BBK 137 and Nemo: Two Free Tako Trainers

BBK Keelboat and Nemo Nantucket: Two Free Tako Trainers

If you are new to Second Life sailing, the initial learning curve before you feel comfortable skippering a sailboat can prove a bit tough and sometimes frustrating.

Well, two new, free boats were released in the past few weeks, both based on the original Tako engine designed by Kanker Greenacre; suddenly there are more options for old and new sailors alike! Let me tell you about Nemo and the BBK Keelboat!


I guess I first need to talk about the Tako. It was the original Second Life sailboat designed byKanker Greenacre, and it sparked a virtual explosion of sailing over the past four years. Even though Kanker Greenacre left SL at the end of 2007, his landmark creation remains incredibly popular, and remains the starting point for many new sailors. You can still buy a Tako 3.3 in Grey for $250L, and although there’s no product support and it hasn’t been upgraded in a very long time, it still lives up to its logo; Tako is “The Essence of Sailing.”

It has a single mainsail plus a separately sheeted spinnaker that can add a powerful boost on downwind points of sail. The Tako uses a simple ‘Real Wind’ algorithm with wind shadowing to power the boat rather than a more realistic Apparent Wind engine, and it can use both racewind and boatwind.

The boat’s appearance is also fully modifiable, and templates are available for the sails.


The Nemo is a brand-new 6 meter keel boat that’s patterned after the popular Laser and earlier Flying Fifteen in Real Life. The SL  one design-creation is a collaboration between Nomad Zamani and Glida Pilote from USS’ Nantucket Yacht Club, and it’s based on Kanker’s original scripts. The boat comes in two flavors; the basic Nemo Nantucket is the one I’m going to talk about today; it’s free and intended to serve as an introductory trainer, to get more new sailors quickly on the water having fun. Once an innocent new person is hooked, they can buy an upgrade for $250L and get a Nemo-R that uses race wind and has modifiable textures.

The free Nemo has a very pretty hull design and simple rig, and the textures loudly advertise “Nantucket Yacht Club.” (Hey, it’s free, so no problem with that!) The boat’s features are intentionally kept simple. Similar to the original Tako, it uses “Real Wind” instead of “Apparent;” but unlike the Tako (or the real-life Laser 2), the Nemo has no centerboard or spinnaker to fuss with. Windshadow has also been stripped out of Nemo, I assume in the interests of simplicity and lag reduction.

The free version of this boat uses fixed wind, set to what was blowing  in Blake Sea-Atlantic when Nemo originally launched; it does not have a ‘race wind option’ unless you upgrade. I tested the boat in Bingo Straight, Big Fish, Zindra, and around Danshire’s waters, and I admit I sorely missed an option to change the wind  to suit the multiple different locations. If you are a new sailor, don’t hassle with that; I’d suggest just trying Nemo out where it was built, at NYC.

The Nemo philosophy of simplification  is also evident in the boat control interface.  Pretty much any sailor with a pulse knows that Kanker’s Tako 3.3 has  multiple control options, including both an “Info- HUD” and a control ‘Button-HUD.”  However, the Tako can also be fully controlled with chat gestures. That lets many experienced sailors use just a spare, free ‘Info-HUD‘ To provide essential data while sailing .

Nemo-N attempts to avoid that kind of’ complex, numbers-oriented sailing interface so a skipper can focus on sailing. There are no ‘chat commands,’ and Nemo’s info display is graphically clean, and bare-bones (see below). The boat has a single, simple prim-based info display that shows numerical boat speed, with analog  indicators of wind angle and sheet setting, but there are no numbers. (If you want to complain about that, just talk to a RL Laser sailor. They’ll tell you God doesn’t deliver the wind with three-point precision, either.. 🙂 )

Speaking of the wind,   I’ve already mentioned this boat uses ‘fixed, real wind.” The free version does not have a race wind option, and the boat is permanently set to 15 knots. You will need to buy an upgrade to use race wind.  Maybe that’s a blessing.

A Nemo skipper uses a Spartan set of simple keyboard commands to raise sail, steer, and adjust sheeting. On any particular heading, a click of an ‘UP/DOWN’ arrow causes a ten degree adjustment in sail angle, and “PAGEUP/DOWN” fine-tunes that in one degree steps.

Since the boat intentionally lacks numerical info feedback, I apologize I can’t give you terribly accurate “numbers” for Nemo’s performance. However,  using the default settings on a fixed Close Reach, I get a 10% reduction in reported boatspeed when I am ‘one big click’ out of tune in either direction.

Having said that, I did spend time measuring the angles on ‘screen-grabs’ of the circular graphical display and factoring in the actual compass headings. Since Nemo uses Real Wind, this actually wasn’t too hard. I counted it off on my fingers, and never once had to take my shoes off. The chart to the left shows the Nemo Nantucket boatspeed plotted as a function of real wind angle, using the default 15 knot windspeed.  The chart has a nice curve to it that peaks at a beam reach, with a maximum boatspeed that’s a bit over half True Wind.

If you look at polar plots for similar RL boats, this isn’t far off;
Nemo? Nicely done!

BBK Keel boat

Maybe a week before Nemo officially launched, another Tako-based boat hit the water. This one was Becca Moulliez‘s new BBK Keelboat (the BBK- 137), and it takes a rather different approach to upgrading the Tako. Becky’s intention was to upgrade and revise the open-source Tako scripts to minimize lag, resolve bugs, and endow the boat with a simple, clean interface that might be accessible to sailors at any skill level. She came up with the BWind engine and decided to release it free and full perm as part of a remarkable ‘Starter Boatbuilding Kit.

Click to enlarge

That kit is actually contained inside The BBK- 137 itself. If you look in the “Contents” of the boat you’ll find a detailed, step-by-step  discussion of how to modify the boat, or build your own variation. It’s pretty impressive. I’ve included snapshots here of the “Danshire Yacht Club” hull textures that were whipped-up by Blackbird Latte. A few minutes after rezzing a BBK 137, I’m pretty sure you’ll be on your way to  personalizing your own version.

Unlike the original Tako, the BBK- 137 is powered by a full dose version of Apparent Wind, and so the real-life calculations for headings at different wind velocities and boats speeds all apply. Although this version of the boat kit does not include race wind (that’ll be an option in the near future), the BBK 137 has  easy, on-the-fly adjustments for both boat wind direction and speed using simple chat commands.

If you want that wind information, you can get it easily along with a lot more boat performance data: The BBK- 137 offers two versions of a centrally-located, numerical display hud.

Don’t worry, however, if you’re just cruising for fun,  you won’t need to keep squinting at the display to command the boat since the HUD colors change to alert the skipper and crew whenever sheet settings fall out of tune. The boat sails quite nicely if you just follow the colors.

Since the boat uses simple, intuitive chat commands and has a full numerical display readout, it’s very easy to collect “polar” performance data on the BBK- 137. The graph below shows boatspeed plotted as a function of both real wind angle (RWA) and apparent wind angle (AWA).



The BBK-137 shows a very steep rise in performance over 30°.  At 40° RWA the boat makes approximately 60% maximum velocity, and it peaks at 60° RWA ( 36°- 38° AWA). It then shows an essentially flat, maximum response to correct sheet settings all the way out to a broad reach of approximately 140° RWA. At that point, performance decays appropriately as the boat moves toward a dead run.

If you are looking for a more curvaceous and less boxy response than this, no problem! Please remember this is a “demo boat” for the boat-building kit; it’s just waiting for your personal, creative tinkering! So go for it!


The final figure below shows a simple chart that lists the different features of the Nemo and the BBK 137. For simple comparison, I’ve added the Shelly, Tako 3.3, and the Leetle Cat as well. The Nemo and BBK Tako-based trainers share many similar features, and both are designed for ease of use and decreased lag. They differ in several major details, however, including their wind engine, hud, and overall modifiability.

The Nemo is intended as a club-specific free trainer, and should prove very attractive to a new skipper in SL. The basic boat intentionally has few options or distractions and its simple design will get many sailors going on the water in SL with minimal hassle, at least at NYC. The Nemo upgrade turns the boat into a competition version of the same basic little Nemo keelboat, but adds modifiable textures and race wind capability. The rest of the settings remain locked, ensuring this boat will stay ‘one-design’ for each competitor that ventures to race it. If you race One Design, that’s a key feature.


In contrast, the BBK- 137 Keelboat began with a different philosophy. It was focused on cruising, and minimizing user troubles. It continues true to that path, as demonstrated by its very friendly, open-source approach. However, the boat sticks to its own very high standards of function and usability. BBK-137 upgraded to “apparent wind,” correcting a serious flaw in Tako that Kanker Greenacre didn’t have the time to address before he left. Despite that major change, Becca without apology decided not provide race wind or wind shadow options to her boat… YET.
Go back and read her comments. They are humorous, but also show a remarkable understanding, commitment, and dedication. She’s on a mission, and knows where she is going.
Watch this boat and engine very closely…
I sail the Star Bay Oceanis 160 with Becca’s BWIND engine every day, and wow… I still don’t know how her engine makes that boat fly.
Bottom Line Time.
OK, which boat should you buy?
🙂 Sorry, that’s a trick question! They are both free, but I think the answer is clear:
Get both the Nemo and BBK- 137, then thank the builders please, and sail them ’till you wear out your CPU.
Oh, don’t forget to grab a free Shelly, and if you haven’t taken Isis’s free lessons or nailed your own free set of her extensive fantastic slide series on the LCat, grab those too.
It’s up to you which boat in Second Life meets your needs.
Oh? You’re a new sailor and think you want to pay for a boat?
Grin; relax; You will.
The more any new sailor learns, the more they value the skill and effort that go in to all the boats in Second Life…
and the more they appreciate each and every new vessel that launches from an SL boatyard.
So go ahead, get amazed with the two boats above…
Very soon you’ll be clamoring for more.

12 responses to “BBK 137 and Nemo: Two Free Tako Trainers

  1. Chaos Mandelbrot

    Tako has a motor.
    The Tako, BBK, and Leetle Cat do not have fine sail control using the arrows, they seem to jump the sail at unpredictable sizes. Though you can add gestures for fine sail control in the Leetle and Tako.
    The Nemo allows 1° changes in sails using the page up and page down keys.

  2. Somewhere in the article’s table it says ‘tako has full chat control’, leetle cat doesn’t..

    You do know how gestures work…?

    Can you elaborate how the leetle cat, just like the tako, can be fully controlled by gestures and not by chat, as the tako can? 😛

    • Yikes! Thanks to Liv for catching that one! 🙂
      I vexed a lot over how such a table could be misleading about different boat features, but I admit I flat-out missed that Leetle Cat error.
      Liv’s of course correct, and I’ll upload a new table. The Trudeau LCat has FULL chat control for both Skipper and Crew, and even lets the owner set the communications channel to reduce lag!
      Thanks Liv!

  3. Jane, thanks for the article featuring the Nemo (and BBK) on your web site. I feel I need to clarify a couple of points…

    The Nemo is based on (well, uses bits of) the public domain Tako scripts, which I think equate to v2.0 or v2.1. In this early version of the Tako at least, there was no windshadowing.

    As you’re probably aware, the Nemo can be set up to use two different sizes of sail. This applies to both the free and upgrade versions. Since the free one is aimed at beginners, its default sail is the small multi-coloured one. The Nemo-R upgrade is aimed squarely at racers and defaults to the silvery large sail. Although each size of sail uses the same polar, the efficiency of the rig differs – for the same wind in the Nemo-R, the big sail will make the boat go faster than it will with the small sail. To change rig on either version, left-click the boat to bring up the menu, pick “Rig Size”, and then choose “Large” or “Small”.

    To keep things simple for beginners using the free Nemo Nantucket, each sail uses a different wind setting. The small sail uses 15 knots with no variance in speed or direction. This keeps the boat behaviour consistent while a beginner gets to grips with things like wind and sheet angles, and the effects of trim. The large sail uses the standard race wind settings used at NYC, complete with variance in direction and speed. A beginner who has progressed a little can try out some racing using the same settings as others who may be sailing the Nemo-R, or other boats such as the Tako 3.3.

    The Nemo does use apparent wind. However, the true apparent wind is scaled down due to the scaled up boat speeds that are prevalent in SL. If apparent wind was modelled correctly with SL boat speeds, the boat would end up close-hauled no matter what point of sail it would/should be on.

    • Nomad said:
      “… The Nemo does use apparent wind. However, the true apparent wind is scaled down due to the scaled up boat speeds that are prevalent in SL. …”

      I think the discussion of ‘Attenuated Apparent Wind‘ or whatever we want to call it, is important and interesting; it affects several boats we sail now, and how boats will be designed in the future.
      Before addressing that issue, however, I admit I’m confused. I don’t see evidence of apparent wind in my Nemo-N.
      I went back and looked again tonight, using the ‘big rig’ while sailing a close reach. My boat accelerated to roughly 3/4 true wind speed.
      As any RL boat gains momentum, the headwind will increase, and the wind direction will rotate towards the bow (That’s ‘Apparent Wind’).

      Nemo has a blue indicator that shows wind direction. However, it never changed as my boat picked up speed, as shown in the images below. I took that to mean “Nemo does not see Apparent Wind.” It acts like a Tako, or an ACA33.
      Am I incorrect? (As usual? 🙂 )

      • Here’s a better example using the small rig on a beam reach. The boat accelerates to half the true wind speed, but the wind angle stays fixed at ninety.

  4. I’m new to SL and spent quite a bit of time trying to search for these boats. Can anyone provide a clue as to where they can be found? I found Nantucket, trying to find a specific boat there…needle in a haystack. Thanks, B.

  5. im happy with a boatbuilding kit, i just want race wind in it. I build a new boat called windPAWS with the becky’ss boatkit. AND yesh its tiny and
    i wanna use it for my tiny yachtclub, thinks its the 1st (biggies welcome)

  6. Pingback: Sailing Straight: Two Boats With a Lee Helm « Metaverse Sailing

  7. Wrighting nicely about BBK 137 om my blog, in swedish but I tested a Googletranslation and it was okay,
    Wounderful boat! No trouble with lag and I didn´t have to “undress” everything om myself.

  8. Pingback: Boat that took nemo | GhYou

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