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Cool Virtual Sailing Simulator

Feel like going sailing but don't want to drive to the marina? Kick back in your La-Z-Boy, fire up your computer, and start tacking. A new sailing simulator called Sailaway lets you command a 38-foot cruiser, a 45-foot wooden yacht, or if you're feeling feisty, a Mini-Transat racer.

Featuring accurately modeled waves and water color based on your location (waves and wave behavior differs from ocean to ocean), and day and night skies, Sailaway is the most advanced sailing simulator on the market.

The lifelike settings let you sail across the Pacific if you want, through real (virtual) waves and spray, subtly trimming in whatever wind speed you chose. The sails will dutifully luff if you're not paying attention, and there's a whole range of sailing instruments to keep your attention. The program allows you to virtually sail and even race with other armchair sailors around the world.

The level of detail is impressive.

OrbCreation has re-created the oceans of the planet with unparalleled accuracy with a detailed world map. In Sailaway, making a trip across the Pacific takes months, just as it would on a real boat. With a persistent online world, adjust your settings and your boat will continue to sail even if you aren't online.

Receive updates via email as your boat continues its progress, but don't forget to check in often — with real-time weather data pulled from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), conditions can change in just a few hours.

"Sailaway started as an experiment to see if it would be feasible to create a sailboat that responds to sail trim changes," says Richard Knol, the one-man development force behind Sailaway, "but it soon transformed into a full-time passion project, in which every aspect of sailing was being implemented in the most comprehensive way possible."

Published by new independent games publisher, The Irregular Corporation and developed by OrbCreation, the ultimate sailing simulator is compatible for PC and Mac for $39.99. You'll need a stout computer for the processor-hungry graphics, but you won't have to fight traffic or clean up the boat afterward.

For more information about Sailaway visit sailawaysimulator.com.

Charles Fort

Charles handles our exclusive Reports in-depth tech feature in every issue, our videos, and our investigative features. He helps with dispute-mediation and writes our Consumer Protection column. A member of the National Association of Marine Surveyors, he’s on ABYC tech committees, and has a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard license. A sailor who went cruising with his family, he now lives in California.