Monday, December 6, 2010

Amazing Tradewinds

Tradewinds Yacht Club is an amazing place. There are always sweet people to hang with, and there is always something going on. Currently TYC hosts a Sea Plane Show. Usually the TYC events are carefully planned and carried out. The sea plane show is no exception. Naturally, there is a glider available, so you can get that flying feeling whilst looking at the planes. For free. Here's me hanging over the show...
Tradewinds Seaplane Show; Me above. Note the island out there.
I must admit, I never really had any interest in sea planes, but now... whoa! So many planes. So many sizes, shapes and details. Where do they all come from? And then there is this glider. Must it be sailing related? Perhaps it is. A glider is the ultimate ride on the wind. Understanding the wind is key to a sailboat racer, so there you have it... See that little island there on the left side of the photo?
Flying over the island - only a few hundred meters out.
I saw it. Up close. Not a lot of upwind out there, so I could barely make it back. Still it is too short a trip to fire up a sea plane; Besides, the difference between a glider and a plan is kinda like the difference between a sailboat and a powerboat... Silence versus rrrroooaarrrr. Easy choise.
Barely making it home again...
Lets get back to TYC. Home sweet home... I almost got my feet wet, - or whatever hits the water first, when ur in this position, hihi. Uhh... I wonder what the water temperature is at TYC. Anyways, go see the show. Sit in all the planes. It is great fun. Oh, and don't forget to glide around in complete silence, - only hearing the waves and the seagulls... If only I could attach my hairdrier to the screen to feel the wind ;-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Bolero, Off shore

Balduin Aabye launched the Bolero recently. It is a faithfull replica of the knockabout sloop; Very pretty in that good old fashioned way. The RL knockabout sloop has a history of its own. Google it and enjoy the pictures. This is about the virtual knockabout, aka The Bolero.
Me and my Bolero leaving the safe waters of Nautilus.
To test her, I decided to take her off shore sailing. What better way to do that, than trying to make it over the new off shore connection to the continent of Oceania. If you are not aware of the new waterways added, check the Tradewinds Yacht Club website. Link on your right.

Bluewater sailing. Nautilus behind; Oceania ahead.

Inside the Bolero is a bwind sailing engine, so it is no surprise - she sails well. A little slow perhaps, but that adds to the feeling of reality. This is not a modern race boat. It is more of a classy day cruiser. The easy bowsplash sounds of the boat says it all. Sailing the Bolero has a certain Zen-like feel. It is peacefull and uncomplicated.
Totally relaxing off shore sailing.
So here's me being totally relaxed after climbing the mast to place the camera. Had some trouble with the autopilot, but it almost stayed on course while I was up there. Hopefully I can stay awake till I arrive at Oceania; Can't wait to take a nap in the cabin. Yes, there are berths for two in the cabin, and you can jump in and swim from the aft deck. The Bolero is perfect for a weekend for two in the Northern archipelago of Nautilus.
Taking a peek at the Oceania inshore waters.
The sails are well made. Curved and with stitchings. The spinnaker is too. Again, uncomplicated, classic, white and pretty. Autogybing makes spinnakers so much easier, - unless you are holding a course with the wind right aft. Then the autogybing flips you back and forth between starboard and port. Not something you would want in a close race situation. It is a design issue. Make the boat easy to sail usually means you loose a little control. That aside, the sailing is nice and intuitive.

Just moored in Oceania.
You can get a hud, if you want to sail by numbers, but check the above picture again. There is a little windvane. Here it is grey to indicate sails down. Otherwise it will tell you the wind direction. It will also indicate your trim by a colour. This allows for intuitive mouselook sailing. So realism is good, feel is good, and all in all it is a delightfull and relaxing experience to sail the Bolero. I will do that again, when I need a break.

About that ship there, Antinea, - see this link. It's important.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Qurved sails

I talked to Qyv a few days back. We discussed realism. Yesterday I got a new QSM40 from Qyv with curved sails, and it is a real beauty. I rushed inworld to get a few shots, and so - here is a look up the main sail.
Mainsail with curves from Qyv.
Huh! If that isn't nice, I dunno what is. Here is another one taken whilst swimming and having a friend sail by. Not easy, but the shot was worth it. Mmmhmmm... Those curves are almost as good as mine:
Curvy jib.
This morning I got another very nice surprise. Elbag called me and said Qyv made a special mouselook version of the QSM40. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. Mouselook sailing is probably the single most important thing making you feel onboard for real. Not watching yourself in a pixel boat, but looking through your virtual eyes, seeing whatever you choose to look at.
Full speed ahead in the QSM40.
The hud also moved. It is now placed right after the mast, below the main sail, just as you would expect it to be on a real boat. So now, we can watch real sails, see the boatspeed, the course and the competitors and get the angles just as in real life. Yumsy. What a great training boat this is. Still misses a few points though. Speed feedback via changing sounds would be nice, and ticklers and wind vane would be sooo nice too. Try the QSM40. You won't regret it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sailing in a Tako-shell

I finally tried a Tako. Everybody talks about the Tako, because it was the first boat to cruise SL waters. Kanker built the first Tako in prehistoric time, around 2006 I think, whereby he invented sailing in SL. Kudos for that. I guess the Lindens didn't see that coming. Anyway, I thought I'd have to try it eventually. Raced in a Tako 2.3 once. That wasn't very realistic. This time I tried a 3.2.
Me, my Tako and Jonathan at Tradewinds.
The 3.2 is better. Much better. It has sounds, wake, bow splash, a rather nice hud giving angles of wind and sheet in a graphical way. There is also a wind indicator at the top of the mast. It sends out little cloudy blimps, - blurps of fluffy stuff. Not very realistic, and overall - somehow - the Tako doesn't quite give me that feel of realism. The hull is made from prims. From certain angles it looks like a lego boat. From other angles the Tako can look pretty good. You can see the "legos" on the side of the boat, if you look carefully on this photo:
Me and a friend in a Tako somewhere in Blake.
Downwind speed is low, - even with the spinnaker up. Very strange. It handles sim crossings pretty well, and the stability is good. It has mouselook sailing too, but the sails are flat like pancakes, so no need to look at them unless u wanna get ur smiley upside down. Oh, - and I gotta sit in SB side. There is no hanging, no balancing, even when it heels badly. Above it looks ok, but here...
Me getting my butt wet in Blake.

Very unnatural. It is - in fact - a little difficult to define, what is missing to give that feel. I think it is a combination of things. The single position, the non balancing, the flat sails, the unworldly wind vane, but most of all the linearity of the boat. It seems to move far too calm and predictable. That - to me - makes it too easy to handle and a little bit boring. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Racing Lil-Laser

Tried the Racing Lil-Laser in the waters around Tradewinds. Its a fun little thing. It doesn't look excactly like a Laser, but the resemblance is definately there. It comes with a nice looking hull, a rather nice sail, and a BWind sail-engine inside. That means it sails well, and it handles sim crossings almost as if they aren't there.
Somewhere south of TYC.
What's more interesting is, that it has a wind vane; Something I have wished for - for a long time - so that I can sail by feel and not by numbers. Yay!
It gets even better. The vane changes colour according to the sail trim. While that is not a realistic feature to have, it is far more fun to look at the vane than staring at sheet angles in degrees or radians. Still, I miss looking at the sails to sail.
South of Tradewinds.
The vane is positioned quite unrealistically on the hull after the mast, but as I said... it is much better than a hud full of numbers. While the sail looks rather good with stretch-lines and all, it is flat like a pancake. The depth of the sail cannot be adjusted. Also the centerboard is fixed, and you cannot balance the boat by moving around. More ways to sit would be nice. The Racing Lil-Laser is  good for casual sailing, a fun race and for beginners learning. If you know sailing from RL, I think you would quickly find it too easy and start looking for something else.
You can get a Lil-Laser at Tradewinds for a bargain price. No hesitations needed. Support Becca's work with the low lag BWind sail engine. It's definately a good thing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A beauty at sea

I took the Trudeau One for a spin in the Caribbean yesterday, and what a lovely day it was. The Trudeau One is, like its RL counterpart the IOD, not only an extremely well designed and built boat; She sails well too. Perhaps sim crossings aren't her favourite, but the sailing itself... Whoa! Take a look:
Me and my One in the Carribean.
It is not just the hull and the mast that are NVR, Near Virtual Reality. The sails curve like real sails, and they luff, if you are being sloppy on the sheet. The boat heels as expected, and to retain good speed you must compensate by moving you and your crew around. There is also a nice spinnaker; When it is up , it looks really nice. When it is down, you can relax on the spinnaker-bag in the front. Just add a cold beer, and it really doesn't get any better.
A flyby in the Trudeau One.
Even the hud is designed to match the boat. No ugly numbers there, only analog displays and a few buttons to adjust the sailing; Now, one might argue that a hud isn't realistic. While that is true, the concept of a hud enables mouselook sailing. I therefore suspect the One is ready for primetime racing too, but perhaps the racers prefer more modern boats. What a pity.
The beautiful Trudeau One.
The Caribbeans was fun to sail, but it doesn't seem to be made for sailing. I had difficulties finding a harbour and a rez spot. Many places the water is so narrow - between two islands - that you gotta steer continuously in order to keep from running aground. Two boats won't fit in at once. On top of that, there are "no entry" zones reaching into the water around several islands. The scenery is nice, as you can probably see. With little variation, though, so if you hate coconut islands, go sail somewhere else.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boatshow at Tradewinds

There are so many reasons why TYC, Tradewinds Yacht Club, is a nice place. First of all, I've met so many sweet people there, but right now... there is a boatshow. I didn't count, but I think there are some 30 boats on display there.
Boatshow at TYC, fall 2010.
Dingys, kayaks, sailboats, yachts, multihulls and powerboats. So if you just love boats and everything about sailing, you gotta go there and have a look.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Virtual Optisailing

While I am at it... We all started in the opti; At least the saying goes, that all god sailors began in a dinghy. Hehe. Windsurfers might disagree, but hey... what do they know ;-) It is all about feeling the wind and the waves. Anywas, the story of the Optimist is amazing. Started in NY sometime in the fiftees; Then spread out world wide. Probably the most succesfull class of all times, - now spreading in SL too.

Me in a Shelly Fizz somewhere in Fruit.
When I was new, someone gave me a rusty old Shelly. Kinda like in RL -  only my first real Optimist was wooden. Today you can get a brand new and shiny Virtual Optimist aka Shelly-Fizz at the Tradewinds YC... for free. So wipe your eyes and go get one.

Why would anyone wanna sail that little critter, you might ask. For one thing it has been reckognized as a prime beginners boat thoughout the last thirty or forty years. It is affordable, it is easy to build your own, it is easy to sail, and the box shaped hull is stable. Besides, we have fun; Check this out:
Shelly racing somewhere near Tradewinds Yacht Club.
Back to the realism thing... What makes the Shelly so realistic? There are five things...

1) It has a Fizz engine, so it sails very well.
2) It has working telltales and sail sounds.
3) It has a working windvane.
4) There are no numbers, huds, displays or instruments.
5) It has mouselook sailing.

Add to that the WWC Windsystem with wind variations, waves and currents.
Me again... Shelly in Fruit Islands.
The Shelly-Fizz in fact provides one of the best near real life sailing experiences available. You just gotta love that, if know what you're doing. The only RL thing I miss in the Shelly is a compas for detecting windshifts. U need to see windshifts, if you are in a race.

Real virtuality, take two

Another real deal inworld is Rene Marines beautiful "Zee Schouw". She might not be a full blown racer, but Kudos to Rene for the faithful replica.  I can easily imagine myself dazing on the deck with a cool beer, going downwind on autopilot, whilst palmtrees and coconut islands pass before my eyes.
Me admiring Rene Marines Zee Schouw.
Am I dreaming? Not at all. In the back - a view down south with the island of Wicktro on the horizon. Beyond Wicktro is the Blake Sea with its myriads of lovely destinations. The southern part of Blake is full of coconut islands.

Real virtual boats

Sometimes I see a boat that makes my heart beat faster. It might look fast or comfortable or both. It might be just big. Not that size is the only thing that matters. This one took my breath away because it looked so real. In fact it is real. Sira built it after the well known Nordic Folkboat; Over here - in its home waters - we often just refer to it as the Folkboat. If you are a sailor, You'd already know it. There's more than 4000 boats out there in RL. Check it out. Its all there... even the curved seat for the helmsman. Haven't tested her at sea, but it comes with the BBK sailing engine, and therefore I expect it to sail well.
Siras beautiful and faithful Folkboat.

The boat can be seen at Tradewinds Yacht Club. It is really a good place, if you love boats. Right now there is a boatbuilder show. Lotsa things to look at. Remember to say hi to Tasha; She runs the place, and she is an endless source of knowledge on SL Sailing. Oh, a more modern yacht modeled after the real thing is the QSM40. A bit bigger. Modified BBK sailing engine. Very well worth a sail too.

Update as per medio february 2014: It seems people are still finding this post; Sadly I only took this one photo of the virtual Folkboat. That was back in october 2010. Sadly I never saw the virtual Folkboat again, and I fear it has been lost with Sira.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Matchrace trainer

Yesterday in Fruit Islands, Hawk gave me the opportunity of trying a dedicated training boat, the Quest Match Trainer. Matchrace is not a simple game; Sailing is difficult. ISAF rules aren't simple either; Grasping both sailing and rules at the same time takes years of effort in the real world. Therefore it makes sence to have a trainingboat. Less sails to worry about, less speed to handle, smaller pricetag. Makes it easier to focus on the rules. Here it is...

Looking for adventures around a place called Eden.
So what's it like, the Quest Match trainer? Simple :-D Nice and easy and a lot like a BWind boat. Surprise!!! It is a BWind boat with a spiffed up hull and sail. It has a reasonably modern hull and a fancy kevlar sail. The centerboard looks a little underdimensioned to me, but in broad terms she looks good. Not sure how I like the targa thingy in the back, but the equipment placed there indicates it serves a purpose; Uplink and stuff i guess. Oh, and it provides a place to hoist the red flag or course. After all it is a matchrace trainer.
Inshore sailing in Eden
So if you wanna learn matchrace, checkout the facilities in Fruit Islands. Ask for Hawk. He has all the gear needed for a good and realistic matchrace.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The QSM40

Had a great night sailgeeking with Hawk and Qyv; So nice to meet people with real sailing experience. So much easier to talk about the feel, ISAF rules, navigation and what not. Tried the new QSM40 built by Qyv. Very nice sailing. Lag free, easy to handle, very responsive, no crashes and good looking too; Even the sim crossings are handled quite well. A really nice matchracer. Qyv tells me it is modelled after Pelle Pettersons SM40; Yes, that SM40... from the WMRT. Feels great being back in a PP boat. Spent many hours in the International 806.

Me and my latest toy, the QSM40... 
Above you see me aboard my latest toy. In the back the builder, Qyv, and another sailor, elMegro. And do we race these boats? You can bite your nose we do, and its intense. This first night I learned, that it stalls at 29 degress apparent wind. Optimum downwind angle is 171. At least with the spin up and with tonights winds. Realism is good... the feel is definately there. Sounds are good too.
Cruising in Fruit Islands

Still missing the windvane, the telltales and the curved sails. The option of sailing in mouselook would be nice too. U need to be able to see the course and the angles. There is a hud giving speed, course and a few other figures. Sailing by numbers floating above the boat a few meters behind it just isn't my idea of sailing. Besides, in matchrace you'd care little about your absolute speed. What you care about is  moving faster than the other boat.
Excellent racing conditions in Fruit Islands
On the realism thing, the Flying Fizz still has an edge. More on that later. Oh... and Hawk gave me a matchrace training boat too. Will try that sometime soon and take a few notes. It is smaller, less complicated and meant for beginners and learning.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shortly after

Right. Nothing. Shortly after came a shell. An empty one. It looked like a blog, but still there was next to nothing.
Me, My Fizz and Tradewinds...

What? Blogging is about content, right? Right! Yes, true... but... Blogger is a nice system. Simpler than WordPress, easier than TextPattern and... oh there are a million others. They all have myriads of knobs and handles to pull, as does Blogger; Tweaking those settings is part of making a blog look personal. Anyone  working with a computer knows this: Tweaking takes time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010