As regular readers know, I’m pretty into sailing and cruising in SL. However, while I have a couple of very nice E-Tech boats, they are somewhat big and tend towards the primmy. So I’ve recently been spending time hopping around SL and trawling the Marketplace for something smaller, lighter and mesh built I could buy.
This actually proved harder than I’d imagined. Not because there is a shortage of smallish cruisers and nice little tenders to be had; quite the reverse. There are some lovely boats to be found; I just have this obsession with a red & white colour scheme, and those I saw either didn’t quite fit, or required DIY retexturing well beyond my comfort level. So I ended up making an impulse purchase simply because the colours were close enough: Kv23H FoilStream by Ape Piaggio.
Not, I hasten to add, that this should be taken to mean this is a “bad” build; far from it. Ape has worked hard to produce a superb racing boat / cruiser, capable of carrying up to five people, and sought out plenty of assistance in bringing it together – such as from Analyse Dean of Bandit fame. The result is a craft that is 31 LI, 100% mesh, packed with features, and – when needs be – bloody fast.
Seating areas can be found in the cockpit, and forward in the bow area, with a small cabin area in between. The pose system allows movement between the various areas (including the sunbathing pad over the working engine cover), without the need to stand, and is available to driver and passengers. Driving-wise, the UP / DOWN keys operate the throttle in 10% increments, LEFT / RIGHT allow you to steer. If you want some really high-speed boating, PAGE DOWN will deploy the boat’s cunningly-hidden hydrofoils (you must be at 30% throttle or lower for them to deploy). Once deployed, running the throttles up to anything over 70% will lift the boat up onto the foils and you’ll literally fly across regions; this is one bloody fast boat. So much so that after lifting, I’d strongly recommend dropping the throttle down to 50% for a smoother ride.
When you drop back to 30% or below, the boat will settle back into the water, and PAGE UP stows the foils once more. Handling-wise, the boat is really responsive at speed, but can be a handful at 10%-20% throttle. To assist with this, Ape has added a “parkmode” option in the menu, click it and keep your speed to 30% throttle or less and it smooths-out handling. There’s also a race mode, accessed through the menu, which makes the boat compatible with popular race systems and which enables damage, while the ACSS system really does help the driver with region crossings.
Two really handy capabilities with this boat are the “park camera” and the auto-mooring function. The former places the camera above the boat, looking down on it and – with practice – allows for a lot of close-in manoeuvring both forwards and backwards. Set the boat’s home mooring position, and the latter will automatically park the boat on your return, once you’re within 10 metres of the mooring point.
To list all the features would turn this article into a litany, so suffice it to say that you also additional options that can be deployed, a pose system for moving about the boat without standing up, a working engine cover, two working media systems – there’s even two painting systems (texture maps supplied), one of which you can use to produce your own commercial paint kits for the boat.
There are, to be fair, some niggles, none of which are serious, but do cause grumbles. Mouselook driving requires seat adjustment, for example, so you can actually see where you’re going. However, adjustments can’t be saved, so have to be made again after standing. I found the camera to be oddly sensitive when carrying passengers at low speeds in regions with surrounding objects, being prone to slewing into the engine compartment even when crossing parcel boundaries (i.e. moving away from my home mooring). Conversely, travelling at speed on open water with passengers across multiple region boundaries has yet to give me any problems at all. A final very small issue is with the boat’s hull texture map: the left side hull texture and the transom texture are such that if you wish to add a name to them, you’ll have to reverse it to read from right to left; if you don’t the name will be backwards when the textures are applied to the hull.
But, these are minor grumbles in the scheme of things. Overall, there is no mistaking the fact this boat is well made, comes very well equipped and represents excellent value for money. Any hesitation you might sense in this article is simply because this kind of muscle boat isn’t really “me”, so I’m having a hard time persuading myself I’ll actually use it, and may yet end up resuming my hunt for something more “my” style. Either that, or I’ll await Ape’s next project, her AD25H “Little Bee” speedboat, which is looking rather good!