I loved the up and aft location of the Sea Ray 47 Sedan Bridge's galley. With the galley up, there's room belowdecks for a midship master stateroom that's as wide as the beam of the boat. With the galley aft, guests don't have to trudge through the salon to get a snack or drink. It's an express cruiser format that combines al fresco entertaining, with room for a buffet, with a flying bridge boat's extra living space.
Need more kudos? The 47 Sedan Bridge's 46,000-Btu air conditioning, the best in class, is enough to keep even a boatload of guests cool on a sweltering day. I found gripes, such as the lack of a limber hole, causing water to pool in the bay formed by the starboard stringer and chine. (Sea Ray says that production models will have the drain drilled.) But none would dissuade me from recommending this boat to anyone in the market for a big sedan.
The 47 Sedan Bridge is available with an optional lower helm ($37,500). But I wouldn't give up the salon seating to get it unless I boated in extremes of weather or hated climbing steps to get to the bridge. The standard hardtop and canvas enclosure, combined with all those aforementioned reverse-cycle Btus, keep this bridge as climate controlled as an Airbus A320. Unfortunately, my tester's canvas didn't fit perfectly, gapping right beside the helm. Sea Ray says it was a trial fitting and that the gap would be gone on production models. Check for yourself.
I also liked that the helm is located on the aft third of the bridge as opposed to being forward. Aft helms make space for a forward settee (which cleverly folds down to create a lounge) so guests can sit and look the skipper in the eye while cruising. And when the helm is positioned aft, the skipper has better visibility when backing into a slip. That act proved no problem for the 47 Sedan Bridge, which is responsive to maneuvering with the clutches. Of course, the throttles provide fun too.
Grab the levers and hammer 'em down-modern diesels don't need to be eased up to speed. And the pair of 593-bhp Cummins QSC 8.3 diesel V-drive inboards proved the point. Despite the 47 Sedan Bridge's 22-ton displacement and deep, 19-degree transom deadrise, the 47 Sedan Bridge rushes up and runs. There was no excessive bowrise. And, although test day was flat calm, experience has shown me that weight and lots of deadrise usually combine to deliver a soft ride in choppy water. I'd expect no less from the 47 Sedan Bridge.
Head down the flying bridge stairs. Step through the massive frame of the glass salon door. The galley is immediately to port. Pause here. Lean back onto the solid-surface counter, fold your arms, scratch your chin, and consider this unique layout's ultimate ramification: food and drink directly connected to sun and fun. You'll see a big glass window in the aft bulkhead that provides a look outside and lets plenty of light stream in. But you'll think that there's no direct link to the outside, that there's still a traffic jam point here, as everyone and everything has to funnel through the door, generous as it is. You'll think that you can see your guests but can't speak with them.
Think again. That picture window flips open, automatically latching onto catches installed on the bridge overhang's underside. A fresh breeze, salt air, a pitcher of margaritas, your boss's off-color joke-all pass through easily. Plus, the upright refrigerator and microwave are located to starboard, opposite the counter, sink, and stove, further reducing galley and companionway congestion.
Forward, walk up two steps to the salon, where a plush sofa is to starboard and the dinette is to port. The dinette is a five-seater circular lounge served by a high-low table that converts to a double berth. The salon is bathed in light from the hullside windows and the three tall panes of the windshield. Besides providing natural light, all that glass, combined with the raised height of the salon, gives those relaxing here with an exceptional view.
Putting on the Ritz
I could write prosaically about the ease with which service can be performed in the 47 Sedan Bridge's engine room. Type enthusiastically about the serviceability of the shower sumps. I could offer kudos for excellent chafe protection and electrical bonding. I could suggest you note that all hardware-latches, catches, drawer pulls, door handles, hi-hat trim rings, and so forth-match and are custom-made for Sea Ray by Southco. But to discover the beating heart of this boat's mission, I direct you to the master stateroom. One of three staterooms and containing one of the boat's two heads, it truly tells this boat's tale.
Stroke the solid hardwood, raised-panel door, feel the heft of its handle, and step through. The berth, a residential-height queen, installed catty-corner, is bathed in indirect violet, the light filtering through the colored, radiused, opaque panels that serve as a headboard. There's a full-length, chisel-edged mirror. Deep gloss is the cabinetry's signature. Feel the deep pile carpet beneath your feet and appreciate the real tile tickling your toes in the private head. In the shower stall, a faux-stone shield serves as a mounting board for the designer faucet and knobs.
Comparison shopping the 47 Sedan Bridge, with its combination of luxury and function, is tough. One contender? Fairline's Phantom 48 ($1,248,000 with twin 575-bhp Volvo Penta D9 diesels) comes with a standard lower helm, and, being lighter, tops out at 36 mph. Take 'em both for a ride.
EXTRA POINT: A clip, located beside the head discharge seacock, makes it easy to secure the fitting closed and comply with Coast Guard regulations.