Rolling around at sea is something most people will prefer to avoid if they can. With the modern stabilizing systems available today, you reduce the risk of becoming seasick by 80-90 percent.
Boating should be a great experience
Boating is something that most people find to be of great personal value. Expressions like "change of scenery," "open spaces," "serenity" and "great social life" are examples of phrases that are common when people talk about their experiences at sea and why they like it so much. I would dare to say that an overwhelming number of people would love to own or rent a boat regularly. That is if it could only be as predictable as a summer villa or a high-end hotel!
Stabilizers prevent seasickness
As a captain, you surely have experienced the immense difference in onboard comfort on a calm day with a flat sea bed compared to even just a half meter waves. It is the disruptive force of waves, which is the absolute worst enemy to boating.
Research shows that only 25 percent of the world's population is indifferent to seasickness. The rest of the population have various resistance but will become sick if exposed to waves above their threshold. The two main trigger factors are acceleration and the repeated frequency of this acceleration.
Read more: What are marine stabilizers and how to they work? →
If you are a current boat owner, a commercial captain, or considering purchasing a vessel, the conclusion would probably be the same no matter what. It is a shame to exclude up to 75 percent of your potential guests due to their fear of becoming seasick. Even worse, having guests onboard without boating experience, sharing their first nightmare of seasickness is not pleasurable for either the victim or their surroundings — basically, a ruined day at sea.
The stabilizer can make a beautiful day almost any day
Well, what if you can reduce the probability of seasickness by 80-90 percent? What would such a dramatic reduction mean for the onboard comfort of crew and guests throughout the vessel's life span?
To let someone else answer that for me, I quote one of our customers, John Maxey, who installed fin stabilizers on his Fairline 78 Squadron: "The stabilizers add maybe 3 or 4 percent of the cost of the boat, but they add 50 percent or a 100 percent of the usability of the boat. You can't even quantify it. If you go out on your boat for the day with a group of friends and they're seasick, that's a lousy day. The stabiliser can make a beautiful day, when it otherwise would have been a lousy day. How do you quantify the cost of that?"
I think what John Maxey's quote is pretty much spot on. Rolling around at sea is something most people will prefer to avoid if they can. With the modern stabilizing systems available on the market today, they do reduce the risk of becoming seasick by 80-90 percent, somewhat depending on the vessel, stabilizing system, and installation onboard.
There is more to a stabilized boat than just comfort on board
Another aspect worth considering is plain and simple onboard safety. Let's forget about seasickness and general onboard comfort for a while. A roll of just a few degrees impacts your footing onboard. Unexpected swells catch you off guard and send objects flying around. We've all been there. A stabilized boat is a very different base in terms of both perceived and actual safety.
Do stabilizers have any drawbacks?
So, you got two huge benefits from stabilizers that most people would agree are attracting factors indeed. But, are there any downsides? Yes, as usual, a few things are just 100 percent perfect. You add some additional weight and/or wet surface to your vessel. Older systems on the market will increase your fuel cost because of this. Still, the most modern systems on the market today have a very different efficiency ratio, meaning some vessels save on fuel at higher speeds. Marine stabilizers have not had much of evolution for a long time, but in recent years, new revolutionary systems have come to the market. So, today, it is much more important to research the different methods out there than just a few years back.
Any stabilizer system requires some internal space in your vessel, from little to quite a lot, depending on the system. In new builds, this is seldom a problem. In refit situations, the available space might be a much more significant deciding factor.
However, as of today, I have never talked to a single person who owns a modern stabilizer system who would ever go back. It seems that the tradeoffs you make, which has been severely diminished in the most recent systems, is worth it to the owners. As John Maxey says in his video interview, "I will never buy another boat without stabilizers!"
A good stabilization system will give your vessel long term value
This leads me to my last point in this article. I have reason to believe that within the next few years, as stabilizers become more frequent and people get a firsthand experience themselves, second-hand boats without a satisfying stabilization system will be a lot more difficult to sell. I overheard a somewhat good argument concerning this some time back: If you end up having to retrofit stabilizers to your vessel to be able to sell it, why not install stabilizers right away and get the pleasure of enjoying the benefits yourself?
There is much more to be said about stabilization and we will try to enlighten every aspect in our article collection as objectively as we can. If you are considering stabilization for a yacht/superyacht or commercial vessel, please consider reading our other articles. You will find both in-depth material for naval architects and boatbuilders, as well as a lot of interesting reading for captains and boat owners as well.
Try to get a firsthand experience yourself
Finally, if you have never had the chance to experience a stabilized vessel yourself, I would recommend you try to get on board one.
I have never been part of a demonstration where people have not been positively surprised about the effectivity of a modern system when they experience it for the first time. A very impressed boater once said to me: "It's like a giant hand suddenly grips the boat!" The sensation he experienced is complicated to translate into words, figures, and statistics. It would help if you tried to get a firsthand experience yourself. You'll probably love it!
US Patent US9527556 – Australian Patent AU2013335369 – Patent pending PCT/NO2013/050067