Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray's 350 SLX combines copious seating with a smooth ride.

Sea Ray 350 SLX

LOA: 34'6"
Beam: 10'6"
Draft: 3'1"
Displacement: 13,000 lb.
Transom Deadrise: 21 degrees
Bridge Clearance: 8'3"
Max Headroom: 4'7"
Fuel Capacity: 160 gal.
Water Capacity: 30 gal.
Max Horsepower: 760
Available Power: MerCruiser gasoline sterndrives

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

In its design of the new 350 SLX, Sea Ray proved to be very forward thinking. And I say that, pun intended (ha-ha), based on the layout of this impressive new bowrider. In designing the accommodations, Sea Ray strived to make as many seats as possible face forward, allowing a crew of 11 people to enjoy the same view as the person at the helm while underway.

This concept starts in the bow, where Sea Ray takes advantage of the boat’s 10-foot-6-inch beam to create double-wide backrests against both consoles. This provides the opportunity for up to four people to kick back up front; or they can flip up the armrests on either side and install the optional teak table to create a conversation pit. I’m grateful for the new trend in table mounts, eschewing the traditional toe-stubbing pedestal insert for a stainless-steel chock mounted vertically on the seat base. It makes it so easy to slide the table in and out that you’ll be more likely to actually use it. Other smart design details include creating an access point for the optional windlass from inside the step to the bow, so you can deal with the anchor (which recesses under the bow) without messing with the boarding ladder. Here’s another cool option I’d consider must-have — removable canvas shades that can be mounted on either console to cover the bow passengers. Between that and the retractable canvas shade in the hardtop that slides back and forth on rollers, as well as the optional electrically actuated SureShade that extends aft to the swim platform, every spot on the boat can enjoy sun or shade depending on desire.

More evidence of thoughtful design can be found in the cockpit. The helm sports a double-wide seat with individual flip-up bolsters for the captain and first mate. The same setup exists in front of the port console, with a twist. With the flick of a latch, the portside seating flips aft to create yet another conversation pit with the rest of the cockpit. For obvious reasons, the helm seating does not, but Sea Ray astutely placed a love seat behind it to create a truly circular seating array. I’d suggest springing for the optional teak filler table that lifts from the floor with the push of a button. It’s just cool and — along with the outdoor galley to starboard — helps make the cockpit a primo entertainment spot. It matches seamlessly with the optional teak flooring.

I have to confess, I am a huge fan of the large bowrider — or day-boat — concept because it best meets the needs of how most boaters use their boats today. The number of high-quality builders producing boats in this style speaks to that, and for the prospective buyer that is good news. Other choices include the Formula 350 Crossover ($348,360 with twin 320 hp MerCruiser 377 Mags), Chris-Craft's new Launch 36 ($473,702 with twin 380 hp Volvos) and the Cobalt 336 ($239,827 with twin 300 hp MerCruiser 350 Mags). All of these boats maximize open space on deck while providing a head and berth/changing room below.

Aboard the 350 SLX, Sea Ray placed a small day room in the starboard console. It’s a tighter fit than what you’ll find on a boat like the Formula, which has what amounts to a midships cabin underneath the deck, with a full 6 feet 2 inches of headroom. Sea Ray based its smaller 4-foot-3-inch design on customer feedback, which suggested its clientele preferred a smaller space where, with the air conditioning, the kids could duck out of the sun and watch a DVD on the flat screen.

The head occupies the port console. Our tester featured teak flooring and a VacuFlush Dometic toilet. I found it to be well appointed, with a frosted skylight overhead and two additional ports that provide circulation and prevent claustrophobia. The fiddled teak shelf over the sink and countertop keeps things in place underway.

Usable space continues aft beyond the transom with a generous extended swim platform. Rather than just installing a typical sun pad over the engine compartment, Sea Ray designed an aft-facing seating system that can be converted in several different ways. Three sun worshippers can fully recline, prop up a backrest or push up the thigh rise for more comfortable lounging. Another option I’d consider must-have is the hydraulic swim step that lowers into the water from the swim platform to make reboarding after a swim incredibly easy.

The boat is so well designed for fun at anchor that it’s easy to neglect mentioning how well it rides. We took this boat outside the inlet and it handled the mild swell and any chop with ease. The twin 300 hp MerCruiser sterndrives had no trouble propelling this boat to a top speed over 47 mph, while proving secure and predictable during turns at speed (30 mph). A hand-stitched brow protects the digital helm from glare, so I had no problem reading the tachs and speedo or the standard 9-inch Raymarine display. I should note, with the optional Dynamic Running Surface system, which is essentially an automated trim tab component, I didn’t have to fiddle with trim to find the boat’s sweet spot. Our test model also featured the Axius joystick system, which allows the sterndrives to rotate independently of one another, and which made squeezing this boat side-to into a tight space at the dock a stress-free endeavor.

The final thing that struck me about driving this boat was how easily we could all talk to one another, an achievement made possible by Sea Ray's Quiet Ride technology, which thwarts vibration and engine noise. That, along with the well-designed layout and ample amenities, makes the new Sea Ray 350 SLX a real crowd pleaser.

Comparable models: Formula 350 Crossover, Chris-Craft Launch 36, Cobalt 336

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