The Sailing Simulator

In real life, I have a private pilot’s license; at one time, I owned a 21-foot day-sailer; and I wouldn’t mind being offered a trip into space.  My private pilot’s license hasn’t been used in about 30 years, mostly because I couldn’t afford to fly unless I did nothing else in my life.  I love to travel and have several hobbies, so my general aviation flying as a pilot wasn’t possible.

Within the last couple of years, computer simulations have really taken off.  I have X-Plane, which allows me to fly a number of different aircraft, including aircraft that I’m not rated for on my pilot’s license.  I also have Orbiter 2016, which allows me to pilot realistic craft into Earth orbit and beyond.  I was fine with these 2 simulations, until I discovered Sailaway – The Sailing Simulator.

I loved having a sailboat.  Unfortunately, it was difficult to find the time to sail out of my home port of Morro Bay, CA.  At some point, I took a vacation to the San Juan Islands in Western Washington.  Once I saw the waters of Puget Sound, I lost interest in sailing out of Morro Bay.  There really wasn’t anywhere I could go from Morro Bay, given the time I had to devote to sailing.  Another issue was the fact that my wife refused to be on the boat if it was outside of the bay.  It wasn’t long before I decided to sell my boat.

It occurred to me that, since there are great simulators for aviation and space flight, there should be a simulator for sailing.  I did a search and it didn’t take long to find Sailaway.  Sailaway is so realistic, it’s hard to believe what I’m seeing is coming from a computer.  The setting for the game is the oceans of Planet Earth.  Everything is in real time and real scale.  Weather is real time, sea conditions are real time, the sun, moon, and stars are real time.  If you want to sail from San Francisco to Honolulu, it will likely take you about 2 weeks, just like in real life.

If you’re not into boats or the ocean, you would probably consider this game to be boring.  I’ve seen comments from other users of this game and their comments mirror my feelings.  I am absolutely into this simulator, hook, line and sinker.  What keeps my interest is the challenge of planning a voyage and then dealing with things like wind direction, wind speed, and the many other variables that sailors deal with on sailboats.  It’s a similar concept to what I enjoy about aviation simulators.  I really enjoy planning a trip and then executing the plan.  Navigation was one of my favorite things about being a pilot and the same holds true for piloting a sailboat.

With the vast distances that you can travel in this simulator, while only traveling a speed of 5 – 10 knots, it’s logical that you would not want to sit at your computer for 2 weeks at a stretch.  The simulator developers came up with a great solution.  You can set your boat on autopilot, to sail your pre-planned course, and your boat will continue to sail when you are offline.  The simulator can send e-mail updates to you while you are offline.  I’ve also heard that the developers have plans for an app that would allow control of a sailboat while offline.  If you have any interest in sailing, this simulator is a must-have.

In order to add to my immersion in the simulator, I decided to log my voyages.  I will be posting my logs and some screen shots here.  One of my bucket list items was to sail the Pacific Ocean in my own sailboat.  Unfortunately, I’m running out of time in this life and I doubt I’ll get that bucket list item taken care of.  At least with this simulator, I can do it with amazing realism, minus the motion and the motion sickness.

If you’re online with Sailaway, look for my sailboat, Tahiti Dream.