Brazil’s largest recreational boatbuilder, Schaefer Yachts, has introduced a flybridge cruiser powered by Volvo diesels with IPS pods. The 580 fills a niche in the builder’s lineup between 53’ and 64’, and includes overnight accommodations for six people and the ability to carry 17 people for daytime trips.
- Twin Volvo Penta IPS800 diesels (625-hp each)
- Joystick steering
- Cockpit balcony
- Flybridge social area
- Foredeck sun pad/lounge
- Optional hydraulic swim platform
- Swim platform grill/wet bar
- Three stateroom, two head layout
- Midship full-beam master with ensuite
|Length Overall||58' 1'' / 17.70 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||9.0 sec.|
|0 to 30||11.2 sec. (0to20)|
|Load||Full fuel, 09/100 water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||81 deg., 69 humid; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: <1|
2 x 625-hp Volvo Penta IPS800
Contents of Report
- Distinguishing Features
- Boat Inspection
- The Helm
- IPS Pods and Joystick Control
- Flybridge Helm
- Flybridge Social
- Side Decks
- Ground Tackle
- Engine Room
- Swim Platform
- Master Stateroom
- VIP Stateroom
- Day Head
- Third Stateroom
- Crew Quarters
- Optional Equipment to Consider
The Schaefer 580 is intended as a fast entertainment platform for day boating as well as for overnight cruising with accommodations for six. With a 30-knot WOT potential she should appeal to boaters who want to do their day boating at distant locations.
• Joystick-only steering from lower helm
• Cockpit balcony
• 1,600 lb. (726 kg) lift capacity of optional hydraulic swim platform
We traveled to Florianopolis in southern Brazil to evaluate the new Schaefer 580 from Schaefer Yachts, Brazil’s largest yacht manufacturer. The designer of the 580 theorizes that weight has to be overcome with power. Therefore, Schaefer strives to be lighter and stronger, using cored hulls. He sees performance in rough water as a balance between speed, seaworthiness, and handling, which is why he chose a bottom shape that is sharp forward warping to a deadrise at the transom of 14.1-degrees, for speed fuel efficiency and stability.
Schaefer builds most of the components, outside of engines and electronics, in-house. They build their own furniture, have an upholstery shop, and design some of their own hardware.
Schaefer boats are built in female molds with glass reinforced plastic, and PVC foam cores for hulls, decks, and superstructures. Structural stringers are tabbed in and a liner is used as a stiffener and to define furniture.
The design team at Volvo Penta tells us this is the first production recreational powerboat that is fully committed to the joystick system - no wheel. Of course, future owners wanting a traditional wheel could add one later.
We discovered during our sea trials that unleashing the IPS drives and going wheel-less impacts performance away from the dock.
The throttle and shift controls are on the left arm of the helm chair. Also on the left arm of the helm seat are trim tab controls, so when underway one can remain seated. The helm panel in front of us is uncluttered with the two 20” nav displays behind a single sheet of plexiglass. Our test boat has noninteractive displays, not touchscreens.
The windshield for the lower helm has two 51” x 60” glass panels with a 5” wide mullion running up the middle between the two panels. The passenger side of the helm has a large flat genuine leather-covered dash with A/C vents. There are defrosters for the windshields.
IPS Pods and Joystick Control
Here are a few things to know about the IPS joystick system. Most people know that the props are on the front of the pods and are, in effect, steerable. The pods are linked and act independently to give thrust and maneuverability around the dock - no bow or stern thrusters generally needed.
High-Speed Joystick. When in maneuvering mode, the joystick controls both thrust and direction which allows us to do things like crab sideways for docking, but by pushing a button on the base of the joystick, we are in running mode. This is a relatively new innovation that Volvo Penta has introduced, so now the joystick can be used in two situations – docking, and at higher speeds, all the way to top speed.
The throttles control the speed, and the joystick controls turning. When steering in running mode by the joystick, a tap of the joystick adjusts the course by 1-degree and a twist of the joystick adjusts the course by 5-degrees. It is easy to get used to.
The Schaefer 580 has a LOA of 58’1” (17.70 m), a beam of 16’3” (4.96 m), a draft of 4’10’’ (1.47 m). With an empty weight of 55,710 lbs. (25,270 kg), full fuel of 555 gallons (2,101 L) and 14 gallons (53 L) of water in the 143 gallon (541 L) tank, plus three people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 59,757 lbs. (27105 kg).
Top Speed. With twin Volvo Penta IPS800s 625-hp 6-cylinder diesel engines with IPS-2 pods and counter-turning Nibral prop sets, our Schaefer 580 reached a top speed of 30.0 knots at 2460 rpm in modest conditions. The wind was blowing about 15 knots and kicked up a light chop, but there were no swells.
Best Cruise. When we backed off to 2000 rpm and 21.8 knots, we found our best fuel economy with a burn rate of 41.5 gph and a range of 262.2 nm, all while still holding back a 10-percent reserve of the boat’s 555 gallon (2,101 L) total fuel capacity.
Acceleration. Our time to plane from a dead stop was 9.0 seconds and we reached 20 mph in 11.2 seconds.
With wheel steering, traditionally the IPS software restricts turning to wide sweeping arcs, depending on the speed of the vessel and its type and size. However, when the joystick control is placed in running mode, the turning radias is not as restricted as it is with wheel steering.
We can turn gently and when we let go of the joystick the boat stops turning, or we can turn hard, far sharper than is allowed by the software with wheel steering. The boat rolled as much as 26-degrees during hard over turns.
Comparison. We made a 180-degree turn at the lower helm in 18 seconds using the joystick only. When we used the flybridge wheel to steer, it took us 29 seconds to make a 180-degree turn at speed, with the traditional restrictions IPS imposes on turning. This is a dramatic difference.
One of the complaints that people have had since the very first IPS boat was put in production was of the large turning radius required when turning at speed. This variable radius -- depending on speed and the boat’s characteristics – is a safety factor that Volvo Penta engineers have programmed into each unit.
Sharp turns at speed can be disconcerting to people sitting on the flying bridge, in particular, and could under certain circumstances be a safety hazard. However, the very same thing can be said of steering by wheel in boats without IPS. So, the new running joystick steering mode can give the operator more of the feel of a conventionally-steered inboard-powered boat.
The 580 does have a slight 5-degree bowrise at speed which is typical of this class.
The boat does have trim tabs to help level the ride.
The helm has both a leather wrapped adjustable-tilt wheel and a joystick for maneuvering. Two Raymarine 12” screens are on the angled dash, with a magnetic compass centered in line with the wheel just above. The flat of the dash has a small open cubby and a plexi drink holder below the Raymarine screens. A 7” Volvo engine display is to the left of the wheel, along with a remote windlass control for the anchor. The throttles, trim tab controls, engine start/stop buttons, and joystick are to the right of the wheel. Below the joystick is a VHF radio.
A hinged plexi hatch can close the top of the flybridge stair to prevent falls when the party gets rolling.
A U -shaped settee is on the port side opposite the stair. A teak wood table with foldout leaves is on double pedestals by the settee.
With nearby bridge construction, we didn’t feel that comfortable with the sightlines, so we moved back into the upper helm to put us alongside.
Sets of three 11” (.28 m) steps from each side of the aft deck lead to the 20” (.51 m) wide sidedecks on each side of the cabin house. Railings on the cabin provide handholds as we mount the steps where the 21” (.53 m) side railings come into play.
We make our way forward along the sidedecks to the foredeck, which has a bench seat in front of the windshield. The seat has storage below. Stereo speakers are mounted on the vertical below the bench. There is a 17” (.43 m) walkway between the seat and an 83” L x 97” W (2.11 m x 2.46 m) sun pad. The pad narrows to 58” (1.47 m) wide just behind the anchor windlass. There is more storage below the sun pad.
A 55-lb. (25 kg) anchor and 196’ (60 m) of chain stand ready on a bow roller. The chain passes thru a chain stopper, which is flanked by stainless bit-like cleats, to the windlass. Foot switches for the windlass are to starboard and there are storage lockers in the deck to either side of the ground tackle. Both helm stations also have remote windlass controls.
Given the fixed location one might be better piloting with a remote controller on a cord, so you could change position as needed.
An innovative way to gain more space on the aft deck is with a fold-out balcony - the side of the boat folds out on hinges with the aid of a piston hidden under the side steps.
There is 4’7” (1.39 m) of headroom in the engine space by the deck hatch, rising to 5’4” (1.62 m) aft by the transom. The two engines are spaced 2’4” (.71 m) apart.
The Volvo Penta IPS800 diesels output 625-hp each and are standard. Schaefer has an option to upgrade the engines to IPS950 D11s for an additional $88K.
The Racor fuel filters are mounted on the aft bulkhead. Just below the filters is a 24V electric bilge pump. There are four in all, with a combined 6300 gph capacity.
Tankage is in the wings outboard of each engine. Ventilation is aft in each corner.
A battery box with tie down strap on the port side by the generator brings up something about the batteries on this boat. There are 15 of them, all 12V, and each efficiently matched to its job in amp hour requirements. There’s a galvanic isolator, a 50-amp shorepower, and a battery charging system. The boat comes standard with a 17 kW Onan generator, sufficient to also run the Seakeeper.
The standard A/C system on production boats is 70,000 BTUs distributed through the salon and accommodations.
The 580 has a 6’ (1.83 m) long teak-decked hydraulic swim platform spanning the 16’3” (4.95 m) beam of the boat. It has a built-in electric grill gourmet area on the transom with stainless sink and faucet flanked by two iceboxes. Below the grill on the transom is a hot and cold shower wand.
The hydraulic lift for the swim platform is a $37,519 option. Its lift capacity of 1,600 lbs. (726 kg) is almost twice what we normally see on platforms designed to lift a tender.
We’re entering the cabin from the cockpit through a glass slider that retracts into a pocket when fully open, leaving a 4’7” (1.40 m) wide entryway. The overhead here is 7’ (2.13 m). The deck is carpeted but you can choose an optional alternative deck covering.
To either side of the slider are lacquered floor-to-ceiling cabinets.
Just forward on the right is a four drawer built-in with a leather top and a lacquered wood trim. The drawers have soft close mechanisms and a unique lock designed by Schaefer to keep them from opening on a roll.
The lacquered cabinet on the opposite side hides a refrigerator for the port side galley.
Two 8” (.20 m) steps up from the entrance area is salon seating with opposing L-shaped settees to either side. The settees have colored accent lighting on the bases. The overhead here measures 6’5” (1.96 m). On the port settee, the L is on the forward end and acts as a seat opposite the helm. There’s a wood dining table with fold-out leaves, and a chair on the opposite end from the L, which makes for a U-shaped dining arrangement that could seat six when the table is open.
On the starboard side, the L of the settee is on the aft end of the salon and acts as a divider between the entrance area and the raised section of the salon. The settee runs forward and ends just behind the helm chair. Over the settee is a wood panel with four lights illuminating the seating area.
The galley is to port with a counter height divider separating it from the passageway. The glass-topped divider counter has storage accessible from the galley side and also acts to terminate the galley, so there is only one way in and out.
The galley includes a two-burner electric cooktop, a single-basin stainless sink with pull-out faucet, and storage above and below.
At the bottom of the stairs from the salon is a passageway leading forward to the forward cabin.
On the immediate left from the base of the stairs is the entrance to the master stateroom. The deck of all the accommodation spaces is carpeted.
The full-beam master is three steps down from the passageway.
Once in the stateroom, we are facing aft and looking at a 78” x 63” (1.98 m x 1.60 m) island berth. There is a mirror over the headboard of the berth. Teak night tables, lit by sconces, flank the bed. The teak matches the other wood trim and furniture in the stateroom. The overhead is 6’2” (1.88 m) and the wallcovering is a padded leatherette. On the left is a couch under a fixed sidelight.
There is a built-in end table between the couch and the nightstand. At the forward end of the couch is a locker. The forward bulkhead opposite the foot of the berth has a built-in three-drawer bureau, and over it is a 42” (1.06 m) flatscreen.
Next to this is a closet with a combo washer/dryer unit. In the closet above the washer/dryer is a safe.
On the port side of the master is a seven-drawer bureau under a sidelight, again with a small opening port within. Next to this bureau is a full-length mirror leading back to the hall and the ensuite.
The separate shower stall has a glass door and an opening portlight within. A faux wood deck facilitates shower drainage and is low maintenance. The same goes for the rest of the head in white – easy maintenance. There is good storage below the counter, and the mirror makes the space bright and look larger than it really is.
The VIP guest stateroom is in the bow. A 76” x 54” (1.93 m x 1.37 m) island berth with 6’5” (1.96 m) headroom is centered under a mirrored headboard. Below the foot of the berth is a large single storage drawer. There are two steps up on each side of the berth. Hull sides have fixed sidelights with white storage bins above them and a padded bolster below the sidelights on each side. Sconces flank the berth on a leather padded sidelight cover that contains privacy shades.
The top of the starboard locker has A/C vents. The bottom of the locker has return air vents. A skylight centered 4’7’’ (1.40 m) above the berth opens to provide light and air as well as an emergency point of egress.
With direct access from the VIP stateroom this head could be considered an en suite. However, it also has another door from the passageway and serves the starboard third cabin and as a day head.
The bath contains an electric head with euro-style washdown wand. A standup shower stall with glass door and a simulated teak drain board has a small round opening port.
The third stateroom is off the passageway on the starboard side. It has twin 28” x 75” (.71 m x 1.91 m) bunks and 6’7” (2 m) headroom. An opening port inset into a fixed sidelight provides natural light and ventilation. The bunks are side by side with a gap between them. A fixed night table fills the space between the head of the bunks. At the foot of the bunks is a teak locker with shelf storage and a 19” (.48 m) TV. The bulkheads have a padded leatherette covering.
Entrance to the crew quarters is below the flybridge stairs. There is an opening portlight for natural light and air. From the deck, we can see the steps down into the crew space with another access door into the engine room. The single bunk is outboard. Forward through a privacy door is the crew head. The access is unusual, but it is a clever use of space to provide the crew a private cabin.
Since the boat is designed for an owner/operator, this space can be used for storage or for some other purpose.
Optional Equipment to Consider
• Engine upgrade to Volvo Penta IPS950s ($88,000)
• Volvo joystick and autopilot ($12,655)
• Hydraulic swim platform ($37,519)
• Painted hull ($6,898)
• Teak deck for flybridge ($10,212)
• Manual awning (Stobag) ($2,724)
• Electric awning (Stobag) ($4,100)
• Rib support ($1,111)
• Icemaker ($3,227)
• Dishes and cutlery ($415)
• Satellite TV antenna ($16,799)
• SeaKeeper 9 Gyro stabilizer ($147,260)
• Monitoring system with four cameras ($5,284)
• Safety package and galvanized anchor ($3,108)
• Stainless steel anchor ($1,170)
Base price: $1,836,582
The Schaefer 580 is a strongly built boat that handles well and is fun to drive with the joystick alone. We’re glad the flybridge had a wheel so we could contrast the difference of unleashing the IPS constraints for docking with the running ability of joystick steering alone. We think the balance Marcio Schaefer was trying to achieve with this design is evident – good layout for entertaining, space for extended cruising, speed, stability, and handling when it counts.
Schaefer is open to customizing the interior to the buyer’s needs – and this must be considered one of the most important attributes of this model. As an example, they’ve made a boat that is handicap accessible with an elevator to the accommodation deck, so if it is possible from an engineering standpoint, they are willing to accommodate.
The balcony concept, custom hardware, and no-wheel design shows a builder that can work outside the normal box.