what the heck is “rock harvesting” anyway?

Rock harvesting is the practice of removing native stone, in this instance Tennessee mountain stone, to feed the ever growing demand for the attractive stone’s use in buildings, walls, walkways, and landscaping.

No problem so far……but, the issue begins when rock harvesters began harvesting stone from public lands like the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park which is located about 50 miles north of Knoxville and along the Cumberland Trail itself.

The Cumberland Trail is the centerpiece of a state linear park with the 300 mile long Trail running from Signal Mountain near Chattanooga north to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Cumberland Gap was the first gateway to the western lands during Indian and pioneer days.

cumberland trail from Chattanooga, through Knoxville, to Cumberland Gap Kentucky

Imagine hiking through this pristine wilderness and rounding a bend to come across the photo below! In some instances the rock harvesters are working above the trail and huge boulders and debris falls downhill across the trail.

cumberland trail rock harvesting

Rock harvesting with heavy equipment along the enviromentally sensitive Cumberland Trail. 

Not surprisingly rock harvesting, like strip mining, is not enviromentally friendly since the rocks are mostly below ground level. Heavy equipment is used to dig them up and remove them leaving huge scars on the landscape.

To further exacerbate this pillaging of the land it seems the State of Tennessee neglected to buy the mineral rights when it acquired a lot state park lands and some of the lands along the long planned Cumberland Trail. Tennessee is in litigation to determine if mountain is actually a mineral and covered under the state’s mineral rights laws.

Whatever the outcome this practice is bringing horrible results to formerly pristine mountain lands, state parks, and the Cumberland Trail.

devil's racetrack north of Knoxville tn

The Devil’s Racetrack natural stone formation. This is visible from Interstate 75 north of Caryville, Tennessee and a part of the Cumberland Trail system.

watch for falling rocks along the cumberlant trail

If this is as big a concern to you as it is to me I urge you to join with us to put a stop to this practive before scenic beauty like the natural stone formations above are destroyed forever and lost to future generations.

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 5:46 pm, October 15th, 2007  

Those of us fortunate to live in the greater Knoxville, Tennessee have a unique opportunity to enjoy camping and hiking in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There are over 800 miles of great hiking trails in the back country of the Smokies and many, many beautiful spots to enjoy.

But, there is also danger.

Hikers and visitors often become lost and every now and then, a death results.

While planning an upcoming trip to Spence Field, a very popular trail shelter and scenic camping area along the Appalachian Trail, I was reminded of one of the mysterious disappearance back in 1969 of a young boy named Dennis Martin.

dennis martin circa 1969

Dennis Martin, circa 1969

On Father’s Day, 1969 Dennis, aged 6, his older brother, his father, grandfather, and two cousins were on their annual camping outing at the Spence Field trail shelter.

While playing nearby the boys decided to circle around behind the trail shelter and jump out to scare the adults; Dennis went around one way and the other three boys went in the opposite direction.

spencwe field trail shelter

Spence Field Trail Shelter where Dennis disappeared.

The three boys circled the shelter, jumped out and scared the adults. They all had a big laugh about it.

Then someone asked: “where’s Dennis?”. Dennis never showed up from his side of the shelter.

Immediately the adults began searching and calling for young Dennis; no answer, no Dennis. One of the adults went for help.

Early the next day there were over 150 park rangers and volunteers searching all around Spence Field, a large, grassy area.

No Dennis, no trace, no signs, no footprints, nothing.

The search continued and grew. By the eighth day helicopters were ferrying in searchers.

The Army sent teams of Green Berets, there were local tracking dogs, and at the height of the search, nearly 2,000 volunteers beating every inch of the brush for miles in all directions.

Still no Dennis.

Dennis Martin remains missing to this day. No trace of him was ever found in spite of the massive search efforts by experienced park rangers, Army personnel, dogs, and hundreds of volunteers.

I often wonder what happened to Dennis on that day so long ago; I often wonder if we will ever get an answer.

Knoxville greetings from sunny Destin, Florida

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 4:55 pm, September 21st, 2007  

This week (Sept. 16-23) I’m down in Destin, Florida attending the annual Tennessee Association of Realtor’s convention.

The host hotel is the Sandestin Hilton located in the beautiful Sandestin complex.

It’s sort of off season in Destin now but the weather is still very warm as is the beautiful, emerald green & blue Gulf of Mexico.

tar convention gulf of mexico

I made this photo Monday; the location is up by the jetty at the East Pass.

I love coming to Destin, it’s sort of like a homecoming. You see I was stationed here in the mid 60s when I was a member of the US Air Force. BIG changes in the area since then; lots of new condos, houses, restaurants, shopping, etc., but one thing that hasn’t changed is the beautiful beaches and lovely Gulf of Mexico waters.

Instead of staying at the convention hotel we rented a beautiful beach house and invited a friend of ours to come along. My wife and our friend entertain themselves at the beach and shopping while I’m at the convention. We also have a secluded private pool out back when they’re too tired to stroll down to the beach.

charlotte & denise

My lovely bride Charlotte is on the right with our friend from Nashville, Denise. They’re heading for another tough day at the beach. ;-)

Great convention so far. We have had beautiful weather but there are reports of a tropical depression coming in this Saturday so we’ll probably spend that day packing and doing some last minute shopping.

tar convention

The convention committee did a superb job decorating; this is the entrance to one of the many classes offered. This one is by a long time real estate trainer named Howard Brinton.

tar convention

We also found time to do some business. This is from the TAR Board of Directors meeting Thursday. The nice lady at the podium is our outgoing President, Jewell McKinney who will  be replaced Friday night by Mike Gaughan.

It’s been a great year in real estate for TAR. I’m on our Government Affairs Committee and we’ve been busy this year keeping track of over 200 pieces of legislation affecting real estate.

Some of the legislation we’ve tackled this year includes:

Real estate transfer taxes. Some helpful legislators in the Tennessee House Local Government Subcommittee helped defeat a local option transfer tax in Sevier County.

Adequate Facilities Tax on new construction homes. TAR opposes this narrowly applied tax in favor of more broad based taxes which are shared by all instead of only burdening new constuction home. Both TAR and the Homebuilders Association of Tennessee opposed an increase in Rutherford County which was defeated.

One other bill I’m delighted to say we were opposed to and was defeated, would have made Tennessee Realtors responsible for determining immigration status for everyone we sold or rented a house to.

Tonight is the convention finale. If you’re a Tennessee Realtor and have never been to a state convention you truly don’t know what you’ve been missing.

Next year we’re holding the convention in Chattanooga so make plans to attend.