By Elliott Stark
Editor-in-Chief, InTheBite Magazine
Seakeeper gyrostabilizers are revolutionary. There are many products that are amazing, that perform better than expected, or are otherwise noteworthy— very few products are revolutionary. How can a product be a revolution?
Think of it this way: Since the first time a person put a boat into the water, the effects of heavy sea have been considered to be an inevitable, unavoidable part of being on the ocean. Before gyrostabilization, before Seakeeper, the only way for many people to avoid seasickness on rough days was to stay on shore. Consider the following brief history of human/ocean interaction:
- Sea does what it wants, when it wants. People are powerless to stop it or to lessen its effects.
- Those who can’t handle being on boats during rough seas vomit and try their best to stop going offshore. Those who can handle rough weather, make fun of those who puke and continue getting beaten and battered whenever the sea gets rough. While some brag about being able to handle rough weather, nobody actually enjoys it.
The effects of human/ocean interaction can be witnessed in the evolution of the sportfishing industry. Boat design and cockpit layout were executed to deal with sea conditions. While some boats ride better and some locations are typically calmer than others, on the whole there hasn’t really been anything that anyone could do to reduce the wave effect on boats. At its most fundamental level, this is why Seakeepers are so revolutionary. They address a problem that for most of human history was assumed to be unavoidable.
Seakeeper—the Big Picture
In a relatively short period of time Seakeepers have gone from curiosities to must-haves. The units are being installed in sportfishing boats as fast as the company can crank them out. When I got the chance to fish on a boat with a Seakeeper, I was excited. The opportunity came in the form of fishing with Captain Joey Belton, who runs the Haphazard, a 61-foot Bolton based in Pirate’s Cove Marina in North Carolina. The Haphazard had the Seakeeper installed as a retrofit, and Joey raves about it.
He describes how after having them, some owners will no longer go offshore without them. Joey’s is a charter operation. Many of his clients are not old salts. Some come out of the mountains for a bluewater trip or two each year. Having a Seakeeper onboard makes all the difference when it comes to booking. Not only do the stabilizers diminish wave action while on the boat, they provide a degree of confidence before getting on the water. When it comes to individuals who get seasick or those trying to get their children and significant others to enjoy fishing, this confidence can make all the difference.
Those with queasy stomachs, who turn green in anything over two feet, need to try a boat with a Seakeeper. Boats equipped with Seakeepers offer the following range of options: If its calm, you’re in good shape. If it’s rough, the Seakeeper will handle it. If it’s blowing 35 out of the northeast, you’ll stay at the dock. Notice that none of these alternatives includes anything about the prospect of seasickness (Seakeepers make no claims about curing hangovers).
This technology is good for the industry. Kids fishing is good for our industry. Wives who enjoy fishing are good for our industry. Being inclusive is good for our industry. Seakeepers make it easier for kids, wives and others to enjoy time on the water. This is good for all of us.
When it Comes to Fishing
Seakeepers are also good for fishing and good for those who work on and own boats. Captain Joey keeps his Seakeeper on all the time—when he’s running, when he’s trolling, when he’s fighting fish and backing down. By diminishing wave action, the boat becomes a more stable platform. Stability not only makes the boat safer, but is necessary for leverage when fighting fish—in both stand-up and chair situations. Diminished wave action also takes less toll on the knees, bodies, and backs of captains and mates. This means more energy at night after fishing and less long-term wear overall.
The next time you are in the boatyard, look around. From custom to production boats, builders of all kinds are leaving space for Seakeepers. The units can be retrofitted into existed boats. They can be installed nearly anywhere. Some boats have two or even three Seakeepers. The company is now coming out with a model for center consoles.
On the Haphazard, Captain Joey Belton was nice enough to illustrate the difference the Seakeeper makes. We fished most of the day with the unit on. It was a nice change of pace, keeping the roll away. “Hey, Elliott, let me show you something,” Joey said. He turned the Seakeeper off and the roll returned.
While the day wasn’t particularly rough, the difference was quite noticeable. The boat was much more comfortable with the Seakeeper on. I was pretty happy when Joey flipped the switch again.