Ray 550 Sedan Bridge — By Richard Thiel —
|Sea Ray’s latest has a lot of recognizable features, plus a few proven design tricks.|
There’s a dictum in gambling: Don’t change tactics when you’re on a roll. It works when you’re trying to win money, and it works in boatbuilding, too—at least judging from the Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge.
One of those tactics is a design in which the dining table and U-shape settee are well forward on the main deck and directly across from the starboard galley. Obviously this vastly simplifies the cook’s labors, as all he or she needs to do is pirouette 180 degrees and plop the vittles on the table. A nice design, but not exactly revolutionary.
The trickery in the setup is elevating the table and settee a little more than a foot above the galley. The table is still easily reachable from the galley, but now the people sitting around it have a superb view through big windows in front and on both sides. Even better, in the 550 that extra foot creates just enough headroom to make practical the placement of a full-beam master stateroom directly below it and the galley.
I first saw this design on Sea Ray’s 400 Sedan Bridge (but with only a guest stateroom below), and its apparent success there has led the company to apply it to the 550 Sedan Bridge. The 550 will eventually replace the 560 Sedan Bridge, and according to Dave O’Connell, vice president of sales for Sea Ray’s Sport Yachts division, its target audience is primarily 480 Sedan Bridge owners. O’Connell points out that the new yacht’s improved interior space, lower price (which was not available at presstime), and better performance will make it much easier for owners of the smaller Sedan Bridge model to make the move up. (The 560 is still on sale but no longer in production.)
O’Connell emphasizes the importance Sea Ray placed on performance in creating this boat—specifically that the company wanted to make sure 480 owners wouldn’t give up either speed or range when they upsized to the 550. To do that Sea Ray again stuck with a tactic that’s served it well of late: the switch to MAN engines. Our test boat was powered by a pair of 800-hp D2848LE403s that, weighing just 2,971 pounds each, boast a rather remarkable weight-to-horsepower ratio of 3.71:1. Coupled with the 550’s moderate displacement, the result was a respectable 36-mph top speed (2375 rpm) and, more meaningful, a fast cruise (2250 rpm) of nearly 34 mph. According to Sea Ray, those numbers just about exactly match the 480’s.
Of course, 480 owners wouldn’t want everything to change in their new boat, so a lot of the 550 is conventional Sea Ray. For example, the saloon is big—about ten feet long with 6'10" headroom—and well equipped. Anyone seated on the comfortable, semicircular, port-side Ultraleather lounge will have an excellent view of the standard 30-inch Zenith flat-panel TV in the starboard aft corner. For that matter, so will those sitting in the semicircular settee to starboard. I did think it strange that there was no saloon table (two ottomans are standard), but then you can also see the TV from the aforementioned elevated table, which I’d guess could comfortably seat eight.
This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.