Every time I visit Sea Ray's Product Development and Engineering facility, it seems another patent has been added to the dozens papering the walls. So I wasn't surprised to find several cool new features on the 330 Sundancer. From the transom rumble seat to the convertible master berth to the hush-hush audio devices on the bow, this cruiser is filled with better mousetraps. It's also lavish, exhibited as much by its cockpit wetbar with grill as by its rich mixture of texture, color, and material. With lots of 33' expresses for you to choose from, Sea Ray's 330 Sundancer stands tall.
Big Man at the Marina
The 330 Sundancer has big-boat features. Check the head. Besides its sheer size, it's soled in faux teak, the commode resides beneath a hinged changing stool, the vanity features a solid-surface top, and the porthole, a chrome-framed trapezoid installed at an angle, is glazed with frosted glass for privacy.
Now check the galley. Its taupe countertop incorporates a recessed, two-burner stove with a lid that matches the faux-stone counter and a microswitch that cuts the power if someone accidentally replaces the lid while the burners are turned on. The sink is an under-mounted, 16"-diameter stainless-steel basket with vertical sides.
Below the counter, next to the requisite refrigerator/freezer, is a separate drawer freezer big enough to hold a 10-pound bag of ice. A stainless-steel microwave with integrated coffeemaker, cherry cabinets and drawers, and a backsplash spice rack complete the scene.
The master berth is an island queen with plenty of sitting headroom and steps on each side. Reading lamps are overhead and to the side, providing illumination for a lounging owner. Many boats have the reading lamps on the anchor locker bulkhead, where they can't shed light if you're sitting up. The topper is this berth's ability to transform from sleeping platform to reclining lounge. A wired remote allows infinite adjustments of backrest angle. Two hanging lockers bracket the berth's foot.
The midcabin sleeps two adults. There's good sitting headroom, proper light placement, and large stowage lockers. This area also transforms into a pretty comfortable sitting space that opens up into the salon. I could see the standard flat-screen TV hung above the galley from two of its four seating spaces.
The salon settee converts to a wide single berth. No fussing with clumsy pedestals or silly support bars. Instead, simply pull it out. It seats up to four and is served by a surfboard-shaped table hewn from a chunky hunk of teak, the grain of which is highly figured.
Stereo speaker and air-conditioner grilles are part of the bulkhead and headliner fabrics, which include tans, browns, parchments, and meshes. Hi-hat and indirect fixtures provide light. The sun comes in through the deck hatch forward, numerous portholes, and a pair of skylights that are fitted with fillers to match the headliner. Along with curtains and blinds for the ports and deck hatch, you can black out the interior. Another pair of fillers in the headliner reveal access to the windshield wiper motors. These are a service necessity some builders neglect. I mean, how would you feel if you asked the yard to repair a wiper and they handed you back a bill for upholstery work, too?
****The platform of the 330 Sundancer sports one of the neatest transom rumble seats I've seen. Flip it out on a massive pair of custom hinges. Cooler still: Undo another latch and flip the backrest forward. Rinker's 330EC ($215,312 with twin 320-hp MerCruiser 6.2 Horizon Bravo Three stern drives) also offers a transom rumble seat. The 330 Sundancer's gives you the full fore and aft width of the platform when you're not using the seat, plus it doesn't eliminate lazarette stowage. Beside the rumble seat is the utilities locker with shorepower, cable, water fittings, and a stereo remote. But the transom shower is in the cockpit, forward of the lift-and-lock transom door. There's room for it aft, which is where I'd prefer it.
Going to the bow? Take the wide sidedecks, served by grabrails on both arch and windshield. Or step up the molded companionway stairs, also served by a grabrail on the arch's forward edge. Up front is a chaise sunlounge. Lift the back and drop it into one of two reclining positions. Farther forward, the rode locker and windlass are beneath a hatch. Open it to find the emergency windlass handle, a chain stop, and a deckplate designed to give access to the rode itself. I'd rather see a hatch than a deckplate for this, one that provides two-handed access, as I've yet to see a windlass that didn't snarl the rode.
****Twin 370-hp MerCruiser 8.1S Horizon V-drives powered my test boat to more than 40 mph at full throttle and cruised at 34.2 mph. The 330 Sundancer, like the Cruisers Yachts 330 Express ($252,740 powered like my test boat), is also available as a stern drive. (A source inside Sea Ray says the 330 Sundancer topped 44 mph with twin 320-hp MerCruiser Bravo Three stern drives.) I was impressed by the 330 Sundancer's ability to maintain plane at just 14 mph. That'll get you home when the going gets rough. The engine installation was robust, and Sea Ray's rigging of electrical and plumbing is a study in how it's done, the exception being access to the air-conditioning seacock. This is blocked by the starboard rudder post and the rudder angle indicator. I could close it but not easily. Note the lack of remote water-separating fuel filters. MerCruiser's new onboard, integral cartridge-type filters allow for quick and easy element changes.
At the helm, I enjoyed the excellent sightlines as much as the DTS digital controls and the split flip bolster seat. The helm is no-glare gray-brown and a footrest is molded in. It's a comfortable spot from which to radiate pride.