Category Archives: Charts and buoys

Race Mark Rez Retro

Racing One Design 65

click to enlarge

Yesterday I posted briefly about race buoy late-rezzing problems, and I mentioned one potential fix: increasing the physical size of the buoy by linking a large, underwater block to it. Today I sailed a series of hotlaps using the new, modified buoy in Trulan and it worked quite nicely. 🙂 The picture above shows my boat approaching Trulan sim, and if you look closely you can see that the buoy has already rezzed off the port bow, a full two sims distant.

Yesterday I also mentioned that this is not a new issue. Last evening I went back to the archives and read a series of old posts on the topic. MarkTwain White suggested the same fix for late-rezzing buoys back in April, 2008; I think that could be the original post on the issue, and I cited the reference in my initial comment.

Going through the archives, I was reminded of two more potential solutions, and I thought I’d mention them here.

 1. Raise the seafloor under the buoy.

In a private water sim, the owner can terraform a sharp peak directly beneath a buoy. That will not make the mark rez more quickly, but it will produce a permanent, easily recognized target on the world map and the mini map.

The 2008 discussion I referenced above was actually about Svar Beckersted‘s fix for a late-rez buoy in USS’ Bartlett sim. Here’s what it looked like five years ago:


As I said, this fix doesn’t make the buoy rez faster or sooner, but it does make it show up on the map. To emphasize that point, here’s a low resolution chart of the USS sims from back then; you can easily make out the location of the “Bartlett Buoy Mound” (red arrow, below).

USS MAP 063008

Click to enlarge

2. Sky markers.

The 2007 ACA32 SL Regatta was held on a sixpack of private sims. overhead diskEven in that restricted space, sailors had some difficulty identifying the race buoys at a distance on the horizon. The solution was to place large, pancake-shaped objects above mast height over each of the buoys. That way the competition boats could easily orient to the mark locations, even when a landmass or another boat was in the way.

That solution worked well for ACA32, but it never really caught on for subsequent regattas. However, this topic gives me an excuse to post SurfWidow Beaumont’s great ACA32 video one more time; keep your eyes open for the race buoys in the vid, and you’ll see the large, dark pancakes overhead. 🙂

So in summary it looks like the race mark rez issue has been around a long time, and there are a number of ways to handle it. I also think it’s less of a problem these days, since many racing skippers use waypoint HUDs like TRAPNAV to highlight the race mark locations.

Race Mark Rez


Noodle asked: “It is kinda hard to call a layline, when the buoys aren’t visible beyond 64 meters. Any idea why it is so? Do they simply need to be bigger for SL to display them properly?”

It’s pretty frustrating to sail a race course and not see the mark buoys until you’re practically on top of them. Sailors often use landmark HUDs like TRAPNAV to get around the problem (Thank you Trapeze!).

I certainly don’t pretend to know the algorithm SL uses to prioritize the order of objects as they rez in the viewer, but I suspect you are right; size matters. I remember that several of us looked into this issue back in 2007 when it was a major problem for the Starboards Yacht Club races. Since the issue is coming up again for many sailors (including me), I ran around and did a few backyard tests on it today. 🙂

view angleI tried to figure out the distance at which each of the  three buoys on the Linkous hotlaps course first appeared.

I normally use the Firestorm viewer. For all images below, I set the draw distance at 1024m and all graphics at median settings. I then emptied cache and teleported to Henker, the sim next to Trulan, where there’s a centrally-located yellow buoy.

From Henker I looked into Trulan and saw… nothing. As shown below, if you are 150m away from a buoy (and across 1 sim line), the buoy never rezzes, even with dd=1024.

If you move closer to the buoy, it suddenly appears when you are within 130m. The same thing happens with the other two buoys there; they first rez at distance of 130 m (which is across a sim line in each case).

buoys rez at 130m

To make sure this was a server-side effect, I repeated the measurements using a different viewer. The Singularity viewer features ‘draw-distance stepping‘ (that’s why Orca likes it 🙂 ). When you move to a new view region, Singularity prioritizes the objects closest to you so they rez first.

How does it do that? Easy. If you set your dd=1024, when you go to a new area Singularity throttles that dd back to a much shorter view distance in order to speed up the local rez. It then gradually returns the DD back to your preset numbers.

If you open up the map after you teleport, you can watch the draw distance in Singularity graphically expand during the first minute or two. Here’s an example:

singular vision

Using this viewer, the three buoys in Zindra all rezzed at a distance of 130 m, as they had in Firestorm. That’s no surprise; Singularity doesn’t actually change rez priority, it just sort of ‘modulates’ what you asked the viewer to do. The 130m rez limit for the buoys I looked at was apparently a server decision.

So how does the server-side algorithm decide what distance to rez something? Well, a big factor seems to be object size (meaning linear dimensions, not ‘prim count‘). To demonstrate that, I rezzed a 20x15x24m one prim box in the air over the buoy in Trulan. I then logged out, emptied cache, and came back over 256m away from the target. When I did that, the box popped into view immediately, even though I still could not see the much smaller race buoy beneath it.

256m boxThis evidence supports a fix that many sailors and estate owners are very familiar with, and have used for a long time.

buoy base

If you want a race mark to rez early, you somehow need to make it look ‘bigger’ without messing up the craftsmanship or authentic appearance of the buoy.

Probably the simplest way to do that is to attach a large, single-prim underwater extension to the buoy, as shown in the pic on the right. This simple adjustment also makes the mark more visible on the map and mini-map.

I’m pretty sure this fix also works if the large underwater object is phantom and transparent, but I haven’t tried that out yet under the current server versions, and there are reasons to think it might not work with the recent changes. We’ll see. 🙂

I also know there are probably more elegant ways to fix the buoy-rez problem, but please remember this is Jane talking here. I don’t tend to do ‘elegant‘ well. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the bottom-line result, included below. The top picture shows the yellow nav buoy in Trulan. It’s very pretty and nicely scripted by RJ Kikuchiyo, and it has multiple user- controlled options (ask your local SL Coast Guard for a box of them). 🙂

The lower picture shows the effect of the underwater attachment. You can now see that buoy two sims away and at a distance of over 400 m.

over 400m distance

Lights n’ Legends

RJ Kikuchiyo Begins Lighthouse Discussion Series

Eureka Rounds Race Rock - courtesy of Dil Spitz

If you know RJ Kikuchiyo, you know he has a true passion for lighthouses.

He should; for thousands of years those monuments were the vigilant beacons that lit the way, guiding sailors across treacherous seas… and returning them home safe again.

However, with the advent of new electronic positioning systems many think there’s less need for coastal lighthouses. In fact, there’s a chance that major elements of our sailing legacy could soon fade into antiquity.

Well I don’t know about you, but personally I can’t imagine replacing the ATON global waterway system with an “i-phone ap.” I wrote about this issue two years ago, and feel more strongly about it today:

“…navigational aids are part of our history, art, culture and experience. It’s how we plied the oceans and made sense of the world around us.
Maybe its how some of us make personal sense too. Years ago when I was an ”Opti kid” I’d go on overnight cruises with family and friends. In the middle of the night, those choppy waves and shifting gusts can prove pretty scary, particularly if you’re a kid with a type-A personality, spending much of the transit questioning your parents’ navigational expertise.
I’d sit there unblinking, gaze solemnly fixed on the blackness ahead, trying to convince myself the horizon was indeed still out there. In reality, I was waiting until I could see a distant light, a fixed beacon I had memorized. It made no difference what any of the instruments showed. Numbers can lie. Show me the real thing. When that light appeared way off in the distance, a pinpoint in a sea and sky of black, I knew I had my bearings, and I cajoled the adults to give me the helm.
I had my lit beacon; I knew where I was, and where I was going. I could use that beacon, and I could bring everyone home….”

This week RJ Kikuchiyo began a discussion series that explains this all much better than I ever could.

The discussions are hosted by Sailor’s Cove, and the series is called Lights n’ Legends; I understand each of the meetings will focus on the history of a particular lighthouse that’s recreated in SL.

Mega-woots go to Fanci Beebe for helping organize the event, and to The Three C’s (Kitten, Chaos, and Cate) who coordinated a special Leeward Cruise that made landfall in Sailors Cove just as the discussion started. 🙂

I admit the sailing conditions were not-so-great on Tuesday, but a sizable crowd showed up on the Sailors Cove Theatre dock nonetheless. The discussion that ensued was funny, factual, and frankly… rather fantastic. 🙂

Race Rock Light

RJ decided to kick off the series on Tuesday with a discussion of Race Rock Light. In RL, it sits at the entrance to Long Island Sound along USA’s Northeast coast. In SL, Race Rock Light was one of Patrick Leavitt’s first additions as he methodically built Sailors Cove Estate.

On Tuesday, RJ Kikuchiyo told the history of the real Race Rock lighthouse; it made it pretty obvious why it belonged in Sailors Cove too. 🙂

Here’s an excerpt from the notecard you can get at SL’s Race Rock Light:

Race Rock Lighthouse   –   located in New England in the USA in RL

Race Rock, located at the west end of Fishers Island and the eastern entrance to Long Island Sound, was considered “one of the most dangerous obstructions to navigation on the coast”.

Rising from a depth of seventy or more feet of water, several small spurs of rock broke the water’s surface, while a large rock formation was covered with only three feet of water at low tide. During the early 1800’s, there was hardly a summer month that a vessel did not strike the rock reef with sometimes disastrous results.

The Gothic Revival styled Race Rock Lighthouse marks a most dangerous location with perhaps hundreds of shipwrecks to its dubious credit, including the steamer “Atlantic” in which 45 people perished in November 1846. Its’ completion in 1878 marked the end of masonry lighthouses on wave swept or water-bound sites. Most of all, it is a fitting monument to its courageous engineers, Francis Hopkinson Smith and Captain Thomas Albertson Scott. The construction on the “Boulder” (really a ledge that is 3 to 13 feet below water) required 7 years, thousands of tons of riprap, numerous acts of courage and amazing persistence. Smith also built the government seawall at Governors Island, NY and the foundation for the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Established: 1878
First lighted: January 1, 1879
First keeper: Neil Martin, appointed December 16, 1878

Light: (1878) fourth order Fresnel lens,
flashing red and white, 10 seconds
Light: (1939) fourth order Fresnel lens, Incandescent oil vapor, white 18,000 cp, red 16,000 cp, 20 seconds
Light: (1978) 300mm lens, 1000 watt lamp,
flashing red, 10 seconds

Fog signal: (1883) fog bell by machine,
double blow, 20 seconds
Fog signal: (1897) second class siren
Fog signal: (1907) third class Daboll trumpet,
3 second blast, emergency fog bell
Fog signal: (1939) first class siren,
group 2 blast, 30 seconds

Height of light above sea level: (1891)
68.5 feet

Lights n’ Legends Transcript June 21 2011

Here’s the edited transcript from Tuesday’s discussion:

[14:05] RJ Kikuchiyo: The Race is a spot on the border between the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island sound
[14:06] RJ Kikuchiyo: It is called the race, because it has a reputation for fast currents that feed a twice daily maelstrom. If you do not make it into the race at the right time, the current will take you into the hazards.
[14:07] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock was a notorious place, and responsible for many lost lives. It earned a reputation as the ‘graveyard of ships’ on Long Island Sound.
[14:09] RJ Kikuchiyo: btw if you have any questions feel free to holler out
[14:10] RJ Kikuchiyo: The Race Rock Light has many heroes
[14:10] RJ Kikuchiyo: The earliest memories I have of the Race is the roller-coaster style trip every boat has; entering the race at the wrong time can spell disaster.
[14:10] Jane Fossett: RJ, why was Long Island Sound important?
[14:11] RJ Kikuchiyo: the flow of tides from the sound into the atlantic and back twice daily causing a siphon action where the water practically boils.
[14:12] RJ Kikuchiyo: Jane, the Sound is the protected water on the South Coast of New England.
[14:12] RJ Kikuchiyo: Many port towns and harbors are located there, giving access to the merchants and goods available from the industrialized New England of the 19th Century.
[14:16] RJ Kikuchiyo: The race took many ships, and it took 40 years from that point to result in what we see today.
[14:17] Cate Foulsbane: you would think somebody would have seen to it that it got built faster.
[14:17] Jane Fossett: Republicans blocked it in Congress.
[14:17] Cate Foulsbane: hmm
[14:17] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): considering they had to build it in the water
[14:17] Liv Leigh: 40 years souds like a lot of time for what looks on photo to be quite a moderate-sized, even cute, building
[14:18] RJ Kikuchiyo: ok just handed out a notecard
[14:18] Cate Foulsbane: Lincoln was a republican back then
[14:18] joro Aya: They should just have put a banline around it
[14:18] RJ Kikuchiyo: haha
[14:18] RJ Kikuchiyo: I have been to the race a few times, and there are others who can attest. >.>
[14:18] Boomer Waverider: Foundation was the hard part, I think.
[14:19] RJ Kikuchiyo: The race churns four times a day in two directions.
[14:19] Cate Foulsbane: Two times a day per direction?
[14:19] RJ Kikuchiyo: the locals found names for each of the rocks.
[14:20] RJ Kikuchiyo: Names like ‘Cerberus,’ after the three-headed dog of Hades were given to describe the character of the rocks to the sea (in the case of Cerberus, a scattering of close-to-surface rocks which foamed at the tides’ rush)
[14:21] RJ Kikuchiyo: Long Island Sound was given a name by Adrian Block, the Dutch sailor:  ‘The Devil’s Belt.’
[14:22] RJ Kikuchiyo: The devil had a lot of landmarks in the sound named after him. I guess the wind and current ‘bedeviled’ the earliest explorers – much like coming here today!
[14:24] RJ Kikuchiyo: The devil? the race? All this needed something done. the race was claiming lives and cargoes every season.
[14:27] RJ Kikuchiyo: The US Congress dedicated some funds, but it was soon clear that there was not a chance to raise that light without some effort.
[14:28] RJ Kikuchiyo takes a brief pause to sip gently the apple cider steaming on the sideboard
[14:28] Emily (emillie.placebo): RJ, were there no private donations? Sailor’s or marine/seamanship organisations that could raise funds?
[14:28] Cate Foulsbane: yeah!
[14:29] Emily (emillie.placebo): What I am hearing reminds me of many parallels with the Bell Rock lighthouse’s construction
[14:29] RJ Kikuchiyo: Great question Emily! its true the merchants in the area wanted to improve the access so lots of private organizations funded markers.
[14:29] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): adds a hit of whiskey to the cider for rj while hes not looking ㋡
[14:29] Lily Afterthought (revlilith.wizardly): bad bunny
[14:30] RJ Kikuchiyo: its already hard Bunny! My hurricane lamp runs on rum; now you have twice the burning power.
[14:30] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): giggles
[14:30] ChippyAnn Kamm: Many places have assoc. raising monies.
[14:30] RJ Kikuchiyo: It took over 7 years to built that foundation for Race Rock and 4 months to finish with the formal Victorian lighthouse on top of the rock.
[14:30] Liv Leigh: I just read on a link that the Race Rock lighthouse is deemed obsolete by the coast guard as of June 2011 and may be up for auction?
[14:30] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): oh wow
[14:31] joro Aya: Let’s buy it 🙂
[14:32] Jane Fossett: Patrick already did, Joro 🙂
[14:32] RJ Kikuchiyo: In the years before the lighthouse was finished, many storms ripped apart the efforts made to mark safe passage around the rock. Lives were still lost and the desire to get that passage safer burned in the community.
[14:33] Emily (emillie.placebo): did any one incident serve as the straw that broke the camel’s back?
[14:33] Cate Foulsbane: Committees to oversee the formation of committees?
[14:33] kittensusie Landar: Well, there was that accident with the camel
[14:33] Emily (emillie.placebo): the Bell Rock’s funding wasn’t granted in Parliament until the HMS York sunk in 1804 after striking the bell rocks.
[14:33] RJ Kikuchiyo: Many times, work was completed only to have nature’s fury rip it down.
[14:33] Jane Fossett: camels don’t sail
[14:34] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): but they have humps
[14:34] kittensusie Landar: that’s why the accident happened, no-one told the camel that
[14:34] joro Aya: Camels DO sail. they are not called the ships of the desert for no reason
[14:34] kittensusie Landar whispers: never seen a camel with a sail
[14:34] Emily (emillie.placebo): So was it a collective accumulation of incidents that lead to race rock’s commissioning or was it one notable public incident?
[14:34] RJ Kikuchiyo: Reading the timeline, you can see the foundation built was destroyed again and again.
[14:35] RJ Kikuchiyo: I would be remiss if I did not mention the heroes of the light
[14:35] Emily (emillie.placebo): any records of how many times the foundations were re-laid?
[14:35] Jane Fossett: lets keep it clean, Emily
[14:36] kittensusie Landar *giggles
[14:36] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): omg.. jane.. laffin
[14:36] Emily (emillie.placebo): clean?
[14:36] Jane Fossett: 🙂
[14:36] Lily Afterthought (revlilith.wizardly): tx for the drink.. but goodnight everybody…
[14:36] Emily (emillie.placebo): *is confused*
[14:36] JakeSpeed Northman: historically there were camels brought to North America
[14:36] Liv Leigh: well she s the only one asking questions that do not involve camel’s humps?
[14:36] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): night Lily
[14:36] JakeSpeed Northman: bt they died out
[14:36] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): bye sis
[14:36] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): sleep well
[14:36] Chat Range: Vickie Maidstone [14m]
[14:36] Jane Fossett: <–thinks RJ has the floor
[14:36] kittensusie Landar: nite Lily
[14:37] RJ Kikuchiyo: Francis Hopkinson Smith and Captain Thomas Albertson Scott are the two folks that books have been written about. It’s worth reading up on, the dedication these and their peers had toward making this light a reality after years of adversity.
[14:38] RJ Kikuchiyo: The final cost after 8 years of construction was $278,716.00 – a lot in 1878

[14:38] Cate Foulsbane whispers: yikes!
[14:38] Jane Fossett: was that in Lindens?
[14:39] Emily (emillie.placebo): Laughs so much for keeping it clean…
[14:39] RJ Kikuchiyo: That’s millions of dollars in today’s exchange
[14:39] joro Aya: Is still a lot. there are days that i don’t spend that much
[14:39] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): i spoke the truth they do have humps and i have no idea what yall are talking about.
[14:40] Emily (emillie.placebo): RJ, question?
[14:40] RJ Kikuchiyo: The current lighthouse at Race Rock is not much different from the day it was automated in 1978, a 100-year run for the sage old stone house on the water.
[14:40] RJ Kikuchiyo: sure Emily?
[14:40] RJ Kikuchiyo: he was the lead engineer
[14:41] Emily (emillie.placebo): do we know if the design was based on any earlier designs? or influenced by?
[14:41] Liv Leigh: just found a link about an america’s cup match: charlie barr on columbia beating ‘constitution’ around race rock
[14:41] kittensusie Landar: the Eddystone lighthouse
[14:41] RJ Kikuchiyo: there was a follow-up lighthouse (built at the same time) called Middle Shoals.
[14:41] Sun Seale: is that the one thats haunted ?
[14:42] RJ Kikuchiyo: it has a lot in common with Race Rock, from its riprap and round stone coursework, and the formal stone house on top.
[14:42] Emily (emillie.placebo): i see
[14:42] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock has reports of being haunted for sure. Many of the ghosts from the wrecks from before history.
[14:42] kittensusie Landar: i wanna go there 😀
[14:42] Sun Seale: I’m trying to remember, there re a few of them.
[14:43] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock endures today as a symbol of the heyday of lighthouse-building, and holds a record for being one the most expensive lighthouses built by the US Lighthouse Establishment.
[14:44] kittensusie Landar: The Eddystone lighthouse was built on a rock like Race Rock, but in the 17th century……..
[14:44] Emily (emillie.placebo): Seems like one of the ones that took longest to build too!
[14:44] Sun Seale: Was that the one they moved ?
[14:44] Emily (emillie.placebo): Bell Rock was constructed in 3 years 1807 to 1810

ONE WORLD - First Round

[14:44] Sun Seale: They had to drag it inland like 2 miles or something to keep it from being destroyed.
[14:44] RJ Kikuchiyo: Soon after completion, the Light House Establishment started making lighthouses out of iron. The techniques developed for the placement of the crib and foundation influenced the lighthouses built for generations to follow.
[14:45] kittensusie Landar whispers: You mean Eddystone Sun? no, it’s still there on the rock but rebuilt a few times.
[14:46] RJ Kikuchiyo: As a testament to its builders, the house has stood for 240 years on that treacherous spot guiding visitors past the dangers that had claimed so many before
[14:47] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): goodness
[14:47] RJ Kikuchiyo: The RL house is in disrepair today, and the property has been put on the list of excess property by the US Government.
[14:47] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): so Race Rock is the oldest or one of the oldest??
[14:47] Emily (emillie.placebo): That’s a shame.
[14:48] ChippyAnn Kamm: ‘one of’
[14:48] Emily (emillie.placebo): no it doesn’t sound like the oldest, if you take date of completion as the criteria i think.
[14:48] Cate Foulsbane: hmmm
[14:48] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): ah I see
[14:48] Emily (emillie.placebo): Not really one of the oldest either…
[14:48] RJ Kikuchiyo: Its actually one of the newest stone lighthouses built in the Northeast..
[14:48] kittensusie Landar: Eddystone is over 100 years older
[14:48] Jane Fossett: RJ… it should be a national treasure.
[14:48] Emily (emillie.placebo): Yes. Eddystone and Bell Rock are much older
[14:48] Sun Seale: Excess. You mean it will go up for sale ?
[14:48] Cate Foulsbane: Yes it should, Jane.
[14:48] Liv Leigh: Let me find that link back.
[14:49] RJ Kikuchiyo: Yes Sun, the Light will be auctioned as so many of our lighthouses have, to a new private owner.
[14:49] Cate Foulsbane: Let’s see who will buy it and keep it safe…. Rush Limbaugh?
[14:49] RJ Kikuchiyo: Truly Race Rock light has its place in the hearts and minds of those who ply the waters near her.
[14:49] joro Aya: i think there are some lighthouses in Greece and Italy that are slightly older. Like… say… 2000 years
[14:50] Emily (emillie.placebo): i think joro is right about that.
[14:50] Cate Foulsbane: Good point.
[14:50] kittensusie Landar: Older than that
[14:50] Cate Foulsbane: However, are they still functioning?
[14:50] RJ Kikuchiyo: It is a stable point of reference in a place which has still a reputation for the most terrible currents
[14:50] Emily (emillie.placebo): Its probably…. 3000 years or more
[14:50] Jane Fossett: Alexandria Light was one of the Great Wonders of the Ancient World.
[14:50] RJ Kikuchiyo: At this time, Race Rock is still an active aid to navigation
[14:50] Emily (emillie.placebo): Cate: More a matter of, are they surviving, nevermind functioning.
[14:51] kittensusie Landar: even with satnav?
[14:51] Liv Leigh:

“In June of 2011, Orient Point Lighthouse was declared excess to the needs of the United States Coast Guard and made available to eligible organizations under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.
Qualified entities were given sixty days to submit a letter of interest and were required to obtain an agreement from the State of New York to occupy the submerged lands on which the lighthouse stands. If no suitable steward is found, the lighthouse will be sold at auction.”

[14:51] Liv Leigh: why does it say Orient?
[14:51] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock and Orient Point are within sight of each other, at opposite ends of the race. Orient Point is the southwestern point of the race, or the northeastern tip of Long Island. Race Rock is the southwestern tip of Fisher’s Island.
[14:52] Liv Leigh: Okay so that one is up for sale.
[14:52] Cate Foulsbane: Ok, Race Rock is still functioning…it’s just that gov’t subsidy is over.
[14:52] Jane Fossett: Fishers Island lies East of Race Light in RL; it’s important it’s here in SL.
[14:52] RJ Kikuchiyo: it is still maintained
[14:52] Liv Leigh: Well if it is supposed to function.. they d better do 😛
[14:53] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): What a lovely lighthouse; now i know what y’all are talking about ㋡
[14:53] Sun Seale: Now, most of these light houses are no longer working right?
[14:53] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock is in proximity to New London and Mystic, two huge seagoing communities on the South Coast of Connecticut.
[14:53] Liv Leigh: hehe bunny.. visit in the Race Rock sim
[14:53] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): ㋡
[14:54] RJ Kikuchiyo: Sun, every one of the lighthouses in today’s talk are active aids
[14:54] Sun Seale: Explain “active aids” see I live on the west coast.
[14:54] Sun Seale: <– California
[14:54] Cate Foulsbane: sigh
[14:54] RJ Kikuchiyo: They are considered ‘excess’ by our government who see the GPS and satnav as a replacement.
[14:54] Sun Seale: ah
[14:54] Cate Foulsbane: Aids To Navigation
[14:54] RJ Kikuchiyo: yes not AIDS lmao
[14:55] Sun Seale: is that a joke at my expense ?
[14:55] Fortnight Baxton: Simply put, GPS is easier to track. That’s what they want.
[14:55] RJ Kikuchiyo: Aids to Navigation (ATON) are maintained, even on private property, by the US Coast Guard.
[14:55] joro Aya: Californians always have trouble with the word “active” 🙂
[14:55] Cate Foulsbane whispers: and on a bad day for sun spots, we can just have ship wrecks?
[14:55] kittensusie Landar: no, you don’t have to pay for it Sun 🙂
[14:55] Cate Foulsbane: sigh
[14:55] Sun Seale: oh really ?
[14:55] Jane Fossett: Pilgrims coming to America in 1620 landed in Maqssachuseets because the waters South were too trecherous… The history of America was defined by the coastline and sailing ships.
[14:56] ChippyAnn Kamm: Sun… I listen to Portland Head Light every rainy, foggy day… so it works.
[14:56] RJ Kikuchiyo: So we are running out of time for today
[14:56] ChippyAnn Kamm: Construction began in 1787 at the directive of George Washington, and was completed on January 10, 1791.
[14:56] Chat Range: Bunnie Mills [14m]
[14:56] Cate Foulsbane: thank you, RJ..and forgive the rowdiness of the children
[14:56] RJ Kikuchiyo: next time we will talk about the wonderful Fastnet Rock Light
[14:56] Jane Fossett: Woo!
[14:56] Emily (emillie.placebo): thank you RJ. very imformative =)
[14:57] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): thank you RJ
[14:57] Bunnie Mills: *clap clap clap*
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: it is also a way out place with wicked weather.
[14:57] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): hands out lollypops
[14:57] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): clap
[14:57] kittensusie Landar: yes, thank you RJ 🙂
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: thank you all for coming!
[14:57] Jane Fossett: RJ Thank you for keeping maritime history alive in SL.
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: hope to have voice next time
[14:57] Bunnie Mills: thanks RJ !
[14:57] laiqua Kipslaiqua KipsWOOT
[14:57] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): waves t rj
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: you guys are great! keep the light on will ya!
[14:57] Cate Foulsbane: Sun, there are lighthouses in CA, aren’t there?
[14:57] kittensusie Landar: RJ, any chance of a talk about Eddystone? since that one influenced all modern lighthouse designs……
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): oh yes. Eddystone would be a great topic
[14:58] Liv Leigh: Applause!!
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: Kitten it influenced a song – I want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): My father was the keeper of the Eddystone light
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: lol
[14:58] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): thank you
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): And he slept with a mermaid one fine night
[14:58] Jane Fossett: <–mega-woots to Fanci and Kitten for coordinating this event too!
[14:58] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): cool emily
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): Out of this union there came three
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): A porpoise and a porgy and the other was me!
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: YAY! (yay!)
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: Emily!~ XD
[14:59] kittensusie Landar: lol Emily 🙂
[14:59] Liv Leigh: ty RJ 🙂
[14:59] Emily (emillie.placebo): thats the shanty Eddystone Rock inspired
[14:59] Jane Fossett: Let’s invite Caledon to the next one!
[15:00] Dunan Hax-Wilder (dunan.wilder): I’m sure they’d love that 🙂
[15:00] RJ Kikuchiyo: oh! just FYI the new Lighthouse Board HQ will be live in Caledon Mayfair
[15:00] Jane Fossett: WOOOOOT!!!!
[15:00] RJ Kikuchiyo: And future events will be posted on the SC website
[15:00] RJ Kikuchiyo: also my blog
[15:01] kittensusie Landar: if they’re at the same time as today, we can do more special LCC cruises to coincide.
[15:01] Jane Fossett shouts: Thank you RJ!
[15:01] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): Thank you RJ
[15:01] RJ Kikuchiyo: come again and we will have live voice!

Buoy Talk


Several weeks ago I wrote about about the importance of navigational buoys, charts, lighthouses, and other aids to navigation (ATON) to Sailing. Echoing the opinions of many other sailors, I suggested that an acurate and internationally recognized system of navigation buoys would be good for sailing, easy to deploy in SL, and have minimal server impact. Equally important, the yacht clubs and SL Coast Guard could provide the educational resources needed to help sailors learn about the RL and SL systems, and the Sailing Community has the scripting expertise to generate a variety of active displays that would use the nav marker location imformation. 

This discussion is still underway on ORG and in different groups, and there might be several possible solutions that all use common protocols (just like real life!).

Baby Buoys

A number of wonderful SL artisans have an interest in nautical buoys, which might seem a little surprising, since nav buoys don’t blow up and aren’t excite or sexgen compatible… but I guess sailors have strange tastes.

Several new buoy designs recently were introduced that use the  IALA-A and IALA-B conventions for SL navigational markers; I’m pretty excited. It looks like SL sailors are all ending up on the same page. The IALA buoy I want to tell you about I just learned about yesterday from Alan Bereford and Karsten Runningbear from Schiffsratten.

Alan’s the guy that made that silly little kid’s toy… you may have heard of it… the Shelly? If you haven’t, don’t worry; nearly every Olympic sailor in recent history knows about the RL version of that boat; ask one of them. Then come back to SL and sail a Shelly. 
IALA-standard menu-driven buoy by Runnigbear and Beresford

IALA-standard menu-driven buoy by Runnigbear and Beresford

 Alan and Karsten have now taken on “the buoy issue” (grin). I’ll give you the highlights of the features that make me so excited:

1. As I said, its IALA-A and -B compatible, so sailors RL and SL will have the same standards.
2. It’s menu-driven, so it takes minimal instruction to use and adjust them;
3. It has multiple modifiable features. Buoys are used for many purposes and in many contexts. It’s mildly frustrating that several very expensive buoys are not user-modifiable. For those prices, they should be user-friendly.
4. It has the standard options of a flashing light or a horn (or both). It has one BIG non-standard option: It can be PHYSICAL. If you bang into it… it moves aside, just like RL.
5. The version I tested also has an menu-optional shout call when the buoy gets hit. It’s obvious, many more script options are on the way.
What can I say? I love it.

Since this was just Beta I, let me leave it there for the moment… I’ll save the pyrotechnics for the finished product! (…did I mention the buoy listens to Mothgirl’s WWC and moves with current and wind? (sorry… grin)).

Rocky Road.

Navigation is, however, far more than just ‘Where the buoys are.”
A critical feature of virtually every type of of nautical chart made in the last dozen centuries is “water depth.”
Is there enough water? Is that course safe in this boat?
If you look at the small section I cut out of a New York nautical chart in the image above, you’ll see the open water is peppered with numbers… they’re all sonar depth records.
How much water a passageway offers your boat is pretty critical.
In SL however, depth is often an interesting, but frequently frustrating problem for sailors. It’s true that the large majority of recent sailboats are equipped with indicators for water depth, so a skipper usually knows how close she can get to the shore. However, for reasons I don’t fully understand, it’s actually much more difficult to get topographic information about the SL grid to use in a chart array for mapping. As far as I can tell, the standard nautical charts one uses in real life to plan a cruise or plot a race course just aren’t available in SL.
 I won’t belabor this point, since I have already discussed it at length recently, but I did want to mention a couple follow-up things…
 I got this bright idea last week for finding and delimiting the ‘shallow spots’ in Blake (grin)… (but please don’t try this at home.)
Atlantic Sea floor
Atlantic Sea floor

Here’s what I did:

First,  I got rid of all that silly water by typing CTRL-ALT-SHFT-7.
Then I took a huge 256x256x1m  phantom mega-prim and sank it to the minimum safe water depth for a J-Class (4.0m, z=15.5 for a 1.0m think platform).
All the seafloor terrain details higher than keel depth show through.  Within a few seconds  you have a photographic record of  the location and the  extent of all submerged hazards in the sim.

 If you look at the picture below, you’ll see in Atlantic Sim  just south of NYC there are two clusters of rocks/ ledges.   On the East side there is a cluster of rocks indicated by the right yellow arrow, just in front of Francois Jacques’ house.  It’s fairly close to land, and you might think it’s out of the way and not a problem.  However, any boat with apparent wind using the Madaket race line enters Atlantic on a beat, usually at a 60° real angle. When I do that in a J-Class I frequently hit those rocks full throttle. 

Let me emphasize again that I’m not really complaining about this… dealing with depth is part of sailing. I am, however, complaining I didn’t know the seafloor elevations!

Phantom megaprim 4m below water shows rocks in Atlantic Sim
Phantom megaprim 4m below water shows rocks in Atlantic Sim

The second group of Atlantic rocks  we need to fix, however. If you look at the picture above, there are rocks located in Atlantic just south of the NYC channel. Any large boat with a deep keel runs a risk of hitting those rocks.  Far worse– two of the rocks are actually inside the racing two-boat zone for the blue-white marker.  We should either remove the rocks or remove the buoy. 

This problem really isn’t anything new. I talked about the “Blake bumps” problem a couple of weeks ago here. Here’s what’s new, however:   

Cynthia Centaur saw me playing with megaprims… and took pity on me ( God bless Cyn).    She then scripted and tested a quite nifty utility that does exactly what I think is needed. The image on the left below shows Nantucket Yacht Club sim; it’s an aerial photograph. The Map picture is even more two dimentsional. The right side of the illustration, however, is a color-correlated plot of the Z-axis elevations in NYC sim, from 0-20m (>=20m is shown as same color, yellow).

Topography of Nantucket Yacht Club Sim

Topography of Nantucket Yacht Club Sim

 Woot!  The next illustration shows Atlantic sim. The left image shows the color gradation for various elevations, and the right image shows color only for spots shallower than 4 meters. At the top of the right image you see two such ‘shallow submerged hazards’ in yellow-orange, one on the left and one of the right (West and East). Those regions on Cyn’s plot are the same submerged rocks I pictured above.

Atlantic seafloor topography. Right image selectively shows z> 16m

Atlantic seafloor topography. Right image selectively shows z> 16m

I’ll leave it up to Cynthia to explain the details of the topographic charting, but it’s my understanding we should be able to map all of Blake Sea  and then come back regularly for updates. Similar to RL charting systems, it’s also possible to superimpose multiple layers that identify coastal features and buoy locations. 

I know maping the floor of blake sea isn’t quite the same as solving the Darfur problem or curing malaria, but in its own way, I thought this was pretty OK.

Keeping a List.

I think most SL and RL sailors would quickly agreed that charts are only as good as the information they contain.  Locations of ban lines and even the shapes of land masses frequently change in SL, so both  chart construction and collection of landmarks for buoys and rez areas is a fairly constant process.  Much of the time a successful sail depends on simple basics such as: Where can I rez my boat?  or  How do I get around ban lines in that marina? 

 Many sailors from different groups, including the Coast Guard and the various yacht clubs have gotten together to collect this kind of information and post it in different places in SL and on the web.  I’m trying to gather much of this information together and organize it into a series of pages of links and maps that highlight current features of   interest to sailors.

The pages will be organized  under the heading SL Aids to Navigation and will probably be broken down by region and feature, Including Landmarks for navigation and race buoys, Locations of lighthouses and Fixed aids to navigation, places to rez boats, and friendy destination marinas and yacht clubs.

If you have such lists, please post them as comments on that page of give them to me as a notecard. I’ll them fit them in to the ongoing information lists for sailors.



Where The Buoys Are

Most of planet Earth is covered by water, and a good deal of commercial and personal traffic takes place over the navigable waterways world-wide. For thousands of years sailors have used nautical charts of these waterways for safe and orderly travel between distant waypoints. The charts show the countour of the ocean floor and depth sounding for the area covered, as well as the locations of maintained navigation channels, shipping lanes, and known hazards.


A standardized set of visual markers is an essential part of that system, and both lighthouses and fixed navigational buoys are not only the ‘traffic signs’ of the seas, they are also part of national and global cultural heritage. The Alexandia Lighthouse, for a simple example, is invariably listed in schoolbooks as a Great Wonder of the Ancient World alongside the Egyptian pyramids.

In the United States, the US Coast Guard is responsible for maintaining the U.S. Aids to Navigation System (ATON) of official navigational markers that define coastal waterways. The Coast Guard has major educational initiatives to teach new sailors how to interpret the visual patterns of nav buoys and  to update the Old Salt skippers about any changes in the marker grid system.

Navigation instruction

 There are many public and private resources online where boaters can learn about national and international navigation markers and how they can best use it. Here’s a quck flash animation in case you’re interested but have an attention deficit. 

To my knowledge, at the present time there is no such system of navigation buoys in Second Life. I recall discussing it over two years ago with RJ Kikuchiyo in his SL Coast Guard official role.  We both wondered if it was feasible to use standardized navigational markers in SL waterways and generate charts that would be familiar to sailors in RL or SL. It was an interesting idea, but frankly two years ago It was pretty unusual to sail or race in regions that had more than a handful of sims, so a navigational chart system seemed pretty unnecessary.

Well, in two years a lot has changed. Many sailors are now doing extended cruises to regions and even whole continents they’ve never seen before, trying to chart new passages and share the information. Here’s a chart of Anu Daviau’s recent great exploration  of mainland waterways that began at Schiffsratten Yacht Club in United Sailing Sims, went up the East and north Coast of Nautilus, then across the northern intercontinental waterway that links Nautilus to Corsica. She then looped around Corsica and Gaeta, returning along the West coast of Nautilus ultil she finally ran out of water. In total she covered 573 sims. Chaos Mandelbrot and IAttempted a similar adventure that I discussed here.

Anu Daviau's 573 sim exploration

It looks like that’s just the tip of the iceberg;  Cristalle Karami is putting together a map hud for long-distance cruising and EastTuesday Borel discussed publishing his maps and others in an SL book format. And don’t let me forget the Mowry Bay Cruising Club that’s grown very rapidly over the past couple They set sail every Tuesday evening, navigating to new and exotic destinations.

 A common thread among many of these sailors is the need for navigational aids that parallel what vessels use in the real world. All sailors would benefit from a system of fixed navigational markers on popular waterways in SL that matches the RL system. If I were youreading this, I’d besaying to myself “That sounds nice, Jane, but there must be a thousand problems. There are buoys everyplace and an incredible number of Sims, who is going to do this… No way, José.”

Well, maybe you’re right. But remember, we’re only talking about navigational buoys, which might add up to 0-2 markers in each high-traffic water sim. we also already have RL international standards and extensive educational tools.

Is RL not good enough? You want standards and education in Second Life? (I was hoping you’d ask that!)  The Second Life Coast Guard has complete sets of wonderful, accurately detailed navigational buoys that they offer free to any and all interested parties. Sanstrom Laxness’ SLCG group knows what they’re doing and they have the real life experience and credibility to back it up.  Education about Coast Guard issues and water safety is one of their primary goals, and I’m quite certain all the yacht clubs would join with SLCG  to provide the necessary education, advice, and potential maintenance for any nav buoy system.

SL Coast Guard Nav Buoys

“What happens if this is successful?” you might think; “You could end up with dozens… hundreds… of buoys to monitor in order to keep the charts accurate. Things change pretty quickly around here.”

Well, as I mentioned, although navigational buoys are critically important aids to ships at sea,  there are relatively few of them, and the whole intention is to keep their position fixed. They are the reliable reference, the true waypoint for all the fragile craft tossed by offshore wind and wave. It would be relatively easy to insert a script in SL nav buoys that every few days sent an email reminder of the buoy’s location. A couple prim SLCG-approved, free buoy that meets international standards, and a single very infrequent script message. That’s all it takes.

The buoy would then talk to a simple map grid, flashing a few pixels to herald its presence at a tiny spot in a busy sim-sealane far away. With even a momentary glance at such a map, any SL sailor would relax, smile and rest assured. They’d know where they were and have a beacon to guide them. They’d be as firmly planted in this Second Life as any other.

A scripted buoy in SL that announces its location is certainly not a new idea. Last year Mothgirl Dibou and Cynthia Centaur lead an online ad-hoc discussion thread at concerning consensus protocols for sailboats. A summary of the ideas discussed in the open thread are included on the SL Sailing Wiki. It includes a protocol for communication between buoys and boats in a sailboat race:

Communication between boat and buoys
Each mark should broadcast its position to all boats in the neighbourhood using llShout on channel -8001 every 3 seconds. This way, boats that are competing in a race can use this information together with their own position and the positions of the other boats to implement ROW indication within the 2 shiplengths zone.

The message format is:

message type, (value = “Buoy”)
x coordinate (global x coordinate),
y coordinate (global y coordinate),
buoy name

This ad-hoc protocol is used in Yuu Nakamichi’s tetrahedral buoys in Blake Sea.  Certain race rules decisions depend on whether a boat is within two boat lengths of the mark, and this script protocol could facilitate that determination.
 While it may be good for racing,  however, this kind of scripted buoy is not appropriate as a navigation marker. That’s no surprise; they weren’t designed for navigation, they were designed for racing.  The  navigational buoys  should be more simple to construct.

Is such a navigation buoy a big deal, however ? 

Well, I think to a sailor it is. I’m bringing it up because navigational aids are part of our history, art, culture and experience. It’s how we plied the oceans and made sense of the world around us.

Maybe its how some of us make personal sense too. Years ago when I was an “Opti kid” I’d go on overnight cruises with family and friends. In the middle of the night, those choppy waves and shifting gusts can prove pretty scary, particularly if you’re a kid with a type-A personality, spending much of the transit questioning your parents’ navigational expertise. 

I’d sit there unblinking, gaze solemnly fixed on the blackness ahead, trying to convince myself the horizon was indeed still out there. in reality,I was waiting until I could see a distant light, a fixed beacon I had memorized. It made no difference what any of the instruments showed. Numbers can lie. Show me the real thing. When that light appeared way off in the distance, a pinpoint in a sea and sky of black, I knew I had my bearings, and I cajoled the adults to give me the helm.

I had my lit beacon; I knew where I was, and where I was going. I could use that beacon and bring everyone home. 

I think many sailors feel the same way In second life. A simple pattern of navigation buoys Would substantially enhance the reality of the SL sailing emulation for cruising sailboats. it would also provide a simple focus for collaboration between different groups and different regions, drawing on the skills and expertise of sailors, Coast Guard, and teachers.

I think the time has come for a nav buoy system in SL, but I would very much appreciate people’s views on the issue so we can come up with detailed recommendations for a system that meets eveyone’s needs.