New Lines, No Rocks, Blake Bumps

Which object does not belong?

Which object does not belong?

Crows Nest Quiz

Remember those aptitude tests from grammar school? Look at the above picture of Crows Nest in the center of Blake Sea and decide which of the three objects does not belong.  If you answered Glorfindel Arrow, you lose 15 points and need to go back and study the thread on this topic at

On May 20, the  spectator’s platform is scheduled to move from Crows Nest to the southern end of Haggerty, facing north. That’s a much better location, and it will leave Fastnet Light as a solitary, majestic icon at the center of Blake Sea.

According to Admiral (ret.) MarkTwain White, the lighthouse will move slightly also, ending up “On the centerline (of Blake) between north and south and somewhat west of center.”

The Orange Race Buoy in Crows Nest, presently too close to the hazard of Fastnet’s rocky crag, will shift as well. It’s new location “Will make the orarge mark a great offset mark in connection to fastnet but not so close to the rocks…”

Danshire Plans New Line in Debelox

Thank you also to MarkTwain White for helping plan a new Linden race line for Danshire Yacht Club. We took a look at the options yesterday, and tentatively decided on Debelox, as shown below. The proposed line will be long for Big-Boat Races, and aligned for races with a default wind from the ESE. That should allow an ample pre-start mill area and long first leg options for races to Gaeta, or to the North or South Coasts of Corsica.

The planned line is still tentative, so please let me know if you have suggestions. We also don’t have a timetable for placement of the line, so please be patient. LL Department of Public Works is short-staffed and has many responsibilities. As soon as the new line goes in, however, Danshire will remove it’s current temporary line and fill in much of that space with expanded docks and club facilities for visiting sailors.
Proposed Debelox Raceline

Sorbet Rocky Road

Speaking of DYC, SL Sailing, and the Linden DPW, I’d like to give a big shout out to Michael Linden, who gave sailors a big assist yesterday by removing hazards on the SouthEastern coast of Gaeta.

Gaeta Grand Tour Course

Gaeta Grand Tour Course

In a sturdy boat with a quick breeze it’s actually possible to circumnavigate Gaeta in about an hour. The sailing is relatively low-lag with pretty stable sim crossings, possibly due to the reduced traffic and smaller number of builds on this island continent. That’s just a guess, I have no real numbers on it, but I am impressed that the sailing is about as good as it gets anywhere, at least for the moment.

Tig Spijkers has organized a number of Fleet races around Gaeta with strongly positive feedback, encouraging a lot of us to pull out our maps and start designing new courses that take advantage of Gaeta’s coastal waterways. Several days ago however our quiet regional promotion campaign to Sail Gaeta Now came to an abrupt halt, landing on the rocks both figuratively and literally.

Sorbet_003 copy

As shown in the image above, Sorbet sim lies on the southeast coast of Gaeta. The passage along the narrow outside channel was hazardous but interesting. It was full of massive, sculpted rocks that kept both skipper and crew awake. With skill and a little luck, however, most sailors were able to navigate the edge of Sorbet successfully even in large boats such as the VOJ or J-Class.

A few days ago however, the local sim owner made coastal adjustments that, when combined with the Linden rocks, inadvertently blocked the passage to most sailboats. Carmen Foden crashed trying to sail through and reported the problem;  I crashed in the same spot, and so did Chaos Mandelbrot and Tig Spijkers.  With that one change, suddenly Gaeta was no longer circumnavigable. As you can see from the above picture, there is a narrow canal, an inland waterway in the region, but it is far too narrow and shallow to support a keelboat.

Tig contacted Michael Linden about the issue,  and I’m thrilled to say that he came up with a fix that rapidly reopened the coastal waters off Sorbet. The rocks are now gone, and he even placed two appropriately textured navigational markers (one is indicated  by the green arrow above). I thanked the owner of Sorbet for their support of sailing, and to make sure we were all good neighbors, I bought a lot of potted plants they had on sale there. If I give you a plant for Christmas, now you know why (grin).

But the real news is: Around Gaeta racing and cruising is now open again! Thank you Michael and DPW!!!

Blake Sea Shallows

Reseating the keel and replacing the bolts on a large racer/cruiser after you run aground can be a daunting task. If you’re ever in that situation, please get your doctor’s approval before you ask the yacht yard how much this is going to cost…  these days I think you could buy the entire city of Detroit for less.

I’m bringing you this public service advisory because the new Trudeau J-Class has an impressively deep keel that extends 4m below the water surface. It has a deeper draft than most other boats in the Trudeau fleet, but I don’t yet know how it stands up against other big boats like the VOJ or RJ-44.

I’m mentioning it here because there are several points in Blake Sea where the J-Class runs aground, and some of them are in strategic spots.

Atlantic Shallows_007

The water surface in Blake Sea (and most other water regions) is set to a vertical height of 20m. There are several offshore, underwater seabed mounds or ledges but rise to a height of 16-17m. Unless you’re careful and traveling familiar water, there’s a fair chance you’ll run into one of these shallow spots as you are cruising or racing. watching the depth gauge actually may not be much of a help, since a number of the underwater ridges come up fairly abruptly. You don’t get much time for evasive action, and it’s hard to know what direction to turn toward deeper water.

One place where this may present a serious problem is in Atlantic sim, near the blue-striped racing buoy. J-Class boats that mill north of the Atlantic start line or that participate in races that use the Atlantic buoy as a Mark  run a high risk of running aground. Races usually don’t anticipate that problem on a defined segment of the race course. As I’m writing this, Massy Johim just announced one-design J-Class races on the Atlantic line today; it will be interesting to see if this becomes an issue. In my own experience I have run ground and slid free, blaming it on lag or being ‘edited.’ My guess is that most of the time when sailors bang their keel on the bottom in open water they don’t realize what happened.

Blake seabed

Blake seabed

In the other cases, however I guess you could argue that shallow areas and an irregular sea floor are common problems in real life sailing, and so I shouldn’t be complaining about this. Well, actually I’m not complaining, I’m thinking about a fix to get around this issue. In real life I’d use a nautical chart that showed depths and gave a simple topographic map of the seafloor.  As far as I know, that kind of topographic map is not available for either mountainous regions or ocean depths in second life.

I’ve been talking to Tom247 Woodget, who’s actually interested in this kind of issue.  He thought a roaming bot that records location and depth might do the trick; the information could then be turned into a map.  However, I still wonder if there are easier ways to get this kind of information.

MarkTwain White visited the “Atlantic shoal” with me yesterday to see the problem, and suggested that any sailor who finds an unmarked shallow spot in offshore waters should drop him a notecard. He’ll collect them and take appropriate action.

In the meantime… if you see somebody walking across the ocean bottom of Blake, occasionally pausing to write down some numbers… its prolly me.

6 responses to “New Lines, No Rocks, Blake Bumps

  1. In my experience, Blake Sea is much more shallow than the older USS sims. I am happy to find the depth 10m on average.

    While you may argue that RL seas have shallows, you can also see easily we have no condition similar to sailing on open seas here as it is. There seems to be always a shallow point, just a few metres deep, around.

    Finally, to name another widespread boat that suffers from this shallowness: the Elyd 50

  2. So in the next few weeks if you are sailing in Blake and you boats performance seems to be off check your hull, you may have Jane stuck to the bottom.

  3. Carmen Foden // May 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
    So in the next few weeks if you are sailing in Blake and you boats performance seems to be off check your hull, you may have Jane stuck to the bottom.

    Worse things could happen I guess.

  4. The shallows in Blake Sea, as good as they might have been intended, I just consider a nuisance. They’re very small and local and their placement seems totally random and unpredictable.

    Not only have I experienced boats run aground, the more annoying phenomenon of them ‘bouncing back’ on a piece of ‘sea bottom’ is common too.

    I can’t see how this ‘adds to my experience as sailor’ when trying to have fun in some areas of Blake Sea. Generally the only way to solve effects of this nasty terrain characteristic is by taking the boat in edit mode and moving it away from the obstacle.

  5. We’ve slowly been creating a Blake Sea chart, see:

    Some rocks in the Blake Sea have been recently dredged or blasted … but I don’t think we can guarantee that all shallows will be charted!

    Michael Blum (aka Michael Linden)

  6. Sailors,

    With the Mowry Bay Cruising Club we sail Blake as well as mainland waters. We don’t run into the depth issues that racing boats with bulb keels and large draft numbers can encounter. Sailing mostly Trudeau boats along with home built cats [Manul Rotaru has some very nice Catamarans] finds our issues being region crossings although hitting the sand hard doesn’t doesn’t actually count for me personally. Just a rogue wave in a way.

    We view the sailing as a personal challenge, a fun event and an opportunity to role play as “Long distance sailors.”

    Tory Micheline

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