Ray 420 Sundancer
— By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— September 2003
A New Flavor
|A hardcore fishboat guy gets a lesson in creature comforts, compliments of a stylish express cruiser.|
My brother-in-law Eric kept asking me, “Patrick, I like the Sea Ray 28-foot Sundancer. What do you think?” He’d been looking at boats for about a year, and this was going to be his first. I knew he was already in love with the Sundancer. Knowing I work in the marine industry, he just wanted me to validate his decision.
So what did I tell him? The answer was complicated. As my personal boat is a 31-foot sportfisherman and all she does is chase big fish in deep water, I’m less concerned than he is with creature comforts. So while Eric was talking to me about air conditioning, galley appliances, and Corian, I was talking about hull construction and cockpit square footage. In the end, I told him, “It doesn’t matter what I say. If you really like the boat, then you should get it.”
And he did. This spring he bought a 28 and invited my wife, Trish, and me along for the maiden voyage. Big mistake. Trish, who never knew life on the “other side” (i.e. a boat with creature comforts), immediately fell in love with the Sundancer’s solid countertops, air conditioning, and well-equipped galley. So while my next boat will still be fishing oriented, I have a feeling my wife’s Sea Ray experience will result in a demand for more amenities. Thanks a lot, bro.
What Eric saw in his 28 is what to me sums up a Sea Ray: a well-laid-out vessel designed to let a cruising family kick back and relax when the workweek is done. I’m just glad my wife and brother-in-law didn’t see the 420 Sundancer I recently tested. If they had, I bet Eric would already be stepping up and Trish would want to quit the whole fishing thing.
The 420, one of a line of Sea Ray midcabin cruisers that starts at 24 feet and concludes at 57 feet, has a profile as smooth as a porpoise. The builder calls her “racy,” and she did seem a bit sexier than the 28, partly because there’s more hull to work with, which carries her lines better. Her forward-angled radar arch adds to this impression and gives the boat a more European look. My test boat also featured a standard bimini top (a hardtop is optional). My wife, being fair-skinned, will most assuredly demand one of these on our next boat.
I easily boarded the test boat, which was berthed at Norwalk, Connecticut’s Surfside 3 Marina, via the standard integral swim platform. It felt sturdy underfoot, and as soon as I was aboard, I noted the comfortable-looking, starboard-side helm, which converts to a thigh-high bolster seat. I liked the setup, as standing is my favorite way to run an express boat. There was also a companion benchseat to port for your navigator. Just abaft the helm is U-shape seating that I’d guess could accommodate as many as eight adults. (This is a far cry from the hold-onto-the-marlin-tower-leg philosophy that the Missus has become accustomed to on our boat).
Don’t sweat having space for enough PFDs, the stowage under the cockpit seating is more than adequate for this duty. Cockpit drinks and food can be better managed by choosing the optional ($167) cockpit U-line refrigerator my test boat had, instead of the standard ice maker. My one complaint in this area is that the step from the bridge deck to cockpit level measures nearly a foot; for people like me (5'7" and long-leg-challenged) as well as older folks and small children, it’s quite a stretch.
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.