If you’ve spent much time on powerboats, you’re probably familiar with fin stabilizers. These parts are sets of rudder-like attachments on each side of the keel that counteract rolling by pushing away water that moves across their surfaces while in use. Some of these fins also stabilize at the anchor with a sort of paddling motion. There are other types of non-fin designs that use different means of providing at-rest stability, but all involve external attachments that could potentially be damaged.
Compare this to the gyro stabilizer, which is rapidly growing in popularity in the world of yacht service in Fort Lauderdale, FL. These items do not ever get wet and do not have external appendages that stick out of the bottom of the boat. They’ll never interact with the water at all, in fact, which can make them highly attractive for boat owners looking for reliable stabilizers.
There are a number of companies that build gyros for yachts and smaller commercial boats. Seakeeper gyros are currently quite trendy, as they feature a wide range of active control models that make them ideal both for commercial and recreational boats that can be as small as 30 feet. Active control models are beneficial because they allow the speed and angle of all gyroscopic precession (a term referring to the gyro’s tendency to react with input forces at right angles to the force in question) to be controlled by hydraulic rams. These rams, then, get controlled by inputs from high-tech sensors.
Active control makes gyros much more efficient and effective across a wide range of conditions, some very calm and some very rough, without the operator having to take full charge of the input—all of it is controlled by a computer. While active control technology does carry a bit higher of a price tag, its capabilities and consistent level of performance make it a worthwhile investment for yacht owners.
Not everyone is able to afford a new boat that contains a Seakeeper, so you may be wondering whether retrofitting a Seakeeper is possible. The gyro must sit on a fairly substantial structure in a boat. Many boats will need to have additional support added to be able to hold the Seakeeper in place, considering the weight of the models available (in some cases up to 4,000 pounds). There’s also the extra weight of the added structures and ancillary gear to consider when attempting to retrofit a boat with one of these gyro stabilizers.
In many cases, a Seakeeper can be tied into an existing stringer. In some cases the stringers may need to be sistered to get the right span for the mounts, but this will have to be figured out for each individual case.
To learn more about the benefits of the increasingly popular gyro stabilizers and what you would have to do to retrofit a boat to install one, we encourage you to contact Starboard Yacht Group LLC. Our yacht service in Fort Lauderdale, FL will be happy to answer any questions you have about this and other aspects of improving your boat.