Ray 390 Motoryacht — By Capt. Bill Pike
— July 2002
|Foxy looks, sound engineering, and a voluminous interior make this 39-footer a truly smart cruiser.|
I arrived at Sea Ray's Sykes Creek facility just about the time the new 390 Motoryacht did a twin-screw pirouette in the little mangrove-fringed turning basin there and eased back alongside a nearby finger pier. Zzzzzzzzzzzttt! Zzzzzzzzzzzttt! went the optional 6.4-hp Vetus bow thruster, succinctly positioning the nose of the newest Sea Ray so company representative Gary McCloud, standing at the bow in khaki shorts and a Sea Ray T-shirt, could throw a line around a piling. I dealt with a forward spring in the meantime, working from the finger pier, and then secured another line off the aft cleat on the port side.
"Good job, Pike," grinned McCloud, a guy I've known for a decade or so. "Ain't exactly your first rodeo, is it, pa'dner."
McCloud was right, of course. The day's events would hardly constitute my first boat test or even my first test of a Sea Ray. Over the years I've driven, examined, and/or trailered literally dozens of Sundancers, Sun Sports, Amberjacks, Lagunas, and Sun Decks, the majority of which shared a strong family resemblance. But there was something vaguely different about the 390, despite the fact that the boat was, for all intents and purposes, a scaled-down version of another, larger aft-cabin-type cruiser that debuted in PMY last June, the 480 Motoryacht.
The answer came soon enough. John Hopkins, another Sea Ray rep, came down to the starboard walkway from his spot on the flying bridge with such ease that I immediately saw how perfectly the boat's topside configuration fits its size. The ensuing transfer of test gear aboard only served to confirm the impression: From the standpoint of practical cruising and all the little tasks and disciplines that go with it, the shapes, dimensions, and clearances that make up the 390's on-deck layout are absolutely, almost poetically right.
The flying bridge is the best example of this. As soon as I entered its confines (air-conditioned, incidentally) via a Sunbrella aft-deck enclosure, I was struck by the remarkable visibility the huge, virtually unobstructed windshield offers. And once I'd gotten the helm seat nicely adjusted to my personal physiognomy, the view to either side was excellent as well, mostly because the bridge deck is as lofty as profile aesthetics will allow. Moreover, upon shifting the outboard engine into dead-idle-ahead about the same time I kicked the bow away from the finger pier with the thruster (a maneuvering technique that'll squeeze most any twin-screw boat slowly ahead while walking her safely off a dock), I realized sightlines aft were pretty darn spiffy, too, thanks to the helm seat's proximity to the stern.
Entering the basin, I began twin-screwing the boat to achieve a proper lineup for Sykes Creek, another bit of basic boathandling technique that promptly gave rise to my only two criticisms of the 390. The first's a pet peeve: gasoline (as opposed to diesel) power in a midrange cruiser with a fair amount of sail area. Although Sea Ray offers diesel packages from Cummins and Caterpillar for the 390, our test boat was equipped with MerCruiser Horizons. While these engines are arguably some of the finest gasoline inboards afloat, like most other members of the genre, they simply don't have the low-end torque, and therefore the slow-bell maneuvering clout, of diesel power. While our test boat was more responsive than most gasoline-powered inboards I've handled, her comparatively deep gear ratio (2.68:1) and gutsy props (23"x22") were still no match for the torquey capabilities of a comparable diesel propulsion package.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.