A new charter business in town is making a name for itself in more ways than one by being having the first boat of its kind in the state to use a boat roll stabilization tool that’s popular in the Lower 48.
Dakota Ocean Charters, owned by West Fargo, North Dakota residents Shelly and Rob Loos, is out on the water for its very first season in Homer. The pair have been coming to Alaska for years and stay for the full summer. They hope to eventually move to the state full time, Shelly Loos said.
“We’ve been coming up here every summer visiting because our son has lived here,” she said. “He’s been doing captain work and deck handing work for the last 10 years.”
Their son, Cory Loos, is one of the two captains that operate the charter’s new boat, the Current Lady, which was commissioned and built by Bay Weld Boats in Homer.
“Last year when we were here visiting, we visited Bay Weld (Boats), went through their open house,” Shelly Loos said. “I was very impressed with their boats and so forth and (we) kind of contracted with them to build us a charter boat.”
To go along with the new boat, the company got their hands on a Seakeeper Gyro Stabilization System. Inside a vacuum-sealed sphere, the Seakeeper works by employing a flywheel that, once turned on, spins at speeds of up to 9,700 rpm. When a boat rolls, the sphere tilts fore and aft to produce torque to the port and starboard sides of a boat that reduces boat roll out on the water.
The Loos were told about the product by employees at Bay Weld Boats, and liked it so much they decided to make their charter company an ambassador for Seakeeper, the only one on the West Coast.
Now that Dakota Ocean Charters is up and running, the Loos were able to test out the Seakeeper along with Berkeley Andrews, Seakeeper sales manager for the West Coast and Asia.
“We went out with Berkeley here and our couple captains and deckhands and my husband and I… and did a sea trial, and tried to find some rough waters,” Shelly Loos said. “You can turn the Seakeeper on or off to see it it’s working and see the difference and so forth. It was amazing.”
“It definitely was getting at least 80% roll reduction out there in some pretty significant seas,” Andrews said. “I don’t think anyone wanted the Seakeeper turned off when we were out there.”
The benefit of reducing boat roll on the water is that captains can take the boat out farther, or keep in rougher waters longer without having to turn back. It also makes the ride more pleasant for tourists and guests.
David Bayes, the other captain for Dakota Ocean Charters, said he’s noticed a marked difference on the Current Lady compared to other boats he’s captained.
“It’s pretty amazing,” he said of the Seakeeper.
Bayes, born and raised in Homer, has 18 years experience with charters, but none on a boat with a Seakeeper.
“So I’ve spent a lot of time wishing I had one,” he said.
Bayes said the machine has “definitely saved a couple of days for us” where the weather was such that they would have had to turn back under normal circumstances. Bayes said the charter recently had a client in his 90s aboard, who definitely benefitted from the reduced rolling of the boat.
Bayes actually owned his own charter operation previously. There, he worked with Cory Loos who told him about Dakota Ocean Charters and the new boat being made by Bay Weld Boats. Bayes decided to sell his boat and join the team. He said the Seakeeper was a big factor in his decision.
Bayes also said the device changes how he thinks about the upcoming season. Last season, boats were plagued by bad weather and rough waters, and Bayes said a lot of boat operators were dreading what might be coming in 2019.
“It definitely gives a different outlook,” he said of the Seakeeper.
For more information, contact Dakota Ocean Charters at 907-299-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.