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An Extra Dose of Comfort & Stability at Sea

Heather Steinberger: Marine Editor      Published September 2018

An Extra Dose of Comfort & Stability at Sea

This summer, Carver Yachts staff, dealers and owners departed two ports on Florida’s east coast, bound for the Bahamas. During the week prior, fellow boaters advised the sea had been flat calm. Like a millpond, they said. You could sit in your bow lounges, they said.

But on this breezy Wednesday morning, that all changed. Our Carver Yachts C52 Coupe departed Sovereign Yacht Sales in Stuart, motored along the St. Lucie River to the inlet, and met a heaving ocean. Our captain did his best to keep us somewhat stable, throttling up and maneuvering in broad circles as we waited for the rest of the yachts to join our convoy to the West End.

It became clear, just by eyeballing the situation, which boats in our group had Seakeeper technology on board. Ours, unfortunately, did not. Although we all did our fair share of pounding in the next six to eight hours, some of us had to deal with rocking and rolling as well.

We’ve all been there, right? A memorable day on the water—which a Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas should be—becomes memorable for all the wrong reasons. It’s difficult to prepare meals and snacks, drinks spill, and undertaking a visit to the head becomes an exercise in gymnastics. You can’t play a game or even read, so you stare at the horizon and try not to look at your watch. Worst of all, seasickness might strike, and then it’s game over. The only thing that will help, other than jumping overboard, is reaching shore.

It doesn’t have to be that way, thanks to contemporary marine-stabilization technology. It’s almost magical in its ability to reduce that nausea-inducing dance in rough seas, and to provide a more comfortable ride for all aboard. Best of all, it’s readily available, whether you are in the market for a new boat or are considering a refit project.

Seakeeper is a name that has become synonymous with gyro stabilization. With this system, a horizontal flywheel spins in a vacuum-enclosed sphere at speeds up to 9,700 rpm or 557 mph. The gyro tilts fore and aft when the boat rolls, producing a powerful gyroscopic torque to port and starboard that counteracts the rolling motion.

Seakeeper can be installed virtually anywhere amidships-aft on boats 27 feet and up. It has no protruding appendages that affect the boat’s external structure, and it does not have to be on the centerline. Carver Yachts owners have found that it’s an excellent addition to a new or pre-owned yacht, and demand for the technology is increasing.

“It has been a privilege to work closely with Randy Peterson and Josh Delforge at Carver Yachts,” said Bryan Billic, Seakeeper’s Northeast OEM account manager. “Adding the Seakeeper 9 to Carver’s C52, for example, provides the ultimate cruising comfort. We know our partnership will continue to grow, with more and more owners wanting the best boating experience.”

A Seakeeper unit can take as little as 25 to 30 minutes to spool up, depending on the model—enough time to load the boat, disconnect from shore power, and ready the lines for departure—and then you can unlock the gyro. From that point, Seakeeper’s smart technology takes over, allowing it to read and react to sea conditions instantaneously. This is true at all speeds, in all sea conditions, and even at anchor.

The aim is not to reduce boat roll—Seakeeper wants to eliminate it altogether, and at this point, it’s incredibly close. A Seakeeper unit can eliminate up to a whopping 95 percent of roll.

Most boats can accommodate aftermarket Seakeeper technology. A larger yacht might need more than one unit, while a smaller on might need a larger unit than expected based on the yacht’s weight.

Worried about that additional weight? Don’t be. The unit comprises just a small percentage of a yacht’s overall weight, and Seakeeper’s team hasn’t found any significant post-installation differences in speed or fuel efficiency. And, electrical requirements for a Seakeeper system are minimal. The smallest two units run on 12-volt DC battery power, while the larger ones will require a generator.

If you’re in the market for a new Carver Yacht, or are interested in having an extra measure of comfort and stability on the water while cruising with your current Carver Yacht, talk with your dealer about Seakeeper. It doesn’t matter if you’re crossing the Gulf Stream, cruising the Great Lakes, or harbor-hopping along the East or West Coast. It’s so worth it.