Ray 420 Sundanceer
— By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— September 2003
A New Flavor
|Part 2: I found the 420 Sundancer the most impressive in the line so far.|
Still, from outside, the 420 was looking like she had all the makings of a sweet cruiser for day trips or longer. The emphasis here is on longer. The below-decks accommodations feature an amidships guest stateroom with fold-down bunk and full head. There’s also a master forward with full-size berth and a head with separate shower. (See more about the 420’s below-decks area in “A Saloon to Remember,” right.) However, as comfy as she was, I wanted to know if this boat had any get-up-and-go.
Surfside 3’s Capt. Andrew Maciel piloted the 420 out of the marina, and we worked our way toward Long Island Sound. Once out on the slick-calm waterway, I readied my radar gun as Maciel pushed the Teleflex throttles to wide open and the 420 topped out at 35 mph (30.4 knots) while the optional ($73,000) 450-hp Cummins 6CTA diesel V-drives turned 2700 rpm, 100 rpm over their rated speed.
Maciel handed me the wheel and I found the 420’s Teleflex controls and hydraulic steering allowed me to move the boat as I wished with relative ease at all speeds. A bow thruster is optional, but I don’t think it’s a necessity. Low-end diesel torque in concert with 1.56:1 reduction ratio makes close-quarter handling a breeze. However, if you get the standard 370-hp 8.1 S Horizon MerCruiser gasoline inboards, you might want to consider the bow thruster.
No matter how you power your 420, engine room space will be plentiful. Access is a snap. Press a switch at the helm, and the entire cockpit sole rises on a single ram. Once open, the engine compartment offered me enough room to walk around both powerplants, and I could easily access all maintenance points, both inboard and outboard. It’s a well-laid-out arrangement that does not require you to have the contortionist skill of a Yogi to do maintenance.
But I wondered, what happens if that hatch lift goes south? I learned from Maciel that the cockpit can be lifted manually by releasing pins under the cockpit sole. How do you access them if the sole won’t come up? His answer: via a second hatch to port of the main one.
But I digress. The most impressive part of being at the 420’s helm—aside from an attractive curved dash with plenty of space for the optional Raymarine electronics package, complete with integrated radar and plotter—was simply the ride. I’ve been on a lot of express cruisers that rode bow high—I’m talking trim angles of seven, eight, and nine-plus degrees—obstructing the view forward. Not the case on the Sundancer. While I ran the 420 without tabs, her trim angle never rose above four degrees, allowing clear sightlines at all times. Kudos to the engineers who designed this modified-V (19-degree deadrise at the transom) hull.
Having been on and run several Sea Rays, I found the 420 Sundancer the most impressive in the line so far, based on both appearance and performance. From the solidity of her fiberglass hull and fiberglass stringer system to the wide-open comfy layout of the cockpit, bridge deck, and engine compartment, she seems like an inviting place to spend the day, weekend, or longer. Perhaps even for a down-and-dirty fisherman like myself. Now where’s my fishbox?
Sea Ray Phone: (800) SRBOATS www.searay.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.