Ray 500 Sedan Bridge — By Capt. Bill Pike —
Born to Run
Wanna grab a great ride around the Sunshine State? Check out Sea Ray’s plush, crisply finished 500 Sedan Bridge.
When Sea Ray invited me to do a ride-along boat test on its new 500 Sedan Bridge, the guys said they were leaving from the marina behind the Sanibel Resort at five o’clock in the morning. So I checked into a room at the resort the night before, caught a couple of winks, and wandered out into the dark well before dawn. Luckily, a glimmer of light emanated from the 500, which, for reasons too complicated to go into here, simply had to be in Miami 200 miles away that evening, and then in Merritt Island, at Sea Ray’s big facility clear on the other side of Florida, the evening after.
But travelin’ conditions were good. The weather report was optimistic—I figured we could sea trial virtually anywhere along the coast, although it had to be before Miami, where other boat-test commitments dictated I get off. The boat’s twin 660-hp Cummins QSM11 diesels were brand new and presumably ready to go. And if the spec sheet Sea Ray had sent me ahead of time was accurate, there was enough navigational firepower on the bridge to make it safely and surely to Tahiti.
“Hey Pike,” came a voice from the darkness. “Hurry up, man... we’re fixin’ to leave.” And without further ado, we did.
The jaunt down the coast was gorgeous. As the sun rose, the coastline receded, and eventually all I could see from my comfy spot at the helm station on the flying bridge was a vast, all-encompassing blue expanse. Since our Raymarine Smartpilot ST8001+ autopilot was experiencing technical difficulties, we’d decided to take turns steering, a far from onerous task, given the smoothness of Teleflex Sea Star hydraulics (with power-assist) and the test boat’s delightful proclivity to track like an arrow.
I spent part of my time on the wheel playing with the coolest aspect of our electronics package—two dashboard-mounted Sea Ray Navigator II touchscreens (see “Eat Your Heart Out, Columbus,” this story), one a backup and both seamlessly interfaced with our Koden PC radar (with 42-inch open-array antenna) and our Koden WAAS GPS sensor. Play was the operative word, by the way. Despite its serious purpose, the Navigator II’s seemingly innumerable features and capabilities made it more fun to fool around with than a barrel of marine catalogs.
Of course, I also spent plenty of wheel time actually driving the boat—a top priority even for folks with high-falutin’, optional electronics packages. Sightlines from the helm were excellent in all directions. Top speed was rousing: 37.1 mph. Cruise was good: 30.1 mph. Tabs were unnecessary, except for windage adjustments. And the level of climate-control on the flying bridge was inspiring—for staying awake and alert on long trips, nothing beats the combined effects of shade from a fiberglass hardtop (with opening Bomar hatch), wind protection from an EZ2CY enclosure, and arctic blasts from the dashboard plenums of the optional 24,000-Btu Cruisair air conditioning.
I did a little poking around below decks while the other guys drove us around Cape Sable and into Florida Bay. From the get-go, it was obvious our test boat—a prototype—had been put together the same way most other Sea Ray yachts are these days. More particularly, the bottom, hull sides, and stringers were composed of solid glass, the superstructure was cored with Baltek end-grain balsa, and the hull-to-deck joint was secured with through-bolts and then fiberglassed. Moreover, although stitched and woven fabrics and polyester resin highlighted the laminate schedules for parts and components above the waterline, vinylester resin was used below, to obviate blistering. Conventional, tried-and-true methodology? Most assuredly.
This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.