Thursday, November 7, 2013

The lighthouse post

There are so many lighthouses in this virtual world. Way too many. Not that I don't like them, but some places they're flocking. Some of them are beautiful in their own respect, some are beautiful replicas of real world lighthouses, and some are just plain ugly. This first example is from Tradewinds, Dex, where the lighthouse population has exploded lately.
Tradewinds, Dex
I quite like the Tradewinds lighthouse. Someone told me it's a replica of a real world lighthouse. I think it's in the US. It makes sense to have a lighthouse just there, because this is the first piece of land that sticks out in the ocean when you approach from south or west. I suppose there is no need for a sector light here, so it is ok to just blink red. Those other two lighthouses, they're just clutter. And the little yellow buoy there? The buoys deserve a separate post. There's no firing range there. No fishfarm and no cable or other submerged equipment.
South of Tradewinds, across Siracusa, there is the Wicktro lighhouse. Again, beautifully built, and again it makes sense, because it marks the north end of an island in the middle of the ocean. No need for sector lights here either. It could make sense to have sectors indicating where there's deep enough for a bulk carrier. Also, there is a no go zone to the east. Again there's a strange buoy in the picture. IALA says this is a traffic separation buoy, but there is no channel markers, so what's it doing here?
This one is really pretty. It's at NYC, Nantucket Yacht Club. It could have sectored light because there are directions from which it should not be approached. For instance you cannot sail to the north-west of this lighthouse. Note the entrance to the marina has red and green lights. Europeans should be aware that those lights are reversed in the american speaking parts of the world, and that includes the virtual marina here. Red to starboard for inbounds!!
Crows Nest
In the middle of the Blake Sea we have the famous Fastnet Rock replica: Crows Nest. No further introduction needed. I have no RL charts with that lighthouse, so I dunno if it is all white or if it has sectors. However, the Blake Sea is so shallow it makes sense to have sectors indicating heavy ship routes. 
Half Hitch
Now it gets interesting. This here is Half Hitch, and it is placed in the middle of an entrance to another ocean - or where the Blake Sea connects to another ocean. Loads of islands and loads of nogo places that are rather unlit at night. Sector lights would make so much sense here.
South of Half Hitch we have Barbarossa, - also located in the connection of those same two oceans. As you can see, there's more land further south, but there's also land to the west, north-west, north-east, east, south-west, south-west to south and due south. This lighthouse should have been way bigger and with a handfull of sectors. That would have made it fun to do nightsailing in this area. Well, except that the pier in the front here is not marked in any way. Brrr. Those small buoys also need some work.
Schooner Run, side view
The last one that I've chosen for this small and in no way complete lighthouse tour is the one in Schooner Run. There are many nice lighthouses in the North Sea too. In this post here you can see the lighthouse of Mango Marina. Back to Schooner Run. It is so beautifully placed in the middle of loads of islands and small reefs. This time of year the trees are in all the colours of the fall. (It really deserves a full screen view). Sectors might make sense here too, to guide traffic from hitting hidden rocks and stuff. Here's a shot from the map to illustrate how this lighthouse is placed.
Schooner Run, top view
So what the h... is she talking about? Sector lights and all? I assume old salts will know, but perhaps a shot from a real chart will make it all make sense. This next one is from Copenhagen. I don't suppose I need to explain sector lights, do I? It is pretty obvious what they are, right? The yellow cones mark the safe waters between those major lights there. So bulk carriers and Russian missile cruisers can get in and out without running aground. 
Copenhagen, Denmark, in a parallel universe
Now, imagine being out the in the dark night. You can sail for hours having just one light ahead of you, or nothing at all. Approaching a small marina there would be like one small light to look for. Approaching a major harbour there are thousands of lights. The sky is lit as if in a disco. Small lights, big lights. Red, yellow, green all blinking differently. It's truly an amazing view, and it can be quite overwhelming to navigate. I mean, you gotta find the right yellow light to steer after. And trust your instincts cause you cannot see what's in the water until you're very close.
Svaneke, Bornholm
Here's a more simple example: Approaching Svaneke, a little harbour on the cliffy island of Bornholm. It's south of Sweden, in the Baltic. You come in from the north-east, stay in the yellow zone, until those two reds are aligned, then you turn to starboard and head for the harbour keeping the reds aligned and you are safe. If you googlemap it, you'll see those cliffs outside the harbour. This more simple but still very realistic scenario would easily fit into the virtual world.

Now, I realize the virtual world will need some sort of organisation to set all this up, and we probably - probably - don't have a harbour with the complexity of a real harbour, but still... isn't this just the perfect  job for the SL coast guard to set up the navigational aids along the virtual shores? Those buoys and lighthouses, they could need some work. Having good markers and lighthouses would certainly make it even more fun to sail the virtual seas.


  1. I must agree with you on all but the problem can be (my guess!) that the buoys where placed by LL department and we know how hard it can be to speak with them and probably Sl cost guard willl not be able to work on Ll water at all!
    Now i think that much more useful will be to educate land owners on mainland near the coast to not place sec orbs and much less to make land private, it is terrible the need to use a ban line hud when we travel from our house on the blake sea to the one we have on nautilius (well at least we can get to any of our homes, even Corsica or Satori ones by boat, we always found a way to avoid those pesky ban lines or radar orbs) but how wonderful would be to have, not only the blake sea, but all mainland connected to it fully sailing anywhere!

  2. Aaaaaw, Nudel, that's a nice dream but a dream nevertheless. Kinda unrealistic. The whole business model of SL is contrary to the organisation of a gridwide traffic guidance system.

    - LL themself are computer geeks, not sailors.

    - Most land is privately owned and you can't tell anyone what kind of lighthouse they must put on the land or forbid them to rez lighthouses at all.

    - SL isn't a country!

    - SL avies are silly toons, even the "sailors" refuse to spend any thoughts on serious issues.

  3. I know it's probably an impossible dream. Nevertheless... There are public Linden waters under Linden control. Then there's the Blake Sea with its steering group. Finally there's the North Sea, which is kind of a privately funded playground as far as I know. Sailors Cove should also be able to have good navigation marks, no?

  4. If noone dreamt impossible dreams, we'd still be in the stone age...
    - Netrom

  5. Thank you Noodles for reviving a great topic!

    Several of the lighthouses you mentioned were built or inspired by RJ Kikuchiyo. RJ is passionate about lighthouses in RL and SL, and his accurate recreations of these historic fixed beacons adorn the Second Life waterways across the grid. Personally, I think his work is pretty breathtaking. :-)

    RJ even took the time and effort to give a series of weekly lectures on RL/SL Lights in Sailors Cove a few years ago.

    Noodles brought up a second, related topic: The buoys in SL. I completely agree that this is an issue, and I wrote an article four years ago that hit the same points you are making. There was a forum discussion on the topic too.

    Many months later I followed up with SLCG who took on the project. They supposedly were testing in Blake a version of the scripted buoys previously discussed. Something fell through the cracks after that, but it doesn't mean the idea was bad or could not be adopted. I think there is general agreement on the value of such an ATON system in SL, and it just takes our consensus and effort to make it happen. (!)


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