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  #11  
Old 02-14-2010
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I have experience with the 303 including:
-completed my bareboat certification on one (Chicago)
-4 bareboat charters (anywhere from 2 to 4 days on Lake Michigan)

These 303's were adequately maintained, but not perfect. One leaked at the base of the mast when it rained. The other one's auto helm was fluky. But, assuming adequate maintenance like this:

-We made it from Chicago to Michigan City, IN one year.
-The other year all the way to New Buffalo, MI.
-These trips, in my mind, fell somewhere between coastal and offshore (on the rhumb line to New Buffalo you just about loose sight of shore-except for the Indiana smokestacks and Chicago skyline).
-NEVER did I question the boat's stoutness (although I questioned the crew's ability to keep up with conditions at times).
-When in dead calm, the motor ran reliably for hours.
-When in 30 kts (happened twice), the boat handled WELL.
-Crew was myself (race crew weekly, skipper like this annually) and three relatively INexperienced friends/family
-IF you match sail to wind, the boat IS stable.
-Many report the 303's speed to be just ok. We found it good.
-I define "match sail to wind" as big genoa and full main up to 15 kts or so. Start thinking about 1st reef at 15 kts (with inexperienced crew). 1st reef and reef genoa as approach. I'm conservative, so at 20-ish knots I think double reef. Man, we had some fun times.
-Beam reach in the low to mid-teens true wind and we did mid 6's. Higher than this on a beam to broad reach and we could hold at 7 knots. Little bit of surfing was exhilarating.
-Again, the boat felt sturdy the whole time.
-Once, gradually wind picked up to 25+ knots true from aft. We finally realized it might be time to tuck in the 2nd reef. It was getting tough to steer in the big waves. Once we wrestled with the sail--the boat screamed into Chicago harbor under complete control.
-That brings to mind--in today's age of reefing mainsails and all lines led to cockpit, the 303's mail halyard winch on the mast is a little old school. You need to be careful when reefing.
-I think the old school control on deck is fine. The interior volume, for a 30 footer is great.
-Did you catch the two interiors. One has a small chart table and more traditional nav station. This I like but it does eat up some quarter birth length. Not a problem, because the quarter birth is huge. Folks I crew with don't generally like this birth because it seems coffin like. Once you lay down, you realize it offers much more room that the settee.
-Speaking of that, four guys for three days was not cramped. It WAS the limit for this boat. I could see a family of 4 easily coastal cruising. It's not luxury, but it's fine.
-Four guys the big space problem was where to store gear. When we slept, settee back cushions and our bags went on the floor. This was tricky. During the day, we all stashed our duffels aft in quarter birth or in V-birth.
-If YOU owned the boat, then I'm sure you could figure creative storage solutions to mitigate this.
-Bit of prop walk, but nothing different than other models I've sailed.
-Beamy.

I could go on. If you have other questions, then post 'em. I'll reply, and you will not have to endure my rambling.
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  #12  
Old 02-14-2010
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Pearson 303

The wife and I took our 303 from RI down the intracoastal warterway to Palm Beach then across the Gulf Stream to West End Grand Bahama Island and back home. Lived on the boat for nine months and had agreat time.
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Old 02-17-2010
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P 303 & 323- beating

How close can you sail to the wind with the 303 or 323?
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  #14  
Old 02-17-2010
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Pearson 10M

33 ft, but MUCH bigger inside than the 303. Late 70's early 80's boat. Will sail circles around the 303. Great stiff boat that is easy to sail. Probably the best Pearson under 35 ft for performance, cost, creature comforts, ease of sailing, and sea kindliness. Approved for Marion to Bermuda Race (Offshore).

Can be had well equipped for under 25K easily. Some as low as 10K.

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  #15  
Old 02-20-2010
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303 pointing answers

With the traveler up in a moderate breeze and flatter water she points well. She draws only ~4 feet and has a nearly 11 foot beam--that sums it up (i.e. the 303 is not a racing machine). That said, I distinctly recall a nice sunny coastal cruise with a good afternoon sea breeze. We raised the traveler and had a nice heel (but not too excessive). I was actually surprised at her pointing ability.

I've never said, "Boy, we ought to be able to point higher". Play with the traveler and sheets and don't expect more than the hull can deliver. For example, when our destination puts the wind on the nose, the solution is simple--pick a different destination! Someone that does not have this as an option might have a different opinion of the 303's ability than me!
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Old 02-21-2010
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I bought a 1985 303 in August, and have been very pleased with the boat.

There is no doubt Shaw's emphasis in the design was the cabin. Hence the beam and freeboard. The boat is mostly cabin. It is a very nice one, and the biggest I remember seeing in a 30 footer of its era.

When I was nibbling at it prior to purchase, I was concerned that the boat would not have all that pleasant sailing characteristics, and that would have been a show stopper. No point in having a sailboat that doesn't sail well. But I was very pleasantly surprised. This particular example pointed fairly well, and accelerated much better than I expected as well. Off the wind, the boat is as well mannered as can be.

And since this boat is in Galveston Bay, where water depths are scarily shallow, I really appreciate the shoal draft.

I really like sailing this boat. Also, as I singlehand fairly often, its docile characteristics are what I wanted anyway.

Is it going to crawl all over a J boat? Of course not. However, if I want to go sling my wet butt on a gun'l while getting the full zen of "beating to weather"...instead of enjoying a cold beer watching that kind of effort from the comfortable cockpit (which I very much would prefer deeper alcoves to stow stuff in) of my 303...then I'll go bum a ride on one.

As mentioned, the cabin is extremely spacious for the size of the boat,and laid out in the traditional bench settee salon, enclosed head, v berth forward, vestigal quarter berth, and little L shaped galley. 6'3 headroom is no lie, and even my paunchy carapace has no trouble below...Except at the chart table, which was apparently a later addition to the original design, and obviously meant for skinny people. The hanging locker is shallow at the base so don't expect to use it for hanging much, and I would have much preferred closed cabinets up to the bottom of the overhead at the vcabin top instead of those open shelves (may do that one day if I can limber up the money).

Construction of the Pearsons was very good for the day. Seacocks on all below water thru hulls (one gate valve on the shower pump drain above the waterline still left though). Some issues I've encountered are a leaky cabin top around fittings -which is a Pearson trait I guess and which will be an enduring project. Some things are not up to current ABYC like no covers on the back of the 110 outlets, and general aging of the systems. One pesky surprise I've found is the presence of pinhole leaks in the bottom of the aluminum fuel tank. Good news is, it can be removed from the lazarette side.
The mast step and base of the mast are corroded, and will have to get addressed. Along with that, a sister boat had a chainplate break from crevice corrosion and dismast. Mine are corroded, and when I get the mast done, will pull them and dye penetrant inspect the welds on them. The genoa t tracks are corroded, and is my next project after a haulout. Good news is that I havent found any deck core issues of note.

I wish she had an anchor roller! Its high on the list.

Systems. These boats were tricked out with them. Pressure water, water heater, reefer, airconditioner, 1st generation holding tank, round dial datamarine instruments, stereo with cabin and cockpit speakers, propane stove, shower...This is where you can expect to spend some money. If anything is original, expect to have to repair/replace if you buy a mid 80s 303 and keep it for any length of time.

I'm nearing the end of a big (ill-planned) electrical rewire, fixing past transgressions of previous owners and general aging issues. The flexible holding tank (1993 date stamped) and lines are in the top five of my Next List, as is the mighty rusty Raritan water heater. A Webasto FCF is sitting in my living room waiting on the completion of the rewire, as the vintage Cruisaire was doing little other than making noise and water (ac installation under the v berth).

Which gets back to construction. This boat was of the age when liners were coming into widespread use. While its not total as in some some boats, the liner does restrict access in some very important areas around the head, the refrigerator, and under the chart table.

All in all the 303 is an excellent coastal cruiser/weekender. That big cabin is great in the slip and at anchor (not made for a rough blue water passage though!!), and for a few turns around the bay, anchoring up to romance "The Admiral", or a coastal passage in benign weather, she is a fine fine boat.

Last edited by sidmon; 02-21-2010 at 05:03 PM.
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  #17  
Old 02-26-2010
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My wife and I have owned an 84 P303 for about three years now. I agree with most everything Sidmon posted. Overall, we love the boat for our purposes (lots of daysails, weekends on the hook or at the marina, and a couple week-long cruises during the summer). It is plenty large for the two of us, and we often have three additional guests aboard for day sails. We've had the same problems with leaks around deck fittings, but that is something that will crop up on almost every boat of her age - I believe that resealing deck fittings is a maintenance issue (one that was ignored by the PO). Ours doesn't have AC or refrigeration, but we intend to add them this year (and install in the same places as the original). Sails great, and is very forgiving for two relatively new sailors (this is our first keel boat). And when it comes to the shower, I think the 303 has a large head for her size, which makes showering very easy. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

Sidmon - what are your plans for installing an anchor roller? It is on my list and I think we will need to fabricate some sort of material (teak or starbord) to raise the roller to clear the toe rail. Also, since you mentioned the holding tank, that was one of our first projects and after a ton of reasearch we wound up installing a new bladder tank. I couldn't find any hard side tanks of acceptable volume that would fit the existing tank location, which I wanted to keep due to the very short hose runs. Just thought you would like to know. Again, PM me if you want to talk about upgrades and projects. We have refinished all the exterior teak, built a bimini last summer, are in the process of fininshing a new dodger, and have an adjustable main traveler on our short list (the traveler on ours is mounted in the cockpit, not the coach roof).
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  #18  
Old 02-26-2010
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SvCarolena—

Don't use Starboard...as not much will stick to it and it will be a nightmare to bed or seal properly. If you want the lower maintenance of plastic, I would look at UV stabilized PVC sheets. It comes in various thicknesses, and is relatively easy to work with, can be laminated together using regular PVC cement and will accept most bedding or sealant compounds. I have some 3/4" PVC sheets in my workshop that I'm using for various projects on my boat.
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  #19  
Old 02-26-2010
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Thanks, SD - great advise as always. I hadn't fully thought out the adhesion aspects. I want to stay away from wood because of the possiblity of water being traped between the board and the roller base (obviously will be well sealed at deck penetrations). I guess PVC or fiberglass is the way to go. I'd estimate that the thickness will need to be between 3/4 and 1 in.
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  #20  
Old 02-27-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVCarolena View Post
Sidmon - what are your plans for installing an anchor roller?
I will be following some variation on this theme, depending on the anchor type that I eventually settle with (leaning towards the Delta for now)...Although I would want to keep the chock in its original location.

As for the holding tank, while flexible is not the best solution, its the only workable one for the original location.
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