Monthly Archives: October 2011

Kudos to October 25 Cruisers

Thanks to Fruit Islands, Eden Resort, and the new North Sea Region for hosting last tuesday’s Leeward Cruising Club cruise!

LCC is a rather huge group of bodacious boaters, and it keeps getting bigger and better. The excursions are coordinated by Kittensusie Lander, Cate Foulsbane, and Chaos Mandelbrot, a truly terrific troika of seasoned skippers.

The LCC Tues-Cruise is usually orchestrated by Chaos. In fact he’s done a nonstop great job at it each and every week, pretty much forever… or at least since that asteroid ruined Caribbean cruising back during the Cretaceous period.

(Editor comment: Please note, the Cretaceous Epoch should not be confused with SL’s legendary Cetaceous Racecrew.)

Anyway, on October 25 Chaos was detained by RL stuff and he asked for some stand-in assistance until he could arrive on-deck. Well, in short order a bunch of great Fruit Islands sailors with curiously familiar names all chimed in to help.

So please give mega-kudos to Equinox, Hawk, Elbag, Samlara, Xi, Benny, and Lizzo for their combo-super-assist backing up Chaos, LCC’s Penguinus in Absentia.

LDewell Hawker designed the course for October 25, making it a Grand Tour of Elbag Gable’s new North Sea sailing water:

Hawk's Oct25 LCC Cruise Route

The Cruising Crowd on Tuesday is often pretty big and takes some planning. Elbag, Hawk, and Lizzo knew this, and decided LCC needed a full sim for both the cruise Launch and Finish. Luckily, Mango Yacht Club was available… 🙂

MYC has a beautiful marina and a great, multipurpose club designed by Equinox Pinion and Dennis Lagan, the co-owners of Fruit Islands Estate. RJ Kikuchiyo had a big input there too!

Tuesday’s launch from MYC was a good chance to remind sailors that Mango sim has recently changed it’s Fruit location. When the North Sea project rolled out, Mango moved to the far West edge of Fruit Islands, as shown on Hawk’s map above. It’s protected harbor now opens on North Sea, and woots, that’s a pretty nice spot!

I guess the LCC fleet got a chance to decide that for themselves on Tuesday. By cruise time, Hawk announced that over twenty sailors were already heading out from the Mango dock into the surrounding sims. Actually, the fleet quickly grew to nearly twice that size; and I have personal evidence! 🙂

Once the flotilla took off and stragglers on the dock were cared for, I launched a boat to sail ‘clean-up’ behind the fleet. Well, within a minute from the time I hit the water, I was joined by two new sailors who were a bit late but wanted to come cruise. Right behind them came LCC’s Antarctic Admiral, Chaos Mandelbrot. Without warning he fell from the sky, his tiller in hand.  I stepped aside so he landed on the helm!

Four on the Floor (click to enlarge)

So in less than sixty seconds, my solo fleet addition turned into a commuter bus carrying a full crew. 🙂 We actually rezzed a new Trudeau Twelve to make room for everybody, and I’m guessing a lot of similar stuff was going on in the cockpits of other skippers, as the number of cruisers ramped up across North Sea. 🙂

I also think this is one of the hidden strengths of Leeward Cruising. People can just show up as their schedule permits; it’s all about fun, and there’s no stress.

Hey, you don’t have a boat?
Well, a LCC skipper has space for you.

Are you working late and can’t make the cruise?
Well, come in the middle, or just join the party after!

It’s hard not to love LCC’s attitude. The fleet keeps growing, the courses get more diverse, and the LCC organizers take it all in stride. Thank you to Tory and Manul for getting the cruising ball rolling in SL, and for setting the strong foundation that started it all. As I mentioned above, please also give a loud woot to Kitten, Cate, and Chaos. They continued the LCC legacy, and grew it into a legend. 🙂

Thanks to North Sea and Fruit too! The North Sea sims had good grid weather for the Tuesday cruise, and there were fairly stable sim crossings. In no small measure that resulted from Hawk and Fruit Island’s vigilance restarting recalcitrant regions prior to the LCC take-off.

There were four of us sailing a small boat Tuesday in the cruise.  Given the recent SL troubles, fraught with server issues and failed server hand-offs, I thought our vessel was doomed. However, Trudeau Twelve is a pretty rugged build, and North Sea kept a watchful eye. We actually made it the whole way with only a single mishap. 🙂 Cough… Our Admiral-Penguin-Skipper fell overboard briefly… Apparently, the sailing conditions were good enough that he decided to upgrade his graphics drivers while we were crossing dozens of ocean sims… 🙂

Anyway, after Chaos fell overboard, the rest of us drifted… telling jokes, eating crudite, and discussing Lindsay Lohan’s career. Chaos was back after a quick reboot however, and we forged ahead.

I admit North Sea is pretty interesting. I had my draw distance set to around 480m and we were cruising with a sizable flotilla. Despite that, for much of the time I could only see open water, with a sprinkling of distant sails on the horizon. It was a lot like RL offshore cruising!

North Sea, Eden, and Fruit Islands together present new options for sailing events, providing a combination of open water and narrow channel passages that will meet the needs of many skippers and event planners.

Although lots of good water is critical, let me also add that cruising is mostly about Friends. You may cover a long distance confined to your boat and close crew-mates, but the whole inspiration comes as a joint venture coupled with many other audacious captains. Your boat is just one part of a whole fleet, and you’re all heading to a far-off destination.

On Tuesday, that destination landfall was back at Mango, where Bennythe Boozehound was spinning his playlist. It was a great prize to strive for. 🙂

Yikes, it was a pretty great cruise overall, and I hope there are many more to come! GO LCC!!

Go Benny!

Sailors Cove does Halloween 2011 !!

Sailors Cove Halloween 2008

Each year Sailors Cove pulls out all the stops to celebrate Halloween! I’ve been to all the past events, and I can testify that they are pretty fantastic. Well, this year Sailors Cove is doing it it again, and here’s the announcement! Don’t miss this!

Fanci Beebe says:

Its that time of year again…
and the ghosts and goblins are out to play in Sailors Cove.

Welcome to Four Fantastic Halloween Happenings!


A series of old-time Horror Movies begin October 27!
Bring all your friends and get a pillow to hide behind!
Free popcorn!


Be sure to explore all three floors,
Plus the roof and grounds!
Oh, and don’t forget the Graveyard
(You may find that boat you crashed back in 2008! 🙂 )

and then mark your calendars and
get those costumes, because
it’s almost here…

~~~ The FIYC 4th Annual ~~~


That's Commodore Epi in 2008, lower left

Prizes for Costumes!
Surprises and goodies for all!
Great Halloween Tunes to dance the night away
spun by DJ Baldi McMillan

and finally, this is a must……


Fishers Island Clubhouse Clipper Bay
Sunday October 30th 4pm slt.

Come gather with us around the old time radio at FIYC!

Sailing Epicurus

A few days ago I posted a ‘first-look‘ about the new Trudeau Epicurus. It’s a nifty cat-boat that combines the simplicity of a single sail with the beauty and accuracy of Trudeau design.

I’m still looking at how the boat handles; there are lots of fun features to test out. That could take a while, so I thought I’d post a few basic Epicurus performance numbers and impressions so far… hopefully, there’s more to come. 🙂

Control Cat

In case there are new sailors in the audience, let me restate a few basic features this boat shares with prior Trudeau releases. 🙂

1. Epicurus can be sailed any way you want. You can use an onscreen HUD, chat gestures, or keyboard keys. Oh, and all your crew can help you sail too. 🙂
2. Darn, you can even sail it by proxy. 🙂 There’s a skipper notecard that lets you add your 1,000 closest friends who can borrow the boat. Just… well… don’t blame me when you login and find it beached someplace in Zindra. 🙂
3. Speaking of notecards, there’s one for Settings. It lets you adjust everything from camera angle, to tiller style, to wind display and avatar position. You get to sail your way, and the boat remembers it after you crash.
4. Even the HUD has multiple control options that display the stuff you need to know, the way you want to see it.

Polar Cat

The above list is pretty standard for a Trudeau release, so let’s talk Epicurus- specific performance!

I usually baseline- test boats using a fixed, 5.0 m/s breeze. That setting reduces the influence of heel, hiking, or ‘reefing’ and makes it easier to get a baseline performance curve a sailor can compare with other boats. It also establishes a useful, no-frills reference to evaluate boat-specific performance features.

With that intro, let me show you the ‘boat speed vs wind angle’ curve for Epicurus, using a constant true wind (boat wind) of 5.0 m/s.

The figure below plots boat speed as a function of the real wind angle (RWA) in Red. As sailors know however, the apparent wind force is what actually impels a moving sailboat, so the chart below displays a second curve shown in blue. The blue curve plots Epicurus’ boat speed as a function of apparent wind angle (AWA), and it’s appropriately shifted windward from the RWA results.

The chart’s dual display reveals a few things about the new boat:

First, Epicurus’ sail begins to fill and generate thrust at roughly 40° AWA. When the boat is moving that corresponds to a fixed heading of roughly 52° RWA.
Second, the fastest point of sail is a beam reach of 50°-80° AWA (70°-100° RWA). If you own or sail a Trudeau boat, these numbers probably seem pretty familiar. 🙂
Third, Epicurus has a maximum speed over ground (SOG) of roughly 40% RWS, and the shape of the response curve is fairly flat and forgiving; that makes Epicurus a serious and stable cruiser. Such a sail engine calibration is a tribute to the venerable cat boats of yore. They were designed and built to be simple, efficient work boats along the New England Coast.

GRIN. Of course, that never stopped anyone from racing them. 🙂

Heeling, Reefing and Hiking

No surprise, Epicurus is full of realistic features that modulate performance; they should keep any sailor pretty fascinated. 🙂

For example, look at the picture I posted at the top of this note. It shows my boat heeled way over, and it looks like I’m flying upwind on close haul. Actually, take a closer look, as detailed below.

On a windward heading in a stiff breeze, Epicurus will heel. When that happens, the sail becomes less efficient. A stronger breeze won’t necessarily get you going faster; you’ll need to also get skipper and crew to hike windward in order to bring the boat into better balance.

If you boat heels too far though, the rail goes under the water and yoiks, the boat grinds to a near-halt. 🙂 It swamps as water fills the cockpit! The picture above shows Epicurus sailing into a 12.1 m/s wind with AWA 76°… It should be roaring ahead, but it’s actually going no-place! The boat speed is only 0.7 m/s. Although the sails are set optimally, the boat is on extreme heel and the rail is underwater. The reason it is barely moving is pretty obvious; the boat is full of water, it’s swamped!

You can fix this by hiking windward to level the boat. However, often that maneuver proves insufficient, even when you have several crew-members aboard to help you out by sitting on the windward rail.

At that point, when the wind is stronger than you are, you have to shorten sail; That’s when you need to Reef. OK, I know I’ve previously talked a lot about reefing in Trudeau boats, but live with it, here I go again. 🙂 I like this feature!

In the Trudeau Twenty generation of TCY releases (Back when Bush was President), under high wind conditions and strong heel a sailor could reef and T20 would accelerate. Getting to a reef point was a racing mitzvah; the boat would suddenly take off, supercharged.

Well, Reefing in RL isn’t that simple. Reefing doesn’t actually speed up a boat. The maneuver just shortens sail and rights the boat; it keeps it from swamping or capsizing. However, no surprise, in real life that’s pretty important. It tends to keep the crew aboard alive, and allows them to forge ahead despite foul, heavy weather conditions.

Anyway, let me emphasize this point with the graphic above. In the left image, you see my boat heading windward against a strong breeze. It’s near the tipping point, heeling way over, and it’s about to fill with water. When that happens my boat will fill with water and stop dead,until the cockpit drains and I get going again. 🙂 I’m skippering solo and I’m already hiked windward, so what can I do?

Well, the answer is obvious, and shown in the right-side image above: I can shorten sail. If you look at the numbers, reefing Epicurus won’t make you go faster; it shouldn’t. However, it will keep you upright in strong wind, and it prevents you from swamping your boat.

I admit it, I love this effect; it’s pretty subtle, but deliciously realistic.

It’s one of the things that makes Second Life Sailing worth Second Life Living. 🙂

Anyway, I’ll post the rest of the numbers once I’m done having fun sailing this boat! 🙂

Nemo 2 Interview

Last year Nomad Zamani and Glida Pilote got together and crafted Nemo, a six meter keel-boat inspired by the Laser and Flying Fifteen. Well, Nomad and Glida are at it again; they recently launched Nemo 2, a truly innovative  pocket-racer.

Nemo’s creators kindly agreed to talk about their new build on MetaverseSailing, and their interview is posted below!


JFos: Hi; thank you for taking time to talk about your new boat!
Perhaps we can review some basic nuts-and-bolts first, since many readers may not be familiar with Nemo.
Can you tell us why you decided to build the original Nemo? After all, there were several other dinghy racers available at that time, and there are even more now. What was your goal when you started this project?

Nemo: We wanted to make a boat that would encourage new people to try sailing in SL, particularly beginners. There were already free boats available, but we felt that they all had aspects that reduced their appeal somewhat (time limited, quirky styling, or whatever). So we made a sleek, good-looking boat that was fun to sail and easy to use, and that didn’t delete itself after a certain time. Now, in mid October 2011, distribution is fast-approaching an amazing 10,000 free Nemos.

JFos: I knew the first version of Nemo was popular; in fact I’m still using a Nemo Race pic as the banner for this website. 🙂

Nemo: I’ve always liked that picture – it says “shared fun on the water,” which is what it’s all about.

JFos: Wow, 10,000 free Nemos, I guess I never really appreciated how popular the boat turned out! That actually raises my next question, why did you decide to upgrade that boat to Nemo 2?

Nemo: Nemo 1 was based on the early Tako sailing engine, and an update was always on the cards, but we wanted to launch the boat to gauge interest. The response was good, so work on Nemo 2 started within a few weeks, and took about a year and a half. The main aim with Nemo 2 was better realism. There was no particular reason to release Nemo 2 now, other than the feeling that it was time to do it – that a significant milestone had been reached. There are still some ideas to come, and we’re planning to do some incremental releases to phase them in.

JFos: The original Nemo came in two flavors: a basic version for free, and an upgrade version that sailors could purchase for a small charge. Have you continued that arrangement for Nemo 2?

Nemo: No, there is now only one version. The reason for the free and retail versions of Nemo 1 was to give us a way to estimate the number of ‘conversions’ – people who tried the free boat and took enough interest to buy the low cost retail version. For Nemo 2, we reconsidered. Since the primary purpose of the Nemo is still to attract new people to sailing, and because most newbies don’t have any money, we elected to drop the retail aspect – it’s more encouraging to give them full access to all of the boat’s features right away. It also means that there is only one version of the boat to produce, so development effort can be focused in more productive areas.

JFos: Nemo is free? 🙂 Pardon me, but lets have a 30 second break here, so sailors can stand up and applaud Nomad and Glida. 🙂
I think we know that sailors don’t go to heaven, they’re too crusty and foul-mouthed for that… but if Nemo’s free, maybe you two deserve a special pass. 🙂
You’ll have to stand in line behind the builders of the free Shelly, BBK, and Fizz that came earlier, but wow that’s not bad company. 🙂 Nice work!

Nemo vendors

JFos: OK, lets continue… Where can sailors get Nemo 2? I hear that estate owners can get Nemo vendors; what’s the arrangement for that?

Nemo: Nemo 2 and its vendors are all free. The official Nemo display (Nemo HQ) is at Nantucket Yacht Club, but anyone can get a boat from any Nemo vendor, or from any Nemo (the boats themselves also function as vendors). Estate owners are more than welcome to rez a vendor at their dock, their training area, in their shopping mall, etc.

JFos: That should make them very popular!

JFos: Let’s now talk about a few Nemo 2 details, ok? How has Nemo 2’s appearance changed? Is it the same boat, or new features?

Nemo: The Nemo is still a very pretty 6m keelboat with a single sail. The basic shapes have not changed, but it does have new sails with distinctive radial stripes in a selection of bold colours, and the crew now lean in and out with heel. Other changes are more subtle, like the wind type indicator around the base of the mast, and the round trim indicator in the top half of the bulkhead instrument. We are currently working on sculpted sail shaping which will be in a forthcoming update.

JFos: Are there changes to the underlying build? I understand the new boat is now ‘Mod,’ and prims are user adjustable.

Nemo: While the basic construction is the same, Nemo 2 combines the two variants of Nemo 1, with extra flexibility into the bargain. It now has both race wind wind and a simpler (but much more sophisticated) ‘rez and sail’ type of wind, and has modify permissions. We’ve added a Settings notecard for defining custom preferences, the sail textures are full perms, and the more enterprising customizers could even replace the crew animations if they wanted.

JFos: Any thoughts about Mesh in your future? 🙂

Nemo: We’re aware of Mesh, but it’s very early days for that technology, and many current viewers are not compatible with it. It does have potential, however.

JFos: I suspect you are right. I can add here that my first tests of the Nemo 2 production release had a ‘glitch’ when I rezzed it under Firestorm. In case others experience this, the problem wasn’t the boat, it was a Server / Firestorm issue, and it spontaneously fixed after two days. Thank you to Nomad for helping me trouble shoot the problem; the Nemo crew get an ‘A’ for tech support.

JFos: OK, let’s talk Nemo 2 performance issues. 🙂 Is the script load the same? What’s changed?

Nemo: It’s hard to gauge script load in a boat  that has multiple scripts, or to compare with an earlier boat that has different characteristics. When Nemo 1 was made, certain commands weren’t available, which influenced the scripting structure. With new commands available to Nemo 2, there are fewer scripts doing more work, and some very small new scripts appeared (like the collision sound handlers). Script optimizations also help things to run more efficiently. A key aspect of Nemo is that it has always been geared towards low lag – it is not controlled using chat listeners or gestures, and there is no external hud. Suffice to say, Nemo 2 feels very responsive.

JFos: I chatted with Armano Xaris yesterday. He’s a skilled racer and highly analytical sailor. He gave me a head’s-up about the Nemo 2 wind system, and Armano thought it was pretty great. Can you tell us what he was talking about? What did you do to the wind? 🙂

Nemo: Oh, not much… …apart from completely reinvent it from the ground up. 🙂

JFos: This sounds like a big topic. Does Nemo 2 have Wind Shadow?

Nemo: Yes. The new wind system began as an experiment in implementing wind shadow that was ultra low lag. I wanted to avoid the exponential chat lag that many boats suffer from, and to be free from restrictions like chat range and sensor limits. So I networked the wind shadow. In essence, the boats to talk to a separate server rather than each other, which adds up to a dramatic reduction in the load on the SL systems, and the scope to build a far more sophisticated shadow model.

JFos: Tell us about ‘Global’ wind settings.

Nemo: There are no settings – you simply rez and sail. The boat can still use race wind (and now restore it after a crash), but global wind is a different thing entirely. The server extracts wind data from a real world weather buoy, and uses this to create a wind profile – sequences of gusts and shifts – that is made available to all boats in real time. The profile has random elements, but is consistent for all boats. The chance of the pattern of gusts and shifts repeating is effectively zero. Nobody, including me, can predict when the next puff is going to happen, or how strong it will be.

JFos: What does networked wind do that current methods don’t?

Nemo: A networked wind system can be developed in the background without having to revise the boats, and it has scope for introducing features that are impractical in implementations that are based solely on in-world scripts.
The wind profile can be refined, and other subtle wind/boat effects can be added. The first step has been taken to model local variations due to terrain – we are currently experimenting with land shadow. This is not a preconfigured system like that used in the WWC wind setters, it is real time. The lee side of an island or building moves around with the current wind. Even when the wind veers slightly during a gust, there will be subtle changes in the shape and position of the land shadow.
The client/server architecture also means that other client types can be introduced – they don’t have to be boats. There is a wind sock at NYC that reacts to the current global wind, and we have a prototype live race map that can show the positions of boats registered for a race as they sail around the course.

JFos: The first Nemo used a modified Apparent Wind calculation; Wildwind boats do a similar same thing. I appreciate this is a five year-long discussion that dates back to issues with the Tako, but its an important performance issue. Is Nemo 2’s ‘Apparent Wind Adjustment’ the same as the original Nemo?

Nemo: The scaling to compensate for Tako speeds has gone – Nemo 2 has apparent wind done right. For example, I recently experienced some sudden lulls in global wind. For a few moments, the boat’s momentum carried it forward at a higher speed relative to the now-lighter wind. The apparent wind suddenly moved forward quite a lot, and gradually moved back as the boat slowed in line with the lighter wind. This is exactly what should happen. I didn’t think about this when I programmed the app wind code – all I did was crunch the vectors and trigonometry. When I first saw it, I had one of those moments where you go, “now, why did that…. of course!”

JFos: Have you changed the wind engine polar in Nemo 2?

Nemo: The sailing engine has been rewritten from scratch. There isn’t really a polar as such, but a mathematical function that defines the boat’s characteristic power transfer curve for all points of sail. From this, the boat’s actual speed is influenced by the size of the sail, the amount of heel, sail trim, etc. A less obvious factor is wind speed – Nemo 2 has windage and will drift to leeward, so even though a stronger wind can make it go faster, the effect is non-linear – leeward drift aids you on a run, but works against you on a beat.
So, the boat does have a polar, but it is by no means ‘programmed in’ in a simple way. The entire engine is mathematical (there are no lookup tables), and while the dynamic factors have been modeled with a certain amount of independence from each other, they do interact. For instance, heel affects speed, but not directly – greater heel increases water drag, and drag affects speed. It’s nearly impossible to predict the behavior of a system built like this, so the development of the engine was done empirically – the dynamics were adjusted and tuned over many weeks to home in on a boat that felt right overall. I don’t actually know what the polars are, and it would be fascinating to see the curves for different non-varying wind speeds (and especially a comparison of the two sail sizes as the wind gets stronger).

JFos: Sailing in SL is sometimes wondrous, but frankly it often falls short of our expectations. What do you hope will change this coming year to improve sailing on SL’s grid?

Nemo: I bet you say that to all the boat builders, and I bet they all say: ‘better sim crossings’. 🙂
I’d like to see the principles behind global wind gain traction because I think the wind setter model is becoming dated. Anyone that has sailed in RL knows that nobody controls the wind – that race courses are chosen to suit the conditions rather than picking wind to suit the courses. The problem with the latter (aside from being rather bizarre to a RL sailor) is that things can get very samey – when you sail the same courses in the same wind, week in, week out, you end up being able to predict your tacks and gybes to the Nth degree. You can even use navigation tools to set waypoints for the turns you will make next week, or next month. Real sailing is not predictable and repetitive, it is a dynamic activity where things change constantly – the notion that you can practice a course that you will be racing in a week’s time simply doesn’t exist.
If SL wind had been done properly from the start, there would never have been a need to invent wind setters. The wind would have been accepted for what it is, Hay Ah’s excellent new rotating start line would have been invented long before now, and it would be natural for every sailor to know the rules of the road because every boat would be sailing in the same wind. I honestly feel that, while the wind setter model was necessary in its day, the legacy wind technology in SL is heading towards a dead end. It lacks scope for better realism, dynamism and expansion. I doubt that LL will ever fix SL wind, so my view is that, if it’s our world, our imagination, then it’s up to us to take the technology forward.
Nemo 2 and its Windmaster networked wind system is a major step towards this. By demonstrating that the technology really can be built, it will hopefully inspire others to try similar systems. Indeed, I have already had some interesting conversations with others who see the possibilities that this approach offers and want to learn more.
Over the next year, I would like to see other developers investigate networked systems with a view to eventually building something that can be used by all boats in SL. I don’t think we’ll see global wind for all within a year (it is not a trivial undertaking), but learning the systems and techniques, and possibly building the foundations of such a system, could be achieved. For Nemo, the focus will be to develop the boat further and continue enhancing the Windmaster system – and maybe do some sailing that isn’t just thinly disguised testing!

JFos: Well, those are tall orders, but they give sailors great goals to set and work for. I certainly hope they get get realized too.
Thank you for sharing your ideas, and thank you for Nemo. 🙂
I learned a lot today. 🙂


Addendum (JFos): There are several free boats available to new sailors in SL. Although they are free, please never think they are low-tech or ‘dumbed-down’ compared to other SL sailcraft. The Flying Fizz, the Shelly, and the BBK are all great boats with innovative, pretty wonderful scripting. It looks like Nemo 2 now joins that select group.

There’s a common saying: “Money can’t buy you love.” Well, it looks like Nomad and Glida proved it again. Nemo 2 is indeed a boat to love… but it comes free,  so it’s not so simple. You’ll need to sail with Nemo, earn the affection, and build a relationship.
My guess is that could take a full two or three minutes, depending on which of Hay Ah’s racelines is doing the countdown.

By then you’ll be hopelessly in love with this little boat. 🙂

“Lee Helm” follow-up

I wanted to post a brief update on the Lee Helm issue in SL boats;  I wrote about it last year, but Orca Flotta’s recently posted about it, and one of the boats I first discussed just got a major upgrade (the Nemo II).

This seems a good time to chime-in once more on the issue.

Deviant Helms

Many sailboats in Real Life have unbalanced rigs that make it difficult to sail on a fixed, upwind heading. Some boats will pull into the wind (called a weather helm), and others are rigged to fall away (called a lee helm). These effects are common and not necessarily bad; often a weather helm can be an advantage.

Anyway, eighteen months ago I wrote a short note about this, arguing that certain SL boats behaved as though they had a ‘lee helm’ bias. Go read that post to get the details. 🙂

Mothgirl Dibou kindly commented on the issue. She suggested the SL lee helm effect was a function of the sailing engine’s heel algorithm. As the boat tilted, the bow swung away downwind. I may not have explained that correctly, so go read her comment yourself! 🙂

I’m bringing the issue up here because I initially only found a lee helm in two boats, the TAKO and NEMO. Since then I looked at many more scenarios and it turns out a large percentage of popular SL boats have a lee helm, including Fizz-engine boats, Tako clones, and several Trudeau releases.

Here’s an example sailing Trudeau Twelve. If you set a fixed, upwind course and let go of the helm, over a couple minutes the boat gradually swings leeward. The graphic below shows apparent wind angles, but the real wind angle changes are even greater; the boat physically rotates leeward by several degrees each minute.

This is a small issue, since few skippers will walk away from the helm for several minutes, hoping the boat will sail itself. 🙂

Having said that, let me also comment that several boats in SL don’t show a helm bias. Those “helm neutral” boats include the Wildwind fleet, the boats based on the BBK engine, the Quest fleet line-up, and the recent Trudeau HepCat catamaran.

Although Nemo I had a strong lee helm, the new Nemo II is now on the hem-neutral short-list. 🙂 In my hands, Nemo II sails pretty straight against the wind, and the graphic below makes that point.

If you sail Nemo II close hauled starting from the Hepurn raceline and aim at the NE corner of Mare Sailing Center, you can let go of the tiller. 🙂 The boat will hold a straight line course the whole way. (Note that the boat speed and wind angle are unchanged in the two views below, even though the boat sailed two minutes uncontrolled, and passed over a sim border en route.)

Click (or double click) to enlarge

Anyway, I’ve probably said enough about Lee Helm. It’s a small point for most SL sailors, and I’m pretty sure there is no good-bad to this issue. It’s just a feature of boat design, and as I said earlier, many RL boats also have a helm bias.

There are now many yacht yards and boat builders in SL, and each new vessel that comes down the launch ramp has its own style, character, and ‘goal.’ It’s great that sailors now have so many options to choose from. In that context, lee helm is just a trait that’s built into many boats, and I think it’s far from the most important challenge sailors face on SL’s high seas. 🙂

Hotel California at FIYC October 14!

Announcement courtesy of Kentrock Messmer:


Fisher’s Island  Yacht Club- SL invites you
to an amazing evening of
fun, dancing and nostalgia.
Welcome to:


Where: -Hotel California Ballroom
in the clouds above Clipper Bay!
Clipper Bay Sim (105, 190, 3500)

(built by ZsaZsa Adored)

 When: Friday, October 14th 7-9pm  SLT

Music will be a mix of 80’s love songs,
lite rock, and the Eagles, of Course!!!!

Free Tequila and Mojitos at the Bar!

DJ Loriiii Shepherd will  be providing the music
and builder ZsaZsa Adored  will host !!

Dress – Spanish or Beach dressy – formal welcome – heck, come casual too … come comfortable and to enjoy a  wonderful fall friday evening!!! Good friends… Good times.  All are welcome, so invite your friends!!!

Can’t wait to see you there !!  

— Loriiii Shepherd, Zsa Zsa Adored, and Fanci Beebe —

October 11 Leeward Cruise

click to enlarge

I’ve posted about Leeward Cruising Club on many occasions, but let me give LCC another shout-out today. Their mixed fleet cruises are loads of fun, and usually draw a truly huge crowd of sailors. Months ago I wrote about  a regular Sunday LCC cruise from Danshire that seemed nothing special… but wow, fifty-two boats rezzed! Yikes! 🙂

Oct 11 LCC chart; click to enlarge

Probably the best thing about Leeward is the attitude. It’s is all about sailing together. It’s true that SL’s best racers often show up, but the cruises are about fun sailing, and there’s no competition involved. Each cruise strongly welcomes any new sailor who wants to take part; you don’t need a boat, and you don’t even need to know anything about sailing.

As Woody Allen said: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” That comment surely applies to LCC’s cruises; if you can make it to the launch point, a skipper will gladly make room for you aboard their boat. LCC’s motto is “No one left on the dock!” 🙂

Sailors en route from Scar; click image!

Cate Foulesbane, Kittensusie Landar, and Chaos Mandelbrot are the Holy Trinity in charge of Leeward Cruising, continuing the great legacy of the group’s original founders, Tory Micheline and Manul Rotaru.

Yesterday’s cruise kept the faith and stuck to LCC’s tradition. It was particularly great, since the sim conditions were the best in a very long time.

Chaos Mandelbot serves as Admiral-on-deck for most Tuesday cruises. Yesterday he charted a course that sailed the newly opened coastal waters of Northwest Satori, bringing the fleet to landfall at Diamond Marchant‘s marina in Poob (26, 37, 21).

The cruise began at the Coastal Waterway rez point in Scar (22, 230, 21), a small island dock in Linden waters on Satori’s West edge (see the picture at the top of this post). The fleet then progressed along the continental rim of Satori to enter Bingo Strait, the body of water that separates Satori from Nautilus.

I posted a close-up view of the map below. As you can see, once the cruise fleet entered Bingo Strait, they sailed Northeast, cutting through “Brenda’s Channel” (blue arrow below) to reach the destination dock in Poob. Brenda’s Channel was created by Elbag Gable several months ago to give sailors more cruising options; it’s absolutely great. Thank you Elbag and Brenda!

The destination in Poob (yellow arrow below) is Diamond Marchant’s marina. As most SL skippers know, Diamond’s a great sailor, and she was one of the original marina developers in Bingo Strait. Big thanks to Diamond for hosting the cruise finish!

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about yesterday’s cruise was the sim stability. Despite a very large fleet and a long voyage, nearly every boat arrived at the destination in Poob intact.

Click me!

Francois Jacques and I crewed for Admiral Chaos, who sailed the new Razor. I thought three of us aboard a new vessel in the middle of a large flotilla would spell disaster… but not last night! The new Razor held true, and so did the several Trudeau Epicurus that joined in… as well as the numerous Quest, BBK, Rotaru and Balduin builds!

For at least one evening sail, the grid had game, and functioned perfectly. It was pretty wondrous, and it’s how sailing should always be… 🙂

To celebrate the point, the the post-cruise party at Diamond’s place was DJ’d by Jakespeed Northman; his playlist was, as usual, pretty super!

So thank you LCC, Chaos, Cate, Kitten… and Diamond, Jake, and Elbag too; it was a great cruise! And omg, thanks to LL for… at least once… lifting the fog so cruisers could see what SL Sailing is really capable of. 🙂

Click me!

Fizz Cup: Round Three, Group 1 Recap

Fizz Cup’s in full swing, and the Round Three Regatta went off well this past weekend, hosted by EmmanuelMara Resident and the Marina Sport Racer Sailing Club. As one of the judges for the 6:00am race set, I was in a good position to snap pics of the race boats at some key points.

The competition fleet that morning had seven experienced sailors, and they were all strong contenders to win the ultimate Fizz crown. In alphabetical order, the intrepid group included: EmmanuelMara Resident (the Round 3 host 🙂 ), Liv Leigh (who sailed under the pseudonym “LivvLeigh Resident”), Miwha Masala  (who sailed under the pseudonym “Miwha Masala”), Ox Seetan, Porter Tracy, Sandra Absent, and ziz Kidd.

Armano Xaris stepped in as Celebrity Race Director for the occasion, and Lothor Vlodovic bellied up for the awesome responsibility of Chief Justice for the event. Lothor did a great job, and he was backed up by an able judging crew that consisted of Gemma, Jane, and Kentrock.

The race took place in MSRSC’s home waters, and I thought it turned out rather great. Kudos to EmmanuelMara Resident and Fizz Cup staff for all the preparation! I know there was a lot of behind the scenes trouble-shooting, but at 6:00am everything gelled, and in my humble opinion the conditions for Group 1’s races turned out better than anticipated. From a judging perspective, it was possible to relax and actually have some fun. (How often does that happen in a major regatta series?! 🙂 )

Anyway, the racecourse chart is depicted in the graphic at the top of this post. It was a simple “Olympic style” triangle with equal legs. It began from the San Lucas raceline with an upwind beat to the Top Mark in Larate. That was followed by a reach leg to a race buoy in McGoubrey. The fleet then came back to a buoy in San Lucas to close the triangle, but before finishing, the fleet took an extra windward/leeward lap out to the Larate Top Mark again.

The course was pretty classic, and a good test of a sailor’s technical skill. It reminded me a lot of the old Mowry Bay Olympic “TPS” course (TPS stood for the shape of the course, which was a “Triangle Plus Sausage” 🙂 ).

So here’s how it played out Saturday morning:

Race 1:

The first race is often  a ‘shake out,’ where everyone gets their sea legs. The race skippers experience the grid quirks for that day in that location, and they make adjustments. There is a saying in poker: “You play the hand you’re dealt.

That was in evidence during the first race; It was a bit more sloppy than the ones that followed.

When the race started, everyone took off on a starboard tack and Miwha won the pole position. She cut the line next to the committee boat a scant one second ahead of ziz Kidd, who opted for a safer start in open water further leeward.

Liv was right on Miwha’s heels, but the Award for Effort in thAt race has got to go to Ox Seetan. Ox started eleven seconds behind Miwha and and from a worse angle. However, at the end of a tough upwind beat against a savvy crowd of expert racers, Ox caught up to Miwha. As they took the turn around the Top Mark Orange Can, Ox was tightly overlapped, parallel, and had the inside advantage. Miwha correctly gave room, allowing Ox to capture the lead as they finished the turn.

Sadly, at that point Miwha crashed, so we wont know how that duel might have ended if Ox and Miwha went toe-to-toe for the full fifteen rounds. However, a win is a win, and Ox looked great all the way through Race #1, taking first place in that heat, followed by Liv (#2) and ziz (#3).

Here are the finish times:

1: Ox Seetan   ID900OS — 00:16:35
2: LivvLeigh Resident   ID077LR — 00:17:16
3: ziz Kidd   ID311ZK — 00:17:53
4: Sandra Absent   ID033SA — 00:19:33
5: EmmanuelMara Resident   ID017ER — 00:21:52
6: Miwha Masala   ID710MM — DNF
7: Porter Tracy   ID451PT — DNF


Race 2:

Once again, in Race 2 all the skippers chose a starboard start. This time ziz Kidd lead the pack, again choosing to cut the line far lee of the other boats.

Liv crossed two seconds behind ziz, followed by Miwha.

In this second race, the skippers showed they had found a groove; the fleet beat to the top mark in expert precision. However, the whole idea of starting a race with an upwind beat is to ‘break up’ the competion fleet through a series of tacks. That didn’t happen in race two; the competition skippers chose to stay glued together as they tacked back and forth. It’s a testament to their wonderful skill that nearly the whole fleet converged on the top mark at the same time. (Yikes!) 🙂

You can see a bit of what happened above (and please click on the images to get a full sized view). As you can see in the first frame, MM and ZK were in front, and MM tacked to the mark first. ZK followed suit, but was clearly astern to MM in the middle frame. (as you can see, LR and the rest of the fleet were converging on the Mark as well!).  Anyway, in the third frame you can see ZK slam into MM’s stern, and Miwha called a protest, and ZK counter-protested. At the race’s end, the judges unanimously agreed the penalty should go to ZK in this case, not MM or LR. Since ZK failed to do a penalty turn, he was scored DSQ for race #2. Since Lothor was Head Judge, I’ll defer the details to him. 🙂

Well, that traffic pileup and collision at the top mark now opened up the field for Liv. She took full advantage and adroitly skirted around the rest of the fleet trying to tack. Liv then set her sites on Miwha as the two lead boats raced towards the Reach Mark. Liv sailed that leg superbly, catching up with Miwha just as they came to the race buoy, but as shown below, under the intense pressure of the moment Liv suddenly pitch-poled right in front of the Mark!

That gave Miwha a free ride, and she ran the rest of the bases with skill and finesse, ending a full 40 seconds ahead of Ox Seetan, who took the second-place slot.

Here are the finish times:

1: Miwha Masala   ID710MM — 00:16:08
2: Ox Seetan   ID900OS — 00:16:48
3: LivvLeigh Resident   ID077LR — 00:17:20
5: ziz Kidd   ID311ZK — 00:17:57 – DSQ
6: EmmanuelMara Resident   ID017ER — 00:21:15
7: Sandra Absent – DNF


Race 3:

With one more race to go, the top spots were still up for grabs. Luckily, the weather held clear and sailors had a good chance to show their stuff.

Well, Miwha Masala certainly took advantage of the sailing conditions. She pulled out all the stops in Race #3, crossing the line a full eight seconds ahead of Ox Seetan. With clean air and open water in front of her, Miwha never looked back, doing a victory lap around the course ahead of her competitors.

Ox Seetan and Liv Leigh sailed closely behind Miwha, but they lost precious seconds dueling for the 2-3 spots, and they were never a real threat to the lead boat.

Although there was no protest called, an interesting pileup occurred at the reach mark in Race 3, as shown below. 🙂 As PT, SA, and ZK all came around the buoy, from my far vantage point it looked like first SA, then ZK landed ‘inside punches’ on poor PT. 🙂

Well, nobody protested, and if there’s no protest, it didn’t happen. I think that’s the Sailing Rule of Omerta.

Click (or double click) to enlarge

Anyway, here are the Race 3 finish times:

1: Miwha Masala   ID710MM — 00:15:55
2: Ox Seetan   ID900OS — 00:16:13
3: LivvLeigh Resident   ID077LR — 00:16:15
4: ziz Kidd   ID311ZK — 00:17:51
5: Sandra Absent   ID033SA — 00:17:52
6: Porter Tracy   ID451PT — 00:18:19
7: EmmanuelMara Resident   ID017ER — 00:21:06

And the Overall Group 1 Ranking for the three-race set:

1: Miwha Masala
2: Ox Seetan
3: Liv Leigh
4: ziz Kidd
5: Sandra Absent
6: Porter Tracy
7: EmmanuelMara Resident

Nice sailing, Fizzies!!

Trudeau Epicurus: First Look

Trudeau Classic Yachts has a remarkably long history and an unparalleled reputation as a boatbuilder in Second Life. In fact, over more than five years, TYC’s basic theme has never really changed. They make exquisite emulations of RL nautical designs, and then infuse uncompromising sail scripts tuned to match each sailboat’s Real-Life performance. TYC then rather relentlessly tests the product on SL’s unpredictable waters.

Through all that time and effort, TCY’s visionary, Jacqueline Trudeau, has always had an affection for the simple, serviceable vessels in RL that evolved along America’s North Atlantic coast. Much of her inspiration comes from the classic Herreshoff design tradition, and I’m pretty sure sailors agree that match is pretty good. Last week I was out running along the harbor I was visiting, and I nearly had to stop because I was laughing so hard. I saw a cluster of Trudeau 12‘s… errr, I mean Herreshoff 12.5’s… all moored together with their tents up. Usually I smile when something in SL seems to match reality, but this time it was the other way ’round; Reality looked like Second Life Sailing. That perceptual collision seems to happen more and more frequently these days, and its pretty fascinating.

Trudeau Epicurus Cat-Boat

I’m bringing all this up now because Trudeau’s released a new version of one of her favorite yacht designs… the new launch is a Cat-Boat. In fact it’s everything you might expect from that classic, beamy, multi-purpose family of vessels. However, this time it’s not named after a Real Life one-design, and it’s not dedicated to a legendary sea captain.

Trudeau’s new Cat-Boat is named EPICURUS, and it’s dedicated to Epicurus Emmons, a much-loved SL sailor who died recently. Epi was the Commodore of Fishers Island Yacht Club -SL, and he was much loved by sailors grid-wide. I knew him for four years, as we traded jokes and plotted race courses…

Epi loved any and all boats in SL, but his favorite trainer boat was the Trudeau Leetle-Cat. As time went on, he waxed enthusiastic over SL’s Dutch Skutsjes too. The two boat had major differences, but they actually shared a similar tradition and intent. Like the American cat-boats, Skutsjes were common work-about vessels. They might race for glory one day, then transport manure the next. That was part of the humor, the history, and the sheer human fun.

It seems fitting that JT would craft the boat she personally knew and revered and dedicate it in Epi’s memory. It’s not a fancy racer or sim-filling epic megalith; it’s a Cat-Boat. It’s a boat any and all sailors can enjoy.


I admit I haven’t yet added up all the numbers needed to give you polar plots or get you a racing advantage in this boat… but I don’t apologize for that, I think that’s not really the point.

On the other hand, I’ve been banging around North Sea in Epi’s Cat, and I’ve tagged along with the Leeward Cruising Fleet for a long distance collecting performance data (that Admiral Duck guy was at the wheel 🙂 ). I therefore think I can give you a good, quick view of the features:

My first impression is that  Trudeau’s Epicurus Cat-Boat is a pretty fantastic, fun cruiser that has all the bells-and-whistles of recent Trudeaus. However, consistent with its real life form and design, the Epicurus is not a hair-trigger, gut-wrenching racer. It has a forgiving polar, it’s no speed daemon, and it’s cockpit has plenty of room for a skipper and two crew.

Although I admit the boat’s beamy enough to transport manure, I’m guessing you’ll prolly have other plans for it; there’s a functional cabin aboard that sleeps two comfortably. 🙂 Here’s a closer view of the gangway and inner sanctum:

Here’s a copy of the sit locations on the boat as well, taqken from the Trudeau website:

It seems more than adequate for a boat-sized crew, and the consensus so far is that the sit poses are the best of all the recent Trudeau launches. 🙂

Exec Summary

Let me add a last summary comment on this ‘First-Look’ post about the Trudeau Epicurus Cat:

Although the boat is slower and more forgiving than the litany of Trudeau Classic racers, please understand that’s an intentional part of the boat’s design. Don’t assume this boat has hobbled scripts, or that it’s any less-featured than the best boat Trudeau Yachts can make. As one small example, let me emphasize the boat comes with a complete set of modifiable hull and script-enabled sail design changes, and that all the crew can hike, share sail responsibilities, and even borrow the damn boat when the skipper is off-line. 🙂

Remember, this boat is an homage to Epi…

It’s smart, it’s fun, it’s full-featured… and it’s a fantastic, flirty voyager.

We all know that Epi wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jane-Epi beta testing T-ONE for the last time

Northern Light

A Beacon for North Sea

Two days ago I wrote about the new North Sea region in Fruit Islands. The expansion adds twenty new open-water sims to Fruit’s extensive waterways, and it promises a wealth of future sailing opportunities for racers and cruisers alike.

Today I’d like to follow up on one, small feature of the project, the lighthouse that forms North Sea’s centerpiece.

If you click on the map below, you’ll get a 2144 x 1588 pixel view of the Northwest corner of Fruit Islands; it shows the names and locations the individual North Sea sims. Right in the center of that map you’ll find a new lighthouse, located on a small island in Ziziphus.

The North Sea Light will stand as a signature landmark for sailing in Fruit Islands, and its lit beacon will serve as an enduring reference point for vessels crossing North Sea’s open ocean.

Like most sailors in SL and RL, I think lighthouses are pretty important. For thousands of years, the light from these fixed navigational beacons guided sailors to distant shores; they fueled the history and legend of human progress.

Maybe that sounds excessive and overstated… but I don’t think so.

Even in 2011 on a dark night surrounded by choppy sea, the flash of a familiar lighthouse signals safety to any sailor, and that simple message means everything.

The lighthouse beacon points the way to a friendly harbor, and the beacon’s identity and cadence often means ‘home’ to a weary crew as they end a long passage.

Elbag Gable understood this as he planned North Sea. He asked RJ Kikuchiyo to design and build an iconic beacon that sailors would recognize and use.

If you’re reading this article, you already know RJ; he is a remarkable builder, teacher, and mentor in SL, and his knowledge and taste for nautical builds is legendary. He has a particular affection for lighthouses, and his reproductions can be found on all the major waterways in Second Life. A close look will reveal each build is wondrously detailed and historically accurate;  collectively they form an integral part of the spirit and substance of SL Sailing.

In fact, it’s notable that nearly all of the major sailing communities have their own signature Kiku-Craft beacon. Look around, and you’ll see what I mean.

In Blake Sea, it’s Fastnet Light,
in Sailor’s Cove, it’s Race Rock,
at NYC, it’s Sankaty Head,
at Tradewinds, it’s Drum Point,
in Triumphal, it’s El Morro

I could go on-and-on with this list, it’s pretty long, but you get the idea. 🙂

Sanibel Light

Anyway, let me get off my soapbox here and tell you about the new lighthouse that just came on-line in North Sea. 🙂 RJ modeled it after the Point Ybel Light on Florida’s Sanibel Island. Here’s a pic of the RL structure:

Sanibel lighthouse dates to the late 19th century, and it was the first lighthouse on the Florida Gulf Coast north of Key West. It’s positioned on the East end of Sanibel Island, and for over a century it’s served as a coastal Aid To Navigation, guiding ships into nearby San Carlos Bay. The Coast Guard maintains the beacon on its ‘active’ list still, but the town of Sanibel now controls of the property.

The lighthouse sits on a foundation of iron pilings, and the 30 meter vertical structure consists of an iron skeleton framework that supports the central, cylindrical tower. The beacon on top alerts approaching sailors with a white, double-flash that repeats every ten seconds.

Actually, in that context I’ve often wondered about the difficulty light keepers must have endured, as they try to sleep while an intense light flash went off  repeatedly through the night. Well, while looking through the Sanibel archives online this week, I got a hint about a possible coping strategy some light keepers may have used.

It turns out one of the historic Sanibel light keepers had thirteen children while he was maintaining the light. 🙂 He might have had difficulty getting to sleep, but at least he used the time productively!

OKOK, unrelated to that comment, let me add that Sanibel’s lighthouse is a well-recognized and important part of the Gulf Coast/ Caribbean region history, and several decades ago it was recognized as a national historic site in The USA.

Sanibel Light is a great tribute to sailing, and RJ has re-created it as an icon to sailors in North Sea. From it’s prominence in Ziziphus sim, it will stand as a constant monument in easy view of all those enjoying the new ocean sims.

So… next time you sail past it, look up and think of all the generations of sailors world-wide who went before you, and then go hug Elbag and RJ for keeping the spirit and tradition alive in SL!