Sea Ray 270 SundancerBy Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Some boat manufacturers change model names following design changes, but Sea Ray has been content to stick with a recognized and successful model even through some substantive changes. Such is the case with the 270 Sundancer, a small weekender/family cruiser which, in celebration of their 50th anniversary, Sea Ray reintroduced to their line after a hiatus of several years.
From the introduction of the 270 Sundancer in 1982, her length has ranged from 27' 7" to 28' 8" and beam varied between 8' 6" and 10'. There have been five 270 Sundancer models in all, each similar yet slightly different in appearance and dimension. Integral bow pulpits and swim platforms have come and gone and swim platforms have sometimes been included in the specified length. Beam, rather than length, more often defines a vessel's utility and service. Adding a foot in length to a 27-foot boat, even if added at the widest point, only adds about 45 cubic feet of volume, while adding a foot in beam could add 135 cubic feet of volume or more. On the other hand, adding an inch to the beam of an 8' 6" wide boat prohibits it from being trailered in some states without a special permit. Only the two 270 Sundancer models built between 1992 and 1999 have a beam of 8' 6" and are technically trailerable (needing a substantial SUV or truck).
No production boat manufacturers do a better job of installation of systems, equipment, and machinery than Sea Ray; the 270 Sundancer is no exception. The sport cruiser style of the 270 Sundancer is more reminiscent of a large runabout than a traditional cabin cruiser. The earliest model (1982-88) featured a swim platform mechanically attached to the transom while all subsequent models integrated a swim deck into the hull mold. The cockpit deck lifts to allow access to the engine and all models have either a permanent or removable seat at the transom. Forward is a step up to the bridgedeck and starboard helm on all models. The bridgedeck seating arrangement is dependent on the location of the companionway, on centerline on some models, to port on others. Prior to 2009, models had very narrow side decks making passage to the foredeck challenging. The newest model offers a center opening in the windshield with steps to access to the foredeck.
The cabin arrangement of all 270 Sundancer models has a separate mid-cabin sleeping compartment below the bridgedeck, a feature that defines the 270 and all Sea Ray Sundancers. Other typical accommodations include a berth or U-shaped dinette that converts to a double berth forward, a small galley, an enclosed head and a long list of standard conveniences.
As would be expected, a number of power options - all inboard/outdrive configurations - were offered over the years. Combined with the fact that performance of any boat of this size will suffer from overloading, it's difficult to define performance. Normally loaded, cruising speed will range between 20 and 25 knots and top speed between 30 and 35; a deadrise angle of 19 to 22 degrees helps to soften the ride in choppy conditions. Trim tabs were standard equipment on all models that I'm aware of to help getting up on plane and balance passenger loads.
Naval architect Jack Hornor is the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He is on the board of directors of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sail their 42-foot Catalina, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.