Dean: Ask anybody who gets seasick to explain the feeling, and most will tell you it keeps them away from boating period. The constant role and slap of an unstable boat can be at best annoying and at worst dangerous. Over the years, a myriad of stabilization systems have been developed and while some worked, most didn't, until now.
We're about to take a look at the Seakeeper. 21st century technology in the form of built-in gyros, spinning at mind boggling speeds, centered in the lower middle section of a monohull, significantly reduced the amount of rock and roll, which in turn will bring the kids and the wife, family and friends all flooding back to your life, to share your favourite pass time, spending more time on the boat.
In our sea trial of the Seakeeper stabilization system, we're heading out from Gladstone on Queensland central coast today with Simon Bonchenski, and Peter Pembroke from Seakeeper to take a look at the stabilizing system, and a close up view of how it works and what it does. Until now, stabilizing gyros had been the domain of larger vessels, and only for the very wealthy. It was only a matter of time until they came down in size, and price.
SeaKeeper has placed its latest compact model into the Signature 788, and teamed with twin Suzuki 250s, it's the complete package for a 50 nautical mile fishing raid in the northern bunker group of Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. Can you explain to me how the Seakeeper works? What is it in fact?
Simon: Yeah, sure Dean. So, the Seakeeper stabilizer is actually a spinning flywheel weight. It's a giant chunk of stainless steel that's spinning at 9,000 rpm. The technology is actually really quite old, but Seakeeper have managed to make the technology very small and compact, with a lot patents. What we're actually doing there is spinning a weight, a stainless flywheel at 9,000 rpm. And when the boat's rolling side to side, the gyro is actually princessing fore and aft. So it's 90% perpendicular to what the boat's actually doing, and it's putting torque through the structure of the hull of the boat, and stopping that boat roll.
Dean: Now the SeaKeeper went into this boat under construction, what about retrofitting a current boat?
Simon: Yeah, sure. So, 30% of our market is actually retrofit market.
Simon: So, the customer will go out and buy a monohull and take it out and find that, yes they might get seasick, and they come to us and they ask if they can fit a SeaKeeper. So we definitely take on a lot of projects where we can retro fit the SeaKeeper units to existing boats. On this particular example, we can actually just glue the gyro to the deck, so it's quite a simple installation. And on other installations, we look at putting a gyro into the structure of the hull underneath the boat.
Dean: Also onboard today is Club Marine magazine's editor Chris Beattie here for, hhmm research purposes? His research work looks like fun to me. After a few hours on board, Chris is convinced the Seakeeper is an amazing bit of gear.
Chris Beattie: This is the first installation in Australia on a trailer boat, and what an amazing piece of technology it is.
Dean: Not to be outdone, the Seakeeper boys are no slouches on the end of a rod either. A nice bag of Red Throat Emperor, and Tuskie's from a remarkably stable fishing platform, thanks to the Seakeeper. There are a couple of videos flooding around on the Internet from the Sydney Boat Show, showing the Seakeepers' amazing capabilities. It's easy to see that the gyro has an incredible effect on the boats inertia and stability. So, something traveling at 9,000 revolutions, is it expensive to run? How does it operate?
Simon: It's actually DC powered, believe it or not. So a 12 volt DC.
Simon: You run it on your house power, so with your screens and all your other gear. And on this particular boat, we can get six hours of stabilization on the batteries alone.
Dean: And I like the notion of keeping everybody in the family happy on board.
Simon: That's right.
Dean: Seasickness is the blight of boating..
Simon: Yeah, yeah. Yep.
Dean: And it does affect a lot of people but by the sound of things this works really well.
Simon: Yeah, that's right. Even the seasoned fisherman now goes out, the boat just doesn't beat you up as much anymore. It's a lot more comfortable ride, and you know you're going to go and get home safe when it's really rough.
Dean: Now before we end this tale, I must show you where we stopped for lunch. As a footnote to this story, and to make you feel just a little bit green with envy about this sea trial, this is where Chris and the Seakeeper boys pulled up for lunch. The area of Northwest Island. Northwest is surrounded by clear waters, and amazing fringing reefs.
When you're this far off the coast, it's not unusual to have water clarity like this, and to watch fish and Rays gliding under the boat. It really is an amazing place to visit. For more information on the Seakeeper, the Signature 788, and where to wet a line off Gladstone, head to the April/May edition of Club Marine magazine.