I entered the world of casual SL sailing via the Premium Gift sailboat. I know, I know, there are better offerings around! Well, those of you who have been nudging me to “upgrade” to something more will likely be likely be pleased to read that I have 🙂 .
September saw me hopping around looking at various boats and options, as I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I did know I didn’t want a racing yacht or racing sail boat; not that I have anything against racing, I just wanted something that offered comfort and a degree of style to sailing around SL. Two boats went fairly immediately to the top of my list, the MLCC Oceanic, and the MLCC Loonetta 31, both of which are created by Motor Loon, who has a well-deserved good reputation for his custom bikes and other vehicles (he’s also a regular at SL User Group meetings, which are where I first met him).
The Oceanic is the older of the two designs, and is a sleek sailing cruiser, a little over 25 metres in length which features a very comfortable& furnished cabin – seriously, you have to see the boat for yourself to appreciate the level of detail. The Loonetta 31 is the more recent of the two builds and 100% mesh. Around 9.5 metres in length, it might be thought of as the Oceanic’s chubby little sister.
Both come packed with features and capabilities, making them each very excellent value – I’m not going to spill the beans on everything included, as part of the pleasure with these boats is in the discovery. Suffice it to say check hatches and steps carefully 🙂 . Initially, I was swayed towards getting the Oceanic, but in the end opted for the Loonetta 31. This was for two reasons; firstly, Motor’s excellent video tutorial on customising it via a very smart scripted system and set of texture maps convinced me this would be something even I could manage, and secondly – and more directly – the Oceanic is a tad on the long side when manoeuvring alongside at the jetty in front of my house, and is too long to fit the dock alongside the house whereas the Loonetta 31 sits easily alongside either one.
Which is not to say I’ve taken second best – far from it; the Loonetta 31 is an incredible little vessel, featuring a fully fitted cabin, like the Oceanic, and has plenty of room for friends to enjoy a trip out with you. As I siad, the customising system is quite awesome, and it is packed with some really nice touches.
The boat is delivered unboxed and ready to go – simply move the folder from your Received Items to your inventory, then drag the boat into the water. The default colour is a white finish, but there are six more pre-set finishes you can pick from simply by clicking on the boat (not the wheel or the seats – you’ll end-up sitting! Top of the cabin is the best) then selecting
SETUP from the displayed menu, and using the
DESIGN + and
DESIGN - buttons to page through the different finishes, which will render on the boat as they are selected.
However, that’s not the end of the customisation options – you can select just about any part of the boat and change its colour / hue using the RGB buttons, you can change the degree of shine applied to various parts of the boat, both via the
COLOR/SHINE button, and by following Motor’s very excellent video linked-to above, you can learn how to download the texture maps for the boat and use them to create your own texture finishes – which is pretty much what I did.
The menu is also used to control other options as well – lower / raise the anchor or sails, set the spinnaker, adjust the camera position, deploy / hide the fenders for docking, sound the bell or horn, set the boat to a moored status, adjust each of the 40 poses individually, and more. For those who prefer, text commands can also be used with the boat.
Customising the Loonetta 31 took me a couple of hours – a fair part of which was me trying to do a half-decent job with a graphics programme; I’m pretty sure that anyone with any reasonable graphics abilities could have done the same as I’ve achieved in half the time or less. Essentially, I used the hull map to create a red hull with a white stripe set on it, did the same with the stern plate, and re-coloured the cabin roof in a matching white. I also added a couple of graphics to the main sail and spinnaker, and created a custom name. I have to say I’m quite pleased with the results.
A point to make here is that the Loonetta 31 and Oceanic are both No Modify, so if you’re going to be engaging in some extensive customisation and are concerned about upload costs, you might want to re-sync your Aditi beta grid inventory with a password change, wait 24 hours, and then work on your boat there; once you’re satisfied with the results, you can then upload your modified textures to the main grid and apply them to the boat.
Sailing-wise, these boats are a real treat; Motor has spent a lot of time optimising them for sailing and region crossings. While it is still early days for me, a trip around the United Sailing Sims presented no problems with multiple region crossings under sail or motor. A nice touch is the smoothness of motion when turning; the boat turns gently and easily in a continuous motion, rather than the more step-by-step turns some vehicles exhibit (love the animation uses when turning the boat as well!). And if you don’t wish to leave the boat moored, you can pull out a stand from its contents and rest it safely on land.
To say I’m pleased with the Loonetta 31 would be an understatement. It may not be the sleekest boat available (I can’t help but call it chubby!) nor the fastest, but it has won my affections. Motor has done a magnificent job with it, and despite my clunky flapping around with GIMP, I really enjoyed putting together a personalised look for it, one which keeps to my preferences for red-and-white :).
For anyone interested in seriously trying-out sailing in SL, I have no hesitation in recommending the Loonetta 31 or its big sister.