Whether your boat is small or yacht-sized, adding stabilizers may make seasickness a thing of the past.
Waves make boats rock and roll, even in relatively calm conditions. For centuries, mariners have endured the pitch, roll and yaw and the seasickness they produce. The only way to get over the nausea was to get off the boat and onto land until it passed. But thanks to technology from new stabilizers, ingenuity and inventors’ commitment to “build a better mousetrap,” new products have been developed that counteract the forces of nature.
There are a number of companies that manufacture boat stabilization systems. We recently learned about developments from two of them that are making waves (pardon the pun) in the industry. Both stabilizers can be installed on new boats, or they can be retrofitted onto an existing boat by a technician recommended by the manufacturer. In other words, there’s no excuse to continue exposing you or your guests to the dreaded mal de mer.
Recently released at the 2018 Miami International Boat Show, Seakeeper’s newest model is their smallest stabilizers to date. According to the manufacturer, the Seakeeper 2 is
designed to eliminate up to 95 percent of boat roll on boats as small as 27 feet LOA. “The Seakeeper 2 is the first of our products to reach down into the 20-foot boat market,
and we will continue to expand into new areas to ultimately change the way the world
boats,” says Seakeeper Chief Operating Officer Andrew Semprevivo in a press release. “We have a relentless drive of bringing stabilization to the masses.” The unit will utilize
the newly designed touchscreen control panel with an intuitive user interface and allow users to capture real-time performance information.
The Seakeeper 2 is 25 percent lighter (414 lbs.) and 22 percent smaller (24.8″L x 25.5″W x 20″H) than the next smallest model, the Seakeeper 3. Consequently, the unit’s small size allows for a number of installation configurations depending on the boat model. Many consumers, for example, opt for a leaning post replacement because it can be installed without any major structural modifications.
Expect the demand for the Seakeeper 2 to be significant. The Mohnton, Pennsylvania factory expanded to meet increased demand, and shipments
are anticipated to start in April. The Seakeeper 2 will run exclusively on 12-volt DC power and costs $22,700. Founded in 2003, Seakeeper, Inc. sold their first gyrostabilizer in 2008.
This family-owned and operated company based in Stuart, Florida, was founded in 1976. Gyro-Gale manufactures air-operated gyrostabilizers that use external fins to divert water
in order to stabilize the boat. Traditionally, fins have been a single foil that only drives the water in one direction; however, the basic principle of marine stabilization is to quickly and efficiently push against the water to provide lift. Gyro-Gale spent five years developing a fin that would divert the water not only faster and better but also
drive it more efficiently.
The Gyro-Gale Tab-Fin is a hinged, two-part fin, that drives water in two directions as opposed to just one. The tab is mechanically connected at the end of the fin and rotates on a pivot point. The Tab-Fin stabilizers create three times the amount of lift as compared with a traditional fin of equal size. “Traditional fins are a single foil that only drives the water in one direction. Ours drives the water in two directions,” explains Zeyad Metwally, Gyro-Gale Stabilizer’s vice president of engineering.
“So, if you’re in five-foot seas and taking waves directly on the beam, you’ll find the Tab-Fin system is not only going to stop the roll faster but also smoother. We’re driving water in two directions so it’s more effective and creates a high amount of lift.”
Metwally says the benefits to the Tab-Fin are many. Since they work more efficiently,
the fins no longer need to deflect as much water in order to generate the required
lift, so there’s no added drag and stress on the hull. The fins also do not need to
be as large. Generally speaking, boats with traditional fins can upgrade to new Tab-Fins.
The proof is in the pudding
For skeptics, the proof is in the feedback from delighted— and seasick-free—customers. Metwally says the Gyro-Gale Tab-Fin is installed on at least 15 boats that range in size from 42 to 82 feet. The owner of an 80-foot Lazarra upgraded to the Tab-Fin stabilizers system and noticed an immediate improvement in performance on his two-week, 1,400 nm journey from Tampa, Florida, to Annapolis, Maryland, in weather that “had a little bit of everything.”
The owner of an 82-foot Sunseeker claimed the boat actually gained two knots of speed, while a Grand Banks owner said the result was spectacular, even with over five-foot waves on the beam. “It’s a simple change that makes sense,” says Metwally. Sometimes, the simple solutions work the best.
By L.N. Evans, Southern Boating April 2018
Want to see another stabilizer?
Check out the Davis Instruments Stabilizer