By Go Boating
Sea Ray 220 Sundeck: Performance Test
Sea Ray 220 Sundeck: Go cruising incognito.
Newly released for the mid-2002 model year is the Sea Ray 220 Sundeck. A master of disguise, this boat is part bowrider, part deckboat — offering boaters the best of both worlds.
Keeping a crew happy takes compromises, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you love. Speed. Performance. Sexy looks. The 220 Sundeck has them all, plus features that the rest of the family will appreciate — including a wet bar, bow and stern boarding capability, and a watersports-friendly layout.
Just how did Sea Ray do it? Its ingenious engineers managed to build a deckboat atop a true deep-V hull (as opposed to the more popular modified deep-V). The concept isn’t new for the Knoxville, Tennessee boat builder, as there already exists a hugely successful Sundeck Series.
However, the 220 fills the gap between the 210 and 240 Sundeck, creating a model large enough to handle group entertaining, yet still small enough to stay up to speed with the sportboat crowd.
Race You to the Water
To test the 220 Sundeck, we paid a visit to Sea Ray dealer Newport Boats in Corona, California. Demo-Captain Bernie Osier accompanied us to nearby Lake Elsinore, a local hangout for freshwater boaters in Southern California.
At high noon it was 82 degrees Fahrenheit (ideal boating weather), with a wind speed of 5 knots and about a 6 inch chop on the water. There were three of us aboard and a 1/4 tank of fuel.
Our test boat was equipped with a 320 hp MerCruiser 6.2L MPI, with a Bravo Three drive, and dual counter-rotating, 23 inch pitch props. This is the most powerful gasoline stern drive available on the 220. The standard propulsion package is a 260 hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI, with an Alpha drive.
Acceleration was smooth and the bow stayed close to the water, giving us excellent forward visibility. Time to plane was less than 5 seconds. At 3,000 rpm, the boat was moving faster than we had expected. We estimated the cruising speed to be around 34 mph, which is zippy for a 10-person-capacity deckboat. It topped out at 52 mph at wide-open throttle.
Throughout the rpm range, the boat handled beautifully and its high gunwales gave us a secure feeling during the trickiest maneuvers. The hull maintained a firm grip on the water as we raced through an invisible slalom course and spun doughnuts at high speeds. Afterward, we were surprised to see that not a drop of water made it inside the cockpit.
The 21-degree hull bottom with full-length strakes, coupled with the stern drive’s counter-rotating props, delivered excellent tracking at all speeds. The boat backed in a straight line and held its course, even when we let go of the wheel.
We turned off the engine and walked around the boat to see how the deep-V hull compared to other deckboats, in terms of stability. To our surprise, it was remarkably steady. Helping maintain the boat’s balance was a nifty ventilation plate on the swim platform, which provided an escape route for restless water underneath it, so that the swells wouldn’t push up on the stern and cause the boat to rock.
Be In Total Control
The 220 Sundeck is the first model in Sea Ray’s Sundeck Series to offer a standard integral swim platform, which conceals a drop-down three-step swim ladder with a grab handle. There’s also a stainless steep handrail with integral ski tow eye at the transom.
Our test boat was outfitted with an optional aluminum tower ($2,350), with a Bimini top that kept us completely shaded from the afternoon sun. The tower is a nice feature to have if you plan to use the boat for watersports — especially if you plan to teach children how to waterski or wakeboard.
For beginners, the higher pull point reduces stress on the rider and facilitates faster learning. For experienced watersports enthusiasts, the tower provides extra lift and hang time.
The 220′s pulling power makes it ideal for waterskiing and wakeboarding. The driver has total control, thanks to a shift and throttle lever with a built-in outdrive trim button and ignition circuit switches. During our test runs, we were able to adjust the hull’s attitude in the water to achieve a soft, virtually non-existent ripple at 36 mph, as well as create a big, solid wake at 20 mph.
Sea Ray’s designers put a lot of thought into the helm station, to make it both comfortable and functional. Custom instrumentation is set into a burled dash. Backlit stainless steel gauges with low-glare blue night lighting are easy to read. The tilt steering wheel has a burl centerpiece and knuckle grooves for when you want to sit back, relax and hold the steering wheel with one hand.
Make Yourself Comfortable
The 220′s cleverly designed deck layout offers amenities normally reserved for larger Sea Rays.
The bow boarding platform features a collapsible swim ladder that can be stowed in a combination swim ladder/chain locker. Step inside the forward lounge area to find ample seating with hidden storage underneath, molded-in beverage holders, grab handles, a pedestal mount for a removable table and a snap-on carpet liner.
The walk-through windshield features custom three-piece tempered and tinted curved glass. Moving aft, you’ll notice that the port side has a large enclosed fiberglass compartment with a lockable door. Inside is a portable head, a storage shelf and a light.
In the aft cockpit are two swivel bucket seats. When you turn the portside seat, it rests flush against an L-shaped bench settee, forming a chaise lounge. The circular seating arrangement surrounds another removable table to create a cozy environment for entertaining friends. There’s also a wet bar, with storage below.
One last feature worth mentioning is the electronically driven hatch that opens up to give full access to the engine. This makes troubleshooting the engine and routine maintenance much less of a hassle.
Overall, we were very impressed by Sea Ray’s daringness to marry a deep-V hull with a deckboat layout. We’re still not sure if we should call the 220 Sundeck a bowrider or a deckboat — but either way, it’s a great family boat.
Sea Ray 220 Sundeck Specifications
|Draft (w/drive down)||3′|
|Dry weight||4200 pounds|
|Fuel capacity||50 gallons|
|Maximum power||20 hp|
|Base price with 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI (Alpha drive)||$37,858|
|Price as tested with 320-hp MerCruiser 6.2L MPI (Bravo Three drive)||$49,721.60|
|Top speed||52 mph|
|Cruising speed||34 mph|
|Miles per gallons at 34-mph cruising speed||2.7|
|Fuel cost for 100 miles||$52.59**|
|Range at 34-mph cruising speed||135 miles|
(Fuel cost is based on a fuel price of $1.42 per gallon.)
|Model||MerCruiser 6.2L MPI (Bravo Three drive)|
|Bore and stroke||4.00″ x 3.75″|
|Maximum engine speed||5,200 rpm|
Stainless steel handrail w/integral ski tow eye, bow ladder, removable stern light, navigation lights, transom swim platform w/ladder, custom three-piece windshield, Bimini top w/boot and canvas storage bag, cockpit cover, portable head, carry-on cooler, snap-on carpet liner, two tables, wet bar w/sink, Clarion stereo CD player w/waterproof speakers and digital cockpit remote control
Dual batteries, black canvas (in lieu of standard colors), compass, bow filler cushions, automatic fire suppression system, two-tone gelcoat graphics, pumpout head, bow shower, watersports tower w/Bimini top and boot, starboard windshield wiper, transom trailer trim switch, Canvas Package: front/side/aft curtains and canvas storage bag
For more information:
Sea Ray Boats
2600 Sea Ray Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37914
(800) SRBOATS (772-6287)