By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD
With so many new outboard powered models hitting the market, true petrol heads will be relieved that the inboard lives on in this revamped bowrider from Sea Ray. John Ford reports
This latest version of its popular Sundeck has an improved layout and versatility with a more refined design for an even slicker social experience. The Sundeck 240 had been the company’s most popular boat for the last dozen years, so its replacement, the SDX 250, has an enviable reputation to uphold. Although there is also an outboard version now in the lineup, this sterndrive shows that big-capacity inboard power still holds sway.
As a brand at the top end of the American boating sector, Sea Ray has continually improved luxury, performance and innovation over the model range and this latest bowrider version is no exception. Making the most of its 7.67m length, the SDX 250 adds a bigger cabin with bed and toilet as well as a more ergonomic layout by changing the central bow access (seen in previous iterations) to a portside walkthrough.
The Sundeck series are open cockpit designs with enviable amounts of room from bow to stern that run on a sharp entry and a deep- V design that transforms to a twenty-one-degree deadrise. Seating for up to fourteen is spread around the boat, and with storage everywhere possible, all their gear can be secreted away without cluttering the decks. Guests are welcomed with various combinations of seating, lounging and dining options, while a freeboard of nearly one metre and numerous handholds make it a safe environment for younger members of the family.
Sea Ray is an upmarket brand and so the SDX series is a tier above entry level, displaying style, high levels of comfort and attention to every detail. Years of perfecting the deckboat concept show in the boat’s integrated seating and natural flow from the rear swim platform to the bow, where there is stress-free boarding from the beach over an inbuilt ladder.
Wide seating up front is possible thanks to a generously flared bow that doesn’t detract from its sporty lines. A small hatch seamlessly blends into the forepeak to hide the anchoring gear and the retractable boarding ladder, which makes climbing aboard from the beach a breeze. A fibreglass table and a set of infill cushions – both parts of a Platinum upgrade package – convert the bow into a big sunpad or a dining area to seat four. Side seat bases have nicely moulded storage bins too, while a carry-on cooler clips into its dedicated spot under the forward seat.
The cabin below is accessed from the portside walkway to the side of the helm, and although it’s not a huge opening I found access was relatively untroubled by entering backwards and stepping down to the deep floor. A full infill creates a space for an afternoon nap, a spot for the kids to play or even somewhere to camp overnight. An electric flush toilet connects to a holding tank, and there’s a window for light and ventilation.
Cockpit seating offers an almost endless variety of changes for different whims of relaxing, socialising, dining, swimming or zooming between anchorages. Both the helm and navigator chairs flip to face back to the cockpit and a lounge at the rear converts to face forward, rearwards, or flatten into a sunpad.
In dining mode, the cockpit converts to a wrap-around arena with its own moulded table as the centrepiece. Set the rear lounge to face backwards and you get a great swim or boarding platform that leads onto the wide SeaDek clad swim platform, which has a smaller section that is submersible.
Extending over the cockpit is a large black Sunbrella bimini mounted on a black anodised alloy tower with wake mount point. The tower gives a sporty look that isn’t all show, and it folds down for stowing the boat under cover.
The engine, which on the test boat is upgraded to a 6.2L 300hp Mercury V8, sits under the rear lounge, which itself lifts easily on a gas strut for maintenance and storage access. Service points are easy to reach, while Sea Ray’s Quiet Ride sound insulation is so good that mechanical engine noise is almost absent – not that you could hear anything above the thumping Rockford Fosgate system with its six speakers and a central sub-woofer.
Underfoot is Infinity Weave matting that clips out (and looks great against the Dune coloured seating), while a very deep central locker in the floor demonstrates the impressive depth of the hull.
A full helm is courtesy of the offset bow access, while the SDX 250 fits the modern requirements of instant engine and navigation data retrieval on a Simrad touch screen that’s integrated into an extensive flush panel glass display. The electronics include Mercury Active Trim and a Cruise Control system that can be individualised for four different wakeboard rides.
Bolster seating means you can be comfortable sitting high above the raked screen or settled back low and out of the breeze. Either way vision is good, and the side controls are intuitively placed. It didn’t take much to get the big 3t boat moving, and we were soon skipping across a short Sydney Harbour chop at an effortless cruise of 20kts at 3200rpm. The hull was super quiet, the bimini was flap and rattle- free and the exhaust was a glorious low note in the background. Best fuel burn showed at 3500rpm(24kts), using 37lph and a range of 138nm from the 238L tank with 10% in reserve.
Acceleration was impressive to 29kt at 4000rpm and a fuel burn of 53lph, while we quickly topped out at 5300rpm and 40kts. Handling is safe thanks to the reassuring feel of a heavy engine that’s planted deep in the boat to keep things upright. The Bravo 3 counter-rotating props grip (like Pauline Hanson to her last remaining senator) through turns as the Active trim works its digital magic.
The latest SDX 250 has moved forward with a friendlier layout and better amenities below but it’s still a lot of fun to drive, which helps it keep its place as one of the favoured compact dayboats or harbour cruisers. Optioned up with the bigger engines and accessory packs it hits the scales at $163,590. You could add a trailer at a pinch, but it’s more suited to park on your mooring or at a stacking facility, allowing you to just enjoy the ride.
For over fifty years Sea Ray have been at the much- loved centre of family fun times on the water. A company with the resources and experience to keep progressing the sportsboat theme, the latest SDX 250 is innovative and fresh enough to demand attention from anyone looking for a versatile dayboat.
- High attention to detail and beautiful presentation
- Sporty, capable and safe performance
- Sizable and functional cabin below
- Better wake/swim platform boat than the outboard version
- Will use more fuel than a similarly powered outboard.
- 2.59m beam limits towing ability
FACTS & FIGURES
Engine upgrade, Active Trim, Battery Charger, Dual Battery, Fender Clip System, Fire Suppression, SeaDek Swim Platform, Submersible Swim Step, Rockford Fosgate stereo, Tables, more.
- MATERIAL GRP
- TYPE Sterndrive monohull bowrider
- LENGTH 7.67m
- BEAM 2.59m
- DEADRISE 21deg
- MAKE/MODEL Mercruiser 6.2L
- TYPE Fuel injected V8 petrol inboard
- RATED HP 300hp
- DISPLACEMENT 6.2L
- WEIGHT391kg (plus Bravo 3 @ 67kg)
Brunswick Corporation USA
Chapman Marine Group
Ph: 02 98182000
Suite 2, Sydney Boathouse, 2 Waterways Court, Rozelle NSW 2039