Wednesday, November 30, 2011


So curiousity killed the cat? Not this lil kitty. I finally tried virtual cat sailing, - not a catboat, - a real virtual sailing cat... and it just loooves water... It's the Hepcat. Meow.
Goofing with a cat.
I always thought of cats as being weird boats. Kinda like windsurfers. They're like... not really a real boat. This made me stay off virtual cats too, but that's changed now. Lordmaldaine persuaded me to try his brand new Hepcat from Trudeau, and it was indeed a very nice sailing experience. And fast...
Getting the "hang" of it.
First, we goofed around a bit. It's a fast little thing. Easy to handle, but you gotta stay alert. Gaze at the scenery for thirty seconds and a puff will slam you right over. We quickly agreed that he was steering and trimming, while I concentrated on balance. That seemed to work pretty well. For a while at least.
Picking up speed
Here, we're picking up speed. I was simply stunned by the accelleration, and while I was being that - we crashed. Water everywhere. Not a problem. These waters are nice and warm. Besides, the sun is out to dry us. 
After a while Lordmaldaine needed a smoke. He had to go pick it up somewhere, so he left me alone with the cat. The picture above shows me accellerating on my own. It's rather hefty. 
Ahem... A little puff and it's up and away... Not really sure I am completely comfortable with this just yet.
Hmmm... sheets, tiller and trapez...
Yeah, I know it looks awkward. To be honest, I felt a little insecure when the windward hull lifted off the water. Better get out there in a hurry or it's swimming time again.
Landed on my "feet" this time.
Ahh, this is much better, but now I've been too busy sailing. Totally forgot navigation... Will it fit between those islands? Is it too shallow? It's full speed ahead and bend or break.
It's ok. Enough water and a little less wind this side of the island. Lovely scenery by the way. The boat is lovely too. It has balance, sheets, lovely sails with great luffing. Nice sound too. Sadly there's the usual suspects missing such as waves, current, telltales and compass, but there is a wind indicator atop the mast. Not a very realistic one though. Looks totally like a Tako.
Meow, said that cat. Lovely ride..
That aside, the Hepcat is really a lotta fun to sail. It looks great, it feels great and there's no easy cruising for landlubbers. Look away for a few secs, and it will flip over and dip you. I love that. It's a real action boat. Pretty fast too. Not like the Foiling Moth but still... Better plan your route or you will run aground on unexpected shores.

So maybe curiousity killed the cat, but satisfaction surely brought it back.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In the darkness

Strange things happen at night in SL. This was actually a quiet night at Tradewinds, and I was really there to do some testing. Then I heard a strange sound and looked out the window.
Maybe those windows needs cleaning?
What I saw was a fishing boat, probably a whaler of sorts. He just came in the harbour, and he was motoring about to find a good mooring spot.
Moored for a coffee?
I instantly popped over to Balduins to get a mooring shot. Looks like he could run aground in here. Zoomed in a bit to ge a better view of details. Never saw a boat like this in SL.
He moored like for a coffee, and then he went off again. Just like that. Wonder what that was all about, and what's there to catch?
Take off
Never really did catch the skippers name, so this is probably the last I'll ever hear of this lil fisher. Too bad really. I caught a few glimpses of the inside through an open door. It looked like a living room in there.
Anyways, I gazed at the fishing boat disappearing into the starlight of the nigth and decided, it was sleep time for me. Hopefully he is in another timezone, so he won't have to sail all night to get home, or maybe thats just what he is here to do? You never know.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cold Turkey revisited

That turkey thing! It's all over the blogosphere. Never really cared about it. Never really figured just what it is. In fact it's an alien thing to us Scandinavians. However, since it is so massively present in the blogosphere, I looked it up, and...
It's nice. It's about saying thanx to family, friends, the planet, God and since it's an American thing possibly  also Wakan Tanka. The Natives would probably have more fun with it. They'd eat funny mushrooms and have a ball. Just as we would up here in the cold north. Eat some Fly Agaric and go berserk.
We're having our mushrooms before we go berserk
Ok, so maybe it's not a Native thing. Maybe it's more of an English thing. Turns out some English Seaman might be to blame, a Sir Martin Frobisher. Sounds more like a German to me. Anyways, he was a seaman, and he celebrated surviving a long journey at sea, - north of Canada. Talk about cold turkey.

I always loved that song, and now I finally get it. It's the turkey singing. It's the famous last song to the butcher.

Lenny was always part of my universe. Never met him. Love his music, and should he drop out of the sky and ask for a dance, I'd say yes in the blink of an eye... and with this I'll slip out of my office suit and into something a little more challenging. Then off into the unsafe nightlife of my city to have a few of those Tuborg Xmas beers, while they play Last Christmas didi dada dumdidum... Have a great weekend... oh and thanx...

Thanx Kanker, Moth, Tasha, all the people at Tradewinds YC, sailbloggers and everybody else.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's in a virtual boat?

So... what's in a virtual boat these days? Got me thinking. Back in time, Kanker Grenacre invented the Tako with left and right rudder function plus main sheet in and out. He also invented a windsystem, because the virtual wind of SL  was (and is) unsuited for sailing. Virtual sailing in SL  was easy, simplistic and far from realistic. Then Moth invented a new windsystem, The WWC, with support for shifts, gusts, local variances, waves, currents, shadowing and more.
Thinking about virtual boats
The WWC was a quantum leap towards realism. Not as simple as the Tako wind, but much more realistic and way more fun for racing. After a while someone added hiking to a boat. Then live flapping sails appeared; The T-One from Trudeau may have been the first to have that. Then Becca released her BBK boat building kit with yet another windsystem. The much simpler BWind. Soon after that, the Q2m appeared with luffing sails, BWind and - woohoo - full WWC retrofitted.  The Q2m therefor has windshifts, gusts, waves, current and even drift. A must have for dialups in Matchrace.
Looking at boats
Then came the Bolero. It has all the features of the Q2m plus working telltales. The modern Trudeau boats such as the LeetleCat II come with rudder, sheet in/out, hiking, luffing sails, capsize and reefing but sadly no telltales, no waves and no currents. There's also ReneMarine's beautiful RM8. It has wwc, luffing and there's an adorable little windex in the mast. Let's not forget the RM20 with a redesigned steering system. Then there's the ACA boats, the AC cats and the WildWinds; Lately the Nemo II entered the scene with its own interesting wind system too. So many boats to choose from.
Fizzin with El Megro
Finally there's the Flying Fizz. Still the most complete package on the virtual sailing scene of SL. It has rudder, sheet in/out, working visible sheets, kickinstrap, hiking, luffing sails, trapez, capsize, compass, telltales, crewed trimming, planing, waves, currents, windshifts, gusts, speed dependant sunds and saildepth adjusting. It even has a low lag mode. By any measure still the most advanced boat in SL. It only misses a few things. Drift is one of them.

That sorta defines a virtual boat in SL as of 2011. Makes me wonder if the Flying Fizz is the end of the journey. Some people seem to think it's too advanced already. Kinda weird, when it has a beginners mode. Then there's the usual suspects always saying it can't be done, no matter what they talk about. They said that about luffing sails. They said that about telltales. They said that about importing real wind to SL.
Tai Chi: Clear the mind
Nevertheless, I wonder what will be the next step of the evolution? More trim features? Better physics? More teamwork support? Boatkits already exist with support for up to four sailors. The options are endless as long as we can fit it within the constraints of SL.

Real boats have so many more trim options. Mastrake, shroud tension, backstay tension, running backstays, main sheet traveller, kickingstrap, cunningham, halyard tension, spinakker pole height, barberhaul, outhaul, leech-line, battens.... just to mention a few.
Watching the ocean from Seagull Islands
I don't know what's out there, in the future, waiting to be sailed. It seems development never stops, so I'd definately expect more features and better boats. What do you think? More trim options? Better racing conditions? New delicious hull designs? Realistic winds? How far should we take it? Or will we lean back as an old couple and rock only the chair we're sitting in, satisfied with the way things are - mostly because we're too tired or lazy to go and change them?


PS: Here's a taste of sailing with the built in SL wind.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fizz Cup round 6

Fizz Cup round six was sailed this weekend. I didn't have the time to watch it all, so this is just a few shots from group one.
Prestart chaos
The settings were wonderful. Interesting winds and a spectacular location a few hundred meters south of the Schiffsratten YC. It is indeed a pretty area. Well, - except for the chaos at prestart time, hehe.
And here they are again... right after the gun... converging nicely but a bit too unifomly for my taste.  Everybody is doing the excact same thing in every start. Starboard tack from the starboard pin. Obviously, the starting line needs adjusting.
Next start was the same. Pretty booring, - but after a minute or so, we finally saw some action in the form af a split. Yay! As far as I can remember, there should be more shifts on the starbord side of the course.
However, it didn't change much. Miwha had a fantastic day. She appeared to be almost invincible.  ElMegro was working hard just to hang on. High five for trying.
Miwha in front
So, the sailing was good. Few crashes. However, the excitement was absent. Miwha was clearly in top shape and her boat in mint condition. Check the shot above. Three firsts out of three. Whoa! In group two Liv scored a first, and Joro scored two firsts. Congrats.

So the ranking is Joro, Miwha, Krysha and Liv a point, Hii2newsplus and finally Dahral. Can't wait to watch the finals.

More about the Fizz Cup.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Q-Scow

I've been wanting to write about this little baby for some time now. It's pretty fresh, pretty delicious and just pretty. It is the 25th boat I've sailed and posted about, - tadah! It is from Quest Marine, and it is called the Q-Scow. 
Admiring Qyv's latest creation
So what is it? Well, Scandinavians would probably wonder if it is a Flipper. It looks kinda like a Flipper, but it really is a C-Scow. Google C-Scow images if you want to see the real thing. Meanwhile, I'll set sails.
Pretty huh! That's me in a Q-Scow accellerating from the pier at Tradewinds. Dunno what is is about Qyv's boats, but they allways make me go "weeee". Clearly it is a single-sail boat; So it is really easy to handle. That's not to be confused with dull. It is most definately not.
The Q-Scow is a pretty complete boat. It inherits many good things from the Q-SM40 and the Q-2m; That means it's a modded bwind with full wwc support. It sails well, has windshifts, shadowing, waves, current and drift, so it is very well suited for racing.
There is a nice sailing sound, though it doesn't vary with the speed. There's a pretty realistic sail with a lovely flap sound. It moves like a boat in the waves, and the heel is nice too. However, there is no balancing, and that's really too bad. You gotta be able to hike in a boat like this. Nevertheless, the overall feel is very nice.
If you look closely, you can see it has two sets of straps; This makes it well suited for teaching;  You can sit right next to someone and explain all the little details. That's really nice. Good for a cruise with sandwiches.  However, two people can't sail it better than one, except one might have the tactics and  the lookout, while the other is sailing.
Reaching on a northerly course.
Sadly there's no compass, no vane and no telltales, so it's still sailing by hud, i.e. by instruments. The sail flaps, when its too late to adjust, so you can't really use it to optimize speed. Only the colors changing on the hud functions as a kind of trim indicator. If you must have telltales, then your choices are limited to the Flying Fizz, the Shelly Fizz and now also the Bolero
Tradewinds YC in sight
However, that should not overshadow the fact that this is a really nice sailing boat. It has a great feel, it is  good for beginners, well suited for racing, and in fact it has most of the features I wished for in the Laser Radial. It's pure virtual sailing pleasure. Oh, and did I mention it is affordable? It's a "go-getter". No doubt.

I've sailed a few single-sail dingys; They are so different, its hard to say which is best. The Leetlecat is perhaps a winner on the graphical details. On the sailing experience, I think the Q-Scow is my favourite. The Shelly needs mentioning because it has telltales, a really good windvane and speed dependent sounds. OMG, it seems the Shelly is actually still in the top of it's class.

The others are: LeetlecatLaser Radial, Tako, Lil-Laser, Shelly, MR-Trainer and the Moth; The latter is really in a category of its own though.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vikings to starboard

A few days after the Italian job, Linteus Dench dropped by again. We had a fun boat talk, and then we launched a couple of Roar Eges. Sailed off in the early morning.
Me chasing Lint
I love the morning at Tradewinds. The colours are simply... incroyable. The silouet of Viking ships on horizon only makes it better. Above it's just me chasing Lint.
We have a visual
Imagine a movie  of us, meaning the Vikings, taking England with a massive fleet of Viking ships. In SL we could create a scene with hundreds of copies of Roar Ege.
Closing in
Each boat should of course be full of wild and blood thirsty savages. Here's my prey in sight. Let's see if I can get any closer. Swords and shields ready. Battlestations it is. 
Ok, actually we had a friendly sail with fun maneuvers and more boat talk. A modern cellphone works quite well - even on an oldtimer like this.

Such a beautiful morning with boats and stuff... and then back to Tradewinds again. Want more about Roar Ege, then click here: Roar Ege rounds Fastnet Rock.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Virtual Laser Radial

It's time for some real radical virtual Laser Radial sailing. Woohoo. Rise and shine. Yeah! A Laser is the essence of fun watersports. It is simple, fast and fun, and now it is also an Olympic class. Well, in 2012 that is. Besides, it's a radial, so it's just the right size for me.
Just waking up
But let's start with the beginning. I had a good nights sleep. Woke up early. At sunset. Must be those gulls. The water was quiet, and I enjoyed a coffee while watching the sun come up. Obviously, I found the tent. About at tent, - if you wanna get the story from the beginning, then start here: Beginning. You're back? Good.
Ready for action
It's a beautiful day. Good steady wind from the east, - or that's what I thought. More on that in a minute. Pretty quiet water, almost clear blue sky. What's there to say? Let's get out there.
Lift off
The boat looks pretty much like a laser. The sail does too. There are small details missing but the overall impression is pretty Laser-ish. I mean, look at the picture above. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was real. I'd like it to be. The concept of camping on a small island with nothing to do but Laser sailing makes my heart beat faster. Add a few friends, a campfire and a guitar and... well that's it, right?
Sail away
First, the good things. It is easily sailed. There is no onboard compass or wind vane, but there is a small hud  with that information. It works well. Sailing the Laser requires steering, trimming and balancing. Steering and trimming adhere to the (pretty much) standard way of doing things: What makes the Laser Radial stand out is the balancing. The Laser has three different hiking positions.
The wind was very strange, - or so I thought. Turns out the Laser Radial uses SL wind by default. SL wind was - obviously - designed by landlubbers. Not meant for sailboats, windmills, kites, surfers or anything usefull. It goes around and around like 360 degrees in a few minutes. 
I like...
Luckily there was a notecard in the boat, telling me how to switch to WWC wind; Ahh, that's better. Now the wind is stable, but not too stable. It's much better, but there is always a but. It seems the Laser Radial is not entirely WWC compliant. It only uses the wind part. That's really too bad. There is no pitching or rolling caused by waves. There is no current, there is no winddrift, and there is no windshadowing. Not really suited for racing I guess.
WWC, Wind, Waves and Current
Sadly, the laser moves pretty much like a Tako, - like a dead duck on a leach.Ok, that's maybe a bit harsh; The Laser Radial isn't a Tako. It is far better and more interesting; Reading the notecard again, the builder positions the Laser Radial as an intermediate boat. Much more advanced than a Tako; Much easier than a Flying Fizz with the dreaded capsize. Maybe that's true, but I'd definately want my Laser to capsize, when I make mistakes. 
Lovely sailing
Another thing... the sails are flat as pancakes. This might not be a problem to non sailors, but if you've ever looked up a real sail to check the shape... flat sails just won't work for you. Check this to see the difference. Being a bit geeky here, but flat sails... I mean, they'd work on a run, but upwind... they need that wing-shape.
Flat sails
There are no sounds either. At all. No sails flapping. No wake, no winchblocks, just complete silence. This kinda breaks the bubble too. The simulation simply has to have sound. Sounds add to realism, but even more importantly the feedback from the sound indicates speed. This adds to the feel, and it reduces the need for instruments. Who would sail a Laser by looking at a panel full of digits?
Let's call it a day
All in all, I was a bit disappointed by the Laser; I don't think I will sail it much, but... it has potential, so I'll write to Santa and wish for an upgrade. If you're new to sailing, the Laser might be a good choice. If you know sailing, then you'd be much better of with a Flying Fizz. Let me just get this thing back up on land and then I'll pack my stuff here; Get back to Tradewinds.

Fizz Cup round five group two

Later that same saturday, we saw group two racing under similar bad conditions. A few more boats made it a little more fun to watch, but it still looked laggy...
Right after the gun
Here we are, right after the gun and whoohoo, - it looks like a boatrace. Team Buzz in front. Check the beautiful waterfront in Sailors Cove, - all the trees in the colours of fall.
More spectators 
Here's another shot, where you see the beautiful Sailors Cove in the back. They must have had really good architects when they built that. It's so pretty. Incidentally, there's even more spectators for group two. Maybe it's the time of day, I dunno.
A special treat for ElMegro
The shot above is especially made for ElMegro. I wonder if he can see what's different. Something is clearly missing. Well, apart from that last boat finishing.
Prestart chaos
Here's a shot of the usual prestart chaos. It's always amazing to watch a start. First they just wait, sails down. Then comes the first signal, and everybody sets sail. All becomes chaos, when everybody fights for a good spot at the line. 
Then comes the gun, - and everything comes into order as everyone starts sailing in the same direction.
Chaos again...
After a few minutes it's chaos again as each sailor tries to choose the path that he or she believes is the fastest one to the first mark. In group two, Joro Aya had a great day with three out of three wins. Congrats. Again, the conditions were so laggy, - we could easily see it from the spectator platform. Hopefully the next round will give better conditions.

More results here. More about the Fizz Cup.