Sunday, June 5, 2016

Night Sailing with the Ushuaia

I love night sailing. It is different from day sailing in so many ways. Sailing in the dark does something, - plays with your mind, - sharpens all senses. You pick up sea-scents that you'd never notice at day time. You hear sounds that seem to be there only at night. You feel more... and you have to, cause you can't see a thing. It's kinda like switching from brain-control to heart-control...
Sailing into the dark
So I thought I'd take my new and shiny Ushuaia for a trip in the dark. Just to get to know her... See how she compares to both old and newer favourites. See if I can "feel the force". I was in for a nice surprise. Not that she's easier to sail in the dark, but she does sail pretty well just by the feeling. No staring at screens. No weird hiccups. Everything works as you'd expect from a real boat, and that's what I like. Let's call it "natural sailing".
Light ahead!
The night sailing experience itself in SL is pretty good. I mean, it is dark and there are differents sounds everywhere. The sea-scents we'll have to do without. For now. However, there are plenty of lights to sail by. Nav buoy lights. There are quite a few lighthouses too - spread all over the grid. A little too many of these are really just there for decoration. They look nice, but they don't really serve a purpose.
This one here is the all time classic Sharp-Tooth-Isle, which I have rounded in more virtual boats that I care to count. The Viking Long Boat Roar Ege being one of them. As you can see - it's quite dark here; The moon was hiding behind clouds, but a few nautical  miles down the road I had a beautiful moonlit night.
That turned out to be very useful (the moonlight) as I went inshore through a couple of small islands with no nav buoys at all. Very interesting. Unmarked reefs to the east, big island to the west. Boats, piers and tiny islands inbetween. Way too busy to take pictures. Especially as I was going upwind and the Ushuaia has quite an aggressive weather helm. Not a complaint! Just taking a note. I suppose the hull shape would give a weather helm in RL too. It's pretty much a scaled down version of the VO65, and that has weather helm. I'd be happy to be able to trim some of this away though.
Open sea again
As mentioned the virtual seas are full of meaningless lighthouses, whereas there is (still) a lack of meaningfull nav buoys. Some areas are better than others. The North Sea has a few correct buoys indicating shallow waters and stuff. The Blake sea is a bit too littered with stuff that lights up for no apparent reason. Perhaps it is time to tidy up and possibly upgrade, Mr. Blake? For instance, there's a map giver that sends out more light than the entire pool of nav buoys in that same area. Pretty ugly actually. Dunno why it has to be so shiny... 
Two nav buoys
Here are two nav buoys. Click the image to them better. There's really no reason why they are just there, but they do look nice. The white one resembles a traffic separation thingy. It sits north of an island!!? Maybe to split up traffic on either side? The red one is just - ehm - there. Well, and you can't sail much east of it. So maybe it's just the wrong buoy at the right place?? Or - it is really a red - marking the portside of a path..? Could be...
Another two
Here's another two... The blinking red is just a pointer of sorts. The triangular one on the right is a startline buoy - not lit at night. Luckily it is a balloon type of buoy so no damage is done if you hit it. By the way, - note how much my boat heels over. The Ushuaia and the VO65ers are meant to be sailed like this. It's in their DNA... or at least in their hull-design. It isn't meant to be sailed flat. It's meant to go max speed while floating on it's edge. A family boat? Maybe, but the kids legos will pretty much fly around in the cabin as if in outer space.
Land ahead!
Here's the small island east of Tradewinds YC. It's a nice view, but the island is completely unmarked. I suppose there is no need for that as there are no reefs surrounding it, but a tiny flash on a stick would have added just a tad of finishing touch. On a dark stormy night that piece of rock would have been as invisible as the now famous reef in the Indian Ocean. Incidentally, I recently heard from one of the danish sailors that it was in fact pitch dark when they hit it.
Beautiful night
If only the moon had been out they'd have seen it - well not the reef but the island right behind it. Moonlight can be rather strong out there. When the moon is the only source of light - at all - it can pretty much light it all up. Check out this shot, which I kinda like. Zoom in and note the faint yellow light in the back. It's actually marking shallow waters, so there's one meaningful buoy. Except it should have been a South marker. Oh, I wish we had better marks and better charts... 
Going home
... and here's another one... The Tradewinds Lighthouse overlooks 270 degrees of open water. It's well placed there. It could have been a sector light. Being green in the 270 waterish directions and red in the last 90. I suppose Tasha want to keep it as close to the real thing; The smaller red light is actually on the other side marking the entrance to the west side marina. Could be sectored as well. Well, better get back at my mooring spot in time for a morning coffee.
Ahh... I just love the morning at Tradewinds; It only gets better with a freshly squeezed espresso. Yummy. So how was it then..? I love it. The boat seems fast and responsive, and it doesn't act up in unspected ways. It's really smooth on a downwind, whereas upwind requires a bit more attention due to the weather helm. Perhaps cruisers will find it a bit tedious. I almost did, but then again a boat like this would rarely sail on a straight line by itself. The trimming? Supereasy. There are lamps indicating trim and there are luffing sounds and telltails. Doesn't get much better. Well, perhaps there should be an automated fender function. I just realize that I sailed around with fenders out. Duuuh. And there are no decent nav lights. The light command turns on engine light plus starboard and port side, but there's no rear light. Unsuited for night sailing! Anyways, I had a great time sailing the Ushuaia. Will take her out for a dayspin anytime soon... Unless 1st Life calls for some real sailing. 26C and 5 meters from east. Sounds like summer... Cheers...

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