Remember when bowriders ranged from 16’ to 26’? When they were simple affairs, with few amenities beyond seats and cup-holders? Well, those days are long gone. Today boatbuilders have created bigger, better bowriders which serve as the ultimate in day-boats, with extended range, improved comfort, and enough room to throw a sweet-sixteen party that any boat-loving debutante would be proud of. The latest—and possibly the greatest—to push the boundaries to new limits is the Sea Ray 350 SLX.
The one spec that says it all about this boat is its seating capacity: 18. That’s enough room to have a serious social gathering. To take multiple families boating. Or heck, even hold an office meeting or two. (Are you listening, boss?) And it’s going to be one heck of a good party—um, I mean meeting—spurred on by standard features like a Rockford Fosgate stereo system, an integrated wet bar, a huge L-shaped lounger, an aft lounge that folds into a sunpad, and a carry-on cooler. Even the bow cockpit seating is a cut above the norm, with hinged cushions and sturdy arm rests.
Naturally, with a footprint this large and deep, Sea Ray also had the room to add a walk-in head compartment. But bow-riders have two consoles, and the starboard side can be turned into a full-blown cabin with a berth, AC, and a TV. A few other big-ticket options that turn the 350 SLX into a luxury machine include an electrically-actuated submersible swim platform, an actuating teak cockpit table that retracts into the deck, an onboard air compressor, an electric grill, and an “enhanced” LED lighting package. The 350 SLX I climbed over had it, and although paying extra to get a bunch of colored lights on your boat may seem silly at first, if I were ordering this boat for myself I’d get them. When the sun went down and the lights were flipped on, the look was absolutely uber-cool.
So, what’s not to like? I didn’t spot any construction or design flaws to complain about, and the boat doesn’t have any obvious shortcomings when compared to competitors. The one thing I’d worry about if I owned this boat is the number of articulating, button-operated gizmos. With this many moving parts exposed to the marine environment, you can bet that there will be some added maintenance to contend with after a few years. Of course, this is true of virtually all the high-end luxury boats we see in this day and age. Still, it’s something a buyer should bear in mind.
Power-wise, there aren’t any big surprises. The 350 SLX can be had in a number of twin MerCruiser stern-drive configurations, including 300-hp 350 MAGs, and 8.2 MAGs with Bravo III drives and with or without Axius. Since you’re spending big bucks on a new boat in the first place, don’t cheap-out on the control system—get the Axius. If you haven’t used joystick control in a boat yet, believe me, it’ll change your entire outlook on docking and slow-speed maneuvering. And changing outlooks is what creations like the 350 SLX are all about. Because from the helm of this day boat, henceforth you’ll see bow-riders in a new light. Especially if you got that LED upgrade.
Other Choices: Grady-White also makes a jumbo bow-rider, their Freedom 335, which offers an outboard-powered alternative. The Cruisers Yachts 328 Bowrider is another slightly smaller option, which puts added emphasis on a single, centered cabin, and utilizes a sidedeck to access the bow cockpit.
For more information, visit Sea Ray.
|Fuel capacity||160 gal.|
|Fuel capacity||30 gal.|