Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Speaking of beauty

The planes are gone. Tradewinds is back to normal. Almost. At the now relatively empty pier I found this:
It doesn't take en expert to see that this is a boat beyond the ordinary. Built with love. Screaming for salty action. I simply had to climb on board. No Harbourmaster around so here goes...
Sneaked on board
It's lovely. Asolutely lovely. Not entirely sure what type of boat it is. It appears to have elements from both the Soling, the Knarr and the Dragon. Or something like that. 10 meters of sailing pleasure.
This is what I'll dream of tonight. Taking this baby to sea. It must be a fantastic sailing machine. Todo: Call builder and ask for a trip. Till then I'll just be tripping... Talk about beauty.

Is there anything inworld even remotely as pretty as this? The Cotton Blossom perhaps? Or maybe Rene's 20m which can be seen in the last picture of this post.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

@ the beach

I met this guy. Nice guy. Sailor. We talked boats and stuff. Eventually he said: I kinda like your blog. It's very boatly, but how come you never take pics like Alex and Taru, you know... swimsuits and stuff. I told him it is a boat blog, not a skin blog. It got me thinking. There is a lot of beauty in SL sailing. This here is just  me at the beach...

That's it. Hope you like it. I am sure someone with photo skills can do much better, so please bear with me. It's only a test... and no, - I won't go more naked than this. I did take a couple of skin shots, but the thought of posting them kinda makes me feel uncomfortable. The Alex and Taru post that caused it all, - it is here. Thanx for the inspiration and have a great weekend.

PS: Want more swimming shots? Here's me skinny dipping at sea.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frigate south of Tradewinds

There I was. Happily splashing around in my brand new Nemo3; Completely into testing, trimming and what nuts, and then all of a sudden this dark, frightening shadow silently pops out of nowhere. I am pretty sure he sneaked up on me on purpose, - to say booh!
Gaaaah. That was the end of Noodles happy go lucky sailing. Battlestations! If only I had Captain Nemo's boat. There are no guns on the Nemo sailboat. I'll write the builder and point out this essential missing feature. Guns, we need more guns. More and more warships turn up off the coast of Dex and Tradewinds YC. Should I drop the bikini... and get one of these uniforms?
Yeah, do sail on
I sat still, watching the ship, hoping it would just pass by. I am really not into warships, but a little image googling makes me think this is a WW2 frigate of sorts. Can anyone confirm this? It's flying american colours. Anyway, right after this picture was taken, the gun turrets started turning. I started wondering what was gonna happen next.
It's not polite to point
Clearly, no shots were fired as I am still here, blogging. After all it's just boys with toys, and I suppose this was just a little boy, hehe. I've seen a real battleship somewhere in SL. Huge. Scary. Massive. Intimidating. Invincible. If I can remember where I saw it, I'll go back and snatch a few pictures for the boys. Till then it's gonna be no guns and more happy sailing. 

More on virtual warships

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nemo sailing

The Nemo keeps getting better and better. There were a few things I missed in Nemo2, but with the Nemo3, currently in beta, the list is much shorter. It is becoming a really nice boat. I won't do a detailed test. The boat is in beta, and preferences are often a matter of taste. This is just what I experienced during a short sail.
The Nemo 3
A few days back I mentioned the Nemo sailed half submerged, and it did. This time the servers were fresh and the Tradewinds waters were too. So no diving. The Nemo3 sails nicely, reacts promptly and the feedback is pretty good. First thing to notice is sailshaped sails. Woohoo. And they luff too. I like that. It creates just the right feeling of a tack.
There are no telltales or windvane, but there is a colour coded trim indicator, which also - visually - displays boom angle, wind angle and speed. The "tell-button" works well, and it's great with mouselook sailing as shown below. What I don't get is, why they didn't put in a compass.
Trim in green, windangle is blue, boom is red, speed is black
Really! Any boat seriously meant for racing must have a compass. The Nemo3 needs a compass even more, since the wind is actually imported real world wind. There is no way to predict the shifts, but since they are real shifts from the real world, it makes sooo much sense to have a compass and track them.
It's pretty stable on the rudder. Upwind or downwind, there's very little need of course corrections, except those due to windshifts. The balancing is automagic, so nobody is yelling "hike harder". You are simply put in the best possible hiking position. That's too bad. The hiking should really be up to the skipper, but the animations sure look good.
Hike harder
Besides the luffing sails and the accompanying sound, there is also a sailing sound. It's nice, but it doesn't seem to give much feedback on the speed. Now, that can be fixed, I am sure. Now that we're in fix-mode let's have some waves too. It sails like a train on rails. No ups and downs or sideway rolls. At all. While we're at it, it seems there is no concept of current either.
Going for a picnic
It's also a little too slow reacting on the rudder and gusts for my taste. I miss more livelyness. Perhaps it is because it is a keeler. I dunno. The livelyness can probably be tuned a bit. One really nice thing though, is the winddrift and the steering. At low speeds the steering becomes slower, and drifting backwards the rudder still works as expected on a real boat, in reverse. That's a nice touch.
Going south looking for that picnic island
The Nemo3 is definately on the right track. It sails well, and it looks great, and it has many lovely details.  Did you notice the bent mast? Still, it appears to me as a boat meant for picnics and day cruises. Nothing wrong with that, but why not add a few features and have a really great racing boat?

Here's a few shots of the Nemo2.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

SLSA worldcup trouble

The SLSA World Cup is rolling and it has been so for a while. This saturday it was time for Q2m races at Tradewinds. Liv was there as RD, and everything was set and ready. Lotsa skippers registered, and spectators were arriving too. Everyone anticipated a day of great sailing.
Let's get out there
Me, I wasn't registered. No time for training these days. RL is keeping me busy, but I popped in to watch. Sadly, it turned out there would be nothing to watch. Even though the weather seems to be gorgeous on the picture above, the SL servers had decided otherwise.
Crisis-meeting at the Tradewinds lighthouse
Boats stopped moving. Certain areas of the course could not be entered. Skippers crashed again and again. I even crashed a couple of times, and I wasn't even sailing. After some fifty minutes of trying, RD Liv called for a crisis meeting in the lighthouse; The race was cancelled.
Qyv and me testing, no land in sight 
The air was thick with frustrations. Some blamed the Lindens, some blamed the boatbuilder. Some  blamed the landmasses in the area, and yet some blamed the wind system. Now, I dunno about the landmasses. It seems boats sail smoother, when there are less details to render on the horizon. However, SL allows us to adjust viewing distance, thus releaving the servers from the burden of rendering land.
Qyv and me testing, land in sight
Tradewinds YC does not seem to create massive lag, but sure enough... the minute the system has to render stuff on the horizon, the viewer slows down, and all those planes aren't helping. Not a big surprise really. The boat then. Is the boat causing these problems? Hardly. Usually the Q2m sails like a dream. Sometimes we see eleven boats racing just fine. Here's a video of eleven Q2ms at the starting line. 

The Q2m use the wwc wind system. That system is also used by the Shelly Fizz, the Flying Fizz, the Bolero II and the Cotton Blossom II. Why? Because it has features for creating interesting races. Wind, windshifts, waves and currents are all part of an exciting race. SRYC run regular races with the Shelly, the Fizz and the Q2m. Usually they have more than 8 boats. No problems at all. We've seen numerous Flying Fizz races with 8+ boats elsewhere. Here's a Fizz race at Tradewinds
Another wwc boat
The latest invention, the Q2.4mR comes with wwc too. Simply because it makes racing fun. The image  shown above is from a beautiful area in the North Sea, but the scenery definately causes lag. As soon as I reached open water, the sailing was smooth, so no... I don't see any substantial evidence that the wwc is the major cause of these problems.

Minutes after the cancellation I was out there in a Flying Fizz. No problems at all. Then I sailed the Q2m with Qyv. All was good. I also sailed the Baby Sloop out there. Again no probs. Finally I took a Demo Nemo (3) out there, and it kinda worked too, though the steering was slow and it sailed half submerged.

There are lots of myths about lag and what causes lag. I think I'll start looking for facts.

Update1: One day later we saw great Flying Fizz races from BS-Travertine.
Update2: The WWC Windsetter does not continuously communicate with the boats.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's inside

A few weeks back I wrote about ISAF rules in virtual sailing. Many people read that. Few people commented. A single individual emailed me about something entirely off topic. This guy wants to know, if we're sailing in dead sceneries with empty houses and deserted islands. In particular he wants to know, what's inside the little chapel.
A real island with a real pier and a house with real stuff inside
Of course there is something inside. Most islands can be visited. Go there by boat or by plane. Many of them are privately owned. People live there, and the houses are often beautifully decorated. Anyway, I decided to go have a look inside. Packed a sandwich, pulled out my Flying Fizz, set sails, and set the  course to Eden...
A really really real island with a chapel
And here we are. I simply had to sit on that bench again. It's truely a secret and magic spot, and the view is absolutely fantastic. Birds singing, ocean waves crashing onto the beach, butterflies looking for honey, and the chapel bells chiming every hour.
The little chapel
So many details. There's even an automagic lawn sprinkler; It started last time I was here. This time it seems to think there's no need for watering. Oh, and the flowers... The flowers are amazing. I'll save those for a separate lingering post. Let's get inside.
Two hours of sailing and then a locked door?
It appears to be locked, but no worries. This is a virtual world. There's gotta be a virtual solution. Squirt a little snakeoil in the lock - et voila - we're inside. 
Inside the chapel
Phew. That's pretty breathtaking. Awesome really. I had to hold my breath for a few seconds and think: "This isn't real, this isn't real". Sure enough it isn't real, but there is definately something inside, and it get's to you. The real you. My heart skipped a beat when I first saw this... Awesome. Just awesome.

In fact there are so many places with flowers, gardens, buildings and architecture in SL, that it would seem an impossible task to cover that on a blog. Oh, and let's not forget the artscene. I'd better stick with sailing

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sailing the Nemo

I finally got to testing the Nemo2, but alas, - I was too late. Seconds after the Nemo2 was rezzed and ready, a message arrived announcing a new version; There was also a box containing the brand new demo Nemo, the Nemo3 beta. So, - these shots are probably the last ones I'll ever take of the Nemo2.
Since the Nemo3 has a few major improvements over the Nemo2, it doesn't make much sense to go into boatly details. It sails nicely, but I didn't find the sailing to be exceptionally better or less laggy than other quality  boats available. That was rather disappointing. The Nemo is being touted as a low lag boat with all new technology inside. However, the wind system is interesting. I am sure most SL sailors are aware of this.
Views from the Nemo2
Non SL sailors might find it interesting to know, that the Nemo imports actual wind data from the real world.  Many virtual sailors have dreamt this dream, myself included. The Nemo makes this dream come true on a per boat basis, and that's next to fantastic.
Yes, the planes are still there
However, all Nemos see the excact same wind where ever they are. Luffs, lulls, lifts, shifts... all boats see them simultaneously; Thus endeth the dream. Also, the Nemo has no current and no waves. The Nemo wind system is indeed interesting, but the question  remains unanswered: Is real wind or synthesized wind best suited for virtual sailing?

More on virtual sailing in What's in a virtual boat and New fanatics start here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Morning at Tradewinds

This is just me fooling around with cinemagraphs. Trying to capture the ambience of the early morning at Tradewinds YC. Not sure I figured how to completely smooth all this water out, but this is version 2. Much more smooth than version 1. I kinda like it.
Click to see the live version
Ohh, the boats? From left to right we have the soon to be updated BWind, the fantastic Flying Fizz and the currently in beta Nemo3. The Fizz is a dinghy, the others are keelers. Very different animals all three. Which  would you choose?

Someone requested the still in high resolution for use on the desktop background. Here it is. Enjoy.
The still
And here's that other cinemagraph with Qyv's virtual 2.4mR in real water.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Frozen alive

Brrrr. Frozen alive is what I currently am. Just back from the marina. Brrr. Things are bad, very bad. Brrr again. When reality looks like this, it's time to go inside and sail. More brrrrrr.
Todays view from the real marina
Ofcourse that's unless you have an iceboat like Fred does. Still, iceboating must be cold as nothing I've ever experienced. Just imagine the windchill factor from the apparent wind on a beat at a hundred kilometers per hour. 

Frozen alive is also the title of a pretty hot Albert Collins album, so bring on the heat... Cause I need it. In fact bring on the Icebreakers as well... I got a cold cold feeling...

Todays view from the virtual marina
Virtual reality looks better and better. Don't you agree? Even without real beers and strawberry margaritas. Incidentally, the boat shown here is that very same boat I used in the cinemagraph.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Amphibious roaaarrr

The same day I flew the Hovertube, I met this guy, Sammy Serrta. He was driving his amphibious vehicle around the same beach. Very interesting thing. Wheels down on land. Wheels up when sailing. We decided to swap vehicles, and here we are... Me, wheels up, ready for salty action.
Show me yours, and...
It's quite an invention. Jetdrive when sailing, and four wheel drive on land, massive engine roaaar, and fast paced action.
Making beach life unsafe
It's loads of fun. It's very fast and very responsive, so it's easy to drive. No brakes when sailing, but still it's bit easier to turn than the hovercraft.
Not sure what's happening to me. Never really liked all these engine-things. They smell, they are noisy and they sure aren't relaxing; Perhaps it's because in SL there is no smell. Perhaps it's because I know they can all just turn down the volume. Hmm.
Back on land
Turns out it's a Motor Loon creation. I wonder what other things he's built. I saw a crazy thing back at Tradewinds once, a Surfboard with an outboard motor. Crazy but fun.
Sammy and me
Anyway, enough engine talk. Here's Sammy and me after a long at the beach. Sun is setting. The gulls are calming down. People are strolling towards the local beach bar to get a hotdog and a tequila.
Let's call it a day in Second life, and a good day at the beach.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


These cinemagraphs are all over the net. I thought I'd try it out; Just had to figure out what boat to use. Easy decision. Yesterday, I took my Q2.4mR for a morning sail right off the Tradewinds coast. A real ride. So here's probably the worlds first virtual sailing cinemagraph. Tadah!
Noodling around in the beautiful 2.4mR.
Right now, the 2.4mR is just about my favourite. What do you think? Pretty mesmerizing, huh! Smooth sailing. Just under five knots. Should I do more? The Cotton Blossom or LeetleCat? Or maybe a Laser?

Here's more good stuff from Qyv.

Oh and virtual sailing IS fun, but real sailing is better.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hovering around

I've had this toy tucked away for a while. Been waiting to find the time to try it out. Last week I finally "untucked" it and took it for a spin. it, - and what a spin. The toy is the Hovertube from Balduin Aabyes Yacht Design, and here it is:
Boothbabe Noodle
Clearly, I am working hard to look like a Boothbabe from a carshow or something. Not sure how I am doing, but fear not.. it only lasted for a few minutes and I was back to normal. The setting was great. I mean, where else would you test a personal hover device if not on a beach? Catch a few windsurfers on the windshield, hehe.
Up and away...
Only there is no windshield... Anyway, let's fire this baby up. Eeew, that's disappointing. After my helicopter experience I was kinda expecting a roaar. This sounds more like my hair dryer on medium power. No worries. I suppose a stealth hovertube will make it easier to sneak up on those surfers. 
The silent wroom 
Let's see... Push this to go forward. Ok. The hair dryer changes tone to a slightly higher pitch and the thing moves. How about the steering? Whoopsidaisy. There! I am hovering over water.  That was easy. Hey, there's no brakes. Manual, manual... where's the manual? Ahh, - turn around and fire "thrusters" in opposite direction. 
Hitting the "brakes"
That's quirky. Logical when you think about it. Quirky but logical. Steering is a bit more difficult at high speed. It keeps the momentum in the given direction; Steering means adding momentum in another direction. Speed plus speed means more speed. Takes some getting used to.
Full control ?
Seems those surfers stay grounded. Perhaps they've seen what I am capable of doing with this: Totally loosing  any kind of control, hehe. No, really... I got it, and on the shot above I am just cruising at low speed. Maybe I should set up a shop. Five minutes of hovering, five L$. Free ride if you bring Strawberry Margaritas.
Extra seat
There's a passenger seat, so you can take a friend for a ride. You can even unlock the craft and let others  try it. Have a race or something, but it requires space. It's hard to stay on a specific route. Maybe there is a game  gem hidden her: The Hefty Hovering League of SL. And you can run down real people. Unlike those computer degenerates you'd find in GTA.
Back to safety
Better park this before I get more crazy ideas. Sit in the sun and watch the surfers come out again. What a fun ride. As usual Balduin never compromises. It's a great toy. Not easy, not too difficult. Loads of fun, and fast too. I suppose I could sail around the entire Blake Sea in a matter of minutes. Let's rename it to the Blake Pond. Or let's get back in a sailing boat; The Cotton Blossom for instance. If you wanna see what Balduin has in stock, then check his boat yard. It's always worth a visit.