Ray 500 Sundancer — By Capt. Bill Pike
— February 2003
A Star is Born
|Part 2: A few especially sensible features caught my eye.|
I shut down the mains once all our lines were secured and, before moving on to more substantive matters, opted to dial up a little James Taylor for the stereophonic heck of it. Actually I should say a lot; the oomph inherent in the two entertainment systems onboard the 500 was literally stunning. At half-volume, the four waterproof speakers, amplifier, and subwoofer that serve the Clarion XM Series unit in the cockpit generated sound powerful enough to darn near blow my Flexons off. And below decks, the oomph was even oomphier, if such a thing's possible, thanks to an optional Bose Lifestyle 35 home entertainment system, which was ensconced in a cabinet on the port side of the saloon and enlivened by an Acoustimass subwoofer and seven strategically placed cube-type speakers. Took ol' Sweet Baby James to a whole new level, trust me!
The rest of our test boat's interior was as impressive as its thunderous entertainment package, which I eventually had to turn off so I could concentrate. A high level of finish distinguishes the express-style layout, with its master stateroom forward, full-beam saloon aft, and two heads, guest stateroom, and galley between. Cherry veneers on bulkheads were precisely routered around openings for cabinets, bins, and drawers. Seams between different structural and/or cosmetic materials, whether solid cherry moldings, Corian countertops, gelcoated fiberglass, or marine-vinyl-upholstered overhead panels, were crisp and die-straight. And the bilge, which can be easily accessed via a number of hatches throughout the interior, was immaculate--no rough, unpainted edges anywhere.
A few especially sensible features caught my eye. For starters there are large, stand-up shower stalls in both heads. Moreover, besides a top-of-the-line VacuFlush MSD, each head has a frosted, opening port and an electric vent. Then there's the SeaTech water manifold, which I accessed through a hatch in the cabin sole near the galley. It's color-coded and numbered valves make it possible to shut down a part of the system for repairs without shutting it all down. Convenience and safety in one nifty package! And finally, I noted a whopping array of drawers and stowage bins in the galley. Flatware, dishes, pots and pans, canned goods, cleaning supplies...there's a spot for everything.
I finished up my day onboard the 500 with a tour of the engine room, which I entered via a chrome-plated steel ladder and a hatch in the cockpit. The place offers stoop-type headroom to a person of average height and is logically laid out, expansive, and sweetly outfitted. Whether I was scrutinizing the Marine Air air-conditioning compressors, the 13.5-kW Onan genset (with soundshield), the batteries (two 8D Lifeline AGM cranking types and two Group 27s for house usage), or the V-drive mains themselves, all machinery and equipage was installed in solid, serviceable fashion. Sea Ray even added brackets for the spanner wrenches that fit the two Groco main-engine sea strainers--keeps the little jewels from getting lost.
About sunset, I realized I'd had so much fun testing Sea Ray's new 500 Sundancer during the day that I'd forgotten to eat anything since breakfast. So not long after departing Sykes Creek for the Orlando airport in my rental car, I hit a restaurant in Merritt Island for take-out, a spot I've been visiting for years. Although the name of the place changes periodically--most recently from Fat Boy's to Island BBQ--it's my experience that the quality of the chopped-pork sandwich here remains steadfastly high, a tribute to talented people who consistently turn out a great product.
A fitting metaphor for the day? Considering the Mona Lisa delight I'd experienced running the 500 that morning, and all the high-quality craftsmanship and equipage I'd examined onboard during the afternoon?
Sea Ray Boats Phone: (800) 772-6287. www.searay.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.