Monday, September 23, 2013

Charts of the virtual seas

There was a debate recently - still ongoing actually - about depths in the Blake Sea. It's really not very deep. Not much of a problem in a virtual Melges 24, but in a modern monohull with a draft of say 3.5 meters it becomes a real problem. I crossed the Blake Sea in Captain Nemos Nautilus with no charts. It was bad, but to document just how bad it is, I decided to see what charts I could find.
The Blake Sea
Note the depths. A large ship such as the Emma Maersk with a draft of around 12 meters wouldn't be able to cross the Blake Sea. XL cruise ships would be in trouble too. They have drafts around 9 meters and they have airdraft of 70+ meters.

Usually, - for a Cup such as the Fizz Cup - we'd use charts that are copied off the world map of SL. Then we add wind, buys and currents. They don't look much like charts. There's no depth, only a few buoys and the lighthouses and churches aren't visible. The chart above shows the Blake Sea with depths and lighthouses and stuff. Not complete but to a sailor it looks very familiar.
Sea Of Fables
The other and last chart I managed to find is this one of the Sea Of Fables. It too looks a lot like a real chart. These charts are probably hand made and man made. I suppose they take a bit of time to throw together. Since the sailing community isn't at the top of the Customer list at Linden Labs, it makes sense to automate the creation of these maps. It's just that buoys and lighthouses need to be described systematically. Anyway, does anyone out there have any other charts of the virtual seas in SL?


  1. You bring up two good issues.
    -- Blake Sea does has a variable sea floor that can present problems for sailboats with large, physical keels. It's hard complain too much about it, since Real Life is like that too. The biggest problem occurs when shallow spots lie near race buoys. I wrote a short note about this back in May 2009 ( ). We were beginning to plan the J-Classic Regatta, and discovered the boat grounded out in Blake Sea- Atlantic, right next to the Blue/White race buoy! Here's a pic of me dropping sim-sized megaprims on Atlantic to locate the bumps :-) :
    Kudos to MTW and Michael Linden; they helped fix the critical hazards quickly.

    -- I also agree with you that this would be NO problem if we had standard, accurate navigational charts. I mentioned that in my 2009 post too and Michael commented back, linking to the Blake Sea chart you posted above. (I think RJ Kikuchiyo helped with that).
    When Sea of Fables was upgraded in 2010, it was wonderful to see that Dept Public Works came up with another real chart for those waters (the second chart you posted).
    Here's the problem, though: Sims get terraformed frequently as estates expand and properties change hands. It's very hard to keep up with all the changes, and even the best charts are only 'a snapshot in time.'
    For example. the SE corner of Blake Sea is now dramatically different from what's shown on the 2009 chart.

    What's the 'solution?' :-) Well, If some good nautical graphics person could give us directions on how to make 'standard' charts in photoshop, I think that would be a real mitzvah for sailors. We could then keep the important ones up-to-date :-)

    1. I love the Blake Sea. I am just trying to document that it is indeed rather shallow. In fact it is too shallow for submarines and large ships. Whichever depths we might have in the Blake, real charts would be very nice. However, the world changes, so charts need frequent updates. That is why I talk about a standard way of describing buoys, lighthouses and other landmarks. That would enable us - or the Lindens - to generate charts by the click of a button.


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