Cruising in Style: The Loonetta 31

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Motor Loon’s Oceanic Mk 1 was the buzz of the SL Cruising Crowd this past month. Although it was Loon’s first official sailboat release, Oceanic received uniform praise from cruising captains who were impressed with the accuracy of the build and the humor and innovation incorporated in the vessel’s design.

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As I mentioned before, none of this was surprising. Loon’s land vehicles are well-known and highly respected; it was about time he put on sailing gloves and hit the water. 🙂

Anyway, Motor Loon is back with a new cruiser!  It’s the L00netta 31, and it debuted as a hot Sail4Life auction item during RFL Weekend.

Well, if you were not lucky enough to win a Loonetta at S4L, it’s now available at your local boat dealer. Go take a look and give it a test drive; as a contemporary midsized cruising sloop, I think Loonetta sets a new standard for features and quality of construction.

Built by Loon

The Loonetta is “100% Mesh.” Mesh construction offers a series of advantages over traditional prim or sculpties. Loonetta shows what this can mean for sailboats; it packs a huge amount of content into the 32 prim limit for SL vehicles.

Fire Broono’s pimped-out Looneta

The boat weighs in at 32 prim, and it has a ‘land impact’ of 32 PE (That’s good). Despite that tiny number, Motor Loon describes the boat as “chubby;” Loonetta is loaded with features that simply didn’t fit within a smaller hull footprint. 🙂

The image below shows what you’ll find in the cockpit. The helm includes a central binnacle with an adjustable wheel for the skipper. A bench extends around the transom, providing lots of space for crew and friends. In fact, the boat has sit positions and appropriate poses for over thirty passengers!

There’s a flip-up gate built into the transom that opens a swim platform on the stern, and a two-piece gangway hatch forward that leads into the cabin. The detailing for the winches, blocks, lifelines and railing is all pretty remarkable considering the boat’s 32-prim throw-weight.

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An owner can modify the boat’s colors and textures easily using a pop-up menu, as shown below. It took me less than 5 min. to change the stern flag, the hull hue, and the boat name. On many other boats I usually end up spending that much time just trying to isolate the correct transparency layer to place a new graphic!

The hull is solid, and mesh construction means there are none of the typical sculptie-mismatch troubles frequently seen with other boats.

There are a few notable exceptions. The rudder and keel are apparently phantom. As you can see in the images below, the keel passes through submerged barriers, and the boat only grounds out when the hull itself hits something. That means Loonetta can successfully manage nearly all of SL’s shallow waterways without concern. 🙂

The fenders are also phantom, so be careful. Even with the bumpers deployed, you’re going to scratch the gelcoat if you hit something. 🙂

A more interesting ‘mismatch’ occurs at the waterline.  Loonetta’s hull has a graceful convex curve, but the actual ‘collision mesh’ for the hull appears to extend straight down from the deck to the water. In the image below I’ve turned my boat on it’s side, and I’m standing on a physical platform that’s resting against the hull at waterline level. You can see there’s a significant gap between the visible hull build and it’s effective collision zone. This should only be noticeable when the boats in drydock; I can’t think of any way it might impact sailing.

Speaking of drydock, if you rez Loonetta on land it automatically sets up a jack stand cradle, and it shuts off sailing scripts in the boat. 🙂  Be sure to check out the cradle and folding propeller; they are things most sailors never look at, but in this case they are extraordinarily well crafted, and evidence the care Loon put into all the details for this boat.

Cabin Comforts

Ok, Loonetta is a cruiser, so let’s look at what the boat offers below deck.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a working, two-piece hatch that opens the gangway from the cockpit to the cabin. Sailors (including the skipper) use an easy pop-up menu to go from topside to a large host of sit-positions and poses down below.

If you’re detail-oriented like me, be sure to look closely at the yellow arrows in ‘B” in the picture below and smile. Those are the philips’ head screws connecting the cockpit trim to the bulkhead. 🙂

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Below deck you’ll find a spacious cabin with a center, folding table surrounding the mast.

There’s also a full galley on the port side, with three cooking animations! The Loonetta frying pan and spoon I’m holding are courtesy of Blackbird Latte; when you get your own Loonetta, ask BB for the cookware! 🙂

On the starboard side of the cabin, there’s a traditional nav station and electrical panel. Click on the radio and you get SL Coast Guard updates! I should also mention that the cabin is quite bright, with multiple windows and a working forward hatch. As shown below, you can close each window with a single click, and a click on the door next to the nav station opens the head. The bathroom is fully stocked as well, and comes with three personal hygiene poses. 🙂

Cruising isn’t always fun; there are lots of chores, including engine maintenance. Luckily, Loonetta’s engine is easy to access. As shown below, you just need to lift the gangway stairs. 🙂

Want more evidence for the level of detail Loon’s added to this boat? Take a look at the switches next to the gangway (red arrows below). There are two, allowing you to separately control the lights in the forward and aft cabins. (Nice touch!)

Speaking of illumination, of course Loonetta comes equipped with the standard set of running lights you’ll need for safe night passages.

And yes, there’s an aft sleeping cabin under the cockpit that’s spacious enough for two. Once again, Loon’s packed in multiple poses and sit positions for those overnight sailing trips. 🙂

Did I mention this boat is 32 prim? I think Loon’s build within that tight limit is pretty miraculous. 🙂

Performance

Loonetta is powered by a main and jib with a modern Bermuda rig; There’s also a self-adjusting optional spinnaker that can provide an extra power boost on downwind points of sail.

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Underneath it all is a basic, no-frills BWind engine, and the heads-up display shows only essential info about heading, wind speed, and boat speed. The boat is very easy to sail, and there are few details any sailor needs to learn before taking the helm.

This simple design seems appropriate, since Motor Loon intended Loonetta for cruising, not racing. The boat doesn’t use a WWC raceline windsetter, and there’s no “Race ID” command. These omissions are intentional, since Loonetta is all about fun within a realistic sailing emulation; this boat accomplishes that goal quite nicely.

The boat shares a great feature with Loon’s earlier Oceanic. A skipper can easily transfer the helm to another sailor aboard. Since Loonetta has so many live-aboard features, it’s easy to imagine that most skippers will be happy to pass the wheel to another crew member. 🙂

Here’s a chart showing boat speed as a function of real wind angle, with a fixed wind speed of 15kt. The green dotted line is Oceanic, and the solid blue line is Loonetta. As you can see, both boats have nearly identical performance, and a skipper can anticipate a boat speed that’s more than half RWS over a wide range of headings. Adding a spinnaker gives an appropriate downwind boost of about 10%.

Summary

The Loonetta 31 is Motor Loon’s latest interpretation of a modern, mid-sized cruising sloop. The mesh build is quite remarkable, with content and craftsmanship that set a new standard for contemporary boat design in SL. The boat is easy to sail and modify, and it’s loaded with fun features and animations.

The sail engine is BWind, and Loon’s intentionally kept the handling simple, with the needs of a casual cruiser in mind; that seems a wise decision. However, let me emphasize there’s nothing ‘casual’ about the care and quality that went into this vessel. Congratulations Loon, and thank you for a remarkable boat!

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11 responses to “Cruising in Style: The Loonetta 31

  1. next time someone asks me about the loonetta answer will be
    go talk to jane
    :))

  2. So where does one get a demo like you suggest?

    • Motor Loon’s boats (and land vehicles) are available on his MLCC sim. He’s presently working to make the boat more available.

      Motor Loon's Sim Marina

      He had a great deal with Oceanic on the SL Marketplace, offering a free, fully functional beta. I don’t know if he’ll do something similar this time when he posts Loonetta there, but if he does not, that’s understandable an no worries. There are many sailors who already cruise the boat and like it, including myself, Fire Broono, Ronin Zane, Francois Jacques, and Smuth Resident. Ask them or any of the current owners for a ride, and I’m sure they will comply. They’ll also give you their personal impression of the boat and it’s features. Oh, and when you go for that test drive, make sure they give you the helm so you can try Loonetta out yourself.

      If you investigate Loonetta through the current users, you’ll not only get to test drive a fun, new boat… you’ll also make a bunch of friends along the way. 🙂

  3. Today I learned from Motor Loon that a quick, post-launch Loonetta 31 update is going out very soon. Here are the changes you can expect in Loonetta 31 v1.1 —

    Fix: Optimizing. Boat now uses even less memory and has 1 script less. Script-cycles while moored also lowered alot.
    Fix: Engine given slightly more power
    Fix: Stern wake improved.
    Fix: Wave rocking improved, boat don’t “nosedive” into the water now when going fast.
    Fix: Sail / jib didn’t work correctly with retexturing via menu.
    Fix: Redid the boat hull physics for better collisions on the stern. (nice when docking)
    Fix: Workaround for the current bug (loosing animation on crossing to/from some RC regions) improved.
    Fix: Workaround for the PF/mesh-bug, well sorta…
    – Boat will now warn you about nearby regions that could be troublesome to enter because of the meshbug.
    In the boat’s HUD it will say for example: Danger: (N) where N then mean region to the North shouldn’t be entered..
    Boat actually communicates with my webserver for the data, and I might add more features later using this linkup.
    When this “bug” is no longer a problem on the grid, the warning system will auto-disable.

    Added: Dash board by helms-wheel now turn fullbright when boat is active and vise versa.
    Added: Command “hudprim off” will now hide the hovertext totally.
    Added: Fixed LOD issue when raising spinnaker, or improved at least.
    Added: ShowSails feature (in the setup menu) for easier painting of those.
    Added: HUD now shows when you’re in the “spinnaker possible zone”
    Added: Manual descripting (via setup menu)
    Added: Doors/hatch/stern foldseat now has physics when closed.
    Added: Passenger ejector/blacklist. (works like the access commands) type blacklist or blacklist clear

    I particularly like the “ShowSails” feature. It will make adjustment of personal sail graphics much easier. 🙂

    • Here’s a possible limitation of the new script that “warns you about nearby regions that could be troublesome to enter because of the meshbug.” While sailing in Nance my Loonetta warned me: Danger: (SE)(S)
      I then sailed due North, but I crashed trying to enter Muskmelon, the sim directly above Nance on the map.
      I’m guessing the script has a limit to the number of bad sims it can display, and it forgot to tell me about the trouble that lay to the North. 🙂
      Hopefully this whole mesh-sim issue will get fixed by Lindens soon, and the warning utility will be unnecessary!

  4. Am ever so pleased to be able to sail without all those letters and numbers (on some boats dials) cluttering up my screen. Working windvane is all an experienced sailor really needs.Wind coming from there. Set sails to about here, Sheet in till sails stop flapping. As a boatbuilder recently said “Its not rocket science”. And for cruising I would certainly agree, The visual enjoyment of the whole cruising experience is much improved. Combine that with a helm that centers when released and you have an amazingly realistic sailing experience.

    • The nature of the data displayed by a sailboat is a multifaceted discussion that’s frequently debated in RL and SL. There are historical issues, ‘class’ culture and standards, and regatta precedents. I need to think a bit more on the topic and how it’s evolved in SL before I can reply to your post, but it’s a GREAT discussion! 🙂

  5. Is all a personal thing i reckon and for maxing speed to mark data is helpfull. Seen rl boats with more readouts than the spaceshuttle.
    I use paper charts to make sure i dont hit rocks i cant see,
    am sure i have a compass onboard somewhere,
    tide table in a handy spot, but only so usefull cause by about day three out there i forget what day it is anyways.
    cant rightly remember where the gps thingy is but im sure i put it in a handy spot. And one of these days will fix the depth sounder. Man can sail from sanfran to skagway like that.

  6. I’m a vehicle fanatic in Second Life and boats are no exception. I have everything from life rafts that just drift along at 2 knots to schooners to galleons to racing sloops (although I don’t really enjoy constant speed or competitive racing – I’m a cruiser and sightseer/photographer).

    When I first saw a Loonetta on the Blake Sea I was dumbfounded by the detail and had to go to the MLCC region to check them out. A bit of gawking and reading info and I just had to have one.

    What a joy! Except for my first region years ago I can’t think of any product purchase in SL that has given me more squee. Master Loon is an artist! The only thing missing from the experience is salt spray in my face. The handling, the SOUNDS, the details are really mind-blowing.

    I’m not only interested in crashing through waves across open sea regions, I also like to travel into every river and interior waterway I can find in the mainland continents, and this boat does it all. In the last three days I’ve probably passed through more than 250 regions by water. One of my favorite pastimes is picking a remote location on a continent then wending my way through all the little LDPW water corridors and traversing inland lakes and seas to some far distant end point (even on another mainland continent, if there is a water bridge). The quick transition from sail to inboard motor and the fine-tuned control of the helm (you can make tiny microadjustments as well as lay heavy on the wheel and turn on a dime) make traversing every waterway an enjoyable challenge.

    In addition, when you want to take a break you can just stop in a public water region and drop anchor (the anchor travels all the way to the sea bottom and buries itself in the sand no matter how deep the water is — but I haven’t tried it in the Verian Deep yet (hehe)). So long as you move around the boat by jumping from one pose to the other and never stand up, the boat will not derez and you can relax and enjoy the scenery, work on some things, or get away from the keyboard for a break and come back then sail away. And, by the way, all of the poses can be fine-tuned and saved for perfect positioning. [My recommendation: park an alt in the cabin and let him/her mind the ship while you debark at places of interest — when you get back you can just hop aboard and cast off!]

    The entire ship is no mod, but the amount of customizing and colorizing to the fine details you can do through the menu system is amazing. Add to all that the fact that Motor Loon gives you all the textures full-perm with the set so you can export them and customize them to your heart’s content — I created a personalized flag and am working on the design for the sails — and I can’t think of a better purchase for the money.

    I’m often in-world so readers here who want to give the helm a try can IM me and if I have time we can cast off for a test run.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/caliburnsusanto/7843441516/

  7. Yes, I agree Motor Loon set a new standard for a contemporary, mid-sized cruiser in SL. 🙂
    The next Loon vessel I want is his mesh Zodiac! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4NgpHoca5w

  8. I spotted one of these the other day in a waterway south of the Blake Sea and immediately had to go check it out. Amazing boat, and exactly the sort of craft I enjoy. A pretty bulletproof, simple cruiser with a lot of nice detail. It has very quickly become my favorite boat to kick around in.

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