Monday, September 30, 2013

Puerto De Malla

I better rush with some fresh images from Puerto De Malla. Rush while it is still there, hehe. Someone mentioned yet another possible rebuild coming up, but I hope it is a false alarm. I honestly think it is quite nice as it is. I walked around for like half an hour and I didn't find any plywood at all.
The fountain and central square
Here's that fountain I mentioned in my previous post. I suppose this is kinda the central town square, whereas the church has moved a little bit into the background. There's a coffee shop to the left and all sorts of boatly shops to the right. In the back there are stairs up to the church and more little shops.
From across
This shot is from across the harbour. It's pretty pittoresque, oui? It shows the beautiful skyline, if that's the word for an old city like this. Dunno. There's also a few boats on the left. Bandits mostly. On the right there's a handful of Nacras getting ready for action. (Behind the tug). The smaller sails are Lasers.
The church
Here's the church. Not an easy picture to take form a tiny helicopter, but I think it turned out pretty good. Sadly, there's nothing inside the church at the moment, so in that respect Plywood City 2.0 was better. In 2.0 the church had a beautiful and authentic inside, complete with those coloured glass windows and all. Loads of details and way bigger than this little chapel
Bandit 50
Enough of that culture talk. Let's get back to the boat stuff. Here's me in a Bandit 50 equipped for cruising in the tropics. Bimini and all. There are loads of nice details on this boat, so I'll probably have to do a separate post on that. Now you've seen it. I kinda like this pic. It's like right out of a RL summercruise.
Zodiacs and VOs
But there are other boats to sail. In the back there's a couple of VO65s. Amazing boats if you ask me. Sail like a dream even though they're rather big. Not much accommodation below deck though, so if you are shooting for a cruise, the Bandit 50 is your weapon of choice. Right behind me, down the stairs, there's a couple of zodiacs. Different styles and colours.
Having a look at the sea
So let's get out there and have a look at the surrounding sea. I picked this Zodiac, because I've never seen a zodiac with wood fitted here and there where there's a piece of "deck" that needs covering. It's a nice touch though. Makes it feel a bit more luxury. Anyway, Puerto De Malla is worth a visit. Go there while you can. It's in Tschotcke.

Another sub at Tradewinds

While they discuss if, when and where to have WW2-combats in the Blake Sea, we tend to see more and more warships just outside the Blake. Perhaps it is because the Blake is really too shallow for big ships. Anyway. This time I was just in for a relaxing sail at Tradewinds, when I heard this strange bubbly sound, and no... it was not a busload of champagne. I turned around and saw this.
A Japanese sub at Tradewinds
I really wanted to turn back and look at the beautiful Ernestina, but then something happened. A hatch opened and a plane emerged. I never knew they had planes on submarines!? Anyway, it's the plane that makes me think it is WW2. It really looks like a WW2 movie kinda plane. After a few minutes the plane took off, and the sub seemed to be unmanned. Here's a shot of the "hangar".
A sub with a hangar
It doesn't look much like a landing strip to me. I wonder if they just ditched the plane after it did - whatever it was supposed to do - recon or something. Dunno. It seems like a lot of effort. Bringing a plane on a sub where they could have had loads more torpedoes. It must have had some kind of  purpose.
Peace restored
I hadn't looked at it for more than half a minute before it started to dive. I was a little surprised, because the crew had taken off in the plane. I suppose there was a timer that made it disappear after launch. Whatever. I just stood there and enjoyed watching the sub disappear. Peace restored. Ernestina in the back btw, but now I felt more like going for a short sail. Get the ugly warship out of my head.

Here's more virtual warships. Brrr.

Friday, September 27, 2013

New sailors on board

There are only a few things as rewarding as taking new sailors out to sea. Their excitement is almost intoxicating. So many questions: Yes, you need to trim it. Yes, it heels over. No, it won't turn upside down. There's also the sights: The sunset, the lighthouses and the secret islands. After an exciting week of AC finals, this was total relaxation. No-one said a word about AC. These guys simply wanted to try sailing.
Ready for takeoff at Tradewinds
I rezzed my latest cruiser, the delicious Cafe Del Mar from the Mesh Shop, and we were ready for take off. We set sail and headed south. First there was complete silence. Then we entered the Blake Sea and had nothing but water around us, and that's when then the questions came. Are there races? Oh yes indeed. Is this a racer? Nope. Would you go for a weekend in this? Absolutely, but I probably would not cross the pond. This is not a foul weather boat. It's more like a sportscar with a soft top. Not meant for racing, not meant for bad weather. Cruising is the word. A week in the Aegean Sea would be perfect.
Rounding the Fastnet Rock again
Then the Fastnet Rock appeared. Silence again. A fighter jet flew by, and that got one of my passengers so excited he fell overboard. The two girls yelled "Man over board"; Sails down and he caught up. More questions: Is it easy to control? I think so, yes, but there's an engine too. I fired up the engine, and the roar made big smiles appear. We motered around Fastnet, and then we set sails again and headed back home. At the Tradewinds pier my new friends smiled and said thanx for taking us out. I am pretty sure we'll see the in a boat of their own sometime soon...

There are loads of cruisers available beside the Cafe Del Mar. There's the Tetra 35, the Oceanic, the Schouw and many more. And for racers there's always the Fizz, the Laser, the VO65 and let's not forget the Q2m.

PS: Here's a link to that M24 Orca mentions in the comment. Thanx Orcs.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Unreal win in AC

After starring down the barrel of defeat for a full week, Team Oracle USA took back control and won the Americas Cup in probably one of the most amazing comebacks I've ever seen. The final race wasn't even that exciting. The defender was just faster. At Tradewinds YC we set up a big screen and had a get together to watch the final encounter. Here we are, fourteen of us at the round table at Tradewinds:
Big screen for the final encounter
Team ENLZ won the start, so hopes were high. They stayed ahead all the way to the second mark where Team OUSA went for a split. I cannot believe Team ENLZ allowed that, but the fact is that ENZL failed to cover on the upwind leg. The result was - obviously - that Team OUSA had clean air, and they simply passed Team ENZL on pure boatspeed. At mark three it was all over for Team ENLZ. They were trailing by almost 500 meters.
Laugh, cry or sail the Zen Ten
So, the Americans won the race comfortably. What an unreal comeback. What an amazing win. Big congrats to Team OUSA. To be honest I was cheering for Team ENZL. Not that I like them more. Ok, Dean Barker is maybe more my cup of tea, but that's beside the point. Somehow I always felt they needed the support. Underdogs as they were with only one boat and way less billions to spend on development. The AC has always been about money, and the 34th AC was no exception. Besides, Team OUSA hasn't excactly behaved well, but you gotta hand it to them. They've worked hard and sailed well these past few days.
Zen Ten and a smile after all
Not that I care much about the result. These races have been unreal in so many ways. It's so far away from ordinary sailing anyway, but Larry Ellisons vision of an exciting race holds true. This has been more exciting than any other AC. At least the ones I've watched or heard of. What's more important is that Larry has come down from his tower and showed us he's got his priorities straight. How is that? Apparently he cancelled his own key note at some inferior database event, because sailing was more important. I like that. A lot. Congratulations to Jimmy, Larry and the team. What an unreal comeback.

History of the Blake Sea

To me the Blake Sea was always there. When I discovered virtual sailing in SL, it was already a fact of virtual life. A fantastic fact of virtual life. Much later I discovered that the Blake Sea had come to exist through the actions of certain individuals. Fantastic actions really.
The Blake Sea
One of the persons deeply involved in the creation of the Blake Sea is Mr. MarkTwain White. He did a video about the beginnings of sailing in SL. As far as I know, it hasn't been promoted much. I found it by accident. After watching it, I asked Mr. MarkTwain White about part two, and there will be a part two. However, the release date is unknown as of now.

Recently there's been a hefty debate over the use of the Blake Sea. I haven't really had the energy to follow that debate closely, but it's about warships and combat zones and stuff. When I received a note from MTW that the story of the Blake Sea is now available my curiousity demanded I read it right away. It is available on a blog called Interesting read. It is - of course - written by MTW aka Mr. MarkTwain.

PS: Here's another video from way back when the Blake Sea opened...

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?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Plywood Marina 3.0

Here's an update on Plywood City and Plywood Marina, remember? It all began so well, but then it came to a sudden halt. Now, there's an entirely new Plywood Marina, and this time it looks like they got it right. At least there's almost no Plywood left...
Here's a view along the waterfront inside the Marina. Left to right it's Ana, me, Dutch and Rituals. Those three are the architects, builders, carpenters and painters of this new place, and now it even has a name: Puerto De Malla. Have fun translating that, hehe. (It's only around 90% true according to Ana).
The shops are still empty, but the surroundings look pretty much done... and pretty too. I'd love to sit and have an espresso and a chocolate chip cookie in this little corner. There's a beautiful fountain nearby, and its sprinkling sound mixes up with the heavy waves hitting the shore.
Coffeeshop view
Here's the view from the coffeshop. Like I said - it's not quite finished. You can walk most of the stairs, but it's impossible to sit on those chairs. There's no sitting while having the coffee you cannot yet order, teehee. But the view... it's spectacular, wouldn't you agree?
Outside in
From the coffeeshop you have the inside out view. The above shot is from the outside in. Just imagine having a Cup, the whole marina filled with boats and sails and flags and people. Not that it's empty by now. There's Lasers, Nacras, Bandits and on the right side of the shot above there's a handfull of VO65s.
This one in particular caught my eye. Is it the colour? No. Is it the backstays? No... and btw there aren't any soft shackles. It's the blocks. Check them out... The boat is pink, and the wheels in the blocks are - can you guess it - pink - wooohooo. Just how many boats have that feature? I've never seen it before.
Checkout from Puerto De Malla
So where are we after all? Dunno... Somewhere in the Mediterranean? Modern boats, ancient castle, palms and coffeeshops... Marseille or something. Perhaps even further south. Regardless, it has the look and ambiance of a place I wanna be. Can't wait till the opening ceremony... I mean, there will be an opening ceremony, right?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Catfight improving

The AC circus isn't completely stranded. Just as we thought it was game over for Team USA it seems they are actually fighting back. Those last few races were marginally more interesting than the first handfull or so. It is now almost a catfight as those speakers so love to say... There is hope that we will see good sailing in the last few races. A Kiwi beating an Aussie in the US.
AC72 stranded somewhere
Good for them. Good for sailing I suppose. However, we still need to see how those AC72 make sailing more interesting. They do alot of the opposite. So far the balance is... hmmm...

Yes, there is a "fantastic sprint" to the first mark. Oh well, to have that sprint you need a halfwind start, and that pretty much ruins the prestart fight. Anyway, they can't really do anything clever in the prestart with those monsters. They turn too slow. There's two downwinds and only one upwind. But the interesting stuff happens on the upwind *). The boats are fast. But they are still slo-mo compared to cars. The boats can capsize. But that does not make the sailing interesting... it is like having a flat tyre in Le Mans. There is a fantastic sprint to the finishline. But it is designed so the boats won't cover or dirtwind each other. There are boundaries on the course to take into account. But that really narrows down the tactical options for the teams. Besides, they can only just reach max speed before the have to tack again. Hmm... Maybe, just maybe the racing would have been more interesting with short up/downs in Melges 24, but then again ... that would look like a real boat race. Who needs that?

*) I know. Great sailors also race downwind. In most of AC races so far it's been the upwind leg that made the difference.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Never tack first

The AC circus is on, and it is - surprisingly - fun to watch. The TV production is pretty good. The speak is - hmm - working hard to make sailing understandable for the masses, except when they confuse the boats. The boats themselves are spectacular, but the sailing itself is rather mediocre. After seven races it seems Team NZL is a bit faster and smarter. Not that they need to be. Here's a little something from race five to illustrate it:
Never tack first
It's in every book about tactics. The full title would be "Never tack first when you round the downwind mark first". The graphics shows what happened in race five, but it shows only half the problems. Yellow is clear ahead and tacks right after the mark. This maneuver has the following consequences:
  1. Yellow looses speed and distance to Blue.
  2. Yellow looses the opportunity to cover Blue.
  3. Yellow allows Blue to choose his own route upwind.
Bad idea. Always watch the follower, then make your move. Most racers learn this before they leave the Opti. The crazy thing is - Team USA was well aware of the cost of that extra turn as they got the lead from forcing Team NZL to do it in race one. To make matters worse Spithill and co even tacked into a massive current running against them? There's no way this makes sense. I mean, they are pros. Right? They simply need to up their game or it is game over for Spithill and co.  

After race five Team USA pulled the "Go easy on us"-card, postponing race six. And for good reasons. They've spent way too much time already watching Barker and Co's behind. Effectively, this move gave Team USA an extra day of hard work, whereas Team NZL got a day of rest. Now, after two more races, - I dunno. Which was better?

Then what? They could start replacing people on key posts on board; That doesn't seem to help a lot either. Question is: Can they make a new team work on such short notice?

Hmm. Then there's boat number two. I am guessing they'll save boat number two for desperate times. Anytime soon now.

Finally there's the option described over at improper course and it is hilarious. Go there and have a laugh. Once done with that, there's Buff Staysail reporting over at Captain JP's. Always worth a read. The drinking game mentioned over there is absolutely deadly.

Perhaps we could help those guys a bit by assembling a handfull of tactical NOTs. Not that tactics seem to mean a lot in these boats. Still, feel free to fire away in the comments...

Thursday, September 12, 2013


So I was sitting at the dock watching the sunup at Tradewinds... It was early - way too early - and I was kinda sleepy. I must have blinked or dozed off... cause all of a sudden there was a ship out there. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like it came out of nowhere.
Not a bad way to start the day, huh?
And it wasn't just any ship. This was a rather big sailboat. A yacht actually. Couldn't really figure out what it was. Needed to get closer. I launched my zodiac and sailed a bit north to hide behind the island. After a few minutes I landed out there and climbed up the island to see this:
It's still there...
Now that looks like a J-class to me. It seems there's noone around. The island is deserted and the boat looks deserted too. Let's see if I can sneak down the right side of the island and get a better shot from behind a tree or something... 
Definately a J-class yacht
Yay! It's definately a J-class. Doesn't look like the ones we already know. The woodwork is beautiful, and look at all those ropes. This has got to be a new mesh J-class. Noone around? I'll get out there and have a closer look:
I barely managed to get this shot. I right clicked and got the name of the builder. Not unknown. Not unknown at all. Then it poofed. No warning or anything. Sometimes SL works in mysterious ways, but who cares as long as this boat comes to life. What a boat. Phew. 

Plywood City

Here's a followup on Plywood City. These shots are a few days old, but they serve to document the process. I'd expect it looks way better today. This first shot was taken from the churchbell tower.
View from the Churchbell tower
Obviously, buildings begin to look like real buildings. There's all sorts of details still waiting to be 3D-ed. Like that lion there in the front. That tallship in the back has changed colour too, but parts of the Marina is still plywood.
The Marina
Here's a view from the Marina towards the city. It is definately not only taking shape but also taking colour. I like this picture. It's so surrealistic the way it is blending mockup and reality. I'm unable to remember the names of all the people there, but I see Dutch and Ana on the left. Me in the middle.
Trees too
There are trees too. This is magic to the ambience of a city square in RL. It has the same effect in SL. What's needed is maybe a bit of flowers hanging from the windows and stuff. Possibly also some kinda of road-surface different from plywood, but these things take time. It still looks exciting.

Oh... I just heard from Dutch, one of the builders, that Plywood City has been leveled to the ground and will be rebuilt due to "issues".

Friday, September 6, 2013

Stripped or Dux?

I was in "Plywood City" to follow up on the construction work. First I took a couple of pictures of the buildings, and then I went down the marina to get a few boatly shots of those beautiful VO65ers. Now that I look at the pics I notice a tiny little detail. It's something that tells me, the builder knows his stuff. Sailing stuff.
Those beautiful VO65ers in "Plywood Marina"
Do you see it? Hardly. The VO65ers are built with an extreme attention to detail, - as is the Laser, but this little detail is so amazingly sailgeeky, I just gotta blog it. Here it it is again, this time a bit closer... Mind you, I didn't take these pictures to show that particular feature.
Look at the ropes
Now do you see it? There's a hint in the title of this post. Those modern ropes are so strong they are replacing wires. Ropes may not be as long-term durable, but they are stronger and they are way easier to work with - plus they weigh less. That's pretty important. Especially when we're dealing with "stuff" that goes up the mast. (Hint, hint).
Last chance to zoom in and see it! They're either stripped or they're Dynex Dux, I really cannot tell. I'd suspect Dynex Dux. What do you think they are? Apart from very well made that is, hehe. Ok, so it's the back stays. There you have it. I wonder if this is a new feature of the VO65 or if it is really there on my old one. Can't believe I never saw this before. Next time I sail it, I'll look for soft shackles. I bet it hasn't got that. Yet.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A new marina

They're building a completely new city with a marina. Dutch, Ana and possibly a few more ppl. I never saw it done like this before, but it's great fun. You can follow the process from start to end. It looks very much like those mockups you'd do in RL. Ever seen a city in plywood?
Welcome to Plywood City
You have now. There's a church in the middle, a marina top right and there's canals, bridges and small coffeeshops along the canals. It's kinda like a cross between Paris, Amsterdam and Venice. It's gonna be very nice, once it is finished.

To make this post just a little bit boatly: Here's a view from the Marina side. See? It's a complete plywood mockup. It even has plywood boats with plywood masts and plywood furling jibs. How about that, hehe.
Plywood Marina
Traditionally plywood has been used by boatbuilders - mostly for the inside structures because it is strong and it doesn't change shape if soaked in water. Some boats also have plywood hulls. The Boheme 10m is one such example, but I guess the most known plywood boat would be the Optimist.
I am sure there's more plywood dingies out there... How about the Mirror? Ahh, and the Olympic Star. It has the shape of a (once) plywood construction. Any others?
See the sights
Here's me in the Plywood City central square. Not much to see yet. No crepe shops, no cafes, no bars, but at least you can see bits of a (plywood) tallship in the back. These pictures are a week old or so. I know that - right now - the city is being textured with "roadpaint", "wallpaint", "roofpaint", "tallship-paint" and much more while trees are being planted and shops decorated.
Real boats in Plywood Marina
In the end it will be a fantastic place with lots of living things. Bridges that open so that boats can pass. Churchbells announcing the sunset. Bikinishops and shoeshops and I suspect there will be a boatshop or two. Here's a small taste of the skyline as seen from another angle in the Marina. Apart from the missing texture the only complaint I can think of is that carrier in the back. It's Ana and me talking boats here. Gosh, I wish I had time to build. It looks like so much fun.

Here's more virtual Marina shots. Here's even more... (and more).

Don't miss Orcsies response post on the matter of plywood.