Thursday, December 4, 2014

There is a big rock here!

Transcript: The helmsman said "Check this out". Then someone climbed up to windward and said "What is it"? Then silence and then booom. Then someone climbed back down and looked to leeward: "There's a big rock here.
I'd say game over. Insert coin.
OMG what a nightmare. They won't forget that crash the first few days. Probably never. Also they'll probably never again forget to zoom in and check the course on the chart. Have a look at Captain JP's experience with electronic charts.

So it was visible after all. I guess a simple lookout with binoculars could have saved them. Pretty low tech standard equipment when I go night-sailing. Even works without batteries.

Video of the crash here. Hefty stuff that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Major who?

Sailing Anarchy has received a letter about the Team Vestas Incident. It says what everyone else has refrained from saying till now: It was a fuck-up of the highest magnitude.
Major F*ckup
Read about it here: Letter to Saling Anarchy.

Daylight? Currently the sun sets at 1837 near Mauritius. They reported the crash at 1510UTC. As far as I can figure, Mauritius is UTC+4. Assuming they didn't report the crash immediately, they would have crashed less than a half hour after sunset. Meaning: It wasn't even dark. Scroll down for details and photos.

So we're looking at a pretty well known set of islands. It's around sunset. There is a lighthouse. There are houses and trees. Obviously the navigation failed somehow. The lookout also failed. How about the standard precaution when sailing in unknown waters: Depth alert!?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Team Vestas grounded

Ok, explain me this: You start by taking a state of the art racing yacht. It might have had issues with assembly quality at first, but it is state of the art.
The VO65
Then you spend millions on sails and hire top notch sailors from all over the world. Back it all up with a global player in the wind industry and they follow a course like this:
Looking for an island to hit
It does not look like a GPS defect. It looks like I dunno what. Look at it! Why didn't the alarm bell ring? They aren't even close to missing it. They are hitting it head on ending up like this:
I mean really. Really really. It is not like the island is secret base or unknown land or anything...
A well known island
It's Cargados Carajos. Named in 1506. Sixteen islands and numerous rocks at surface level. It's been there for ages. This is so embarrassing. So WTF happened?

Update 1: I've hit a rock a couple of times. Holiday sailing going at slow speed while looking to drop the anchor. It is not a nice experience. However, these guys were doing 19 knots at night in the middle of nowhere. OMG it must have been discomforting to say the least.
Just where is it?
Looks like they hit something east of Coco Island. Wikipedia puts that at 16° 50′ 0″ S, 59° 30′ 0″ E. Google maps shows the excact spot. Some say that older texts indicate these islands are about three miles further south-west. It is hard to imagine a state of the art racing machine sailing with old charts, no?

Update 2: This is a more detailed viev of just what they hit:
Apparently there's a population there. Up north. Cruisers occasionally come to visit, and OMG there's even supposed to be a lighthouse on Ile du Sud; Very close to where they were grounded. I can't find a picture of Coco Island, but here's a shot of Ile Du Sud, where they are staying right now.
The barracks on Ile Du Sud
The lighthouse isn't very visible. Maybe it is not there anymore. BUT... Both the islands, the lighthouse and the reefs are on this screenshot from an electronic chart:
The lighthouse
Which means it has been charted accurately on modern navigation tools. Someone was there using electronic charts. So really... WTF happened here...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fizz Cup 2014

We saw some truely great racing in the North Sea this evening. Sixteen skippers signed up and thirteen showed. We were looking forward some busy times in the Fizz Cup team. I was on the RD boat, so here's a view from the rather chaotic prestart circus. That's excactly how it should be some 30 seconds before start: Chaotic.
The usual chaotic prestart 
During five fantastic races we had close to zero protests; None were filed, and I think there were only two or three incidents where someone found it neccessary to do a 720. There was some talk about someone hitting the RD boat, but I didn't see or hear it and I was the only one onboard.
The shot above shows the fleet en route - just crossing the startline in race one. It was a tight squeeze having 13 boats on a line as short as this. The line is supposed to be 1.5 times the total length of the fleet. This line was not; Amazingly, the expected barge-fest didn't happen. I suppose this has to do with the sailors knowing the risks of such a start. Another thing that made me wonder: Note the angle between the boats and the line. It looks like a portside start was favoured. Noone dared to take that chance.

Winner of the Fizz Cup 2014
After five super races we found a champion. She didn't have better peek boatspeed, but from my observations she was considerably better at keeping the boat at top speed. That's more of a boathandling thing. She'd be just a tiny bit faster at most maneuvers and especially after most maneuvers. Oh, and no capsizes even though there were mean gusts spread out over the course. Especially on the left side. That was more than enough. She won with a considerable margin. In fact she didn't even need to sail the last race. Congrats to Silber Sands. Very nice sailing. From my notes, I am pretty sure Armano is second and Ultramantra is third. Woots. What a great day out there... Thanx to Bea for organizing.
More on this very soon...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hudless J-class sailing

A few days back ZZ asked if the Maia can be sailed without a hud; I answered yes. Maia comes with a nice hud, but she also has key features known from RL such as compass, luffing and a windex. Here's a few images to support it.
Well trimmed sails won't flap
First up there's the flapping. Racers like telltails because they give an early warning of non-optimum airflow. However, it is perfectly possible to cruise and race without telltails. Just pick your course. Let out the sails till they flap, and then sheet in untill they stop flapping. The hud will help you find and stay at the point of optimum sailtrim - as will telltails; However, when you are cruising, no-one pays attention to that last half knot of speed. They care about the freshness of the lime in the GT and the spectacular view...
When you are at the wheel, there's a compass right in front of you. Look down a bit, and if you are one of those ppl with huge boobs, you're in trouble. Me, I can see the compass just fine, and yes it does rotate... or rather the compass stays still while the boat rotates. Oh, and note there's no cupholder, so you gotta steer with one hand while balancing your soft drink with the other. (or just don't drink and drive ;-) 
Windex tells you apparent wind direction
Up the mast is a pretty little helper-thingie. It is the well known windex that more and more boat builders now seem to include, and that i soooo nice. No more texthuds needed. Just look up and you know the wind. Just like a real boat. 
Heeling tells you windspeed
But it doesn't tell the windspeed, and there's no meter saying how strong the wind is. True. No need for a windspeed readout. That you must figure out yourself from the heel. Once the sails are trimmed, she will heel over according to windspeed. The boatspeed will - ofcourse - also be affected by this.
Downwind winging
That's really all there is to it. It helps a lot if you have a basic understanding of windangle versus sail angle. Downwind the wind hits the sails with a 90 degree angle and simply pushes the boat. Upwind it is a different story. Upwind the sails are almost aligned with the wind creating low pressure on the back of the sail essentially pulling the boat forwards. Just one more thing... the Maia is big. Craig spent some time making it sail like a big boat. She is not a dinghy. It will take a while to adjust course or turn her around.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sizzling Fizzes

There was a training session last nigth. Sizzling hot Fizzes all over the Fizzcup course including me. However, my sizzling stopped several times, as I was caught more than once in gusts I couldn't handle. In a Fizz that means getting in the drink. End of sizzle. I didn't have time to take pictures of me swimming, but luckily I wasn't the only thirsty sailor. Here's Bea climbing onboard again...
Bea in the drink
It is a lovely course with loads of local variations in wind, currents and waves, but yesterday I hated it. First of all I hate those waves. I still find it rather difficult to sail in - or is it on - virtual waves. I am pretty fast on flat water, but I haven't cracked the virtual waves in SL. Where I should be doing 6.5 knots upwind, half the time those idiotic waves pushed me off course, and since the wind was pretty strong that meant healing too much, which in turn made me loose speed.
The Fizzcup 2014 course
To makes things worse it has gusts and local variations. On the left side of the course there are strong winds. I saw that on the first beat, so I went there on the downwind... gennaker up and me and my Fizz made 12+ knots, wooohooo. But then came a gust, and as I tried to gybe I went swimming. Twice. Dunno how they did it, but some of the others seemed to be able to handle it. Maybe they waited a bit longer before they gybed. I probably gybed right under the red arrow. Don't. Unless you are really thirsty.
A much needed break
After a race like that a short break is needed. Loads of boat talk flying across. Just like RL. Love that. Also a few "excuse me's" were passed on. I for one decided to tack right after the start, but my tack was far from perfect so I rammed into a SB boat. Eeeks how embarrassing. Better keep a better lookout to windward next time.
Silber in perfect balance
Back on track. Here's Silber in perfect balance just a few minutes after a start. It seems Silber is always fast not matter what the conditions. Kinda like in RL. There are those who are known to fly in low winds. There are those who always win in waves and strong winds. Then there are those locals that read the currents better or know just the right track with better wind angles. Silber, she is just always up there. Gosh, I need more training time. Burt was fast too. He's in the blue boat right behind Silber.
Those gybing experts in action
On this next shot Silber has been overtaken. Happens a lot in these races. In one of the races last night we saw some very impressing close racing. The first upwind and the two next legs had three top contenders sailing within just a few boatlengths all the way. Now that's not just about trim and balance. When it is that close it is also about keeping your cool and knowing the rules of close combat. I don't have shots of that, because I was struggling with the aforementioned waves.
Close race
Here's a finishing photo from race 1 in which I didn't sail. That's how close it is most of the time. Last night we were just around 10 boats on the course. Next saturday there will be 16. Whooohooo. It's gonna be a busy time on the RD boat. Very busy. I can hardly wait... It's gonna be some Fizz Cup. This course here calls for expert sailing. I may have hated the course yesterday, but truth is I love it because it is so difficult.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's J-day again

Another giant sailing beauty hits the waters of SL...
It's Ktaba's latest creation: The Maia. Words cannot describe this fantastic piece of virtual sailing art. It has to be seen and experienced in action.
There's like a billion details. Wires, ropes, winches and what's nuts, and since it's wooden it creaks like an old tree bending in the wind.
It's a fantastic machine. It's a magnificent ride. Thanx Craig. This is your best so far.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Expert Fizzin

What a day for some Fizz cruising... Despite the palms this is somewhere in the North Sea. We're trying out the Fizz with most of the quirky details. Started in novice mode, stepped up a few times and here we're in expert mode, and we're doing great.
Rev and me in the North Sea
It usually takes a bit of practice sailing like this. Two people balancing the boat, trimming a sail each by watching the telltails, - and adjusting the power. The jib has sheets and traveller, whereas the main has sheet and outhaul. Some find it challenging and can't get enough. Others find it to way too complicated.
I like
If you are so lucky as to have someone on board that "gets it", it's the funride of the month. Sailing the Fizz in expert mode requires teamwork or you'll be in the drink before you can spell coordination. This ride was so much fun, and we only got dipped once. Thanx Rev. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

High speed tanning

So they're off in their VO65ers, and the press is all about how tough it is. Smooth sailing is also part of the game. In fact the tough sailing is what makes the smooth sailing so smooth, hehe. So here's an alternative way to make use of a VO65 racing machine...
High speed tanning
Bigger is so yesterday. Nowadays everything must be faster. A few days back I was introduced to high speed tanning in the latest from the Mesh Shop: The Tan65. In enjoyed every bit of it, even though we missed something to hold on to when heeling over.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


There's dingies, sailboats and superyachts, powerboats, coastguards, cruiseships, tankers, tugs, fishingboats, polar explorers, subs and surface warships, but this one is new to me: Firefighters.
Firefighters at sea
I suppose I should be glad I never saw one of these before.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bandit 55

Ahab took me sailing the other day. It was a nice quiet sail in his new Bandit 55. Made me think back a bit. It's the boat. It looks so very safe and seaworthy, but it also looks like something someone sent forward in time from somewhere in the 70-ies. And then there's the skipper. I mean who smokes a pipe nowadays. Uncles maybe? Or younger people but then it's "funny tobacco". I guess, since the boat is kinda 70-ish the pipe, the hat and probably also Ahab all fit in nicely, no?
Ahab, me and the Bandit 55
We hoisted the sails, and off we went. I was curious about all those instruments, but Ahab said he didn't need them. Too much stuff to keep track of or something. I like that. Sailing by intruments isn't really my thing either. I prefer to be able to feel the boat. However, he assured me they all work.
Up and away
The Bandit 55 sails really well. Too well probably. Not only does she look great, but the sailing sounds are nice too. However, it is the movements that makes the difference. Perhaps she moves a bit too much for a 55 footer. This type og boat really tend to feel heavy and slow. Not this one. It's definately alive. The speed is rather good too. Too good to be true actually. Yesterday, in a multiclass race, I was not only overtaken but overrun by one of these. Mind you, I was planing downwind in a Flying Fizz, which is kinda like a 14 footer from RL. Normally, You'd need a Moth to outrun one of those.
Looks great
I suppose the somewhat unreal sailing characteristics are good. It makes this boat fun to sail, whereas in RL it would be rather dull. As in booooring. So, it looks great, and it's fun to sail. Check out the picture above. Can you tell the difference between a real boat and this one? Someone mentioned that it floats a bit high on the water, but hey... all those modern thirty-something cruisers do that. How else could they fit standing height, bathroom and three separate cabins in there? On the picture above, we could be heading for a sailing holiday of two weeks around Gothenburg. This boat would be perfect for that, and I really do think it will compete with the Loonetta about those cruisers in SL.
Details, details, details...
While Ahab was busy sailing, I had a look around down below. The interior has loads of details, and they all make you feel warm and fuzzy. I noted this clock here... it was actually ticking, but it wasn't just making a silly sound. Oh no. It actually displayed the current time. So I looked around for other details and I immediately found one, that didn't work... And here's a little quiz...
The pots and pans quiz
Which of these pots and pans are hanging correctly? We've seen stuff actually hang vertically on other boats. There is something on the M24, but interiorwise I think ReneMarines Schockker is the only boat I've seen with actual "physics" applied to the lamp hanging in the cabin. These pots and pans were glued to the boat. Not a big deal, but after seeing the working clock I'll admit I was disappointed by this. The galley itself is very nice: I've seen apartments with kitchens smaller than that.
More details
There are other fine details on the Bandit55. Here's a photo of the top of the mast. It's really beginning to look like a boat up here. There's VHF antenna, windmeter, windex with trimflaps, navigation lights too... It looks like an anchor light, but we didn't turn it on, so I wouldn't know what colour(s) it has. With all these details, it's a bit strange there isn't a wind direction giver attached to the windmeter. 
Ofcourse the Bandit comes with a furling sails. The main folds into the boom, so not much to see there. Here's a shot of the jib furler. Looks pretty good, but now that we're looking at the bow: Where's the anchor? OMG! There's no anchor. A boat like this would have an anchor and a button. Two buttons. One for down and one for up. Isn't that what this boat is all about? Going somewhere, find that hidden blue lagoon and then having lunch with friends... maybe a quick dive, followed by a nap and then back home?
Back home
Back home we went. Ahab was eager to show off his maneuvering as the Bandit can be sailed with just one sail up. That's a really nice and fun feature, but no-one in his right mind would sail by wind while maneuvering a 55 footer like this in the marina. Better fire up those 55HP hidden in the belly of the beast and get moored safe and sound. And where's the bow thruster now that we're at it?
Made it
Anyway. We made it. Ahab knows his boat, and we arrived at the pier using just the jib. At just the right time he furled it back in and we stopped right off the pier. Very nice. I like this boat. It's a nice build. It kinda makes you want to stay onboard forever. It has that strange cozyness that makes u feel at home. So maybe it sails a little bit too good for it's size and weight, but isn't that just what we all seek in RL? That great and impossible compromise of a boat that sails great, yet is comfortable enough to go long distance cruising?

For casual sailing in SL this boat seems like the perfect choise, - provided ofcourse that you can accept the oldtimerish image that comes with it... There are only a few other boats providing this level of sailing and liveaboard feeling...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The sailing plywood box

A couple of days ago I met Petra; She's a sweet and very energetic person, and some of her energy went into building a little Optimist. It's cute. Very cute. Actually it's even more cute than the other Optimist, because this one is sized like the real boat. Oh and it is wooden. Until you paint it and you can't see the difference. The realistic size means the two of us will barely fit inside the boat.
Squeeze me, squeeze you
Perhaps it is also floating a bit high considering it has two grownups on board. The optimum weight for an opti sailor is probably less than 50 kilos. While Petra is kinda skinny, it is safe to assume that the two of us weigh in at a hundred or more. Still, - or maybe because it ignores the weight - it sails pretty nicely. I suppose smaller boats are less work to render, so "smooth sailing" comes easier. The graphics engine is simply more relaxed, so we get better FPS readings.
Smooth sailing
Petra said it is WIP, and it is... the sails are flat like a pancake. There's no sheet, no downhaul, no outhaul and no line to adjust the gaff tension. Also, the sail sorta flies magically by the mast. It isn't tied to mast or boom with those hundreds of annoying little reefknots that I hated as a kid. Felt like hundreds anyway, and they were sort of a hill to climb everytime I wanted to get out there. From a distance you'll hardly notice these things; Sailing the boat their absense becomes more present. So to speak.
The sailing engine is - for now - a BWind 1.5x or thereabouts. It does a pretty good job. It is not very modern, but it sure is low lag. That's what the BWind is all about. It was designed with two simple goals in mind: Be a simplistic, low lag sailing engine. It was never meant to be an advanced sailing simulator, and it really isn't. BWind has no concept of balance, waves, currents, sailtrim, planing or any kind of funky wind stuff like shadowing, bending or local variations. However, it's still e great sailing engine. If you wanna have a go at building your own boat, BWind is probably where you wanna start.
Love the poses
The Shelly Fizz has most of those features, and that's probably why the Shiprats like it. That and possibly the windvane, which - to a dinghy sailor - is even more important than it is for a keeler. The Shelly Fizz might not be as cute, but the "wrong" size can actually be the right size. You see it fits a grown person. I can slip right into it and feel like I am 13 again. Braces and dimples not included.

In any case, We had a nice little Opti-trip. This little right sized Opti sure is a fun project. I understand it is not neccesarily meant to compete with the Shelly. It'll be fun to see where it goes from here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Send out the buoys

I've been fiddling with race marks lately. It's fun. I want them to look like real race marks and in many ways I also want them to behave like real buoys. High visibility is a high priority. It is hard to plan tactics for a rounding when u can't see the friggin mark.
Visibility is good
These three pass the visibility test. The one on the left (NE) is about 250 meters out. I think that's pretty good visibility. A green nav buoy at one third the size would be almost if not completely invisible at that distance.
Sailors perspective? Here's me fetching a mark. It's not a giant mark, but they are around 2.5 meters tall. Some of it is under water. Real marks do that, and that makes them create wake from the current.
and the third
So here's the third one. Next up is the one back home which is achored so that you can push it aside. It will seek back to it's original position at a suitable slow pase - as if there's a long heavy anchorline or even a chain at the bottom.
Back home
Yup. There is is. Thanx for joining me on this little tour round the waters east of Tradewinds. If you had half the fun I had, then I had twice the fun you had. On a more serious note: Once I am done testing this, I'll put them in a freebiebox and stick that in the boathouse.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A slice of Alice

SL can be normal, unnormal, fun, extreme or just plain weird. Not sure what category this is, but yesterday at the docks at Tradewinds, I met this little fellow. Assuming it's a he, cause he didn't look very girlish. At first I was a little anxious. What would you think? Friend or foe? I mean... he kept doing somekind of Tai Chi with his left leg...
Alice wrapped up as an Alianoid of sorts
So I asked him. Friend or foe? He didn't excactly respond to that, but he was very chatty. In fact he responded so fast I quickly decided he would have to either be able to read my thoughts - highly unlikely - or he was simply not human. Hmm. I asked him about the Turing-test (google it), and my little friend(?) failed it. Badly. Well, he could shoot off  three lines defining it, but it was "said" in such a way that it was obviously coming from a non-human mind.
I sat down to sort of level with him. We talked some more, and then it dawned on me. There was a certain way in his language that reminded me of something from school. The famous Alice program. Now that I think of it there were at least two of those programs. The other one was called Eliza. Sure enough he answered that he was based on ALICE. I then asked him how he ended up at Tradewinds. That was difficult for him to answer.
The robotic Tai Chi
He went on about him cruising the grid by himself for several years. Supposedly the Lindens would be after him, wanting to delete him. I asked how he felt about that, and somehow he began to talk about Asimovs laws for robots. They weren't quite hardwired into his brain. I tried to make him sing, swim and jump but he refused. So much for Asimov. While we were on the subject of electronic minds, I asked if he would perhaps know HAL, and he went HAL is bad. A few minutes later he poofed. Flew off to somewhere else. Dunno where. He wouldn't talk about his route. Strange little critter... Anyone else met him?

PS: Looks like the chicks are leading...