Friday, February 21, 2014

Luxury cat

Cat people are special. That's common knowledge. Some sailors get bitten and they never return to monohulls. They spend their lives trying to convince all the other "normal" boaters that cats simply are better, faster and more fun. Me? I was never very fond of cats, but this one made my day...
A giant cat
Oh yes it's big. Perhaps not as tall as Craigs J, but the interior... While the J is huge on the outside, this monster cat is a giant on the inside. It's almost unreal. It just begs for someone to move in. Permanently. Let's move a little closer.
What's missing?
First you'll notice the Zodiac; Then there's the huge deck area with sunchairs. There's also a "winter-garden" with lounge chairs and spices growing in pots. If anything is missing it would be a windsurfer or some other small wind-toy. A Flying Fizz would be nice or perhaps a 2.4mR.
The spicy loungy area
It seemed noone was onboard, so I sneaked on board to have a closer look. Gotta try those lounge chairs and they are comfy. I could easily see myself having a nice little cocktail party here, but where's the pool? Oh, we'll come to that. First let's check out the bar...
The bar
You probably guessed it: It has everything. Fancy chairs, ice-cold champagne, loads of bottles with a diversity of liquids with which you can mix pretty much any cocktail or drink. In the back there's the captains chair with myriads of controls and stuff... way too complicated for me. I prefer a tiller and a couple of sheets to pull.
And there's two of these
Let's go find that pool. Here's a shot from the hall in one of the hulls. It doesn't look much like the inside of a sailboat, huh. In the hall there's a couch, stereo and TV plus lots of closets for all sorts of gear. Diving gear included. Note the oxygen-bottles on the "Winter-garden" picture.
Dining area
After a few cocktails or 25 I tend to get hungry. It's a good thing this cat sports a pretty nice kitchen and dining area. I didn't check all the drawers, but I have a feeling that not much is missing here either. It looks like an italian boat. There's a whole italian ham there at the back, and on the shelf there's one of those famous round italian winebottles with "straws" on the outside.
In the other end of this hull there's the master bedroom. Complete with huge closets, Botticellis Venus on the wall and the other wall is one giant internetscreen. Note the clock radio on the night-table, hehe. One of the things I love about sailing is that time is not important. I'd probably throw the clock radio over board.
The other hull
Here's a shot from the hall in the other hull. Not much to see here. It looks kinda like a bathing area. I cannot identify that picture there; Dunno if it is quite as famous as the Botticelli in the master bedroom.
Moving on...
The pool
Ahh, finally: The pool. It's perhaps not the perfect pool for a cocktailparty, but its' nice and loungy nevertheless. There are huge windows with remote controlled blindfolds so you can have privacy, or you can have an ocean view if that's your thing. What you (probably) can't see is the water running from the lion in the back. It gives a soothing sound of running water, and...
The sauna
... ofcourse there's a sauna. What's better after a nice swim in the pool to sit in the sauna and get overheated whilst enjoying a cool drink and a fantastic view out those huge windows. Push a button and blindfolds appear from the top. Just in case you're in the sauna with the love of your life. Too hot for you?
Shower the people
You can always get a cold shower to calm - I mean cool - yourself down. This sorta completes the tour of this totally unreal boat; Probably the best liveaboard vehicle I ever saw in this world. The only downside is that the harbour fee is gonna be rather expensive, but then again boats are made to sail not moor.
What's that saying? Boats are safe in the harbour, but they aren't meant to be there. Something like that. Here's me enjoying the sunset from the deck of this giant cat; Have a great weekend, and go sailing... soon. Spring is nearing. Woohoooo!

Monday, February 17, 2014

That J-boat

I guess by now most SL sailors are aware that - after many iterations and refinements - Craigs magnificent J-boat finally hit the shelves. Orca was there at the launch event, and she wrote about it a couple of weeks ago. Check it out here. You get Craigs own words, so it's just a bit biased. Just one tiny bit. The J-boat itself is anything but tiny.
A small j with a big J inside
This picture shows how the J-boat is delivered. It comes in a nice little J-shaped box, if there is such a thing. Though the J-boat is in no way inflatable, the entire full sized boat is inside this little one. My immediate thought was: If only this had an RC option  we'd have a ball. Besides, it would fit the virtual waters nicely. Sizewise that is. But let's unpack...
A small j with a big J on the side
Here it is in all its magnificense and magnitude. Huge is the word, though I've seen bigger boats in SL. This tanker was pretty big, and the aircraft carrier was even bigger. However, they aren't nearly as much fun as a sailboat, a working sailboat. The J-boat coes with main, two headsails and spinakker, so there's work to be done or it won't move an inch.
Live aboard it's not
True engineering is about sacrifice. The J-boat sails really well. It comes with full WWC support, so theres waves and current to take in to account when racing. What's been sacrificed is the interior. It's simply not there. Essentially the J-boat is a daysailor. Still it works great for mooring and relaxing in a secret bay. Thinking big thoughts. From where I sit in the above picture the mast top is visible up among the clouds. Allmost.
Down south with a friend
But it's the sailing that makes the J-boat interesting. It works great as a cruiser, and there are so many details that many of these will have to wait till another post. Sailors will immediately notice all the lines, sheets and stays are working. This may not influence the sailing experience directly, but it does have to do with the immersiveness. The illusion of sailing simply gets better from all these details.
The "Rock-shot"
We sailed south for a while - pretty much in silense - as we were so impressed by this huge ship sailing, heeling, rocking, luffing and much much more. It's truly amazing what Craig did here. After a while we reached the middle of the Blake Sea, and ofcourse we took the must have "Rock-shot" rounding the Fastnet Rock. So many Kodak-moments in the Blake Sea, hehe. Or is it called jpg-moments these days?
Going back up
After the "Sharp-Tooth Island" my friend left to do stuff in RL; Duh. I was left to do the harsh beating back up north by myself, and here I am approaching NYC from the south-east. It's a good thing I was wearing my sweater, cause the NYC area is covered with wintery-white snow. Brrrr. As if the RL snow isn't enough, hehe. No, really... the snow looks pretty. And cool... and cold...
Over at the westside og NYC at least the trees are not covered with snow. Perhaps that's the first sign of spring? Dunno. These last two pics show some of all those beautifully made sheets and stays. They are fully functional in-as-much-as the running stays are loosened and tightened according to trim and boom position. Well, - to me fully functional would mean that I could decide the tension and adjust it according to windspeed, but that remains a feature of the future. For now we'll have to do with this, and right now it is pretty unique.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What's a spin anyway

Boat talk. I've always liked boat talk. In RL is is usually about sailing faster or repairing something. In SL it is often about making the sailing experience better. Right now sunshine is on the top of my list, but having both sunshine and boat talk at the same time... Doesn't get much better. I caught Craig "J-man" Ktaba tuning his lovely Ktaba 20 Teleri somewhere in the North Sea. It wasn't exactly a clear blue sky, but a piece of blue is also good.
Clear blue sky and boat talk
I wasn't really looking for blog-stuff, but I just had to snatch the picture above. Especially as february carries on with the sunless days we saw in january. As mentioned in the former post: January 2014 was  the darkest month in 45 years.

The North Sea is a pretty sailing area, but this won't be a sightseeing post. Craig had a really interesting issue to discuss: How does the spin-trim - or lack hereof - affect the boatspeed at different windangles. Now, Craig knows perfectly well what a spin is. The real question is: How to make a good approximation of all the wonders of spin-trim in SL. That's a question that won't fit into a short happy-go-lucky post.

Let's delve into it. Say you already have a boat that sails pretty much according to a polar. How does the spin then affect performance? Easy. Compare two polars from the same boat; One made without spin and one made with spin. The only real challenge is to get polars from a J-Class, but we can take a spin from a smaller similar boat and check that out. The IOM for instance. In low winds, going close to the wind, the spin can double the boatspeed. In strong winds most boats will be doing max hull speed. Unless the boat can plane or foil - and a J-Boat can't - it is impossible to cross the max hull speed. (See this for details. Scroll down).
Gulls and seals
Then there's the matter of trim. The polar may show boatspeed at certain wind angles, but usually the polar assumes optimum trim. This makes it a bit tricky. On a dead run you'd have a pretty rounded spin; Not too round cause it should also be wide enough to catch as much wind as possible. Not too wide though, cause then the wind would just glide off. Let's call that medium round trim. It's easy to find on a dead run. When the log maxes out you'r there. But... How do you graph that?

On a reach the spin works entirely different. Reaching means getting the wind from the side at some angle less than 180, and that means the boat will heel. If you heel too much, the keel will have less effect and the spin will just drag you sideways. So max speed on a reach doesn't neccesarily mean max power. You may very well need to depower in order to reach max speed. Not only is the position of the spin important. You'll also need to change the shape.

On a dead run you'll want a nice round spin. The airflow is kinda like a bag on a stick. We all did that as kids, right? Bamboo-stick, piece of string and a plastic grocery-bag. Now, on a reach you'd want to stretch the spin - flatten it - to make it work more or less like a giant genoa. The airflow gradually changes (with the apparent wind angle) from kite-like to wing-like. (See my post on telltails).
Let's go for a swim
The smaller the windangle the more flat you need the spin to be, or it'll just heel you over and drag you sideways. At around 100 AWA a normal spin stops working. A little less in low winds, a little more in strong winds. That's why real racers have many spins for different angles and windforces. So the boost from the spin depends on windspeed, boatspeed, windangle apparent windspeed and trim and some of these parameters are (very) interdependant. Now, all we need to do is to convert this gibberish into math - et voila - we'll have a great simulation of the spinakker.

In other words: We're looking for a formula that takes windangle, windspeed and leeward and windward sheet positions and produce a power factor which we can convert into speed and add to the speed coming from main and jib. I think that's what they call a VPP. Have a great weekend...

PS: More on the Ktaba 20 updates in a future post. Here's a hint...

Monday, February 3, 2014

I am a sunseeker

I learned something new about my real self this past month. I am a sunseeker. Not that I feel like a mobilhome at sea. Lolz. Let me explain: This january set a really unwanted record. It was the darkest, most sunless month in 45 years. I'll just repeat that: This past january was the darkest month in 45 years!!
Sunseekers paradise
I am only glad I didn't experience the former recordholder month. Never really thought about it, but the sun seems to influence my mood quite a lot. SL to the rescue: It's called Las Islas, and it is a beautiful place. There's all sorts of stuff there, but I'll just focus on the ambiance... it's the most fantastic thing. There's little shops, secret beaches, secluded islands with hammocks, reefs, wildlife and much more... go there and see for yourself...
For a long time, this has been one of my favourites for relaxation and peace of mind after a stressfull workday. However, something was always missing: There was no boats, and no place to launch your own boats. So I wrote to the owners, and asked for that. Boats. Sailing. What happened? Check the picture above.
Laser sailing at ISL
That's a virtual Laser allright. I know exactly what to do with it. Click it, choose board, raise the sails and I am off to the sailing wonderland. Woohooo. This is just what I need in these dark and cold months.
Mind the reef
Las Islas is not a huge area, but there's a handfull of sims. If a sim is 256 x 256 meters thats's a fair amount of sailing area. You do the math, while I dream of having this area attached to on of the major sailing areas: The Blake Sea or the North Sea. I don't have any charts of the North Sea, so that last link is just pictures from there. And of a beautiful little boat.
See the islands
There are many islands to visit. Most of them are small and uninhabitated except for the birds and the flowers. It only takes a few minutes to get there, so you won't have a "cross pond"-experience. It's more of a daysail-thingy with loads of little places to explore. 
See the islands up close
Here's me passing one of the very small islands. In fact it's just a tiny dune sticking up of the water. Let's take an ever closer look! Maybe there's a treasure burried in the sand...
I mean real close
Hoppetihop. It's only knee-deep here. I'll need to drag the boat up the beach or it will take off and be gone. Or get stuck at the edge of the area. Or that's what I thought, hehe. Turns out the owners of Las Islas set something called autoreturn to be pretty fast. In a matter of seconds after I hopped off the Laser, it vanished into thin air. It's a good thing I can swim. (And fly ;-)
My brand new Laser, hehe...
Too bad cause the experience of island hopping sorta gets ruined when you have to go back to start each time you land... Makes sense in a way though. Wouldn't want the place to be littered with abandoned Lasers. Maybe give us a couple of minutes to explore? Still, it's a beautiful sailing area, so bear with me when I post just one more picture that speaks so much to my heart... It's just water, a tiny boat and me - and an island...
Can you feel the urge? I wonder if someone is doing this for real right now... Me? I just need to get out there. Badly.

PS: Ahab made me add this PS with a link to the winter blues.