Seaspension Shock-Mitigating Seat Pedestal
There’s a line from one of the all-time greatest guy movies, The Godfather, in which the aging Don Vito Corleone character, says offhandedly to his grown son Michael, “I like to drink wine more than I used to. Anyway, I’m drinkin’ more.”
To paraphrase Don Vito, when it comes to boating, I like to sit down more than I used to. Age catches up with us all, and as a result, many of us don’t stand at the helm as much as when our backs and legs were younger and more resilient. Yet some helm seats are not a lot more comfortable than standing while running in rough seas.
Seaspension has not only recognized this, but developed a shock-mitigating helm seating system that pampers us middle-age guys and might save the backs of younger skippers.
Shock-mitigating helm seats are not new. Stidd Systems, for example, has been around for years, but its shock-mitigating helm seats are designed for yachts and military applications and cost thousands of dollars.
By comparison, the Seaspension seating system costs less and is designed with a footprint to replace a standard recreational marine pedestal seat. The question is, how does it work?
To find out, we ventured into notorious Santa Barbara Channel aboard a Parker 2520 Pilothouse boat equipped with both a Seaspenson pedestal (at the helm) and a conventional Garelick pedestal (for port-side passenger). The seats were both Garelick 251 helm chairs with armrests.
Thanks to the help of Seaspension inventor Peter Burer and Eric Hermann of Executive Yachts (who loaned us the boat), we were able to experience Seaspension in action and gather data using a sophisticated IST ERD-3 triaxial accelerometer with three sensors – one each placed on the deck amidships, on the passenger in the portside conventional pedestal seat and on the helmsman in the Seaspension-equipped seat.
Our goal was to measure the G-force of each, comparing data from sensors on the deck and conventional seating to the Seaspension seating. Unfortunately, the infamous Santa Barbara Channel was pretty docile on the afternoon of our sea trial – great for boating, but bad for testing a shock-mitigating seat. We were, however, able to find some gnarly wakes from passing ships and oil boats, and we pressed hard on throttle as we crested the rollers.
As a result, we learned that the Seaspension seating reduced G-force by 60 percent compared to the conventional seat. What’s more, the rougher the seas and the harder the landings, the more of a difference the Seaspension made in G-force reduction.
When it came to our seat-of-the-pants evaluation (excuse the pun), the Seapension-equipped helm seat was clearly more comfortable that the conventional seat or standing on the deck.
Unlike Don Vito, I don’t like to drink wine more than I used to. But I do like to sit down more than I used to, and with the comfort afforded by the Seaspension System, I suspect I will be sitting a lot more.