Stabilization for smaller boats in the 23 to 30 foot range has been a hot topic on just about every coastal angler’s wish list at some point in their fishing life. Who doesn’t want a more stable platform to fish from in rocky and windy seas without the dreaded mal de mer? To quote a line from the Chambers Brothers’ classic rock tune from the 70s…”the time has come today.” The Seakeeper 1 has arrived and will be appearing on someone’s under 30-foot fishing boat in your marina in the near future and it might even be yours.
What is It and How Does It Work?
A Seakeeper is a computer-controlled gyroscope that eliminates up to 95 percent of boat roll. Its proprietary design, inspired by aerospace technology, centers on a powerful steel flywheel that spins at high speeds in a near vacuum, eliminating air friction and allowing weight, heat generation and power consumption to be minimized.
The technology works in all sea conditions, both at rest and underway. Completely self-contained, the Seakeeper produces no drag and unlike fin stabilizers, has no risk of damage from external outside-the-hull impact or snag. A Seakeeper can be installed as a new build feature or can be retrofitted to virtually anywhere on the boat.
According to the Seakeeper folks that I spoke with at this past season’s Miami Boat Show, “To bring stabilization to boats as small as 23 feet, we knew we had to break the mold. The new Seakeeper 1 features a flush mount design for easier installation, runs exclusively on 12V DC power, and can be installed virtually anywhere on board.”
The Seakeeper 1 is designed to virtually eliminate boat roll on vessels from 23 to 30 feet. It requires modest electrical power, has no outside appendages and can be installed virtually anywhere on board. Its computerized control and vacuum technology make it the first truly practical and only modern, anti-roll gyro. The Dashboard Display’s intuitive operator interface allows you to simply turn it on and forget about it. No complex settings or adjustments are required of the operator – Seakeeper does all of this automatically, you simply enjoy the ride.
Sitting inside a vacuum encapsulation, the Seakeeper’s flywheel spins at speeds of up to 9,700 rpm. When the boat rolls, the gyro’s frame tilts fore and aft, producing a powerful gyroscopic torque to port and starboard that counteracts the boat’s roll. The patented cooling system enables the flywheel to spin at high speeds inside of the vacuum containment. Seakeeper’s vacuum encapsulation enables the flywheel to spin roughly three times faster, cuts flywheel weight by two-thirds and halves the operational power requirements. Moreover, because the critical components (flywheel, bearings, and motor) are sealed in a vacuum, they are isolated from the harsh marine environment. Seakeeper’s “active control” optimizes gyro torque, providing an unsurpassed level of performance. Unlike a passively controlled gyro, which must be turned off in the roughest conditions and/or at higher speeds, the Seakeeper 1 and all of her larger siblings are effective at any speeds and can be used in all sea conditions.
Seakeeper field tested their new Seakeeper 1 last summer down on the Jersey Shore, using a 2850 Bluewater center console as the test platform. This sportfisher boasts a 10-beam and a length overall of 28-feet, with a displacement of 15,000-lbs. The Seakeeper 1 was able to reduce the natural roll rate of this deep-vee hull by a whopping 91 percent, which is a significant difference. The relatively low profile of this gyro stabilizer allows it to be mounted in a variety of places onboard and many builders now are including dedicated spaces for Seakeepers on their vessels. This miracle cure doesn’t come without a cost and the smallest Seakeeper has an MSRP of $14,900, plus installation. All Seakeepers used in recreational applications are backed by a two-year/2,000 hour full system warranty with 24-hour tech support. Extended warranties are also available. For more information, visit www.seakeeper.com.