We tried out the efficiency of Veem Gyro ’s smallest gyroscope off Saint Mark’s square, in Venice, with the bow waves coming side on from vaporettos, ferries and ships. The VG120 was designed for vessels ranging from 50 to 130 tonnes displacement
by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Andrea Muscatello
Everyone knows what they are and what they are used for. Stabilisation is a sector which is growing exponentially. They may seem like fairly expensive accessories, but the comfort that they provide is priceless and the cost of this invaluable piece of equipment should be calculated based on the cost of the boat itself. You have to spend between five and ten per cent of the total cost of a boat to stabilise it, but it is no small business to eliminate or nearly entirely eliminate roll.
That is why nearly all new boats that come out of yards fit at least one. And there are a lot of owners of existing boats who decide to fit one on board. Stabilisers have experienced a real boom. That has occurred because they are very efficient, because people who have used them wouldn’t give them up for anything in the world, and because there is really a lot of demand for them. I realised that a few years ago, as I strolled amongst the stands at the METS show in Amsterdam. There were stabilisers all over the place, in all shapes and sizes.
But I also saw something that was completely different, and that was the Veem Gyro. They were huge gyroscopic stabilisers, designed for very big boats. Recently, in Venice, a short distance from the campanile of Saint Mark’s, I had a half-day to see how effective Veem’s smallest model, the VG120, was. Because nobody wants to roll around, whether at anchor or when underway, the Australian company, after having produced really huge gyroscopes, has extended its range ‘downwards’.
Thanks to Saim, which imports Veem Gyro into Italy, I was able to get an idea of how effective this product is. The boat used in the test was a Viking 64 Open Convertible, a 19-metre fishing boat, and the VG120 was added in a refitting. What better chance to see how well it worked? There was just one of them, and it had even had its revs capped, and rather than the stated 4,000 a minute, it had been set to a maximum of 2,500 rpm. The Veem installers realised that 2,500 were more than enough. Fewer revs, less electricity used, less stress on the hull structure and on the bilge.
Despite the fact that we were in very bad conditions, at zero speed in the middle of the Canal Grande with boats, vaporettos, ferries, barges, chiatte, and the list goes on, the Viking always sat well on the water. You just had to put the Veem Gyro on standby to feel the difference. The roll was strong and uncomfortable, while it was practically imperceptible when the stabiliser was working.
And I was equally impressed when the boat was under way. The sound proofing has also been done really well. Although its casing didn’t allow us to see how it works, the sound meter only registered 66 dbA. Not much, really not much at all. Practically the same noise level that a motor boat makes at minimum revs. The maximum power use was 7.5kWand it just used 3.3 in normal use. That is also a very low figure.
But it doesn’t end there. It also has the advantage of having a very wide range of customisation options, for example in relation to revs. So if you find yourself at anchor and the waves aren’t very big, why would you want to run the gyroscope at full speed? You use more energy that way. It is best to reduce the revs, given that a 700 kg weight in movement is enough for stabilisation, so fewer kilowatts are required to make it work.
Talking about this with the Veen Italia technicians who were present during the test, I found that these gyroscopes had other interesting characteristics. First of all, the quality and number of the sensors, which are two kinds of accelerometer whose job it is to detect position and vibrations. The accelerometers pass the information to a software package which processes it and tells the gyroscope, almost instantaneously, what to do. So it isn’t just a matter of a great big iron ball that spins very quickly, but also involves electronics. These two elements come together to create nearly perfect stabilisation.
Another very important aspect is maintenance. I assume that an owner or captain would ask themselves when they should do it? How they should do it? And also, how much wear is there, given that 700 kilos travelling at 4,000 rpm is no laughing matter. But in answer to all these issues, the Australian company has created ball bearings set in an oil bath. In that way, they work at low temperatures, at 35 °C, and if the temperature is low, they are put under less stress and the wear is reduced.
The oil bath also ensures that they are always lubricated and it is not by chance that they are guaranteed for 16,000 hours use. Do you fancy riding the waves and rolling for 16,000 hours? And even when you reach 16,000 hours of usage, you don’t need to take anything off the boat, because a system has been developed which means you can raise the gyroscope and work on the bearings it rests on.
Veem Gyro – VG120
Rated stabilizing torque 120 KiloNewton •Size 163x156x115 cm •Power 12 kW•Maximal rotational speed 4800/min •Weight 2650 kg, 700 of which are moving parts •Suitable for boats from 21 up to 35 meters or with displacement between 50 up to 130 tons – Price 215,000 €
22 Baile Rd, Canning Vale
Western Australia 6155
Via E. Fermi, 19
I-20090 Buccinasco (MI)
(Veem Gyro, the little ones are coming – Barchemagazine.com – Ottobre 2018)