Chaparral 330 Cruiser Boat News, Review & Advice

28 Янв 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »
Chaparral 330

Chaparral 330 Cruiser

— Beautifully laid out helm station

— Build quality

— Rear-facing lounge on the swim platform

— Performance


— Somehow, I’d like more bench space in the galley

— Can’t get around the decks

— High fuel consumption when pushed

— Lack of hanging space for extended cruising


— Over a quarter of a million boats sold!

Although relatively new in this country, Chaparral is enjoying a quiet little boom time here thanks to importer, Aussie Boat Sales, and the energetic efforts of owner Scott O’Hare.

Yet Chaparral has been in the boat-building business in the USA for over four decades and is still run by its founder Buck Pegg. Buck runs the manufacturing and engineering side of the business while his partner Jim Lane (who teamed up with Buck in 1977) runs sales, marketing, customer service, finance and accounting.

Based in Nashville, Georgia, Chaparral has become one of the great success stories of American boat building. The company was started by Buck in 1965 and has always been run without debt and an ethos of building quality boats.

With a dealer network spanning the globe, Chaparral claims to have sold over a quarter of a million boats worldwide.

Although best known locally for their smaller sports boats and Xtreme wake and ski boats, Chaparral is rapidly gaining a foothold with its sportscruisers. Within this range are boats from 27ft right up to their flagship 42-footer recently shown at the Melbourne Boat Show.

We had a good look around Chaparral’s imposing display at the show and were impressed with the 10.2 metre (33ft 6in) sportscruiser called the 330 Cruiser.


— This one comes fully loaded

The 330 Cruiser (designated a Signature Cruiser in the US) can be ordered in two configurations and with a plethora of engine and factory options. Consequently, prices vary depending on how you want your boat set up.

The 330 in its basic form (which, by the way, is far from basic) will set you back around $285,000. For that, you’ll get a fully-loaded sportscruiser that can sleep six and happily cruise at 35 knots.

Our test boat was powered by twin MerCruiser 5.7-litre 350 MAG engines rated at 300hp and fitted with Axius docking control (more on that later).

Other features that come standard on the 330 include a genset, reverse-cycle air-conditioning, two TVs with DVD players, big-screen Garmin GPS/sounder, premium sound system, power anchor winch, Lexan clears and more.


— Your choice of layout

As mentioned, this boat can be ordered in two configurations. Option one is with a big double berth forward which is raised up just in front of the dinette. The second option has this area as a dinette and creates more of an open-plan layout.

Both configurations offer a second double berth back aft. This cabin is rather small but has the bonus of a sliding door for privacy, while doubling as a U-shaped lounge where the kids can sit and watch television in private.

The galley is well equipped offing a sink (obviously with hot and cold pressurised water), a single cooktop, microwave, front-opening fridge and plenty of storage for a weekend or more.

Aft of the galley on the starboard side is the bathroom with electric head and holding tank, sink and shower. There is also an extractor fan and an opening port. The bathroom is a good size and you will have no problem showering within. This is quite unlike some sportscruisers I’ve been aboard where, in the interests of trying to squeeze everything in, space is compromised and it’s nearly impossible (unless you’re a Pigmy) to have a decent shower.

Anyway, our review boat was the forward-berth layout — preferable for family boating — which allows for a four-seater dinette opposite the galley. All told, the interior layout is surprisingly roomy for a family of four — especially given that this is only a 33-foot boat.

We also noted, whether you’re lying in bed or sitting at the dinette, that the big flat-screen TV/DVD is visible as it swivels for the best viewing angle — electrically, of course!

Back up top, we can’t speak highly enough of the helm station. The skipper gets a very comfortable seat and there’s a double seat alongside for crew. The beautifully laid-out instrument panel was dominated by a central Garmin plotter and flanked by digital gauges for all your engine management systems.

On the horizontal shelf between the screen and the wheel is the control for the Axius docking system. A tweak of the joystick has this boat doing tricks that a few years ago would have unheard of in a sterndrive sportscruiser!

Nearby are the trim-tab buttons with LED readouts to let you know their position at a glance. There’s also a stereo remote mounted on the fascia to control the upgraded stereo (with an enormous sub woofer under the helm seat if you want that ‘doof-doof’ effect). Two banks of rocker switches adorn each side of the adjustable mahogany steering wheel and they take care of all your lighting and ancillary systems. There’s even a rheostat to dim the lighting in the instruments for night running.

In the cockpit, to starboard, is the outdoor lounge and dining area where six people can comfortably sit for an alfresco lunch. This is served by wetbar to port with a sink, optional fridge, garbage facility and broad solid benchtop for food preparation.

When not called on, the whole dining area folds flat at the push of a button to create an amazing sun lounge. This really adds to the versatility of the 330 Cruiser.

Through the portside door, on the big swim platform, there’s another nifty feature — a two-seater rear-facing lounge built into the transom (it forms part of the aforementioned sun lounge). It’s a great place to sit and watch the kids swim or just soak up the ambiance.

There are stainless-steel grab handles on either side of the lounge, two handy drink holders, and remote control for the stereo so you select your favourite music and hardly move a muscle.


— High-quality finish

As mentioned, Chaparral has a reputation in the USA for building strong and seaworthy boats, with great attention to detail, and a lovely finish. I have been on numerous Chaparrals over the years and always find them hard to fault from a quality point of view. The 330 Cruiser is no exception.

The review boat was powered by a pair of MerCruiser 350 V8s, rated to 300hp, with articulating Axius drives and MerCruiser’s Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS). This is the maximum horsepower recommended by the manufacturer. If you find it overkill, then you can option down incrementally to 200hp Volvo diesels.

The engines live under the cockpit sole, which lifts on electric struts to reveal a surprisingly big space. The Kohler generator, air-con unit and hot water live down here. It’s fairly easy to get into the engine bay for general servicing and, with a bit of organising, you could find stowage for your tools, spare oil and the like.


— Docking is child’s play

Axius is MerCruiser’s advanced docking system. It works by swivelling the Bravo Three sterndrives via a series of sophisticated on-board computers. The system is controlled by the helmsman via a joystick which is simplicity in itself. Just push the joystick the way you want to go and the boat will respond. If you want to move sideways then push the stick in that direction and the boat will follow. Similarly, push the stick forward or aft and the boat responds accordingly.

A knob on the top of joystick swivels so, with a twist, you can spin the boat on its length. With the combination of pushing and swivelling, you can get the 330 Cruiser to do exactly what you want, no matter what the conditions.

Chaparral 330

As such, the Axius system makes docking the Chaparral child’s play in any breeze or even with severe current. And with proportional control, the boat responds to the amount of pressure you apply to the stick. Push softly and the boat will move slowly. Push harder and the boat will jump. However the speed is limited so you shouldn’t get into too much trouble.

When you want to take over control on the throttles it’s just a matter of knocking them out of neutral and away you go.

The system also has its ‘Skyhook’ feature which holds the boat in any given position via GPS. This means you can sit outside the marina, engage Skyhook and work around the boat getting your lines and fenders ready to berth — the boat will automatically hold station.


— Plenty of grunt but smooth and dry

The day of our review of the Chaparral 330 was a good one for getting to know a boat such as this. The day was pleasant enough but there was a southerly blowing up to about 20 knots.

We picked up the boat from Aussie Boats sales and blasted around in the relative smooth and protected waters around Williamstown and then headed out into Port Phillip Bay. For those who don’t know, Port Phillip is big — just under 2000 square kilometres to be precise — and can certainly offer up a big chop when the wind gets up.

This day we had about a metre to a metre-and-half of chop, which will slow down most boats. The Chaparral, with its 18 degrees of deadrise and its interesting, flared ‘Wide Tech’ bow proved impressive. When we got it trimmed properly, we were heading (for St Kilda) with the wind and chop slightly on our starboard bow while doing 30mph on the speedo! Yet I didn’t have to touch the wiper switches once. This is a very dry boat.

The Wide Tech bow is an interesting feature as it not only gives a wider bow with water-deflecting chines but it brings the maximum beam of the boat forward and enables more beam to be taken forward to give more interior volume to the boat — hence the feeling of a bigger boat inside.

Whether it was me not being used to the boat or not, I did find the boat a bit twitchy. The steering is extremely light and the boat is very responsive to trim so it may take a bit more time than just a day to figure out how to get it just right for the prevailing conditions and loads.

That said, it’s an easy boat to drive and doesn’t have any real vices. It’s quick (as you’d expect with 600 horses under the floor) and it’ll get up and boogie quickly with a push on the silky-smooth throttles. It’s quiet too. Even at speed we had no trouble holding a conversation over the growl of the big V8s.

Once we’d had our fun digging trenches in the Bay, we decided to head down the Yarra River and do what most people would do in a boat like this — take it to Docklands to hit the coffee shops and restaurants!

Parking was a breeze with the Axius and we were soon enjoying a latte from one of our favourite haunts.

There is an old adage when dealing high-horsepower boats, that is: you don’t get nothing for nothing. That holds true for the Chaparral 330. At low revs it isn’t too bad — 3000rpm returns 17 knots for a fuel burn of 72 litres per hour total. Crank it up to 4000rpm and you’re doing 29 knots for a burn of 120 litres per hour. Open it up to 5000rpm and 37 knots and you’re using 166 litres per hour — that could get pricey.

Overall, I’ve got to say that this is one of the best-equipped sportscruisers that I’ve ever set foot on. The little things like the electrically-operated sun lounge, the helm station layout, and the Wide Tech bow show the experience of the Chaparral designers.

The attention to detail and superb fit and finish show the experience of the builders. This is one slick boat that you’d be proud to show anyone.

When you consider what you get in the specifications, it’s excellent value for money. So, if you are in the market for a sub-40ft sportscruiser, the Chaparral’s 330 Cruiser is well worth a look


Overall rating: 4.7/5.0

Mechanical/equipment: 4.8/5.0

Packaging and practicality: 4.9/5.0

On the water Performance: 4.7/5.0

Value for money: 4.8/5.0

X-factor: 4.6/5.0


Chaparral 330
Chaparral 330
Chaparral 330

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