Monday, October 27, 2014

High speed tanning

So they're off in their VO65ers, and the press is all about how tough it is. Smooth sailing is also part of the game. In fact the tough sailing is what makes the smooth sailing so smooth, hehe. So here's an alternative way to make use of a VO65 racing machine...
High speed tanning
Bigger is so yesterday. Nowadays everything must be faster. A few days back I was introduced to high speed tanning in the latest from the Mesh Shop: The Tan65. In enjoyed every bit of it, even though we missed something to hold on to when heeling over.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


There's dingies, sailboats and superyachts, powerboats, coastguards, cruiseships, tankers, tugs, fishingboats, polar explorers, subs and surface warships, but this one is new to me: Firefighters.
Firefighters at sea
I suppose I should be glad I never saw one of these before.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bandit 55

Ahab took me sailing the other day. It was a nice quiet sail in his new Bandit 55. Made me think back a bit. It's the boat. It looks so very safe and seaworthy, but it also looks like something someone sent forward in time from somewhere in the 70-ies. And then there's the skipper. I mean who smokes a pipe nowadays. Uncles maybe? Or younger people but then it's "funny tobacco". I guess, since the boat is kinda 70-ish the pipe, the hat and probably also Ahab all fit in nicely, no?
Ahab, me and the Bandit 55
We hoisted the sails, and off we went. I was curious about all those instruments, but Ahab said he didn't need them. Too much stuff to keep track of or something. I like that. Sailing by intruments isn't really my thing either. I prefer to be able to feel the boat. However, he assured me they all work.
Up and away
The Bandit 55 sails really well. Too well probably. Not only does she look great, but the sailing sounds are nice too. However, it is the movements that makes the difference. Perhaps she moves a bit too much for a 55 footer. This type og boat really tend to feel heavy and slow. Not this one. It's definately alive. The speed is rather good too. Too good to be true actually. Yesterday, in a multiclass race, I was not only overtaken but overrun by one of these. Mind you, I was planing downwind in a Flying Fizz, which is kinda like a 14 footer from RL. Normally, You'd need a Moth to outrun one of those.
Looks great
I suppose the somewhat unreal sailing characteristics are good. It makes this boat fun to sail, whereas in RL it would be rather dull. As in booooring. So, it looks great, and it's fun to sail. Check out the picture above. Can you tell the difference between a real boat and this one? Someone mentioned that it floats a bit high on the water, but hey... all those modern thirty-something cruisers do that. How else could they fit standing height, bathroom and three separate cabins in there? On the picture above, we could be heading for a sailing holiday of two weeks around Gothenburg. This boat would be perfect for that, and I really do think it will compete with the Loonetta about those cruisers in SL.
Details, details, details...
While Ahab was busy sailing, I had a look around down below. The interior has loads of details, and they all make you feel warm and fuzzy. I noted this clock here... it was actually ticking, but it wasn't just making a silly sound. Oh no. It actually displayed the current time. So I looked around for other details and I immediately found one, that didn't work... And here's a little quiz...
The pots and pans quiz
Which of these pots and pans are hanging correctly? We've seen stuff actually hang vertically on other boats. There is something on the M24, but interiorwise I think ReneMarines Schockker is the only boat I've seen with actual "physics" applied to the lamp hanging in the cabin. These pots and pans were glued to the boat. Not a big deal, but after seeing the working clock I'll admit I was disappointed by this. The galley itself is very nice: I've seen apartments with kitchens smaller than that.
More details
There are other fine details on the Bandit55. Here's a photo of the top of the mast. It's really beginning to look like a boat up here. There's VHF antenna, windmeter, windex with trimflaps, navigation lights too... It looks like an anchor light, but we didn't turn it on, so I wouldn't know what colour(s) it has. With all these details, it's a bit strange there isn't a wind direction giver attached to the windmeter. 
Ofcourse the Bandit comes with a furling sails. The main folds into the boom, so not much to see there. Here's a shot of the jib furler. Looks pretty good, but now that we're looking at the bow: Where's the anchor? OMG! There's no anchor. A boat like this would have an anchor and a button. Two buttons. One for down and one for up. Isn't that what this boat is all about? Going somewhere, find that hidden blue lagoon and then having lunch with friends... maybe a quick dive, followed by a nap and then back home?
Back home
Back home we went. Ahab was eager to show off his maneuvering as the Bandit can be sailed with just one sail up. That's a really nice and fun feature, but no-one in his right mind would sail by wind while maneuvering a 55 footer like this in the marina. Better fire up those 55HP hidden in the belly of the beast and get moored safe and sound. And where's the bow thruster now that we're at it?
Made it
Anyway. We made it. Ahab knows his boat, and we arrived at the pier using just the jib. At just the right time he furled it back in and we stopped right off the pier. Very nice. I like this boat. It's a nice build. It kinda makes you want to stay onboard forever. It has that strange cozyness that makes u feel at home. So maybe it sails a little bit too good for it's size and weight, but isn't that just what we all seek in RL? That great and impossible compromise of a boat that sails great, yet is comfortable enough to go long distance cruising?

For casual sailing in SL this boat seems like the perfect choise, - provided ofcourse that you can accept the oldtimerish image that comes with it... There are only a few other boats providing this level of sailing and liveaboard feeling...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The sailing plywood box

A couple of days ago I met Petra; She's a sweet and very energetic person, and some of her energy went into building a little Optimist. It's cute. Very cute. Actually it's even more cute than the other Optimist, because this one is sized like the real boat. Oh and it is wooden. Until you paint it and you can't see the difference. The realistic size means the two of us will barely fit inside the boat.
Squeeze me, squeeze you
Perhaps it is also floating a bit high considering it has two grownups on board. The optimum weight for an opti sailor is probably less than 50 kilos. While Petra is kinda skinny, it is safe to assume that the two of us weigh in at a hundred or more. Still, - or maybe because it ignores the weight - it sails pretty nicely. I suppose smaller boats are less work to render, so "smooth sailing" comes easier. The graphics engine is simply more relaxed, so we get better FPS readings.
Smooth sailing
Petra said it is WIP, and it is... the sails are flat like a pancake. There's no sheet, no downhaul, no outhaul and no line to adjust the gaff tension. Also, the sail sorta flies magically by the mast. It isn't tied to mast or boom with those hundreds of annoying little reefknots that I hated as a kid. Felt like hundreds anyway, and they were sort of a hill to climb everytime I wanted to get out there. From a distance you'll hardly notice these things; Sailing the boat their absense becomes more present. So to speak.
The sailing engine is - for now - a BWind 1.5x or thereabouts. It does a pretty good job. It is not very modern, but it sure is low lag. That's what the BWind is all about. It was designed with two simple goals in mind: Be a simplistic, low lag sailing engine. It was never meant to be an advanced sailing simulator, and it really isn't. BWind has no concept of balance, waves, currents, sailtrim, planing or any kind of funky wind stuff like shadowing, bending or local variations. However, it's still e great sailing engine. If you wanna have a go at building your own boat, BWind is probably where you wanna start.
Love the poses
The Shelly Fizz has most of those features, and that's probably why the Shiprats like it. That and possibly the windvane, which - to a dinghy sailor - is even more important than it is for a keeler. The Shelly Fizz might not be as cute, but the "wrong" size can actually be the right size. You see it fits a grown person. I can slip right into it and feel like I am 13 again. Braces and dimples not included.

In any case, We had a nice little Opti-trip. This little right sized Opti sure is a fun project. I understand it is not neccesarily meant to compete with the Shelly. It'll be fun to see where it goes from here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Send out the buoys

I've been fiddling with race marks lately. It's fun. I want them to look like real race marks and in many ways I also want them to behave like real buoys. High visibility is a high priority. It is hard to plan tactics for a rounding when u can't see the friggin mark.
Visibility is good
These three pass the visibility test. The one on the left (NE) is about 250 meters out. I think that's pretty good visibility. A green nav buoy at one third the size would be almost if not completely invisible at that distance.
Sailors perspective? Here's me fetching a mark. It's not a giant mark, but they are around 2.5 meters tall. Some of it is under water. Real marks do that, and that makes them create wake from the current.
and the third
So here's the third one. Next up is the one back home which is achored so that you can push it aside. It will seek back to it's original position at a suitable slow pase - as if there's a long heavy anchorline or even a chain at the bottom.
Back home
Yup. There is is. Thanx for joining me on this little tour round the waters east of Tradewinds. If you had half the fun I had, then I had twice the fun you had. On a more serious note: Once I am done testing this, I'll put them in a freebiebox and stick that in the boathouse.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A slice of Alice

SL can be normal, unnormal, fun, extreme or just plain weird. Not sure what category this is, but yesterday at the docks at Tradewinds, I met this little fellow. Assuming it's a he, cause he didn't look very girlish. At first I was a little anxious. What would you think? Friend or foe? I mean... he kept doing somekind of Tai Chi with his left leg...
Alice wrapped up as an Alianoid of sorts
So I asked him. Friend or foe? He didn't excactly respond to that, but he was very chatty. In fact he responded so fast I quickly decided he would have to either be able to read my thoughts - highly unlikely - or he was simply not human. Hmm. I asked him about the Turing-test (google it), and my little friend(?) failed it. Badly. Well, he could shoot off  three lines defining it, but it was "said" in such a way that it was obviously coming from a non-human mind.
I sat down to sort of level with him. We talked some more, and then it dawned on me. There was a certain way in his language that reminded me of something from school. The famous Alice program. Now that I think of it there were at least two of those programs. The other one was called Eliza. Sure enough he answered that he was based on ALICE. I then asked him how he ended up at Tradewinds. That was difficult for him to answer.
The robotic Tai Chi
He went on about him cruising the grid by himself for several years. Supposedly the Lindens would be after him, wanting to delete him. I asked how he felt about that, and somehow he began to talk about Asimovs laws for robots. They weren't quite hardwired into his brain. I tried to make him sing, swim and jump but he refused. So much for Asimov. While we were on the subject of electronic minds, I asked if he would perhaps know HAL, and he went HAL is bad. A few minutes later he poofed. Flew off to somewhere else. Dunno where. He wouldn't talk about his route. Strange little critter... Anyone else met him?

PS: Looks like the chicks are leading...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What is real water

Some people are busy saying SL water isn't real water. Of course they're right, but what they really mean is that SL water doesn't look like real water as there are no waves. Not neccesarily so. Here's a sip from the virtual waters east of the Tradewinds coast:
Virtual water
And here's a shot from RL. It was taken yesterday. Driving home from work when it suddenly occured to me that my RL water did in fact look quite a bit like the virtual water of SL. Flat an with very regular  small waves with a very distinct direction.
Real water
So it's different. Yes, but it's not that different. Really. The picture above is also looking east off the coast of Copenhagen. The wind is around 5-6 meters per second from west, and those teeny waves are just breaking because they're washing up on the beach. Obviously - in RL - we'd have bigger waves if the wind is from east, but that's kinda rare...