Poke your head into the engine compartment of the Sea Ray 220 Bowrider and check out the hull-to-deck joint. That white poly material backing the joint provides a good bite for the stainless-steel screws that secure the two parts together. Unseen is a bead of adhesive sealant sandwiched between the overlapping flanges through which those screws run. This serves to further strengthen the joint and make it watertight.
Why would you want such rugged construction in a boat designed for calm-water sunning, skiing, and swimming? Because often, about three years after purchase, you find yourself wasting a perfectly good afternoon tracking down an annoying leak or creak. With its built-to-last construction, the 220 Bowrider practically guarantees you'll find yourself enjoying afternoons on the water for a long time.
Need another clue of the 220 Bowrider's durability? Take a look at the fiberglass liner. It creates more than just a nonslip, easy-to-maintain cockpit sole-it replaces the traditional stringer grid, strengthening and stiffening the boat in rot-free fashion. And if you pull up a bow cushion, you'll see another benefit: The stowage compartments are fiberglass, not carpeted sections of the bilge. Mildew, and its nose-wrinkling odor, can be kept at bay.
No, it's not perfect. We'd like to see a gutter around the wakeboard-size sole locker. But it runs great. Powered by MerCruiser's 300-hp 350 MAG MPI Bravo Three stern drive, the 220 Bowrider raced to a 52.9-mph top speed, jumped onto plane, and delivered predictable, sporty handling. The 350 MAG in our test boat is no longer offered, but we'd expect similar performance with the new 320-hp MerCruiser MX 6.2 MPI Bravo Three setup ($4,000).
HIGH POINTS: Cockpit liner with integral structural members makes it stronger than most. Besides construction, a huge sunpad and an oversize swim platform set it apart from the bowrider pack. Attention to detail? Scuff guards prevent the anchor from scratching its locker.
LOW POINTS: The bilge pump and its switch are nearly impossible to service without pulling the motor. Though the sole locker drains, we expect a guttered rim in a boat built to such high standards.
TOUGHEST COMPETITOR: Cobalt 226. The separate fiberglass liner and fiberglass stringer grid of Cobalt's 226 competes head to head with Sea Ray's integrated fiberglass cockpit sole/structural system. Both feature a large sunpad and a transom door. The Cobalt retails for $49,228 powered like our test boat and includes some additional niceties such as an air compressor toinflate tow toys.
Displacement (lbs., approx.)......3,950
Minimum cockpit depth..2'10"
Fuel capacity (gal.).....47
Water capacity (gal.).....24
Price (w/standard power)........$39,997
Price (w/test power).........N/A
STANDARD POWER: Single 260-hp MerCruiser 5.7L EFI Alpha V-8 gasoline stern drive.
OPTIONAL POWER: Single gasoline stern drive to 320 hp.
TEST BOAT POWER: Single 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI Bravo Three V-8 gasoline stern drive with 350 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging a 26"-pitch propset through a 2.2:1 reduction.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Tandem-axle, color-matched painted trailer; concealed boarding ladder; Bimini top w/boot; cockpit cover; snap-in carpet; ice chest; Clarion AM/FM/CD stereo w/4 speakers and remote with digital display.