Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all friends, sailors, boatbuilders, commodores, club managers, racers, cruisers, bloggers and everybody else, virtual and unvirtual, digital and analog - and a happy New Year with lots of love and good sailing.

Late Christmas update: Go get a Glögg at Mid-Atlantic Musings, and - when you've had a strong Glögg, scroll down and see the Christmas decorated boats. You won't believe your eyes...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nacra 17, racing tips

It happens on friday the 21st: The very first virtual Nacra 17 race. Virtual sailing for cat nutters. It's in Tschotcke at 2pm SLT, that's around 2300CET, and the sweet and lovely Scubabear (ask for a bear hug) will be your RD. It's gonna be a blast...
Inshore cat on the loose
Loads of boats with untrained crews and a weather forecast that says 21 knots from the south east! Wanna bet how many capsizes we will see? I'd say a handfull. Maybe more. Racing a cat like the Nacra 17 in 21 knots of wind is all about finding that sweet-spot just before the boat is overpowered.
Looking for the sweet spot means continuously powering up until it is just a bit too much, then powering down a bit. Miss that last bit and you are fish food. Forget tactics; Being faster is key. Find that sweet-spot, and you're on your way to the  podium. Don't waste energy looking for windshifts. Find the speed. The Nacra does not support windshifts anyway.

When you've found the speed, be aware that there is a slight lee helm to compensate for. The lee helm makes it difficult to stay on optimum trim and direction. It also makes it much harder to see headers and lifts, so better stay alert there...
Looking for that sweet spot
There's other stuff to learn too. Timing. The Nacra 17 is so much faster than a dinghy. The starting tactics is much different from the usual approach. Timing is crucial in order to hit the line right at the gun. Trust me. With these boats you don't wanna be late for start.

On a downwind leg you'll need to pay close attention to the polar. Genakker sailing will enable planing on one hull. Once you get up there, you can send a smile to the rest of the pack. Via the rear mirror.
Have a break, have a...
Another thing to look out for is the tacking and gybing. Cats are way slower at turning; However, it seems that Dutch (the builder) has cheated a bit here. The Nacra turns pretty much like a monohull. Slam and you're over. Hopefully, there will be an update to fix this. And the lee helm.
... Nacra cat
Still, too many tacks will set you back. If not because of the turning, then because of the balance. Getting the balance right, right after a tack also requires timing. In 21 knots of wind two people need to unhook the trapeze, run or crawl over to the other side, hook up and get out at just the right time, when the wind hits the sails. Better hurry out there and do a few tacks...

Update: Orca posted a handfull of nice shots from the event...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nacra 17, Olympic Class

Today is Nacra 17 day. Woohoo. There's a virtual Nacra 17 out. Not only is it an Olympic class,  it's also a  absolute beauty, very true to the original and, - it's a total blast to sail. Here it is, me in trapeze, Dutch Kain, the builder, at the stick:
Nacra 17: Perfect for sunset sailing
I've been waiting for this for some time now, and I am so happy it is finally here. It's not that I am a total cat-nutter, but this cat here, - it's truly gorgeous. Besides, under certain conditions cats can be fun to sail. Perhaps it is just too cold for cats where I live my real life. Dunno. In any case, diversity is good.
A cat for dog-lovers
This cat here would make any dog-lover convert. In fact, I'm pretty sure it will make most singlehull sailors go: "Wauw, I simply gotta try that". The best thing though, unlike certain other cats, this one is affordable and sailable for ordinary people with a normal biceps and budget.
Cat sailing is bikini sailing
It comes fully equipped with main, jib and genakker, bow spirit, curved daggerboards, trapez gear and what nuts cat stuff; It is dead-easy to sail and fast: Action guaranteed! Whether it is dead easy to sail optimally is another story; When we get the virtual Nacra 17 racing class going, we will see about that.
While we're almost sailing naked, the Nacra 17 has lotsa clothes to put on. So let's see her wearing that big evening dress aka the genakker; Boom! She takes off like a rocket. This is not really an evening dress... if anything it's more of an outfit for speed-dating, hehe. Perhaps the colour could be a little more on the naughty side. Why not smashing pink? These days white sails are mostly for classic beauties, right?
The boat is built with love and great attention to details. There are a few missing things, though. It's the usual suspects: The Windvane, the compass and the telltails. However, the information is available on a hud. Problem solved, - though I don't line sailing by numbers. There is also a refreshingly easy to understand hud for moving, trimming and hoisting sails.
Details, details details
The picture right above here shows the details of the trapez-lines. On the other side of the sail it appears as if the trapez is hooked right onto my bikini top, and it is. That might just be the sailing gear of the future! I've always thought those trapeze harnesses looked silly. I hereby claim copyright on the kevlar enforced bikini top with built in trapeze hook. I call it: The Brateze (c).
Mouselook sailing
Here's a shot of what I see from the trapez. That's why mouselook sailing is important. It makes you feel like you're onboard a real boat. You can look in any direction by moving the mouse. Just as you would in RL. Continuously check to windward for shifts and waves, then check the telltails, the windvane and the compass. 1, 2, 3, 4. That's the easiest recipy for winning. Four simple repeated steps.
Topless sailing requires tropical conditions
Oh, and check your trapeze hook too. It's very important. On the image above, Dutch just unwillingly "left" the boat. Just to annoy him I dropped my top and sailed on. Left him swimming the blue soup for a few minutes before I returned, top back on, to pick him up, teehee. 
A bit of relaxing...
Well, that's about it for todays episode of "Unexpected Fun With Cats". If you're a cat-person, then do check my adventure with the Hepcat. I'd better talk to Dutch about setting up a line of gadgets and accessories for this baby, including my brand new invention, the combined Bra and Trapeze, the Brateze (c). I kinda like that word, hehe.
Brateze (c): Using the bikini top as the trapeze harness
I'll be back with details on the sailing characteristics, if I can find the time. Very briefly: The Nacra 17 has a derived BWind sailing engine of sorts. It is great fun to sail, while it still lacks telltales, vane, currents, waves and shifts; Right now my compass points towards tree, gifts, cleaning, food, Christmas cards. Phew. Busy times ahead. Have a great weekend all you cat-people...

See the real Nacra 17 here.

Update: Jane's posted a few details on the sailing characteristics.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Explore & Rescue Show

There's the Fizz Cup, the brand new virtual Nacra 17, the updated Ktaba 20 and so much more exciting stuff going on right now, when I really need to get back to RL and get ready for Xmas. However, there is also a fantastic Explore and Rescue Show at Tradewinds...
The Explore & Rescure Show
Here's me near the lighthouse, where there's a board helping you to navigate all the different Search and Rescue boats. There's also Harbourmaster Ahab's latest toy. In the back there's a pretty big coastguard vessel. Probably the biggest Coastguard vessel I've seen inworld.
Smaller coastguard
Here's a smaller Coastguard vessel. It is just arriving, finding it's place by the piers. I think it had Colin Nemeth behind the wheel. Too big for ya? You want ribs?
Ribs with guns
You name it, we got it :-) Here's a couple of ribs. There's even one with guns. I hope it is armoured like those bulletproof vests, or else it isn't much of a combat vessel. One hit anywhere, and you'd be "out of air".
Onboard rib bay
This one I kinda like. It's a true mothership with a rib in an onboard bay. The amount of details in these boats is simply amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually able to launch that rib.
A small yellow submarine
No rescue op without a sub. Here's one. It kinda reminds me of those minisubs used by Jacques Cousteau on his amazing voyages with the Callypso
An even smaller yellow submarine
Right across the pier is another one; Single seater. Kinda cute. These two here are yellow, Cousteau's sub was yellow, and in a few pictures down there's another yellow minisub. How come? Why must minisubs be yellow? It can't be because of that song, Yellow Submarine, can it?
Look down
Here's another strange vessel. It like a floating crane with a platform on the side for exploring the underwater world, and sure enough, there is a sunken boat down there. Wanna see it?
Sunken boat
Looks kinda new. Not like the sunken sub that is to be found elsewhere around Tradewinds. I won't tell where. There's gotta be something left to explore.
More coasties
Over on the west side of Tradewinds there are even more coasties. They seem to come in all kinds of shapes and colours. Here's three of them; The one in the back has a helipad with a helicopter just like the one seen in the air on the first picture.
Yet another yellow submarine
Then there's the Scuba Bear boat with yet another yellow submarine. Check it out and beware of the bear. He's on the bridge. Next to the Scuba Bear is this amazing vessel:
Amazing explorer vessel
This one has it all: Moonbuggy, helipad with helicopter, powerful rib, a crane pluse loads of space below deck; There's even another helicopter on board, hidden inside. It's not unlike the one I flew almost a year ago. There's also a Christmas Quest... Go see what it is...
View from a bridge
Finally there's a view over Tradewinds from the bridge of that big coastguard vessel. It's pretty obvious that there's loads of boats to see, and I haven't even mentioned there's an entire area dedicated to planes and helicopters. Nuff said; Go see for yourself... I'll go sail the virtual Nacra 17.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A blast from the future

I've seen this lil thingy sitting on the sand dunes of TYC almost a month ago. Today I tried it. Weeeeee! It was only a short sail, but I can say this: It's not the worst thing I ever sailed. In fact, even those few minutes on board, made me smile ear to ear...
This is so refreshingly different, absolutely brand new and hot, - and sooo much fun. Can't wait to drive this thing around the virtual waters... Maybe even race it. Not that I am very fond of multihulls. They are getting way too much attention after the AC went crazy with cats. The lil Hepcat is quite nice, though it looks like a classic car compared to the Nacra, hehe...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fizz Cup 2012 finals

The Fizz Cup 2012 finals took place today, and it was a spectacular day at the race track. We all met in the north east corner of the Blake Sea. Racers, spectators and Fizz Cup crew. The Blake Sea was in a good mood, so we had four lovely races with very few technical problems and some really nice sailing.
Fizz Cup 2012, start
Very briefly, - until I find the time for a detailed post: There was a good fight, but in the end Silber Sands turned out to be pretty untouchable; Here's the results of the four races and a total with one throwaway:

1. (1,2,1,1:3) Silber Sands
2. (7,1,3,2:6) Ralf80 Titanium
3. (2,4,2,3:7) Ronin Zane
4. (7,3,4,4:11) Ayahoshi Resident
5. (3,5,7,5:13) Krysha Lundqvist
6. (4,6,5,6:15) Kris Hollysharp

Congrats to all, and stay tuned for more details. Check the official Fizz Cup 2012 site for all details about the cup, and... there's a few more pics on Orcas blog.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Snowy hot weekend

This is just where I wanna be, when it's freezing outside, snowflakes falling and all that. Beautiful place with palms and sandy beaches; Blue water and a beautiful boat, probably one of the prettiest boats ever made in SL.
but baby it's cold outside
In fact, let's have a haiku to go with that:


white snowflakes falling
gently covering my boat
how I miss summer


Have a great weekend...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ktaba Wauw

I rarely get my hands on a boat that really makes me go wauw! It happened a few days back with another update of the Ktaba 20. Yes, Craig Ktaba is still working on the already beautiful Ktaba20. It's a long journey towards perfection, but it is so worth the wait.
Jib sheets
This version is much improved on both sailing engine and the graphics details. The graphics details are top notch. Just check the image above. Not only does it come with a main sheet. There are jib sheets too, and they actually run around the winches and back to a cleat; And they only do that to leeward.
Looking up there's more fun. This is probably the first time I've seen a keeler with windex that works; Meaning two things: It turns with the apparent wind, and it can be seen from the cockpit. Not a big deal, as many boatbuilders would say. Wrong. The windex is one of the key components of creating that feel, the illusion of being in a real boat. It's been on the Shelly Fizz, built by a racer and loved by racers, for years.
Smooth sailing
Question: What's the first thing a sailor looks for, - before setting sail? The wind direction. Why? You simply cannot sail (or even set sails) without knowing the wind direction. And where can it be seen? Look up, and there it is. Craig even modeled a windex that looks pretty much like a real one. It only misses the screaming orange colour on the bottom side; Makes it easier to see from the cockpit.
Sheets and boat
Here's one more shot of the sheets. Note how they run through the sheet traveller and around shrouds. The loose sheet just hanging round the mast. Totally realistic. I just love lying on the foredeck, half asleep, listening to the bow wake, having an occasional peek at the windex, the sails and sheets; Just to make sure the autopilot is on course.
Tiny details
There's just one tiny detail about those sheets; Probably noone will notice, but it is visible on the picture right above here; I'll let you figure it out, and then I'll send Craig an email about it.

The feel? The sailing? It's delicious. The sails look like sails, and they luff when they're supposed to. The boat moves like a boat; It supports realistic waves from the WWC windsetter. It heels over and accellerates as a real boat. It has nice sounds, though the winches are kinda silent.
La Deliciuse
One obvious thing gone missing though: There's no telltales. However, there is a pretty good hud in the form of a compass that includes wind angle, real and apparent. This means it is perfectly possible to sail the boat without that (f)ugly floating text hud, which so many boatbuilders seem to find sufficient. Oh, and there is a trimmable spin; And if you aren't really comfortable hoisting the spin, then you can always just wing the jib.
Taking a break in a lagoon
Cruisers will probably prefer that winging jib, as it is easier to handle. Requires less attention. In many ways the Ktaba is in fact perfect for a cruise around the virtual oceans. So many lagoons begging you to sail there, to moore and explore. It has room for a few friends too, and if they aren't just there to tan, they can even take part in the trimming.
That's when it starts to get really interesting. This lovely cruising vessel is built to race too. It has crewed  trimming, and there's several sail configurations to choose from. All this is run by a pretty lean and mean sailing engine, - built specifically for this boat. Low lag, easy sim crossing and WWC support, so there's shadowing, windbending, shifts, gusts, currents and more. A total dream machine. Wauv. Sail simulation? Oh yes! Much more on that in a later post.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The virtual sailor

leaves begin to fall
windy winds begin to howl
winter ends it all

birds stop their singing
afraid of next months bringing
frost will be clinging

come rain, shine or hail
still a true sailor must sail
no sailing means fail

a bit of blue sky
makes me ecstatically high
it is sail or die

I set sail in Blake
don't care much the sun is fake
sanity at stake


You guessed it! King Winter arrived yesterday, and while I like snow and skiing, it also makes sailing impractical. 

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)