For those starting-out with sailing – which I enjoy simply for the pleasure, rather than for racing or anything – there are numerous little freebie boats available to help, of which the veritable little Nemo, which can be found in rezzers all over the waterfront in Second Life, is perhaps the most famous.
However, my attention was recently drawn to a relative newcomer to the freebie sailing market by a comment left by ZZ Pearl Bottom concerning the work of Burt Artis. My interest grew following a visit to the Three Pines Sailing School and Resource Centre, where I found a vendor for the boat, and decided to grab a copy and have a look. And even to my untutored sailor’s eye, the boat is a heck of a lot of fun, and great introduction to sailing in SL.
The boat in question is a Shields sloop-rigged keeled racing boat, and is offered in a size pretty close to the physical world boat on which it is based (that has an overall length of 9.19 metres, and Burt’s is 11.29 metres). It’s a mesh build, with a land impact of 27 and is quite packed with features – including two versions of the boat itself: the original 1.0a and the more recent 1.2, which is the one I took out on the water.
For those with an technical inclination, I’m reliably informed via that the the sailing engine is based on the original Tako scripts that Kanker Greenacre published, with the WWCmod from Mothgirl. The wind system used by the boat is Zephi Boat Weather, developed by Burt and JoyofRLC Acker. Also included with the package are a set of texture and UV maps (the boat is mod when rezzed, allowing you to customise it). The whole thing is delivered in a neat little sailor’s knapsack when purchased.
On the water, the boat looks good – although barefoot sailing (or in a pair of wellingtons / galoshes!) is recommended, as the floor of the boat can get a little wet 🙂 ). The skipper should board first via the usual right-click and sit, which will place you sitting on the boat with legs dangling over the side, and displays the initial set-up menu, with instructions in the board’s note card manual.
From here, everything is more-or-less operated by keyboard and chat commands. To start sailing, simply type “raise” – this both hoists the sails and rotates you into a position inboard the boat and handling the tiller. If you’re sailing with friend, you my need to issue the “crews” or “crewp” command to get them seated correctly.
LEFT / RIGHT keys turn the boat, and the
UP / DOWN keys let the sails out or take them in. Colour codes help to understand the sail settings: green – good; cyan is tight and blue is much too tight (so let the sails out); yellow is loose and red much too loose (so bring the sails in). You can also go “in irons” (steering into a headwind), indicated by the wind colour turning orange, which can happen rather quickly, killing your momentum and requiring some careful manoeuvring.
Crew and helm positions can be altered in chat to suit the sail position, using the “hp” (helm port) and “hs” (helm starboard) commands and “crewp” and “crews” (crew can move themselves using the
LEFT / RIGHT arrow keys). There are also keyboard commands for setting the angle of the sails, etc., and to “wing” the jib in place of a spinnaker when downwind.
If all this sounds complicated, it’s not – a little practice gets you sailing along nicely and the commands give a good feel for sailing more complicated boats.
Texturing-wise, the maps that are provided are basic, but sufficient to nicely customise the boat for personal tastes. It took me less than 10 minutes to have my Shields 1.2 repainted and named.
Sailing on my own, I found the Shields 1.2 to be a delight: smooth and easy on region crossings and fast enough when “in the green” without being stupid fast and feeling like it has a secret V8 powering it. The wind system keeps you very honest, and encourages more thought on sail management than simple “raise and go” and manually changing the wind to suit needs. Region crossing with crew did result in us ending up in some odd seating positions, but these were easily corrected via chat / with the arrow keys, and didn’t interrupt sailing.
All told, this is a great boat – one couldn’t ask for more from a freebie; so if you’ve been looking for something to try that offers a little leg room and gives a good feel for SL sailing, why not give the Shields a go? Vendors are available around SL, including at the Three Pines Sailing School – just follow the link towards the top of this article, and wander down to the quayside.