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.