Category Archives: Cruising

2015 Cruiser Kudos

LCC Oct06 021

OKOKOK, this is just a mini-plug for the great Leeward Cruise Group in Second Life. They’re wrapping up another year of twice-weekly cruises, full of sim-busting adventures that are the highlight of SL Sailing.

Yup, it’s true: for many years now, a large, highly dedicated, and very funny fleet have hit the water in SL each and every Sunday and Tuesday, under the wise guidance of Chaos Mandelbrot and Kittensusie Landar. It’s the most popular and longest-running sail event in all SL! Chaos even made it to a Hollywood cameo:

So…. if you know SL already but you want to learn sailing…. one of the best ways to accomplish that is to crew on a boat with the Leeward Fleet. There’s always room with great sailors, and the fleet motto is “No one left behind.”

cruisers at Half Hitch

 

And if you’re a real-life sailor in Northern climes and you’re looking for a great digital emulation during the snowy season, well Second Life‘s a great place for you too! Come join us for Real Life cruising and racing online! 🙂

Come Sail Second Life with us!

harpoon

Ragnarok Redux

LCC Ragnarok

Thank you to Admiral Chaos and all the sailors in the Leeward Cruise Group for the great ride on February 25! The cruise celebrated Ragnarok, the Viking apocalypse (aka the Gotterdammerung). A grand fleet rezzed in Seychelles Isles, and proceeded across  a 45-minute course to land at Second Norway in United Sailing Sims. Kudos go to IrishGent Resident and Mialinn Telling for their help orchestrating the event!

ZZ Bottom posted a number of great pictures of the fleet, and I’ll include several of her images below. 🙂

Feb 25 LCC launch

Seychelles launch (Courtesy of ZZ Bottom)

To sail Ragnarok, the LCC Sailors chose a wide variety of boats made by different builders, and that diversity was (and is) a strong testament to the strength of the Second Life Sailing community. Sailors across the grid now have a remarkably broad choice of wind engines, hull and rig designs, as well as optional gear enhancements to chose from!

To illustrate this point, in ZZ’s image above, Diamond took off in a speedy Mesh Shop Nacra catamaran while other sailors skippered cruise boats built by René MarineWildwindKtaba and Trudeau yacht yards (see below).

Feb25 launch

Fleet sets sail! (Courtesy of ZZ Bottom)

Here’s Don sailing at top speed in his OP-60 during the last leg of the sail,

last leg

and here’s Om and Jilly taking their time on a Classic Ktaba J-class.

OandJ 2

The Tuesday sailing conditions were impressive and it’s notable that most of the boats in the flotilla reached the cruise destination without undo duress.

However, no surprise, things weren’t perfect: there was a long lag in the LCC chat thread, and even the Admiral crashed once while sailing a trusty Trudeau Fran Jacques! 🙂

FJ1 Feb 25

Having said all that, let me add that the post-cruise landfall party was rather fantastic (thank you Mialinn!), and many of the sailors arrived in Viking cruisewear. Here’s a picture of Charlz Price that I shot from over Fiona’s right helmet-horn. 🙂

Charlz Price seen from Fiona

However, the prize for Contemporary Viking Cruise Attire undoubtedly must go to Om and Jilly. Their Ragnarok cruisewear incorporated Viking, Dali, Ansell Adams and Joro Bee-Team tones. 🙂 Wooots!

O and J Landfall

And now let me also add that special cruise-creds must go out to Benny and Runa too!

Benny

Benny spun a rather amazing two hour playlist full of of “End-of-the-World” themed tunes that set a perfect mood for the Ragnarock-minded cruise-crowd. 🙂

As usual, Benny’s apocalyptic ear was pitch-perfect; he even included Mose Allison’s take on the topic-du-jour: 🙂

After logging out Tuesday night, I kept smiling and thinking about the cruise, and I couldn’t help digging up mor’ Mose to play that fit in Benny’s stream-style :

What a nice event, Leeward Cruisers! Woots!

harpoon

Leeward Cruise Goes Raganok on February 25

Leeward Feb 18

February 18

Woots! The Tuesday Leeward Cruise on  February 18 was pretty fantastic!; Kudos go to Diamond Merchant who hosted the fun event. Diamond subbed forAdmiral Chaos Mandelbrot (who came a bit late), and as usual Bennythe Boozehound provided a stellar LCC soundtrack.

The weather was great, and nearly all in the flotilla made it to landfall on Diamond’s docks.

LCC Feb 18 at Diamonds

February 25

Well, Admiral  Chaos is doing it again on February 25. This week the cruise is from Seychelles Isles to Second Norway, and it’s a celebration of Ragnarok, the Viking Apocalypse. Big thanks to IrishGent Resident and Mialinn Telling for their help setting up this week’s LCC event!

OK, I know Ragnarok symbolizes the end of the world, and its perhaps not intended to be a happy event. Nonetheless, many online pundits predicted (with considerable dubiosity) that this final Norse conflict was set to go off on Saturday, February 22. 🙂

I’m happy to announce we all made it through that date. Given the legendary sailing skills of  the Norse over two millennia, the passing of Ragnarok last weekend seems a damn good excuse for a Leeward Cruise!! 🙂

Adm. Chaos think so too! Here’s his Cruise Manifest:

February 25, 2014
Leeward Cruising Club 5pm

It’s the end of the world (again) and we sail to the fabulous Second Norway to celebrate.

Good news, though: after the world is annihilated by a bunch of ornery ancient gods, it’s supposed to be restored as an idyllic paradise. So we got that going for us. So don’t expect any more crashing!

http://newsfeed.time.com/2014/02/19/the-apocalypse-starts-saturday-at-least-according-to-the-vikings/

Tunes courtesy of the Bennythe Boozehound !!

Here’s the Chart:
LCC Feb 25 chart

Here’s the landmark for the start:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Anse%20Etoile%20Isle/223/210/21

The destination landfall:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Second%20Norway/127/133/22

Wind:
SW at 15 knots
on a Trudeau this is /x set wind 225 7.5
On a bwind this is SW then 15
On a Quest this is wind dir 270 and wind speed 15

No one left on the dock!

— Chaos Mandelbrot

Ut mare quod ut ventus.

No one left at the dock

harpoon

Old Salts

Thorvald

Jane shows off RJ Kikuchiyo’s Eagle at DYC

I saw Thorvald Larsen online today; he has not been in SL recently, and so it was a real treat to chat with him and update for a few minutes.

Thorvald Larsen

courtesy of Dil Spitz

I met Thorvald in January 2007, I’m not sure where. It was either on the docks of the old SL Nantucket sim, or in an online Wooden Boat discussion thread. I don’t remember which, but it hardly makes a difference. 🙂

Thorvald is a life-long sailor. The Tahiti Ketch he owns was built by his father, and the boat became a major inspiration for Jacqueline Trudeau’s virtual Tahiti Ketch I & II designs.

TL and JFos

If I’m not mistaken, Thorvald also lobbied for “reefing”  as a sail trim feature in SL boats. That idea first came to life in the (rather legendary) Trudeau Twenty, but it quickly became a standard cruising and racing feature in sailboats from many builders. The recent Patchogue II has two reef points!

Thorvald is a stickler for realistic features in classic SL boats, so I had fun today showing off RJ Kikuchiyo’s recreation of the USCGC Eagle that’s docked at DYC on the west side of Knaptrackicon Channel. It’s rather amazing. 🙂

eagle

Thorvald is a great example of the way SL provides a platform where real sailors can work with talented digital designers and scripters. When that happens, sometimes wondrous creations emerge, and everyone smiles.

Let me close this little note with a recent clip of Thorvald’s Tahiti Ketch on a day cruise, sailing the waters of Long Island Sound:

harpoon

Modern Cruisers, Part 1: The Bandit 50



Cruising Troika

The cruising crowd continues to grow in Second Life. Luckily, the options available to SL skippers also continue to expand, and in the past few months several new mid-sized cruising craft hit the water.

Loonetta Quartet - LCC June 11 13

Loonetta Quartet at LCC

I admit it; for over a year now, Motor Loon’s  Loonetta 31 has been my personal ‘benchmark choice’ for a contemporary cruiser. Loonetta is a remarkably well-detailed and full-featured mesh build, and all the features somehow fit very nicely into a very tiny footprint (Prim 31, LOD 32).

However, time passes, and a sailor’s eyes start to wander… my Loonetta launched 14 months ago, and maybe now is a good time now to check out the marinas for a new cruising companion. 🙂

With that modus operandi, I’d like to highlight three cruisers with contemporary designs; it might assist some sailors seeking a new maritime relationship. The three vessels I’ll discuss are the Bandit 50, the Café Del Mar 75 and the RM 12. They are all well-crafted and nicely detailed; you can see their relative sizes in the header image above. Each boat has its own merits and it’s worth checking them all out to see which might meet your personal and particular sailing interest.

bandit 50

Bandit 50

The first boat I want to chime in on is the Bandit 50. It’s a 50 ft, mid-size sloop designed by Analyse Dean and available at the Mesh Shop. It’s a remarkably detailed and gracefully constructed mesh build. The beamy hull has plenty of room for crew topside, and there’s extensive forward cabin space as well.

The Bandit 50 build

Let’s click through some of the details. 🙂 The boat has so many features, it actually comes with two versions in the box. The full-featured cruiser is the Bandit 50B, while the Bandit 50R is a lightweight, stripped-down version more suitable for racing. Since the full-featured boat has a super-low LOD of 32, I nearly always sail that 50B version of the boat; I’ve had very little difficulty getting across sim borders or having parts fail to rez or fragment. I have not tried to race it, but I’ve sailed it on the Leeward Cruise, which can be a pretty big stress test.

50B

As you can see in the above image, the cockpit is generously proportioned, with a single center wheel and binnacle with a working compass. There’s the requisite number of winches and a full set of lines to help you trim the sails, and there are a number of extras too. The most obvious one is a large, removable Bimini top that provides shade and modest weather protection to the aft cockpit and stern. To my knowledge, this is the only sailboat in Second Life that has a Bimini, and it’s a nice touch.

In her review of the boat, Orca takes a rather dim view of this extra piece of canvas, calling the Bandit 50B:

“…a “silly” version with those fuglycake booths that cover the cockpit and give your boat the appearance of a maritime home for the elderly. …
“Well, if you’re forced to skipper a boat from underneath a canopy at least you can pretend to like it. …”

To the contrary, I think a Bimini can be pretty useful if you’re sailing in the Caribbean or another subtropical latitude. The sun can be scorchingly intense, and a piece of canvas over your head comes in pretty handy when the wind dies or the boat sits moored. Anyway, whatever you may think, the Bimini is totally removable. 🙂

wavingThe boat will accommodate several friends both above and below decks. and there are a rather huge number of poses and animations built-in to accommodate them. The poses are hierarchically organized within a series of pop-up menu pages. That’s nice and orderly, and it takes only a couple seconds to find what you want and take a seat aboard. 🙂

The skipper can actually control the boat from any of these sit positions, but you will probably want to be at the helm for the best visibility while underway. Speaking of which, the boat has a simple ‘Crew Hud‘ system that lets others aboard share sailing responsibilities by adjusting the sheets and controlling the halyards. A skipper can even hand over helm control to one other designated person aboard. That useful option is similar to the helm-switching available on the Loonetta.

keel BanditOne more important point: unlike several other recent mesh boats, the Bandit 50 has a physical keel. That feature adds to the realism, but it means you’ll have to be careful when cruising the shallows.

Cabin Comforts

Bandit 50 has a central gangway that leads below decks from the cockpit.

The main cabin has plenty of space, and a surprising amount of headroom. The layout is traditional, and it follows the design of  most cruisers I’m familiar with in real life (see below). The L-shaped galley is on the port side as you enter, with the sink extending to the middle for easy access. The starboard side has space for a nav station, and forward there are curved benches on either side. As with most cruisers this size, the tables in front of the benches are collapsible, to maximize use of the space.
There is a separate, main sleeping compartment in the bow that is large enough for two very friendly people, and there are two more sleep cubbies on either side of the engine compartment below the cockpit.

Cruising Cabin

Bandit 50 instruments and gangway

Sailing the Bandit 50

BWind 2.5. The Bandit 50 Uses a BWind 2.5 sail engine by Becca Moulliez. To set the wind, the skipper uses an iPad tablet that displays familiar BWind options. The current iPad2 can also be operated by an independent race director who can broadcast the wind parameters for a fleet of racers or cruisers that are nearby and listening.  (A small glitch with the iPad2: the time display is off by one hour. 🙂 )

Ipad controlI’ve discussed the BWind 2.5 engine before. It’s fine for cruising, but it may have significant limitations for some race applications; I’ll talk more on that in the next article in this series. Let me just emphasize here that Bandit 50 does not work with the standard raceline WWC in use across the grid, and the system for adding wind variance is quite different. Sailors will need to judge for themselves whether this represents a major handicap, depending on how you sail.

HUDs and such. The bandit 50 is controlled by a simple set of chat commands and keyboard combinations that will be very familiar to any user that owns a Mesh Shop boat. In particular, there are chat commands that turn the text HUD on or off, that engage the engine (yes, it has an engine!), and that change the communication channel.

Jane and Amy on BanditSpeaking of the HUD, the Bandit 50B has a full-featured BWind text-HUD that changes color when the sails are out of tune. It even includes text messages warning the skipper to pull in or let out the sail.
If that wasn’t enough, the sails visibly and audibly flap when they are out of tune, and a set of telltales go limp as well. It’s nice to have all that feedback while cruising. 🙂
If you not a big fan of HUDs, you can turn it off and sail by the boat’s instruments; there’s a complete display panel above the gangway full of analog dials that tell you about the wind and boat speed.
(Note: the Bandit 50R does not have a BWind text HUD; you have to race that boat by the seat of your pants. 🙂 )

Bandit 50 Polar

Speaking of racing, let’s talk about Bandit 50’s performance; it’s pretty speedy.
As I discussed a few days ago, on the Hotlaps test courses this boat earned a Handicap of 0.89. That’s pretty impressive for a beamy, full-service cruiser; it was one of the fastest boats in its class.

Here is the  polar for the Bandit 50B.

Bandit 50b BSvRWAThe chart to the right shows boat speed for Real Wind Angles (RWA) in response to a 15 kn constant wind speed. As you can see, the performance curve using the Main+Jib looks pretty typical for a sloop, with maximum boat speed on a beam reach with RWA in the 85°–125° range. On that point of sail Bandit 50 will do approximately 80% of RWS.

The spinnaker will only go up when the boat is sailing downwind with an RWA > 135°, and it automatically douses as the boat turns windward. When it’s up, the spinnaker will allow a skipper to sail 80% of RWS to a downwind angle of 150°.
You can see on the chart that there is an interesting, small “divit” in the performance curve around 132°. That happens when the Genoa is losing power, but before the spinnaker will stay up. It’s a pretty realistic feature, but it’s probably best to avoid that heading if you want to get the best out of the boat. 🙂

One more thing; if you look closely, the boat speed actually picks up after the boat’s heading goes over 180°. This is the same “by the Lee” effect incorporated into the Mesh Shop Laser One. It’s nice to see it here too. 🙂

Turn Style

Bandit50Cruisers are often beamy boats with lots of mass. It can be a real chore to turn them around, and it often takes considerable space. The wheel response can also seem sluggish and sloppy in RL and SL.

Well, that’s not true for Bandit 50. I did a series of 180° Half Circle tests on the boat to see if it could cut a sharp turn, and it came through like a champ.

turn radius -Bandit 50

The top image to the right shows the X-Y position of the boat measured each second during a hard turn into the wind from AWA -90° to AWA +90°. The boat has a turning radius of around 15 m, which in Second Life is actually pretty good.
To demonstrate that, in the second figure I superimposed Bandit 50’s turn onto the turn plots of a large number of other boats shown in gray. This boat handles pretty well!

Wrap-up

The Bandit 50 is a pretty great build that meets all the criteria a cruising skipper could hope for. The construction is wonderfully detailed and accurate, there’s enough room and sit positions for a crowd of friends, and the performance is realistic for a midsize sloop.

However, the best accolades come from Admiral Chaos Mandelbrot.
He runs the Tuesday evening LCC events, so he’s a veteran cruiser if there ever was one. 🙂 Chaos tells me the Bandit 50 has now replaced Loonetta 31 as his Tuesday cruiser of choice. 🙂

Go give the boat a test drive yourself at the Mesh Shop and see what you think.

Don’t decide too fast, though. I have two more cruise boats to tell you about in upcoming days. 🙂

Bandit at LCC July 23

harpoon

Fossett 2500

Fossett 2500

Although my regards are a few weeks’ tardy, I’d like to give a big THANKS to Chaos, Benny and Rona for their efforts organizing the August  20 Leeward Cruise. The theme was:  Jane Fossett’s 2,500th day in Second Life. 🙂 It was loads of fun, and gave me this opportunity to chime-in with praise for SL cruisers once again.

Chaos, Tory, Manul

The Cruising Club has been around for over five years, and it’s easily the largest and longest-running sailing event in all SL. 

Manul Rotaru and Tory Micheline initiated the concept. With strong support from Saxxon Domela and Elisha Paklena, Manul and Tory began Mowry Bay Cruising Club. It was an instant, huge success, and the MBCC fleet quickly grew in both membership and cruising options. After many months of regular events, MBCC was recognized by pretty much everyone  as a staple of sailing in Second Life. 🙂

At that point, Tory and Manul did an truly unexpected and somewhat amazing thing: They resigned. They had proven their point about the importance of cruising. They were not interested in SL politics, and they certainly did not want to form some sort of “Cruising Monopoly.” (Note: This is just my understanding of conversations from years ago. Please chat with Tory and Manul to get the real info.)

At their request, the cruising group reorganized and became the Leeward Cruising ClubSaxxon again hosted several meetings, and both Blackbird Latte and Cait played important roles, keeping the cruising group alive during a serious transitional phase.

Leeward Cruising

Chaos at helm; Jane, Fran and somebody crewing.

The mantle was then formally passed to Chaos Mandelbrot and Kittensusie Lander. That dynamic duo instantly went into high gear, establishing a regular schedule of challenging cruises and apres sail parties that won the admiration and participation of sailors, grid-wide.

In this context, don’t let me forget BennyThe Boozehound; he’s coordinated the music for over half the cruises since Chaos and Kitten took charge. Benny’s playlists have always been cruise-appropriate, and frequently sailor-specific; he’s set the theme for a litany of sailing adventures in SL. It’s no easy matter to set up the media at a new dock each week, and Benny deserves heartfelt thanks for his dedication to all the SL sailors over so many years. 🙂

The cruises have been successful for so long that Hannelore Ballenger recently posted (with some frustration) that the SL Sailing Association should be

LCC June 21

Benny!

renamed the SL Cruisers, since cruising was ostensibly more popular than racing! However, of course the issue is not so black-and-white; the truth lies somewhere in-between.

In Real Life, yacht clubs are made up of both cruisers and racers. The cruisers usually strongly outnumber the racers although there is often considerable overlap, and even occasional friction. It’s no surprise that similar community patterns develop in Second Life’s sailing clubs too. Sailing is a highly diverse endeavor.

Well, having said all that, let me add that the August 20 Fossett Anniversary Cruise at DYC/ Knaptrackicon turned out pretty great, with the usual flash mob of sailors and boats in attendance. It also gave me a chance to show off the wonderful, (in fact, rather incredible) recent rebuild of DYC by Elbag Gable and RJ Kikuchiyo.

DYC

DYC’s Northwest corner has a permanent deck designed to host LCC visitors and events. 🙂 Benny put it to good use on August 20!

Leeward Cruisers at DYC

Leeward Cruise September 17

Well anyway, that was a few weeks ago. As you read this, you’re prolly muttering to yourself: “So what? What has Leeward Cruising Club done for me lately?

I’m glad you asked! 🙂

LCC 17 Sep 2013

Leeward Cruise September 17

The September 17 05:00pm SLT cruise will revisit Sansara. The fleet will take off from the rez point dock in Valda sim, and move West through the Northern Coastal corridor until it merges with the waters of Bay City. The fleet will then move South to the opposite side of the continent to pick up the Southern Coastal passage heading East.

At the old site of Abbott’s Aerodrome, the hardy group of sailors will turn Northeast again, cutting into the legendary Bay of Space Pigs. An octave of sims later, the group will make landfall at the Sailing Center in Fudo, where Benny will be spinning tunes, and Rona will be waiting with hot chocolate and cookies for everybody. 🙂

See you at 5:00 in Valda!

testing new course

Test driving the route on Monday nite

harpoon

Danshire Yacht Club Gets a Makeover

DYC April 16_024a

I wanted to take a moment to give a huge shout-out to Elbag Gable and RJ Kikuchiyo for their wonderful help expanding and remodeling Danshire Yacht Club in Knaptrackicon.

knaptrack channelKnaptrackicon

Knaptrakicon sits in the middle of Nautilus between Bingo Strait and Dire Strait, and it includes the major channel that connects the North and South waterways for the linked continents of Nautilus, Gaeta, Satori, and Corsica. That makes Knaptrackicon a rather critical gateway for many who sail there. Click on the map above, and you’ll see what I mean.

KNAPTRACKICON2009

Click to enlarge: Knaptrackicon in 2009

may 10 2010  knaptrackicon

Knaptrackicon in 2010

DYC

In an effort to keep at least a narrow channel open, in early 2010 Tig Spijkers and I moved Danshire Yacht Club down to Knaptrackicon. When several more parcels went on sale there soon after, Elbag Gable joined in and picked them up, widening the waterway for all sailors to use.

The image to the right shows the channel and builds as of May 2010. The waterway is open and easily navigable, but there are still small builds on either side of the canal that make it difficult for more than one boat to pass at a time.

Well, that’s changing pretty quickly now! A few months ago, Elbag made another wonderful gesture, buying up several of the remaining parcels in the sim and deeding them through DYC to improve sailing. It was now possible to widen the channel, re-terraform the western half of the sim, and give the DYC builds a “fashion makeover.” 🙂 

That’s where RJ Kikuchiyo stepped in and took over, completely redesigning the space to give it a consistent, classic Northern European theme. RJ is a truly legendary maestro of maritime architecture in Second Life. Although the work is not yet complete, the new additions are strikingly beautiful, detailed and true, reflecting both RJ’s artistic vision and his knowledge of maritime history. Please stop by and take a look, and ask RJ about it!

DYC April 16 2013

Mandelbrot exp(7)

Quite a few sailors did stop by DYC this past Tuesday; the Leeward Cruisers celebrated  Chaos Mandelbrot’s Seventh Rez Day!

LCC April 16 map

click to enlarge

The cruise route for the day left DYC  and swung up through Dire Strait to Fedallah, before turning Southeast to cut back into Bingo Strait.

If you click on the map to the right, the green dots will give you a sense of  the size of the fleet. Early in the sail, boats were strung out all the way from DYC to the ends of Dire Strait! 🙂

Leeward April 16

As usual, the cruise was full of fun sailing and flat jokes, and Bennythe Boozehound’s music selection kept everyone pretty excited all evening. It was a great way to break in the new dockside dancefloor at DYC!

Chaos RezDay 7 Party at DYC