Sea — America’s Western Boating Magazine

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Sea Ray 360

Sea Ray 360 Sundancer

Posted: August 1, 2002 | Boat Type: Express Cruiser

Putting the â sportâ in sport yacht design

By: Eston Ellis

Maybe itâ s a guy thing.

In our dreams, just about all of us picture ourselves behind the wheel of a big, fire-breathing high-performance boat — one with sleek, sexy lines and enough horsepower to burn up the water between our home marina and our favorite destination.

However, a boat like that just isnâ t practical for taking the whole family on weekend cruises — and that teeny-tiny performance boat cabin is not too comfortable for overnighting, either.

Happily for the inner speedboater in all of us, Sea Ray — a company that has long been known for building stylish and accommodating express cruisers — has created what just might be the ideal boat for the sport-loving skipper who wants to have it all.

Sea Rayâ s new 360 Sundancer offers the sensuous curves, the long foredeck and the â driverâ s helm⠝ of a go-fast performance boat — along with features of a well-designed cruiser, including a fully equipped galley, a head with a separate shower stall and comfortable sleeping accommodations for up to six adults.

This is a boat that the whole family will fall in love with — and itâ s one that the skipper will really, really, really want to drive.

Throttle Up

We tested the 360 Sundancer off Marina del Rey, California with Tommy Hilley, a sales associate from Newport Boats, who furnished our test boat. It was a sunny summer day, with 4 to 5 foot south swell outside the harbor (sent our way from a Mexican storm) and light chop.

Our test boat was equipped with a standard pair of 370 hp MerCruiser 8.1 S Horizon V-drives. These gasoline engines turn the 360 Sundancer into a muscle boat that can get up and move in a hurry. However, if you prefer diesels, you can opt for twin 240 or 292 hp Volvo Pentas.

Most buyers go for the standard gasoline engines, Hilley explained, for two reasons: speed and price. â If youâ re going to spend the extra money for twin diesels, why not step up to the bigger 410 Sundancer?⠝

This boat, however, proved to be just the right size for fun — and a fast ride. Our boat reached plane quickly and we accelerated smoothly — in a hurry.

During the top-end portion of our sea trial, we rode those swells like an eager surfer, took flight and took the pounding of splashdown about as well as a high-performance boat, without shattering any teeth. Then, we adjusted our speed and continued our fast-paced cruise off Marina del Rey, at a smoother pace.

â Itâ s a typical Sea Ray: Just adjust your speed, and it can handle just about any swell,⠝ Hilley said. He was right.

Our boatâ s heavy deep-V hull gave us a very stable ride at a cruising speed of around 25 knots (at 3,000 rpm). Steering was practically effortless, and the boat handled responsively — as we banked into turns with ease and carved wild circles in the ocean.

During our test, we reached a top speed of 28 knots, at 3,500 rpm. However, after the engines are tweaked and the boatâ s bottom is cleaned, this boat should be capable of 32 knot performance, Hilley said.


The 360 Sundancerâ s helm is nicely arranged, with big, easily readable stainless steel-rimmed gauges set into a faux wood dash, a Ritchie compass, Teleflex Morse controls, a wood-trimmed steering wheel and two banks of well-labeled rocker switches. Our test boat was also equipped with a sophisticated Raymarine electronics package that you might expect to find on a much larger boat, which included color radar with an integrated GPS and chart plotter, an autopilot and a tri-data display panel.

One particularly nice helm station feature is the Sea Ray Monitoring System. Instead of having a beep go off when (for example) the bilge pump turns on, an LCD panel tells you exactly what is happening. It displays information on all engine functions and malfunctions (including overheating), bilge functions and other vital operations of the boat.

Our boat featured a dash-mounted remote control for the boatâ s Clarion stereo system with a six-CD changer, mounted in the interior. Four speakers and a subwoofer are mounted in the cockpit, and another four speakers are in the cockpit, to surround the entire boat with sound.

The helm also features a control for a remote spotlight that is mounted on the bow, trim tab controls, and windshield washer and wiper controls. Below the dash, a panel opens to reveal all the main fuses, making for quick changes when necessary.

Overhead, a raked-back radar arch secures a full set of Sunbrella canvas enclosures, which can make the large cockpit comfortable on less-than-perfect days on the water. Thereâ s a lot to cover, since this cockpit seats up to 10 people.

The bucket-style helm seat is very comfortable, with a swiveling base and a flip up bolster that is a lot firmer than the ones you find on most boats. It provides a comfortable full-view perch for performance boat-style piloting.

Adjacent to the helm is a two-person companion seat. A snack console with a sink, an ice-maker and an optional refrigerator is to port. Aft is a full-size aft-facing settee and a forward-facing settee, with a removable cockpit table between them.

The table stows away in a convenient compartment below the aft settee. The entire aft cockpit deck rises at the push of a button, to provide walk-in access to the engine compartment.

There is good all-around access to the engines and gear. Dipsticks and oil filters are in plain sight and are easy to reach. The boatâ s 7 kw Westerbeke auxiliary generator is also easily accessible, and youâ ll find stainless steel skid-resistant surfaces underfoot. The entire compartment is protected by an automatic fire extinguisher system.

Sea Ray 360

Through-bolted stainless steel rails protect the walk-around sidedecks and foredeck. Diamond-pattern skid-resistant decks make for sure footing. Forward, thereâ s a large sunpad, and foot controls at the bow for the boatâ s Lofrans anchor windlass.

Step Inside

Adjacent to the helm console, a sliding door leads to the boatâ s interior. Itâ s more than a cabin, because dividers turn the large living space into three separate cabins — and thereâ s a big-boat-style head compartment with a separate shower stall.

As you enter the interior, youâ ll feel like youâ re entering a spacious saloon. A large crescent-shaped settee and a removable dining table are to starboard, flanked by nicely crafted wood cabinets. The settee converts to a double berth, to accommodate guests.

A galley console is opposite the settee — and this is no mere wet bar. Equipped with a faux granite countertop, a sink with a Grohe faucet, a two-burner stove, side-by-side under-counter refrigerator and freezer units and a microwave oven, this galley rivals those on some 45 foot boats. It offers abundant wood cabinets — and offers a television/VCR combination unit that serves the settee.

Forward, pocket doors separate this area from a master stateroom with an island-style full-size berth, a pair of hanging lockers with mirrored doors, a mirrored bulkhead, wrap-around storage cabinets and its own television/VCR combination.

Aft, youâ ll notice an L-shaped settee that would make a great hangout for the kids. The settee converts to a double berth, and a privacy curtain turns it into yet another stateroom.

Overhead, a forward hatch and three mini-skylights provide abundant light, even when the interiorâ s numerous adjustable halogen spot lights are turned off.

The boatâ s head is to port, as you enter. It comes equipped with a Vacuflush toilet, a sink and a shower stall with a curved plexiglass door that slides into place ingeniously — making the most of every inch of space.

Quality Is Job One

One thing that makes this boat stand out from its competition is Sea Rayâ s reputation for quality construction, Hilley said. Sea Ray offers a five-year hull and deck warranty. The boat is constructed with minimal wood, for a long life; and the fiberglass hull is built with a Vinylester resin barrier coat, to prevent osmosis blistering.

The fit and finish are excellent; the hardware is big, well-designed and generously placed; and the construction quality is first class.

Sea Ray Sundancer express cruisers have traditionally held high resale values — and in past years, several models have appeared on Seaâ s annual list of Western brokersâ top 25 used boat picks.

Sea Rayâ s new 360 Sundancer is to personal luxury cruising what a BMW Seven Series Sedan is to personal luxury driving. If you believe that the process of getting there is as much fun as actually arriving at your destination, youâ ll appreciate the 360â s sense of fun — and its boatload of creature comforts — as much as its sense of style.

CONTACT: Sea Ray Boats, Knoxville, TN; (800) SR-BOATS; fax (865) 213-7878; www.searay.com

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