In my 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 on a regular basis. That is, if it could only be as predictable as a summer villa or a high-end hotel!
Stabilisers will 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 half a meter waves. It is the disruptive force of waves which is the absolute worst enemy to boating.
Research shows that only 25% of the world’s population is indifferent to seasickness. The rest of the population have various resistance, but will become sick if exposed above their individual threshold. The two main trigger factors are acceleration and the repeated frequency of this acceleration.
If you are either 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% of your potential guests due to their fear of becoming seasick. Even worse, having guests on board 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 stabiliser can make a beautiful day almost any day
Well, what if you can reduce the probability of seasickness by 80-90%? What would such a dramatic reduction mean for the onboard comfort of crew and guests throughout the vessels life span?
To let someone else answer that for me, I quote one of our customers, John Maxey, who installed fin stabilisers on his Fairline 78 Squadron: “The stabilisers adds maybe 3 or 4% of the cost of the boat, but they add 50% or a 100% 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 said was pretty much spot on. Rolling around at sea is something most people will prefer to avoid if they can. With the modern stabilising systems available on the market today, they do reduce the risk of becoming seasick by 80-90%, somewhat depending on the vessel, stabilising system and installation onboard.
There is more to a stabilised boat than just comfort onboard
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 impact your footing onboard. Unexpected swells catch you off guard and send objects flying around. We've all been there. A stabilised boat is a very different base in terms of both perceived and actual safety.
Do stabilisers have any drawbacks?
So, you got two huge benefits from stabilisers that most people would agree are attracting factors indeed. But, are there any downsides? Yes, as usual, few things are just a 100% 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, but the most modern systems on the market today has a very different efficiency ratio, meaning some vessels actually save on fuel in higher speeds. Marine stabilisers have not had much of an 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 systems out there than just a few years back.
Any stabiliser 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 larger deciding factor.
However, as of today, I have never talked to a single person who owns a modern stabiliser system who would ever go back. It seems that the tradeoffs you make, which has been severely diminished in the most modern systems, is worth it to the owners. As John Maxey says in his video interview, “I will never buy another boat without stabilisers!”
A good stabilisation system will give your vessel long term value
Which leads me to my last point of this article. I have reason to believe that in the next few years, as stabilisers become more and more common on many types of vessels and a lot more people get a firsthand experience themselves, second hand boats without a good stabilisation system will be a lot harder to sell. I overheard a rather good argument, in my mind, towards this some time back. If you end up having to retrofit stabilisers to your vessel to be able to sell it, why not install stabilisers right away and get the pleasure of enjoying the benefits yourself?
There are much more to be said about stabilisation and we will try to enlighten every aspect in our article collection as objectively as we can. If you are considering stabilisation for a yacht/superyacht or commercial vessel, please consider 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.
Read more at this page: Marine stabilisers for yachts, vessels and workboats
Finally, if you have never had the chance to experience a stabilised vessel yourself, I would really recommend you try to get onboard 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 just grips the boat!” The sensation he experienced is very hard to translate into words, figures and statistics, so try to get a firsthand experience yourself.
You will probably love it!
US Patent US9527556 – Australian Patent AU2013335369 – Patent pending PCT/NO2013/050067