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Zero-Speed Stabilizers

“I learned recently from management company Northrop & Johnson that the 153-foot crewed motoryacht Argyll now has zero-speed stabilizers. For those of you who don’t know about them, zero-speed stabilizers are a technological advancement that allow a yacht captain to keep a boat stable both under way and while at anchor. Practically speaking, this means the yacht will not rock from side to side–not even a little bit–whether you’re cruising or sitting down to dinner on the aft deck. Many new, larger motoryachts are being built with these kinds of stabilizers because people seem to love them (especially charter guests). Argyll is one of a handful of existing yachts that are adding the stabilizers at a substantial cost, well into the tens of thousands of dollars. Are they worth it? I think so. I experienced zero-speed stabilizers while onboard the 161-foot motoryacht Teleost as a guest of management company Fraser Yachts Worldwide, and I must admit it was a pretty cool effect. I was sitting in the pilothouse with Capt. Nigel Burnet as we cruised through the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, and I asked him whether he felt it had been worth the money to add the stabilizers. “See for yourself,” he replied before pushing a button on the helm that turned the stabilizers off. The yacht began rolling gently from side to side–no more so than any other yacht I’d ever cruised onboard, but in a way that felt far less comfortable to me than I’d been just moments earlier with the zero-speed stabilizers on. I later learned that Capt. Burnet had also been using the stabilizers to keep the yacht level in the water while we were dining at anchor, and when he was making turns around the ends of islands. Only in retrospect did I realize how little the yacht had been rolling in those situations. It was a matter of my being so comfortable, I simply hadn’t thought about it. In time, I think these zero-speed stabilizers will become like on-deck hot tubs and sky lounge cinemas onboard high-end motoryachts: items that used to be unique onboard just a handful of boats, but that eventually transition into the status of “expected amenities.” As well they should. They’re a great way to help guests feel even more at home when they book a charter at sea.”

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