Friday, November 30, 2012

Two years gone

So I totally forgot my blogoversary. This guy reminded me by email. In fact he almost complained about it; Really sorry. Here's a late blogoversary post then, - with the requested view in the rear mirror. However, I'll start with the cake. Two years of blogging from sailing in SL calls for cake.
Gotta love that cake
So what's happened? Despite the sad fact that we've lost the Sailing Academy, virtual sailing seems to be in pretty good shape. The technical problems with sim crossings in SL seem to be under control. Mesh begins to look good. It's geeky, but mesh allows for much more detailed boats; New boats have been introduced by well known boatbuilders such as the Melges 24 from Qyv, the Zeeschouw from Rene, the Oceanic from Motor, the Spark from Becca, the 2.4mR from QyvVictors Dragon and let's not forget Nomads Nemo III.
The Ktaba 20
Trudeau Yachts has also released a couple of boats. I haven't sailed any of them, but they can be seen on the Trudeau site. There are probably even more new boats out there. Some of these might be built on Beccas BWind sailing engine, which was has launched in a much improved version 2.0. Sadly, we've also lost a few builders. Balduin Aabye, builder of the Bolero, left us. So did Corry Kamichi, builder of Wildwind boats, though it seems she is back again.
The VO65
Some of the most interesting new boats are probably Craig Ktaba's Ktaba 20, and Dutch Kain's VO70 and VO65, and why? The VO65 and the VO70 are simply majestic builds, and despite their size they actually sail pretty well. The Ktaba 20 is differently classy, but she sails so nice, and the Ktaba 20 has - as one of the very few boats in SL - sheets on both the main and the jib.
My absolute favourite still, the Flying Fizz
In general, most boats - if not all - are still playing catchup with the now three year old Flying Fizz. Pretty amazing really. If you clicked the link and read about the Fizz, you'll see it is a pretty complete  package. Not entirely perfect though; There's no bailers, and you cannot change the mast rake. So, there is room for improvements; I have a wishlist on the page called real sailing. I'll send it to Santa.
Racing the Q2m
So, do I have a favourite post of the year? I absolutely do. The picture above is from that post, and it is called Q2m feel good race. That post shows not only the beautiful Q2m. It also shows really good virtual racing. However, my favourites aren't everybodies favourites. The three most popular post this last year has been a friend lost, sailing is sailing and at the beach. Pretty different posts. Not sure what I can learn from that, except it is impossible to know what will become popular posts. Which is good, because then I can just go on posting without chasing "hit posts". BTW: Requests are welcome. Can't promise anything, though.
Thinking about the future
The future? I dunno, - who knows really? I have a feeling, a good feeling, that SL Sailing will evolve into an even better simulation; There will probably be even better wind systems, more advanced sailboats and sail engines that are easier to use, and somewhere along the road these three things will form a much more realistic sailing experience. It all sounds very exciting, and I really cannot wait to see it all.

The blogging? I absolutely love it. It has become more of an addiction than I ever anticipated. I am sure I still have loads of boatly stuff to blog, and tons of blogstuff to learn; Those inspiring blogs, where I lurk to learn blogger tricks and to read about sailing, they are in my blogroll. The quests? How about the quests? On the realism quest, I am seeing good progress. Sadly, the virtual Strawberry Margarita hasn't materialized. I'll keep looking for it...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

 Don't care much about all the talk? Just wanna gaze at the sailing pictures?
You can... Just click this link here, and you'll see the entire blog as a photoalbum. 

The link is also available in the sidebar. Enjoy...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Destination Paradise V

Back to the Destination Paradise story, final episode. If you are lost, then catch up with the former episodes of Destination Paradise here:  One, Two, Three and Four. Ok, so after a few Tequilas in the bar, we went out to explore the island. See the sights or rather - see if there were any sights.
The blue lagoon
Of course there were. After just short walk through palms, flowers and sand we discovered this little blue lagoon. Sooo beautiful. We simply had to sit still for a few minutes and just be in it. Birds singing, insects humming, waves splashing; There was also a distant hum from a small fishing boat. So relaxing...
The sleepyhead in total relaxation
I started to feel sleepy. Maybe it was the Tequila. Maybe it was the long sail, I dunno. Sailing is known to have that effect on people. Whatever it was, that floating thing out there looked really inviting. No sharks around? Let's go...
No sharks but lotsa fish
Sometimes I get emails from sailors in other virtual worlds. They usually go: What's the surroundings made of? Are they just pretty pictures? The answer is absolutely not. Here's an underwater shot showing the water isn't just blue paint on glass. Seeweed and fish can be found many places in well made locations. There are entire sims dedicated to scuba diving, but that's another story.
Another sweet and magical spot
Behind the blue lagoon there was a cliff; It was almost covered with palms. We walked around for a few minutes till we found a hidden path into the palms. It lead us up to a plateau with the most spectacular view over the ocean. Two chairs were there, and they almost begged us to stay and see the sunset... 
Sunset from the plateau
So we did. The sound of ocean waves splashing on the shore was still present, but up here soundscape were dominated by birds and crickets. We really didn't have to say anything. Just a look and we both knew, this was one of those secret magical spots. Our spot.
Catching the last sun rays
Eventually we climbed down; walked the other way around the island, and there we found another nice spot; We sat down to catch the last sunrays and watch the seagulls catch their dinner. The view over the virtual ocean can be so amazing it's mind boggling; Or is it "buggling", when it is a virtual world inside a computer? Never mind. I works like total zen... Funny how so many people have stressfull moments at the computer... Virtual sailing is the opposite. 
Breaking up
Time to go home, or back to RL even. Here's the sunset that greeted us, when we arrived at the pier. Somehow we both knew that neither of us wanted to make the move. This was when I said something like "I never wanna leave". Marin mumbled something about a virtual paradise, and that's why I called these posts Destination Paradise.
Bikini sailing in the sunset
But first, we needed to sail back home to Tradewinds in my trusty Flying Fizz; Sails up, gennaker too and woohooo up and away. Needless to say we also had a great cruise back home. Thanx Marin... It was a wonderful sailing experience, and it was also an interesting experiment into cruising and exploring.

Sometimes it is a little worrying how much this world gets to you. It really does. If u go with the flow, it's an amazing and mysterious world. There are so many beautiful places to see, so many fun things to do and sometimes there's a surprise, because not everything is what it appears to be. SL Sailing is definately more than racing. It is possible to sail for hours and continuously see new and beautiful places.

(Continued from Destination Paradise IV)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Flying Fizz Haiku

sail the Flying Fizz 
sweeter than creme de cassis
oh what sailing bliss


We're in the middle of the Flying Fizz Cup 2012.

Pictures from the Fizz Cup 2012

We had some good racing going on this last weekend. I wasn't there to watch group 1 & 2 on saturday, but I understand the saturday races were very good too. These shots are from the group 3 races on sunday.
Coasties, balloons and Flying Fizzes...
Here we're getting ready for the first race; The coastie is en route to the top mark. In the back there's a handfull of Fizzies waiting to start, and further in the back the balloon show is hovering over Tradewinds YC.
Here's a closer look at the racers. Still one missing; Not sure what happened, since the racers are required to register a half hour in advance. However, being late is in the RD department, which was being taken care of by Liv. I was there to sort matters in case of rules drama; Judge.
Bang and away
Anyway, we finally got off to a good start, - or at least a spectacular start. Two boats capsized right before the gun, so the crowd had fun too. As there was only five racers in this group, the other three easily managed to avoid the capsizers. Above you see most of the fleet away on the first leg.
Top mark rounding
It turned out that the sailors in group 3 of the Fizz Cup 2012 qualification were on very different levels, so after the exciting start, there was little action; It looked like - as a judge - I was gonna have an easy day with the boats spread out, minutes apart. Only rarely did they meet...
Todays fastest was Ronin Zane
The fastest sailor today was Ronin Zane; Here he is in his black boat, completely controlling the fleet from a windward position. However, Ronin had gear problems in the first race, so there was room for a nice surprise.
Kris Hollysharp going for the kill
Kris Hollysharp produced the surprise by taking first place in the first race; It is always nice to see new faces at the top of the fleet, and while Kris couldn't keep Ronin behind her in the next two races, she sailed very consistently and ended up with a series of 1-2-2. Nice work there.
Most consistent sailor: Colin Nemeth
The most consistent sailor of the day was Colin Nemeth who was very happy about his three thirds; Woot woot! What a great day at sea. Not without trouble though. The course took longer than anticipated, so we used a shorter course than the one announced.
Night sailing
In fact we ended up sailing the last race in moon light. Romantic racing? I don't think so. It's even harder to keep track of the opponents and the marks in darkness. Still, the crowd seemed happy. I guess they were having a party up there on the spectator platform.
Spectator platform
Well, that's it really. Three races and I was ready for bed, but that's just my timezone. Here we are, waving goodbye to all the coasties; They're always helping to keep the race course uncluttered and that's really great. Results and finalists available on the official Fizz Cup 2012 site.

PS: Still dunno what the Flying Fizz is? Check here and here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SL by balloon

This is so unboatly, yet sooo amazing I just gotta blog it. I arrived at Tradewinds, - still full of airships, when I noticed something new on the round table: So there is a roasted turkey, a cute little blimp and there's Fizz Cup 2012 results, but look at the book:
The round table at Tradewinds YC
It's a real book, - several books actually, about the most amazing journey around all continents of Second Life in a balloon. Tasha Kostolany of Tradewinds did an interview with the balloonist, Dahlia Jayaram. Read it at the Tradewinds blog, where you'll also find direct links to Dahlias fantastic books;

If you always wondered just what is the Blake Sea, then here's a direct link to Dahlias journey around the Blake Sea area. It's full of pretty pictures and descriptions of the sights. If you just wonder what all this balloonatics are about, then here's a bit of an explanation...

And then it is back to sailing...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Red October at Tradewinds

We saw some good racing at Tradewinds this weekend, and I'll get back to that in a bit. This post here is about a giant submarine that surfaced - right at the starting line - minutes before the sunday heats. It was only visible for seconds before it disappeared into the depths of the virtual oceans:
Red October (?) south of Tradewinds
Before it vanished, I managed to take this one picture. Not entirely sure what it is, but the sheer size of it made me think: Red October. I googled for that, and I think it could be right. Look at the size of that thing. It is huge. The little boat in the center is a Flying Fizz. There is a shadow behind the stern, which is one of those big coastguard boats with helipads.

More shots of subs here...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Race time

Guess what time it is: It is race time. Not just any race! This week marks the beginning of the most interesting race in 2012: The Flying Fizz Cup 2012.
Race me?
It is - in my humble opinion - the most competitive race in the most interesting of virtual boats available in Second Life. Yes, the boat in the back is pretty, and yes it sails pretty well. The Fizz however, sails like a real boat and more importantly: It gives you the controls and the hazards of a real boat.
Crossing the Blake with Titiro
Sailshape, telltales, windicator, compass, currents, waves, wind, crewed trimming, gusts, balancing, capsizes, nosedives, shifts and local variations... So get ur behind on the move to Tradewinds this weekend and experience virtual sailboat racing at its best.

PS: The shot above is from a lovely day at sea with Titiro. Here's a shot from one early morning last year, right before the Fizz Cup 2011 started. I kinda like how that shot captures the quietness before the storm.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sailing the Zero

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sail the SHA: Type Zero. While Tradewinds is in complete shadow from airships and balloons, I quickly launched the Type Zero, set sails and headed south to get some time alone with the sun, the sea and the boat.
Heading south
The first Type Zero I saw was black. Since it doesn't come in pink, I thought I'd try it in white. Regardless of the colour the good news are: It sails pretty well. The boat works great for cruising. It is easy to handle, reacts as expected, and everything seems to work. Speed seems ok, the healing is good, and the wake is very good. There is even a trimmable spinnaker with a pole.
Checking out the spin
The sailing sound is nice, though it is not very dynamic. This would be greatly improved by using an upgraded BWind sail engine. The older version works quite well, but it misses out on a few features.m Oh, and there is a fun thing about the hatch. It has a sound kinda like a door in a scifi movie, or one of those 1st person shooters...

There are a few glitches in the constructon too. I've already mentioned those, so no need to repeat. However, it seems the jib has already been resized to look like a more normal jib. There are other issues, if this is to become a top contender on the sail simulator market: Sails are flat and they don't luff. This is also fixed by using an updated BWind sail engine.
Close up
I also noted the boat has autogybe. This can be handy for a beginner, but in a race it can be a problem to have unwanted gybes. The spinnaker pole didn't switch side, when I gybed, but that's not too hard to fix. On this close up you can also see another detail: I need a tiller extension, or another steering pose. It looks like I am steering with my foot here...
Looking for an island
Looking up, I kinda miss a graphical feedback on wind direction and trim; Get rid of that ugly floating text with trim, heading and wind. Perhaps the most obvious miss in the sails is the non existing battens, but that's really really easy to fix. Really. Of course I'd also love to be able to balance the boat. It is wide enough, so it makes sense, and it is perfectly possible.
Safe sailing
In the department of nitty gritty there are other things such as sheets, downhauls, kickers and stuff, but lets forget those for the time being; Overall, the boat is a nice build, she sails nice and the feel is good. I had a great time sailing it. This boat will certainly take you and a friend safely to the virtual islands anywhere in the virtual seas, and that's really not too bad for a first build.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Smooth flying

Yesterday the sailing was bad. Still not sure what went wrong, but just a few hours later, the flying was very mooth, and somehow... it was related to the Fizz Cup too...
Smooth flying
So, how did I end up in a hot air balloon, you might ask... Easy enough: At Tradewinds most people  share an interest for building and sailing boats. Turns out Liv, the commodore, has a soft spot for (identified) flying objects. Aka planes and airships.
Balloon show at Tradewinds
This is probably how it came to be that after the live-aboard boat show, there is an airship show going on. The shot above is me heating up the balloon before "going to sea" in it. Never did this in RL, so I am on uncharted grounds here.
Ready for take off
So, - ready for takeoff? Let's see what this balloon can do. Push the pgup key, and the burner bursts into a roaring flame right above my head. I quickly shut it down and the balloon silently lifts and begins to drift eastward towards the light house. This is nice, but uhm... where's the controls?
Phew; The winds kinda blew me right south off light house. Good. Now, - never mind the controls. What comes up must go down, and this thing is no exception. If I wanted to spend the night sitting on that yellow buoy I could probably have done that, but I decided to start the burner again... 
Reckognize this?
Perhaps I burned a little too much fuel here, cause the balloon went up pretty fast and the next thing I looked at was this ugly bugger parked over the clubhouse. Anyone reckognize it? Luckily the wind was blowing me away from the beast...
A much better view
Ahh... much better... I wonder if I can hit the island out there... if not, I can always use a parachute. If I can find it in my backpack. Parachuting is fun, but this post here is about the airships... Let's get back to the show... Err... arrow keys don't work. Oh how weird: Typing help seemed to actually help. There is a hud with buttons for controlling the balloon. 
Steering west
This is too easy... I can just click west, and the balloon flies westward... here we are approaching the clubhouse again. Note the other (dark) balloon in the back. Ok, so we have a hefty controllable seabreeze at Tradewinds, hehe.
More balloons in the back
There's loads of airships at Tradewinds. Big, small, cute, ugly... any shape and form. Some are realistic, and others are completely cartoonic. Don't miss the show. It runs throughout November. And don't miss the Fizz Cup 2012 starting this weekend. Didn't file this under unboatly, because an airship is a ship, so this is a boatshow... with a twist.

Many more details on Tradewinds website

Monday, November 12, 2012

Waiting for wind

There is always someone out there somewhere... waiting for wind... preparing for the FizzCup 2012.
Training for the FizzCup 2012
Sadly my computer refused to work properly today, so this shot is all I got from the training session. That's virtual life. Still, - was great to be out sailing the Fizz.

Here's a few shots from the FizzCup 2011.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yet another new boat

It was a beautiful morning at Tradewinds YC. I went for a walk at the piers, when something caught my attention. It was... a sound. A beautiful mooring sound. You know... those splashy smacky sounds  when small waves hit a hull. Just wonderful. Strange how so few boats have a mooring sound.
A beautiful morning at Tradewinds YC
So where is it? Right behind me is my all time favourite, The Flying Fizz. It is probably still the reference for virtual sailing in SL. Further behind me to the left is the Oceanic, and that other one is the beautiful Ktaba 20. I hear there is an update lurking somewhere in the shadows of the virtual oceans...
The Sha: Type Zero
So here it is. It is called the Sha: Type Zero. It is a little different from most modern boats; It has low sides. (What's the english term?). Most modern boats have incredibly high sides to make room for accommodation. This one does away with that, and that makes it look like a lean sailing machine. My first thought was Kjaerulff's Dynamic 35. (Is there an english site somewhere?).
Modern shape
Seen from the top, the type Zero reveals a pretty modern shape. Kinda like a sized down VO65 or something. The mast is suitably tall, but strangely it only features one set of spreaders. A modern 33 footer with 12 meters of mast would probably have two sets. Not a big issue; Many popular RL ten meters have only one set anyways.
The features? I haven't sailed it yet, but it comes with a BWind sail engine; Very keelerish, and probably really good for this type of boat. Other features? I found this sign here on the pier next to the boat. Looks like a good daycruiser with room for a couple of friends.
Keel design of the 70ies
Here's another feature: The keel design looks a littlebit antique. Kinda like something from the 70-ies or sum-ding. How can that be a feature? From my adventure with the Nautilus I learned that the Blake Sea is really shallow. This design is able to sail almost anywhere in the virtual waters without running aground.
A peek inside
Despite the low cabin, there is actually something inside the boat. A couple of berths and two cupboards; Nicely designed too. Same style as the cockpit seats, and they are very comfy; Almost like a couch. Never seen this on a real boat, but it is a great idea, though perhaps not very suited for racing. Another cruising gadget is the instrument on the starboard side of the cockpit. It's not a compas, nor is it  a log or GPS. Instead, it is a Kenwood CD player. I suppose I could connect my iPod to the USB port, but it will be flooded first time a wave hits the bow.

There's a couple of other things... the boom looks a little long, the jib is designed as a storm-jib; Oh, and the ladder seems to be permanently in the water. Another thing is the extra set of winches mounted on the fore deck. However, this looks like a pretty decent build, and for a first - as the sign claims... Woots to the builder Shaaun Tamerlane. Shaaun, if you read this, I hope you'll let me sail her sometime. Peace out...