By Eric Vienneau
The Schaefer 303 is the perfect entry level cruiser, with state-of-the-art design, amazing performance, and packed with small features that tie it all together.
Schaefer builds boats going up to 83’, which can be considered super yachts. The 303, although smaller, is still built to the same standard as these big boats. The 303 we tested is the third Schaefer in Canada, brought to Lake Ontario all the way from Brazil by Captain Greg Marlo, President of Yacht Solutions. They are the first to bring Schaefer to Canada.
Transportation across such a long distance is an interesting process. The boat is placed in a cradle which is mounted on a flat rack. The cradle is built at the Schaefer factory, custom formed for the hull, which allows for the boat to be shipped a long distance without fear of movement which could result in damage.
As mentioned, Schaefer comes from Brazil, which is known for high-quality boat building, all the way from yachts to private jets. Every part of the 303 is high quality down to the last stitch. With space for 10 people during the day and 4 overnight, the 303 is perfect for small or large rides, making its name as the most successful boat produced by Schafer Yachts with over 1,500 units on the water around the world as of 2017.
Starting aft, a spacious swim platform leads you to the first of many comforts on the 303: the sun bed. The back rest has diamond stitching, and as you fold down and flatten it out, you will find the perfect spot to lay down and soak up the sun.
The cockpit is designed for entertaining. It easily accommodates 8-10 people, with a fridge and sink in arms reach, and a convenient table with cupholders. Next to the sink, there is even space for an optional electric or propane grill for when your passengers get hungry.
Moving to the front of the 303, to the left of the helm is what Greg Marlo calls the “Cleopatra lounge.” The reason for this nickname comes from the royalty in its shape and comfort. It is an extremely comfortable, perfectly positioned lounge with a nice arm rest that is perfect for socializing with the captain, while also facing the entertainment area so you are never left out.
The cabin is spacious and perfect for overnight adventures. Walking through the slide door to the left of the helm brings you to a lounge area with tons of storage under the seats and compartments above the headrests. The head is roomy with a convenient mirror and sink, and behind the steps leading to the cabin is a wide bed with a perfect view of the water through port holes.
STATE OF THE ART HELM
Sitting at the helm feels like sitting in a sports car. With an adjustable Italian leather wrapped steering wheel, and a large Garmin touchscreen glass cockpit which displays everything you will need to configure the 303 to your liking. The engine instruments are completely customizable to what you want to see, and as you pull up the chart plotter to plan your day on the water, you can keep an eye on all of your gauges with the split screen function.
To the right is standard throttle for starboard and port engines, however, what makes the 303 special is Volvo Penta’s Assisted Docking system with a joystick. The 303 is not designed to move sideways, but the joystick allows it to do so anyways. This makes docking much easier and relieves stress from the captain. To go along with all the state-of-the-art instrumentation, the captain’s seat is wide and comfortable, with the ability to lower or raise the bolster so you are at your preferred level for driving.
The Schaefer 303 is powered by Twin Volvo Penta 280 V6 Engines with Dual Prop System EVC which is state of the art for the joystick docking system.
The 303 reaches a max speed of 41 knots, has a cruising speed of 27 to 35 knots, and has a fuel capacity of 350 L (92 gal). A special feature which may go unnoticed, is the sound insulation of the engine. When the sun bed is opened to reveal the engines, they are loud when running. However, as you close the cover, the sound slowly lessens and lessens until it all but disappears and you are left with a very quiet hum coming from the engine bay. This is a great example of Shaefer’s attention to detail when it comes to creating the perfect boating experience.
Perfect for boaters just starting to get into yachting, the Shaefer 303 is a stylish combination of performance, simplicity, and high-quality construction.
Shaefer does a great job at building a strong but light hull, with planning at 15 knots. The hull is a 10-year warranty, built at Schafer’s factory where they have a five axis CNC machine, which is one of the most sophisticated, detailed, and high-quality robotic hull carving systems out there. Schaefer also has their own wood working sector, and upholstery sector, which allows for them to build most of their boats in-house, without having to rely on others to supply them with different parts of the boats. Their dedication to in-house full boat builds makes them a reliable company when it comes to delivery times, efficiency, and overall quality.
LOA: 9.78 m (32.1’)
Beam: 2.87 m (9.4’)
Max Speed: 41 knots
Fuel capacity: 350 L (93 Gal)
MSRP: See Dealer