Schaefer Yachts Eliminates Steering Wheel

Courtesy Schaefer Yachts

Working closely with its engine supplier, Volvo Penta, Brazilian boatbuilder Schaefer Yachts recently launched a 58′ (17.8m) motoryacht without a wheel at the main helm. Given the advances in fly-by-wire steering technology, a joystick is a not-so unusual alternative.

Schaefer Yachts, a Brazilian builder of 30–86 (9.1m–26m) motoryachts, recently launched a 58 (17.8m) model without a wheel at the main helm. Control is with a Volvo Penta joystick; propulsion is a pair of Volvo Penta 670-hp (503-kW) diesels with IPS800 pod drives. A press release explained, “Our team worked very closely with the Volvo Penta engineers, and in roughly two months we developed this joystick-only steering system, eliminating the wheel altogether. In our opinion, this innovation will improve maneuverability and bring a new level of ergonomics to the helm station.” Volvo Penta’s president, Ron Huibers, said, “Wheel-free joystick-only steering with IPS is the next logical step in our Easy Boating strategy to harness new technical solutions to make it easier for owners to operate their boats and enjoy the experience of being on the water.”

Schaefer’s director of marketing, Rodrigo Loureiro, told PBB they redesigned the entire helm, including the helm seat, position of the joystick and throttle controls, and instrument panels, so it is not a “scary new boat.” For the skeptical, the flybridge helm retains a wheel.

Courtesy Schaefer Yachts

Schaefer boasts of its advanced tooling capacity, which includes this 5-axis router for plug making.

The founder and CEO of Schaefer Yachts is Marcio Schaefer, a naval architect who manages the design team of other architects and engineers, as well as the business. In its 26 years, the company has sold more than 3,000 yachts; it opened a U.S. office in 2016 and has sold more than 15 boats there since then. Loureiro says all parts are vacuum-infused, plugs are milled on a 5-axis router, and carpentry and upholstery are done in-house. “Production,” he says, “is vertically integrated…we design and develop mostly everything that composes our boats, so everything fits perfectly.”

Schaefer Yachts USA, 1515 SE 17th St., Suite 117, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA, tel. 954–736–6264.