Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Troubled Waters at the Blake Sea

As many of my readers know, the Blake Sea is the most widely used water area in all of Second Life. It was created a few years ago, with support from the community, to be a "sailing first" area of mainland, where races and pleasure sailing can occur without interference from other residents. The Blake Sea is Linden-owned, and therefore is supposedly open to everyone to use as they wish.
There have been many problems in the Blake Sea over the years. Almost as soon as it was created, the aviation community in Second Life saw the opportunity to use the 30 sim estate, and surrounding sailing estates that total over 100 sims. After some debate, an established set of guidelines for the aviation community in the Blake Sea was determined. Namely this meant that pilots could not fly close to the water (unless they were landing or taking off from an airfield), they need to remain clear of sailboats, and they must avoid areas that sailing races can occur.
Eventually, a third group joined the Blake Sea. The Pirates and Navy roleplay battles in century vessels, and have an established leadership. An area of the Blake Sea was set aside for their battles, the "Contested Waters" - a four sim block of open water, with rezzing enabled and a short autoreturn. The sailing community debated for a while, but with approval from Linden Labs, the pirates and navy were welcome into the Blake Sea, with the caveat that they remain in their own contested waters.
About a month ago, a new group has been gaining ground in the Blake Sea. They have been sailing around in WW2 era boats, which are rather large and visible from a great distance (depending on your draw distance). Some have been combative between each other, but most have been peacefully sailing in the public waters. In addition, this group (after gaining approval from the community liaison, MarkTwain White) has placed an aircraft carrier in the Southwest corner of the Blake Sea, in an area that is rarely used by the sailing community.
There has been mixed reaction to this new entity in the Blake Sea, for the most part split between the established sailing and aviation groups. At first, the new group has been using the entire public Blake Sea estate, but after discussions the group has agreed to remain in a small area away from everyone else - just like the Pirates and Navy. This area, in the southwest corner of the Blake Sea, is the least used by the sailing community, and does not contain any racing lines.
For a majority of the sailing community, this was not well accepted, and has culminated with a rather large protest on June 17th, 2012. Participants were asked to silently protest the new group's activities, waiving white flags and floating next to the aircraft carrier. In response, the aviation and pirate communities, for the most part, started protesting their protest - waiving green flags and lining up in helicopters and aircraft. It was a sight to behold! According to one protester, Gwenetha Juliesse, who was waiving a green flag and is an avid aviation enthusiast, "We already have established air traffic routes over the Blake Sea area for people's convenience. There must be some way of establishing battle zones for ships or so on."
A proposal has been submitted to Linden Lab regarding this issue, but they have yet to make an official decision as of this time of writing. This proposal, which involves setting aside a four sim block in the southwest corner for their use, which mirrors what was approved for the pirates group.
Marianne McCann recently stated the "situation in the Blake Sea is getting worse." She told of a group notice from Tig Spijkers on the SL Aviation group, "Effective and immediately all military style or combat boats, planes, helicopters, etc are now banned from the Saliors Cove regions. Only current exception to this rule are the aircraft and vessels of the SL Coast Guard."  
Gemma Cleanslate and Howdy Colter, pictures by Marianne McCann

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