By: Scott Way
Seasickness is one of boating's worst afflictions. Not only are the physical symptoms awful, but the psychological torture of being trapped at sea without the means to escape is like saltwater in the wound. Until you get to shore, you're basically along for a nauseating ride.
That can put a damper on boat rides. Boatbuilders and engineers have been working for decades (possibly even centuries) to cure seasickness, but to no avail. Yes, there are plenty of seasickness 'cures' of dubious scientific origin, but its undecided whether their continued use is evidence of their effectiveness, or a testament to the placebo effect. Either way, the marine world continues to combat the effects of the almighty wave.
Seasickness is caused by body's inability to gauge the horizon, which throws off its stabilization systems and causes mass bodily confusion. A miscommunication occurs between what your eyes see, and what your body feels. In turn, your body sends out distress signals, the first of which is the urge to lose your breakfast.
California's Servo Yachts is doing their part by teaming up with the UK's Shuttleworth Design to build a catamaran that solves the problem. In essence, the catamaran's pontoons move independently of the main structure and act as a stabilization system against the effect of pitch, roll, and heave. The concept of independent suspension systems isn't entirely new, but as of yet has never gone past conceptualization and testing to be available commercially.
In a specific sense, the designers at Serbo and Shuttleworth have unveiled two concepts they call the Martini 6.0 and Martini 7.0. The Martini 6.0 is a 45 metre (147 ft) catamaran that uses an 'electro-pneumatic suspension system' connected to the superstructure that can adjust by up to 3.5 metres to compensate for wave movement and effect. Since catamaran designs already produce less drag than a conventional hull due to their narrower signatures, the system is already prepared to downplay wave effect. When coupled with the suspension system, it can minimize the impact of significant waves to nearly zero.
According to Orion Shuttleworth, Managing Director of Shuttleworth Design, “It is exciting how his suspension technology can be applied to any type of marine craft for the advantage of many industries. We will see these on superyachts, day and work boats, ferries, navy transport craft, offshore transfer and Coast Guard search and rescue vessels, and more."
David Hall, the founder of Servo Yachts, is also the founder of Velodyne Lidar, which manufactures 3D sensors for autonomous vehicles, robotics, navigation, mapping, and other emerging smart technologies. The suspension system developed for the catamarans utilizes these sensors to monitor feedback in realtime from wave movement and water pressure. The sensors are an 'active technology,' meaning they automatically respond to the motion of waves and relay the data to the suspension system to respond accordingly. The sensory system provides a faster and more reliable alternative to the vacuum systems used in gyroscopic stabilizers.
"Growing up, I spent my summers on my grandfather’s boat, where I developed a deep appreciation for marine travel,” said Hall in a company statement. “With the Martini 7.0, I believe we have found a way to solve seasickness and significantly improve the sailing experience so that everyone can enjoy traveling on the ocean. I am very excited for Servo Yachts to continue to push the boundaries of marine technology and transform ocean travel. Ideas for better ways to do things are always out there floating around, and it's up to us to find a way to make it happen."
The Marini 7.0 is a step up from the 6.0 at 50 metres (164 ft) and is built with an ultralight carbon fibre construction with a foam core. It also carries a wider superstructure than the 6.0 to create more interior space across the beam of the two hulls. The apparatus is connected by four articulating arms at each corner of the suspended deck housing, which provides the 3.5 metres of vertical travel needed to overcome nearly any wave it encounters. The engines are houses within the pontoons, which afford more space in the suspended deck for living quarters and functional space.
The upper deck of the Martini 7.0 offers an impressive 430 square metres (4620 sq ft) of usable space that includes the main social and entertainment areas. The aft deck contains an al fresco dining area and the forward deck has a spa pool with full sunpads on either side.
Since catamarans tend to offer greater square footage than traditional hulls, the master suite occupies the entire forward section of the main deck and includes its own private gym and office. It also creates massive wraparound vantage points spanning over 180 degrees. The ensuite guest cabins overlook the aft deck and pool which spans an impressive 195 square metres (2100 sq ft).
The lower deck includes the crew accommodations, the galley, a dive store, a workshop, and a garage with space for several water toys and a tender. One of the most interesting features of the deck suspension system is its ability to be lowered so the garage becomes a wet dock for tender loading/unloading without the need for cranes or winches.
Check out the Martini 6.0 defying gravity in the video below: