While practicing on Friday for the Schiffsratten Long Distance Race, my boat came to a sudden halt in Barbarossa. I thought I hit something, but I had plenty of depth and there was free water all around. My boat started moving again, so I ignored the momentary interruption.
Well, the same thing happened on Saturday during the actual race! Chaos Mandelbrot was skipper and we were traveling full-tilt toward the Finish, trying to make up time for a bad crash earlier on the course.
Well, in the exact same spot, “Ka-bam;” we stopped dead in the water, losing momentum and falling further behind. However, this time I looked more closely, and cogitated on the problem. Wowzers, I suddenly remembered there were submerged mines in Barbarossa!
The lead-in picture above shows what I’m talking about. The egg-shaped objects are tethered to the seafloor, and they move away when you hit them. (but no, they do not explode!)
Nonetheless, the submerged mines are substantial hazards to navigation, particularly to race boats trying to cross the sim at breakneck speed.
The picture above shows a large, phantom platform I submerged to demonstrate the depth of these obstructions. The mines easily extend more than a meter over the plate, meaning that any boat on an unlucky course that has a keel of 0.5m or greater could hit these things.
As far as I can tell there are only three floating mines in Barbarossa, but there could easily be many more in other locations I’m not aware of. The coordinates for the Barbarossa trio are indicated above, so you’ll know to give them a wide berth the next time you sail the Blake border islands.
Looking at that above image, I’m particularly impressed that the sim’s standard NE-corner Rez Zone lies immediately adjacent to a submerged object intended to blow the boats up! 🙂
Having said all this, I’m pretty sure LL and the DPW want sailors to spend more time on the water. The submerged mines are part of the Linden DPW’s humor, trying to keep us all paying attention. After all, sailing is an inherently dangerous sport, and skippers have a responsibility to know the waters they sail in.
Take a look at the above Blake Sea illustration from the summer of 2009. It’s Michael Linden’s nautical chart of Blake Sea waters, done with RJ Kikuchiyo’s assistance.
Just North of Barbarossa Island you’ll see an area marked ‘danger.’ I’ve enlarged that section and highlighted it in pink to the right.
Well, for three years Lindens have published charts showing this region of Barbarossa was ‘dangerous.’ It was up to the sailing community to figure out what that meant.
In fact, in that regard, the Blake charting was very typical of real-life navigational maps. They often contain disturbing things. 🙂
The chart below is a picture of the approach to Boston Harbor. On the full-size map, you can see that the blue arrow I inserted on the figure is pointing to an unexploded, submerged mine that’s reported to lie right in the middle of the inbound merchant traffic lane. (Yikes!)
I’m bringing this issue up to remind sailors about the hazards of Barbarossa, but also to raise a larger point. I’m thinking we would all benefit from more accurate navigational maps of SL’s waters, similar to the conventions used in real life and in the style shown above for Blake Sea. That might sound like a difficult job, but I think the time has come. There are many sailors, and there are only a small number of truly critical, high traffic sailing areas. We could all work together to develop a consensus foundation for sailing, and even upgrade the charts and courses over time.
I also think there might be a strong role here for assistance from the Second Life Coast Guard. Accurate, standardized charts, the consensus criteria for SL Aids to Navigation, and appropriate info for waterway hazards (like submerged mines) all seem like the province (and perhaps the mandate) of the SLCG.
Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I don’t think so. 🙂