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Sea Ray
 BoatUS Boat Groups/Manufacturer Forums>>Sea Ray
Subject Topic: Sea Ray boat reviews by Jack Hornor Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Joined: March 01 1999
Posts: -62
Posted: June 15 2006 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote boatus

2nd Time Around
Sea Ray 290 Sundancer

The price of used Sea Ray 290s may be 15% or more than other manufacturer’s models offering similar size and accommodations but price alone may not be a fair comparison. Most Sea Ray 290 owners are likely to tell you that solid construction, well above average fit and finish and excellent resale value more than justify the added cost.

The first Sea Ray Sundancer 290 model was introduced in 1992. It was completely redesigned in 1994, again in 1998 and, in 2001, after 10 years in production, it remains one of Sea Ray’s most popular models. The redesigns in 1994 and 1998 resulted in considerable changes to both dimensions and arrangements and it would be difficult to consider all models in one review. So, to avoid confusion, I am going to limit my comments to the model which has been in production since 1998.

The Sundancer 290 is what is commonly referred to as a mid-cabin sport cruiser, which describes a general style that is popular among boat buyers due to its sporty look and efficient use of space. The 290’s stylish design results from a collaboration of Sea Ray’s impressive research and development team of more than 250 naval architects, engineers, interior designers and technicians.

Since their beginning in 1959, Sea Ray Boats has enjoyed a reputation for high quality construction and the 290 Sundancer is no exception. Hull and deck construction begins with an outer layer of gelcoat that is robotically applied to a precisely controlled thickness. This is followed by alternating layers fiberglass materials of different types and weights depending on the strength requirements. Vinylester resins are used in the outer laminates to help prevent osmotic blistering.

Four strong longitudinal stringers support the hull bottom and end-grain balsa wood is used in highly loaded areas of the hull and deck for strength and stiffness. All bulkheads are bonded to the hull sides and decks where they abut. The deck and hull are joined in a shoebox-fashion with silicone sealant and stainless steel screws every six inches along the joint.

Sea Ray offers a five-year warranty. For some repairs such as osmotic blisters the warranty is prorated over the five years. In the fifth year, Sea Ray would only reimburse 25% of the repair cost, so it pays to make the company aware of any problems early.

On most boats of this size and type it is difficult to reach the foredeck from the cockpit by way of the side decks. The Sundancer 290 is no different and side decks are only seven inches wide. There are handrails on each side of the radar arch and on the side of the windshield but moving from the cockpit to the foredeck requires sure-footedness and shouldn’t be attempted while under way. A safer approach is through the foredeck hatch from the main cabin. There is a self-draining anchor locker at the forepeak for convenient storage of anchor and rode.

The helm is forward to starboard and there is a small lounge seat to port. Behind the helm there is a double seat facing aft and a small wet bar behind the port side lounge. At the transom there is a removable bench seat to starboard and a transom door to port that opens onto an eight-foot-wide, 24” deep swim platform.

The 290 Sundancer comfortably accommodates four adults overnight or six for day cruises. In 1998, the first year of production, two interior arrangements were offered. Plan “A” had an elliptical dinette forward followed by a starboard settee, port galley again followed by a starboard head and mid cabin. Plan “B” was the same arrangement with a double berth replacing the forward dinette.

Beginning with the 1999 model year, only one interior arrangement was offered. The layout features a half oval seating area forward that can be converted to a double berth. This is followed by a small dinette along the port side which will accommodate two adults or four children comfortably but is not large enough for four adults. This dinette also converts to a berth but the berth is only 63 inches long and not large enough for an adult.

Aft of the galley is a head with an integral shower with sump to discharge shower water overboard. Opposite the head is the entrance to the mid-cabin and double berth. The berth is tucked under the cockpit but there is nearly three feet of clearance over the berth to the underside of the cockpit.

At 10,500 lbs. the 290 Sundancer is a heavy boat for her size and performance is a bit on the sluggish side if you are only considering the basic 7.4 Liter, 310 hp, MerCruiser® inboard engine and Bravo Three® outdrive. Cruising speed is about 22 mph and top speed 27 to 30 mph depending on the load. Of the boats recently offered for sale, 85% were powered by twin gasoline engines, 10% were powered by twin diesel engines and a mere 5% were powered by the standard single gasoline engine.

Six additional power options were offered ranging from a single 270 hp diesel to twin 260 hp gasoline engines. All are MerCruiser engines and outdrives. As you would expect with this many power combinations available, the range of performance is considerable. With the twin 240 hp gas engines, a popular choice, the 290 Sundancer cruises at 25 mph at 3,500 rpm and tops out at 43 mph at 4,600 rpm. Trim tabs are standard equipment and make it easy to adjust for crew weight, speed and sea conditions. All twin-engine installations have counter rotating outdrives for more precise maneuvering at slow speed and the 21 degree angle of deadrise seems to be just right for speed performance and a soft ride.

Finding used Sea Ray models is not difficult. I quickly found 40 current models offered for sale all across the country. In the U.S., asking prices ranged from a low of $69,000 for a 1998 model in Stuart, FL, to a high of $117,000 for a 2000 model offered in San Francisco, CA.

There is no denying the 290 Sundancer is at the upper end of the price range for a production boat of this size but she offers first-rate construction, accommodations and performance, and a reputation for quality and customer satisfaction that keeps Sea Ray owners loyal and resale priced high.

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Joined: March 01 1999
Posts: -62
Posted: June 15 2006 at 00:00 | IP Logged Quote boatus

Sea Ray 440 Aft Cabin Motor Yacht

There just may be some truth in the old adage "you get what you pay for".

When everything is clean, new and shiny at a dealer’s showrooms and boat shows it can be very difficult, even for the most seasoned boater, to identify the details that account for considerable price differences between boats that are similar in size, accommodations and amenities. Although after ten or more years in service, design and construction shortcomings are almost certainly to be more apparent in any boat, few volume-production boat builders can match Sea Ray Boats when it comes to standing up to the test of time and service.

Sea Ray’s first 40 plus foot aft cabin model was introduced in 1986. Known as the 410 Aft Cabin, the model had an overall length of 40’7". The following year the addition of a bow pulpit resulted in an increase in length to 43’ 6" and the model was renamed the 415 Aft Cabin. Apparently the marketing department remeasured the boat with the swim platform and found it to be 45’ 11" the model name was again changed to the 440 Aft Cabin with the 1989 model year. The 440 number stuck until the model went out of production in 1991.

Don’t be confused by the name-calling, as the 410, 415 and 440 all share the same basic hull that, without appendages, measured 40’ 7" and had a maximum beam is 13’ 11". Draft and displacement differ slightly depending on engines and equipment but the manufacturer’s specifications indicate the draft at 3’ 2" and displacement at 23,000 lbs.

Nearly 10 years after production ended, Sea Ray’s 440 Aft Cabin has proven to be well worth her higher cost and remains in high demand on the used boat market.

The hull of the 440 is soundly built with solid fiberglass laminates and no core materials. Strength and stiffness is provided by longitudinal and athwart ship stiffeners that are fiberglassed in place. The finish of these attachments is very good and the sharp rough fiberglass edges common to more moderately priced boats are non-existent on the Sea Ray. The superstructure is constructed of fiberglass laminates with a balsa wood core use in deck and cabin top for stiffness. The deck and hull are joined in a shoebox-fashion with screws and sealant. This is the one of the few disappointments of the 440’s construction. Without the use of adhesive compounds or through bolts, the deck-to-hull joint is bound to become weakened over time by normal flexing of the boat. The inevitable hard docking or encounter with a piling also much more likely to cause damage. Leaks along the joint and crazing of surface finishes are a common result of normal use.

For light, ventilation and an emergency exit from the aft cabin Sea Ray installed a large opening port in the transom that is an excellent safety feature but can also be a troublesome source of leaks. Leaks may be temporarily stopped or slowed down with a little well placed silicone sealant but the solution is removal, cleaning and resealing, a job that usually requires two people and the better part of a day to complete.

The method of construction of the 440 allows reasonable access for inspection, repair, adding and servicing equipment that is considerably better than most boat of this vintage.

Three separate areas provide for lounging, entertaining and operating the 440 and all are efficiently laid out resulting in a clean and very stylish appearance.

With the exception of the early 410 models, there is a bow pulpit forward surrounded by a sturdy stainless steel rail that allows convenient anchor storage and provides a handy, secure area for handling dock lines. The forward cabin top is low profile, unobstructed and can easily accommodate 2 or 3 sunbathers. Moving aft along the cabin house the side decks are wide, unobstructed and secure with a stainless rail well above normal knee height and handrails along the side of the flybridge.

The aft deck is fully covered by a permanent, factory-installed rigid fiberglass top. Owners with removable clear plastic curtains have enclosed most aft deck areas. With normal service, these enclosures can be expected to last from 10 or more years before needing replacement. When replacement is necessary the cost will range for $2,500 to $5,000 depending on materials chosen. The aft deck easily accommodates two comfortable deck chairs and small table. From the aft deck there is a sliding door forward leading to the main saloon, a gate and ladder aft leading to the swim platform and port side steeps forward leading to the flybridge.

The flybridge is positioned atop the main saloon. Reaching it is easy and it is large enough to accommodate the skipper and several guests. The control console has complete instruments for both engines although there is no convenient charting space available. This may be a moot point in a day when electronic charting instruments can be added for well under a $1,000 and paper charts are used for confirmation and back up. As the flybridge is the only steering station, most owners have added canvas tops and clear plastic enclosures for protection and comfort in inclement weather. Properly maintained fabrics will last 10 to 12 years and clear plastics six to eight.

As is the case with all aft cabin yachts, Sea Ray’s 440 is a cabin-comfort-oriented vessel with primary emphasis placed on arrangement and appointments of the interior. After all, most boaters interested in this type are looking for a vessel that will most likely be their home away from home. The 440 should not be a disappointment in this regard.

The general layout with stateroom forward followed by galley, main saloon and aft stateroom remained the same through production although there were sight modifications in cabin arrangements over the years.

On most models the forward stateroom featured a diagonal, offset double berth although some early 410 and 415 models featured over/under single bunks along the port side of the cabin. In addition there is a good-sized hanging locker and lots of storage. Further aft to starboard is a head with small shower. To starboard is a large galley with plenty of storage and counter space. Standard galley equipment included an upright refrigerator, three-burner stove, microwave oven and even a blender built into the counter top. The drawback to these installations is that they all operate on AC current that means you most be plugged into shore power or run the auxiliary generator to use the equipment. On 410 and 415 models, there was a four-person dinette opposite the galley that was eliminated in favor of more space in the main saloon and a wraparound lounge on the 440 model.

The mid-ship main saloon is open and comfortable with plenty of light and nearly 360 degrees visibility through large forward and side windows. There is a couch or settee that converts to an extra double berth and an entertainment console for TV and stereo.

The master stateroom is aft. It features a centerline queen-sized berth, more storage and hanging locker space than you likely had in your first apartment and a head with separate shower stall. Many of the 415 models were equipped with a stacking clothes washer and dryer that were shoehorned into a starboard locker in the master stateroom. This was an idea that didn’t work because it took up space that was much more valuable for storage not to mention that service, removal and replacement is impossible without tearing apart cabinet and joiner work.

I think its fair to say that most of these models were power by twin, fresh-water-cooled 340 hp MerCruiser gas engines. Although 350 hp Crusader gas engines were an option in early models, diesel engine options were offered throughout production and I would estimate about 20 percent were built with the optional diesel engines that were, in most cases, the Caterpillar model 3208. Engines are installed below the main saloon along with an auxiliary generator forward of the engines. Considering the size of the boat, access for service and maintenance of the machinery is general good.

If speed is your thing then this will not be the boat for your but, if your willing to settle for a comfortable, leisurely ride to your destination you will be quite satisfied with the 440’s performance. With gas engines she cruises at a 15 knots and will top out at about 24 knots. With the diesel engine option, cruising speed increases to a respectable 20 knots while top end performance remains at about the same as for the gas engines. In either case the 17 degrees deadrise of the hull makes for a smooth ride, easy control and good directional stability.

If this sounds like the type of boat that would interest you the good news is there are a reasonable number of boats available. In my research I was able to find 12 offered for sale between Massachusetts and Florida and two of the twelve were diesel engine models. The bad news may be in the price of diesel engine models. Those who want diesel engines will likely have to pay a hefty premium.

A comparison of the boat offered showed the asking prices on gas engine models to average $125,000, which is just two percent above the average high, published value. On the other hand the average asking price of diesel models was $177,450 a whopping 23% above the average high, published value.

The quality and workmanship that separates Sea Ray Boats from less expensive volume-production boats is apparent throughout the 440 form electrical wiring to joiner work to fiberglass finish. And, while the 440 shows a few design and construction shortcomings, after ten or more years of service they occur with considerably less frequency than on less costly production models. This, combined with the fact Sea Ray’s have consistently been among the leaders in resale value, makes the 410, 415 and 440 all excellent choices weather your plans call for extended coastal cruising or simply a place to get away for the weekend.

Jack Hornor, NA is the principal surveyor and senior designer for the Annapolis-based Marine Survey & Design Co.

Principal Dimensions & Specifications
Measurements should be considered approximate and the manufacturer’s specifications may be relied upon. Bow & stern appendages are generally excluded.

Length Overall

44’ 11"

Maximum Beam

13’ 11"

Maximum Draft

3’ 2"


23,000 lbs

Fuel Capacity

400 Gallons

Water Capacity

130 Gallons

Top Speed Range

15-24 Knots

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"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: July 22 2006
Posts: 2
Posted: July 22 2006 at 07:44 | IP Logged Quote danthomas

Jack Do you or anyone else have any reviews of the 1992 Sea Ray 350 EB?

I am currently looking at one to purchase and have not been able to locate much information on this model.



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"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: August 26 2006
Posts: 2
Posted: August 26 2006 at 16:11 | IP Logged Quote PAINLESS


Have you reviewed the Sea Ray 290 Amberjack (I see your review of the 290 Sundancer- two entirely different boats) or can you suggest a review.  I currently own one and have several questions and am always seeking additional info. 



290 SeaRay Amberjack
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"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: September 29 2006
Posts: 1
Posted: September 29 2006 at 19:01 | IP Logged Quote gaflaxm

Hi Jack,

Any thoughts on a 1988 Sundancer 270?

Thank you

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Alan C Dove
"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: May 30 2007
Posts: 5
Posted: May 30 2007 at 14:41 | IP Logged Quote Alan C Dove

Hi Jack,

Does anyone have any info on the 2006 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer problem of rain water leaking thru the windshield when it rains. The carpets get wet. The dealer still cant get it right after 3 tries. Boat is brand new, and it bothers me. I paid a lot for her.


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"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: July 02 2003
Posts: 18
Posted: May 31 2007 at 23:05 | IP Logged Quote STIHLBOLTS

Jack's not home. He left town and forgot how to come back. That ain't really a bad thing.

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"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: February 12 2011
Posts: 2
Posted: February 19 2011 at 00:01 | IP Logged Quote ramerenz

hey you have a review about the chapral boat? can you give me an insight regarding this boat. and i am looking for the discount boat seats. any suggestions?
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"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: August 11 2011
Posts: 1
Posted: August 12 2011 at 00:11 | IP Logged Quote Amy300

Great boat, you can check out ebay to find it at a great price.
For example i checked right now and i found a couple of great deals.
A 1992 Sea Ray 290 Sundancer selling for 8.500 $ as a buy it now.
Of course the real problem with buying something like a boat (or a car, or a house for that matter) on ebay is that you would like to see it before making the offer.

Edited by Amy300 on August 12 2011 at 00:11

Check out this http://www.commission-pimp-review.com/ & http://www.commission-pimp-review.com/
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"Seaman Recruit"

Joined: October 05 2011
Posts: 1
Posted: October 05 2011 at 06:24 | IP Logged Quote Ketuan

its nice to see that Sea Ray is at least paying some attention to their problems and making corrections.  However, being one of the most widely sold boats in the U.S., we get a lot of e-mail asking,  "Why do you pick on SeaRay?" This is typical of the sort of "shoot the messenger" syndrome that surveyors know all to well.  As if we're at fault for pointing the nature of the product.

Edited by Sonja Lowe on September 25 2013 at 12:53

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