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Old 11-12-2020, 07:26 AM   #1
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Best stabilization

Keep hearing Trac make the best stabilization and to stay away from Wesmar. Also fins are better than fish as you just push a button with no need to deploy or take them in . Also that gyros are great for coastal but potentially dangerous offshore and magnus effect the reverse as they stick out so far.
Is this all hearsay?
Would like to hear about your experience with your stabilization.
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Old 11-12-2020, 08:00 AM   #2
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My Wesmars have been trouble free since day one. The overall installation often results in issues rather than the brand. Cooling system design is an oft neglected area. Then lazy maintenance, all need some degree of seals, bearings or bushings routine maintenance.

My main pet peeve, so many installs place them in near impossible locations for routine inspection and maintenance. Whether KK, Selene or Nordhavn some location glitches can occur. My advice - regardless of brand, if you can't see the inboard setup they will give you a headache or two.
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Old 11-12-2020, 08:21 AM   #3
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Hey Hippo. Much of the negative comments on Wesmar posted to TF over the last 2-years is from me. I had a terrible customer service experience with them, and continue to get mostly crickets from them for tech support. I was given the name of a tech with whom I can email, but it's a back channel that probably isn't authorized. But since my refit project is still underway and the boat is on the hard, I can't speak to how well the new system actually works. I will say that because stabilizers are rarely fit on a vessel as small as my Willard 36, I didn't have a lot of choice in the system - Wesmar makes a smaller size than others. Otherwise, I would have gone with ABT Trac no questions asked. They call only a slight premium and they are a robust system with fantastic customer support. In my mind, the purchase premium is quickly diluted by all the other costs involved of installation so it becomes an asterisk-level rounding error. They just didn't make a small enough system for me.

I had an old Vosper Thornycroft set of hydraulic stabilizers that were OEM install in 1970. They became impossible to source parts for, so I replaced them.

First, for anything resembling open ocean work in a power boat, I personally do not believe stabilizers are optional. There are some who may disagree, few I suppose who have spent any appreciable time in open water. So it comes down to what's best.

Like so many things, it depends. For me, I didn't even think about a different option to hydraulic stabilizers to replace my old Vospers. I should have, but it just never occurred to me. I probably would have chosen to replace with fins, but I should have more closely considered paravanes which I've run on several boats. I have zero experience with gyros so have no comment except to say they are not a good fit for me because I would never run my generator 24/7 - I'm just not that type of cruiser. Many are, but not me.

I do not worry about a hull penetration - that seems to be a caution from people who don't have stabilizers and strikes me as partially a sour-grapes response. I'm not saying it's zero risk, but I am saying it's close enough to zero that it's a none-issue for me, at least that's my opinion. For me, the biggest down-side to fins is complexity and space - the hydraulic tank is big, especially for a 36-footer. On a larger yacht, not a problem, so that's unique to my situation. But still, there are pumps and hoses and coolers and actuators and all sorts of stuff. The bearings on the stabilizers should be serviced each haul-out, and adds a couple grand to the yard charges. You also need to find a yard that is knowledgeable in pulling stabilizers, though it's not a tremendously complex system. But you will need bushings and bearings.

Paravanes. My experience has always been with a new-to-me-system, and things like launching have unique attributes to every boat. Because I never did it more than a few times, I didn't get good at any one boat. They are a bit cumbersome to manage, especially retrieval. Not difficult, but not something your wife will be doing vs flipping a switch on fins. Many higher end boats such as Nordhavn have several electric winches to run the fish. Maybe there are better brands than Rule and Warn out there, but the winches I've used over the years for boom-lifts rust-out pretty quickly. Would be an Achilles Heel of an otherwise simple system.

About 20-years ago when Willard was still making production trawlers, Zimmerman Marine (Chesapeake Bay, a Willard dealer at the time) took a W30 from Maryland to Bermuda. It was equipped with paravanes. Steve D, yard manager at the time, wrote a couple articles in PMM about the trip. He referenced the system was undersized, which would be fairly easy to remedy, though not underway of course. Maybe under extreme conditions there's a risk of launching a fish into the PH window as shown through George Clooney's eyes in the movie Perfect Storm, but risk is pretty low.

Long intro to say that in my opinion, paravanes are better for longer runs if only because they are simple. There are air-draft issues if you plan to do the Loop, but I am compelled by the simple system and I wish I had considered them more closely, Not sure I would have ultimately selected them, but I didn't even consider them,

Fins are great, but are a fairly complex system though have a long history of reliable service. They do require periodic maintenance to replace bushings, seals, and bearings. In my research, I felt ABT Trac was the best system out there and would be my go-to given the choice. Wesmar would be at the bottom of my list, but I'm sure there are others who have had fine experience with them.

One final point that I rarely see mentioned. Many people note that stabilizers carry a speed penalty due to drag, especially for fish. Weebles, a Willard 36, is incredibly low and carries 25% of its displacement in ballast, an extremely high percentage. On my last run from San Francisco to Ensenada - 500 nms over 75 hours, the stabilizers were run about 25% of the time, though in all fairness, I chose a known seasonal weather window and waited for calm conditions. So I have a choice to run stabilized or unstabilized. Truth is, we sort of like the gentle rocking motion of Weebles so often only run stabilizers during meal prep. Nordhavns and [especially] Defevers do not have a choice - they pretty well need stability 100% of the time. I strongly believe that when stabilizers are needed, a stabilized boat is faster than an unstabilized boat that often cork-screws or twists, even in head-seas.

Hope this helps. I know our cruising aspirations are similar and I had recent experience in the decision, so added the lengthy description.

Peter
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Old 11-12-2020, 08:29 AM   #4
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Posted by Hippo: “Gyros are potentially dangerous offshore”

Funny, a lot of mis information gets thrown around on forums, but that’s a new one.

Do you have some supporting documentation you can share where a Seakeeper Gyro caused a “dangerous” situation?
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Old 11-12-2020, 08:57 AM   #5
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“Gyros are potentially dangerous offshore”

Please tell us what is mis informed about that statement. The forces involved and the power requirements alone make them potentially dangerous.


Hippo- I assume you have read Beebe's Cruising Under Power. He seems to conclude that fins are fine for coastal cruising and paravanes for ocean crossing. Either system requires an inventory of spare parts and the knowledge to replace them. I don't know your cruising plans, but after reading his book I would not attempt a crossing without paravanes because of their simplicity. Quality block and tackle should suffice over electronic winches.

I have zero experience on these matters and can only relate what I just read in the last few weeks. For my cruising plans I would not consider paravanes as I intend to do the loop and coastal cruising.

I have been looking at a boat with "sea brace" stabilizers. Sea Brace has been out of business for some time and this caused me great worry. I am told that in fact they are ideal as they use off the shelf automotive parts obtainable from any Auto Zone or O'Reilly's.
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Old 11-12-2020, 09:14 AM   #6
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Morph, have you ever seen a Diesel engine do bad things? I did, years ago I was injured by a diesel driver for a large fire pump in an industrial setting. I was off work for 2 months. There are inherent risks being around machinery. You guys don’t have direct hands on experience with Gyros, so you are making stuff up for post counts. So, if anyone has any documentation regarding a dangerous condition regarding a Gyro, please share it. I can give you plenty involving Diesel engines. Anyway, carry on, misinformation is the norm these days.
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Old 11-12-2020, 09:30 AM   #7
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Wesmar stabilizers certainly wouldn't scare me away from an otherwise good boat. I know quite a few people who are happy with their Wesmar's. Very few, if any, will be able to definitively tell you if Trac's perform better than Wesmar's...I mean, who has been out back-to-back on the same model boat equipped with each stabilizer?

Generalizing by brand can also be problematic because of different control systems and fin sizes on different boats. I know Nordhavn 50s, for example, came with a variety of Naiad systems (and some have Trac). The Naiad equipped boats have some combination of three different fin sizes, two different stabilizer models, and three different control systems.

Paravanes are simple, introduce no drag when not needed, and are relatively inexpensive. But I ruled them out as the only means of stabilization because I thought they'd be useless (or, more accurately, I'd be too lazy to launch them) most days. Great on an ocean passage, perhaps more trouble than they're worth for short coastal hops. On the flip side, active fins just require pressing a button. Our fins have kept much from sliding off the counters when a big wake passes on an otherwise calm day; paravanes would not have, since they wouldn't have been deployed.

I've been on a Seakeeper demo ride and was very impressed. If a used boat I was looking at had one I'd be happy to use it, but it wouldn't be my first choice if I was installing. The two big negatives in my mind are spool up time and need to run a generator. For others those might be no big deal.
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:05 AM   #8
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Started this thread pleading my ignorance and asking for advice. Was told gyros place huge loads on the framing of the boat. Unless the vessel is designed from scratch to accept gyros or significantly modified this can create failure of underlying structure of the boat. Was further told there’s a physical limit as to how far a gyro can have precession. When extended repetitively in a seaway both it can fail to offer stabilization +/or fail, +/or have structural damage. By a yard worker was told of cracked frames and his opinion they are excellent in moderate conditions but potentially dangerous with sustained use in more severe bad weather. He was of the opinion excellent on ships but limited in boats unless passage making is not on the menu.
“Service at every haul out”. What is your haul out interval?
Of interest there’s. N40 for sale with both paravanes and fins at the moment. A bit of a project boat which has scared us off for now. Naiids are common on seaboats. Any comments about those?
Anybody have any experience or thoughts about Quamtum or Roto magnus effect stabilization
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:06 AM   #9
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"There are inherent risks being around machinery." = Potentially dangerous offshore.
1000 lbs spinning at 10,000 rpm in the middle of the ocean has SOME potential. Your own post as much said so. You are controlling a heavy boats motion with an electrical device that uses considerable power from the Center of the boat. The forces involved are massive. In a commercial/military installation I would have less concern, but retrofitted into a fiberglass trawler not as much. Just the power requirements add a significant issue related to safety- see your diesel engine comment.

Post counts? Are we getting paid for this? Where is my check?
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:07 AM   #10
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Posted by Hippo: “Gyros are potentially dangerous offshore”

Funny, a lot of mis information gets thrown around on forums, but that’s a new one.

Do you have some supporting documentation you can share where a Seakeeper Gyro caused a “dangerous” situation?



Here's my understanding of the issue. How it plays out in reality I have no idea.



A gyro counteracts roll by acting against/deflecting the inertia of the gyro.


Fins counter act roll by acting against/deflecting the water flow.


When a fin reaches it's limit, it continues to generate max counter roll force. But when a gyro reaches it's limit, it stops creating counter roll force, and the rolling force is suddenly unchecked.


Furthermore, when a fin is returned from it's limit back to centered, it does not create any positive rolling force. On the other hand, bringing a gyro back from it's limit does create a positive rolling force. Now that's good if the boat has rolled in the opposite directing, but otherwise there is no way to pull it back towards center without adding to the roll rather than subtracting from it.


So in extreme conditions when both reach their limits, the fins keep counteracting the roll indefinitely, where a gyro suddenly stops counteracting, and can't be brought back without making the roll even worse. So they are fine.... until they are not.
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:08 AM   #11
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Retriever - I wouldn't hesitate to buy a boat with Wesmar's either. As of right now, I have not actually run them and assume they will be a fine system once my boat is splashed. My only complaint is customer service. They were (and continue to be) unresponsive on some very basic install questions such as recommendation for adapting their native 24v system to 12v (Naiad includes this in their package - Wesmar is silent on the topic and you get to figure it out on your own). Finally, they provided an answer but was wrong - install dual 12-v batteries in series: correct answer for a 130A bow thruster, massive over-build for a 5-amp controller. And it literally came as a hand-drawn sketch on what may have been a cocktail napkin. That's lousy customer service - not just slow, but wrong. Contrast that to a guy who related an ABT experience where he had taken delivery of a seven year old second-hand Nordhavn. He reached out to ABT with a question and got an immediate response....on a Sunday. Second hand boat long past warranty coverage, and they got back to him. I bought a brand new system and couldn't get squat on basic install information.

Their product has been in the market for years so I'm pretty optimistic it will be fine. But install was woefully complicated by their lousy technical support. I understand they had a management change a few years ago which explains why repeated calls to their new owner/CEO for escalation went unanswered.

Sunchaser will say that a more experienced installer would have solved the problem. Definitely, but that doesn't excuse inability to correctly answer basic questions on an expensive system. Let's be clear - I figured out on my own that I needed an 12v-24v converter to power the controller, what I didn't know is how many amps it needed. 5A? 10A? 30A? Not listed in their literature and they were unable to answer this question - finally, I found the underground tech who told me the Newmar 7A converter was plenty.

Okay, I'll stand-down - sorry for drifting into a rant. Proceed with caution with Wesmar for new purchase. BTW - After about a year, I finally heard from the Sales' Rep 3-days ago. Apparently his email account had been hacked so I, along with everyone else in his address book, got a phishing spam invoice. Not his fault, but still.....would have been nice to hear from him long ago.

Peter
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:13 AM   #12
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Started this thread pleading my ignorance and asking for advice. Was told gyros place huge loads on the framing of the boat. Unless the vessel is designed from scratch to accept gyros or significantly modified this can create failure of underlying structure of the boat. Was further told there’s a physical limit as to how far a gyro can have precession. When extended repetitively in a seaway both it can fail to offer stabilization +/or fail, +/or have structural damage. By a yard worker was told of cracked frames and his opinion they are excellent in moderate conditions but potentially dangerous with sustained use in more severe bad weather. He was of the opinion excellent on ships but limited in boats unless passage making is not on the menu.
“Service at every haul out”. What is your haul out interval?
Of interest there’s. N40 for sale with both paravanes and fins at the moment. A bit of a project boat which has scared us off for now. Naiids are common on seaboats. Any comments about those?
Anybody have any experience or thoughts about Quamtum or Roto magnus effect stabilization

I think the structural issues affect both gyros and fins, just in different ways. A boat hull needs to be built for fins, or beefed up for an add-on. I had to do a fair amount of structural glass work on my Grand Banks when I added fins to it. In the early days of fins, there were structural issues, but now people know how to do it successfully. I expect the same evolution for gyros.
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:33 AM   #13
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Of interest there’s. N40 for sale with both paravanes and fins at the moment.
Naiids are common on seaboats. Any comments about those?
Active fins and paravanes would be my preference. Belt and suspenders. A friend with an N40 set up that way has occasionally used both when it was really bumpy and reported good results.

I have Naiads and am happy with them, but due to COVID haven't really put them through their paces. Older systems (say, before the 2001 Nordhavn Atlantic Rally) were perhaps a bit undersized for passagemaking. I've been in touch with Naiad about upgrading mine (larger hydraulic pump, larger hydraulic rams) and the parts are readily available, the company has been responsive, and the cost seems fair. I have the MultiSea II controller, which is mid-level: apparently better (faster response and more user adjustable) than the original gyro control, but not as advanced (or expensive) as the latest Datum control. Apparently the newer controls can react more quickly and smartly to boat motion and several Nordhavn owners have upgraded with good results. The control upgrades are quite costly and my impression is they may improve performance but don't seem to improve reliability.

Since it sounds like you're looking at Nordhavns, I doubt you'll find a Seakeeper. Your choices are basically active fin, paravane, or both. If equipped with active fins, the older boats will mostly have Naiads and the newer boats Trac. A few boats have Wesmar. Any of them would be fine by me (meaning the rest of the boat is more important, assuming the stabilizers are well taken care of or price is adjusted accordingly). I think I'd choose Trac, Naiad, Wesmar in that order, largely based on reputation for support.
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:34 AM   #14
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Started this thread pleading my ignorance and asking for advice. Was told gyros place huge loads on the framing of the boat. Unless the vessel is designed from scratch to accept gyros or significantly modified this can create failure of underlying structure of the boat. Was further told there’s a physical limit as to how far a gyro can have precession. When extended repetitively in a seaway both it can fail to offer stabilization +/or fail, +/or have structural damage. By a yard worker was told of cracked frames and his opinion they are excellent in moderate conditions but potentially dangerous with sustained use in more severe bad weather. He was of the opinion excellent on ships but limited in boats unless passage making is not on the menu.
“Service at every haul out”. What is your haul out interval?
Of interest there’s. N40 for sale with both paravanes and fins at the moment. A bit of a project boat which has scared us off for now. Naiids are common on seaboats. Any comments about those?
Anybody have any experience or thoughts about Quamtum or Roto magnus effect stabilization
Hippo - I have to agree with Fletcher about some of the claimed issues with gyro's. Granted I don't have them, but they have piqued my interest for years because they are such a cool idea, and work at anchor (another check-box for paravanes - no add'l flopper stopper gear). The only negative indicators I've seen on Gyros are they are big and difficult to retrofit so new-build inclusion is best. They are expensive (though in all fairness, not a helluva more expensive than fins). And they are power-hungry and require full-time generator running. Sure, they need to be bolted to stringers, but that's where engines are mounted, and they don't tear-apart hulls over time.

The most credible knock against them I've seen is when people under-size them due to expense. That's not a Gyro problem.

The most common reaction from Gyro owners I've heard is akin to first-kiss love. But again, I don't have that system and it's not a good fit for me even if I could fit it aboard Weebles due to generator run requirements.

Peter
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:46 AM   #15
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...I assume you have read Beebe's Cruising Under Power. He seems to conclude that fins are fine for coastal cruising and paravanes for ocean crossing. Either system requires an inventory of spare parts and the knowledge to replace them. I don't know your cruising plans, but after reading his book I would not attempt a crossing without paravanes because of their simplicity. Quality block and tackle should suffice over electronic winches.

I have zero experience on these matters and can only relate what I just read in the last few weeks. For my cruising plans I would not consider paravanes as I intend to do the loop and coastal cruising.

Keep in mind that Beebe's position on things is 50+ years old, and a lot has changed since then. Fins are no longer a novelty on smaller pleasure craft, and are standard equipment on many boats now. I'd estimate that there are a dozen or more ocean crossing every year made by Nordhavns with hydraulic fin stabilizers, with zero trouble. So I think Beebe's premise that fins will break and paravanes won't is a bit like arguing the greater reliability of a horse over a car.
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:49 AM   #16
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Guys, I have said on numerous occasions that a Gyro works for us and for what we are doing. IE coastal cruising where running the Gen for water and other needs is not a big deal. There are other less expensive Gyro brands coming on the market, but I have not read or heard of a single occurrence where a Seakeeper came unbolted and caused damage. TT, you are also throwing out some hypotheticals, that have just not occurred with tens of thousands of Seakeepers out there. Also, Steve D Antonio weighed in on the subject a few months ago. Did you read his response?
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:56 AM   #17
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Most helpful. Keep it coming. How about stabilization of steel or Al boats? Also looking at one offs and DDs. All seem fitted with fish only. Why is such a no-no.?
Do you have a link to Steve’s article?
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Old 11-12-2020, 11:56 AM   #18
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Power trimaran...not the 50 knot mega-yacht kind, but one that comfortably cruises long distances at 10 or more knots. Cross oceans in 1/3 the time. Move away from oncoming bad weather.

I'd give up beamy leather couch/recliner comfort for the speedy constantly stabilized efficiency of a trimaran of about 60' in length. The destination would be my goal, rather than opulence while getting there.

Not what you were asking, but still an option.
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Old 11-12-2020, 11:57 AM   #19
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Most helpful. Keep it coming. How about stabilization of steel or Al boats? Also looking at one offs and DDs. All seem fitted with fish only. Why is such a no-no.?
Do you have a link to Steve’s article?
Here is the article in PMM on Willard 30 to Bermuda. It's a 2017 date, but was originally published around 2001 or so.

https://www.passagemaker.com/cruiser...on-a-big-ocean

Only reason I can think of that DDs don't have fins is the strong backs needed for fish are so easy and economical to make. Traditionally, the DD target market has been people with a stricter budget and more price-sensitive than Nordhavn/KK/Selene, but that's just a guess. I'd hazard a guess that a hydraulic system for a DD48 would be in the $45k range for the system alone, plus install.

Nordhavn seems to attract a check-all-the-box type of buyer, thus there are indeed Fish/Fin boats out there. I delivered a N46 that had that which was fine, but frankly, not where I would have spent money. I think you have to decide how you'll use the boat and go from there.

BTW - I think it was Sunchaser who mentioned difficult installs. I have seen the actuators on Fins inside bathroom cabinets where any service would be really difficult unless you're no bigger than the famous jockey Willie Shoemaker.

Peter
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Old 11-12-2020, 12:09 PM   #20
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Keep hearing Trac make the best stabilization and to stay away from Wesmar. Also fins are better than fish as you just push a button with no need to deploy or take them in . Also that gyros are great for coastal but potentially dangerous offshore and magnus effect the reverse as they stick out so far.
Is this all hearsay?
Would like to hear about your experience with your stabilization.

After a lot of research and analysis we went with paravane stabilizers for Sea Venture. I think every boat and situation is different, and it's not a one size fits all situation.

For us, the factors we considered were:

Active Fins: We cruise at about 7.5 knots, a little slow for active fins, which are less and less effective as your goes slower. We also considered that the drag caused by the fins is 100% of the time. Lastly, specifically for us, we have a double hull construction, (the outer hull is the outside of the fuel and water tanks) except for two small places, so finding room for active fins would have been a challenge. Also, they do nothing at anchor, and paravanes work just as well at anchor as they do cruising.

Gyro: We look very closely at Gyro's. For a boat our size SeaKeeper recommended the unit that was 36" by 36". While we do have room in our engine room, the reality was that it would have to be completely disassembled then reassembled in the engine room. Not an easy task. The biggest drawback is that the generator would have to be running 24/7 when being used, which not only reduces our effective range, but means if we have a generator problem you are then without stabilization.

Another factor for us was the ability to fix / repair ourselves. We do a lot of remote cruising - (we have gone over a month at times not seeing another boat), and we didn't want a system we could not repair ourselves. We have all the spares needed on board.

Of course, if you were considering paravanes you need to have the boat that it fits on, looks right, etc. We really like the way our superstructure system came out.

One misconception about paravanes is the cost. If well designed and well built they will not be less expensive than other stabilization systems. Some people seem to think it's just some poles sticking out - but it is in fact quite complicated in the forces being applied to the boat. A naval architect who has extensive experience in paravanes is a must have, along with a yard with experience building them.

The end result for us, is that in a 8-10 foot beam seas what had been a roll of up to 40 degrees each way, is now under 10 degrees, and in 4-5 foot seas the roll is 3 degrees or less.

Good luck in finding the right solution for your boat.

One thing is for certain, once you have a boat with stabilization you will not ever go back.

Jim
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» Trawler Port Captains
Port Captains are TF volunteers who can serve as local guides or assist with local arrangements and information. Search below to locate Port Captains near your destination. To learn more about this program read here: TF Port Captain Program





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