Boating has come a long, long way. From the first men to paddle simple rafts to mighty ocean liners being launched today, the industry has changed. But they all require maintenance and constant care. Add to that the rigors of the mighty ocean and you’re in for a lifelong journey keeping your boat in ship-shape condition.
Modern enhancements assist in combatting and dampening problems, providing some nifty solutions along the way. One continual challenge is boat vibrations, how they affect you and how we can deal best with it. Here, we’ll explore these questions and give you the best advice on how to solve them.
Vibrations on a Boat and How it Affects You
Boat vibrations are common enough but cannot always be ignored. Vibrations caused by the boats’ interference with the oceans energy and swells will always be there. Other vibrations are caused by any number of problems ranging from bent or worn shafts to distorted propellers and worn bearings and even loose fixtures.
Whatever the cause, boats vibrate, and these vibrations affect you. Over time they cause physical fatigue, including headaches, tummy cramps, loss of balance and more types of discomfort.
Can this be solved? Dealing with the Fatigue
The longer you’re at the helm, the more likely you are to experience fatigue from vibrations. This is an important issue to understand, and the implications of not dealing with it can also be disastrous. Aside from physical discomfort, vibrations can also cause mental or psychological fatigue. The two combined lead to a lack of concentration and a diminishing ability to perform optimally. This is dangerous at sea where keen concentration is paramount.
Helm mats, also known as helm pads or sea decks, are a quick and easy solution to beat vibration fatigue. They are specially designed mats adhered directly to the boat surface that make it feel a little like standing in flip-flops.
They’re gel-filled or made of a comfy EVA, a closed-cell ethylene-vinyl acetate, manufactured to withstand harsh marine conditions. This offers a more comfortable platform at the helm. Plus, their textured surfaces help to prevent slipping and falling in wet conditions providing a much-needed safety precaution.
How Can a Helm Mat Help?
They are generally manufactured from a closed-cell EVA foam or similar casing with gel insert and are highly shock absorbent. Helm mats are specifically designed to absorb and disperse vibration energy. Without them, this energy is dealt with by your ankles, knees, and back which causes fatigue.
They’re most commonly installed at the helm and where most of the passengers sit & stand. You and your occupants will enjoy a far more comfortable ride, even when at sea for a long period, with their help.
Boat Mat Sizes
Boat mats are made by a range of manufacturers and come in all sorts of different shapes & sizes. The type you choose depends on what you need and where you’ll use it.
A simple, small skip with limited standing room might only require a 14” x 36” mat at the helm. Other platforms are larger and thus require larger helm mats. Some boaters prefer to cover the deck with one large custom mat or several smaller mats to suit.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top brands out there to choose from.
Best Anti-fatigue Mats for Boats
1. SKYDEX Sea Shocks Helm Mat
The SKYDEX removable interior core is easy to clean and replace if necessary. The soft edges and textured deck are easy on bare feet, still offering great grip
SKYDEX patented cushion and impact technology using anti-fatigue, closed bubble-cell structure is a great shock and impact absorber. It offers a really comfy ride with maximum protection from minimal cushioning. The material is designed to absorb repeated heavy wave slamming instead of merely feeling great underfoot.
There’s no need to drill into the deck or apply adhesives. SKYDEX Sea Shock mats are designed for an easy drop-in-place installation. The weighted base keeps the mat in place where you put it and prevents it from blowing or sliding away.
2. Castaway Customs SeaDek
The mats come are available in five, two-tone combinations to match the color of your boat:
The EVA has a 3-year material and workmanship warranty.
High traction surface using embossed micro-dot patterns.
Made from stain-resistant, UV resistant, closed-cell, non-skid and anti-fatigue PE/EVA foam. It retains traction when wet or dry.
Easy to install: Simply remove the 3M™ pressure sensitive adhesive backing, position the mat as desired and push down to secure in place.
3. Marine Mat Helm Pad for Boat - Comfort Series 18mm (¾”)
The mats are available in nine, two-tone (color and black) combinations so you can shop to match the color of your boat. Each has the option of a black border or no border. Colors to choose from:
Ideal for taking the strain out of knees and ankles. Highly durable so it’s suited to harsh marine conditions. It’s stain-resistant, waterproof and easy to clean, so this is a low maintenance buy.
Manufactured using 2 different PE/EVA foams, rendering a stain-resistant closed-cell, non-skid and anti-fatigue comfortable platform on which to stand.
Secure in place with a peel-and-stick high-pressure sensitive adhesive backing for reliable adhesion to the boat surface.
4. Marine Mat Helm Pad for Boat – Semi-Firm 12mm (½”)
Here’s another range where you have nine different color options to pick from, the same as the Marine Mat product above.
This design is ideal for taking the strain out of your knees and ankles. It’s highly durable, making it suited to harsh marine conditions. The mat is stain-resistant and easy to clean, so doesn’t require much care. It’s also waterproof, so it won’t deteriorate over time. Note that it’s slightly slimmer than its ¾” cousin, but it still offers tremendous comfort as a less-bulky alternative.
This one also uses two PE/EVA foams. The closed-cell design won’t allow any skid and you’ll feel less fatigue compared to standing on a regular deck.
You can also just peel off the backing and secure it in place. Quality adhesive will keep it secured.
5. GORILLA GRIP Original Premium Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat (Helm mat alternative)
Dimensions/sizes and weight:
It’s available in seven sizes to cater for various types of boat layouts and sizes:
You can pick either plain colors or patterns:
Lifetime, no questions asked
This one has a beveled edge and textured surface on a soft but durable high-grade foam. It offers boaters tremendous comfort and support. The mats ship flat retaining their intended shape, so you get the best experience from the start.
Ergonomically engineered high-grade, non-toxic, Prop 65 compliant, and phthalate-free foam. The foam absorbs shock and vibrations whilst still retaining its shape over time.
It’s simple to install since you only have to drop it in place.
Whether you’re a seasoned waterman or just out for a jaunt, navigating marine conditions will take its toll on your body. The best way to keep you in comfort at the helm is also one of the safest ways: use helm mats.
Helm mats reduce helm fatigue caused by vibrations, they’re kinder on the knees and back, and they feel great underfoot offering a non-slip platform as you enjoy longer hours at the helm.
They’re available from a wide range of manufacturers, either in stock-size or tailor-made. Pick from many different colors and textures to match your boat and needs. No matter the one you pick, look forward to a far more comfortable boat ride from now on.
So, go check out your preferred dealer and get the best for your boat today.