Captain's Report by Capt. Steve--
The mission statement of the 260 Sundeck is to provide a large day boat for boat owners with lots of friends or a big family. In the 260 Sundeck the two types of boat -- sportboat and deckboat -- have been blurred on purpose in order to appeal to both segments of the market. She makes an solid entertainment platform as well as a functional watersports boat.Sea Ray gave her a higher freeboard than standard deckboats so that she will be dryer in big water conditions. Her designers also decided to also make her look more like a sportboat than a deckboat for styling reasons, even though she has all of the functionality of a deckboat.
Two large storage lockers in cockpit sole.
Normally we will only see a single sole storage compartment located between the helm and observers seats. While it may run fully forward, one quick stop sends everything to the bow in the "unreachable" zone. Having a 2nd sole storage compartment in the bow alleviates that problem and adds usable storage space. The compartment has a vinyl mat, is lockable, and the lid has a gas-assisted strut. High marks to Sea Ray for this one!•
Swim platform with standard rubber inserts.
It's rare that we see the rubber matting as standard on the swim platform. Typically it is the molded nonskid surface with a rubber matting offered as an expensive option, if offered at all.•
Swim platform extended beyond the prop.
Regular readers know that we like to see the swim platform on boats of this type extend past the prop and lower unit when it is in the down position, so that people slipping into the water from the platform will not accidently hit the sharp metal below. Sea Ray has done it right. •
Two built-in coolers, one carry-on.
No worries about having to go far for your soda on this boat. There is a built-in insulated cooler in the bow and a place for the standard carry-on cooler aft. We like this arrangement because people can easily (and safely) access drinks and food without having to traverse the boat under way. •
Standard cockpit table with designated storage.
Another item that is typically added on with an up-charge, but virtually every person that gets this boat will want to have a cockpit table. She just lends herself so well to entertaining that it would be ridiculous not to have one, and sea Ray includes the table as standard.•
Both engine and boat divisions owned by Brunswick.
If something goes wrong on the boat there is only one company needed to put things to rights -- Brunswick. •
In their first incarnation, deck boats were meant for rivers and small lakes and they had low freeboard. The 260 Sundeck is designed to be used in big water, too, and therefore the freeboard is much higher, making the boat drier and the cockpit deeper.
Standard Equipment We Like
As we look over the list of standard equipment we find that Sea Ray has included many items that are often optional on some boats in class. For that reason when buyers are comparing price they must be careful to be comparing apples-to-apples. Here is a list of things we're happy to see included on the 260 Sundeck--• Sony-brand stereo equipment.• SmartCraft engine diagnostic system.• Bimini top with boot and "ball-and-socket" hardware.• Snap-in carpet liner.• Compass.• Vinyl mats in all storage compartments.• Light and trash container in helm console.• Gel-coated engine compartment.• Insulated engine compartment with gas-assist hatch.• Speed and trim gauge with blue night light.• Stainless steel insert in PVC rub rail. • Starboard windshield wiper with "autopark."• Two bucket seats with thigh-rise flip-up bolsters.• Three pull-out sprayers -- Bow, head, and stern.
Why Is Everyone Staring at My Rear?
Seeing that this isn’t just a cruising boat, but a waterborne party platform – as deckboats are supposed to be -- Sea Ray has made the stern the boat's main attraction. And why not, that’s where the kids will be the second the anchor hits the bottom. With the stern seating on the 260 parents have a front row seat to the aft action. Sea Ray didn’t do the unthinkable and lose all that aft storage we’ve come to know and love. It’s still there, under that expansive seat. Be sure to resist the temptation to occupy that seat while the boat is underway though.
Take a Bow…
The comfort level of the bow was not left on the design room floor either. Sea Ray kept the stowable armrests for the bow seats, and the addition of storage in the sides is long overdue. In addition to the four-step beach re-boarding ladder there is also a built-in insulated cooler at the bow -- one of the three onboard coolers, by the way. Naturally, there is storage under the bow cushions, but we were also happy to see that the cushions are hinged. It is much easier to access the storage compartments this way, rather than having to wrestle the cushions out of position and then jam them back where they belong.
Additional Features to Love…
In looking over the standard equipment list a number of things should be pointed out which were not listed above. For example, all hatches are gas assisted, the fuel level sender is ultra-sonic, and there are 6 pull-up cleats (not 4). Pressure water is standard and can be had at the entertainment center, head and at both the bow and stern with pull-up washdowns. All are fed from the 20 gallon (75L) tank, a 2 gallon (7.6L) increase from previous models.
is uncluttered thanks to the addition of the SmartCraft diagnostics. This provides selectable information on operational parameters including depth, hours, oil pressure, water temp, fuel consumption, trim level, voltage and digital speed. That just leaves separate gauges for the big four… fuel, speed, tach, and trim.
Options We Love…
Naturally, even a well-equipped boat such as this has an options list. On this one, there are some notables that some people can’t live without. An air compressor for water toys is right at the top ($308). No sense taking up valuable deck space with a four-person tube when it can be deflated into a small package under the seat. This simple device also lets you carry a number of different inflatable tubes and toys so you can change up the kids’ fun without looking like the Beverly Hillbillies as you drive out to the middle of the lake. We’d also give serious consideration to a water sports tower ($5,662). Besides the obvious functionality, they just look flat-out cool. A battery on/off switch is optional on the 260 Sundeck ($169), but we’d rather it be standard. Save the option for the second battery and dual switch ($300) that we think most everyone should be ordering.
And while it’s nice that the portable toilet is standard, unless you crave lugging a container full of bio-waste off the boat, we’d opt for the pump-out head ($231) with holding tank. On the other hand, if you’ll only be using the boat a few hours at a time, or if there are no pump-out facilities in your boating area, lugging the bio-waste might be your best option. If you go for the holding tank system, let’s add the vacuFlush option ($1,846), as well. If you plan to be boating after dark, then you might want to consider docking lights ($385). Other options that make boating more fun or comfortable are the "VisionAir” mesh bucket seats that help wet bathing suits dry out and eliminate soggy cushions after a rain storm, a VHF radio, and a colored hull. Sea Ray offers five color options.
Canvas covers are a "must-have" option for trailering, storage, mooring or just UV protection. Sea Ray has all sorts of canvas options including cruising canvas for the adventuresome. We'd go for the automatic engine room fire suppression system as it can save precious seconds if there is a fire. In addition to the options mentioned here Sea Ray has a long list of others that let owners tailor-make a list of amenities on the boat for specific applications. For example, for owners planning on hauling the boat long distances for exotic and varied boating experiences, we would consider the tandem-axle trailer option that comes with bearing protection and submersible lights.
The Sea Ray 260 Sundeck has a LOA of 26’4” (8.03m), a beam of 8’6” (2.59m), and a draft of 3’2” (96 cm)… a 2” (5 cm) reduction from previous versions. Her dry weight is 5,168lbs (2,344 kgs), a 94 lb. (43 kg) increase, and she’ll carry 65 gallons (246 L) of fuel (same), and 20 gallons (75 L) of water, a 2 gallon (7.6L) increase. As you can see, the advantage of the latest version of the 260 is that the “test of time” has suggested some improvements on the old version.The boat is rated with a USCG weight capacity of 2,000 lbs. (907 kgs.) If everyone weighs 166 lbs (75.45 kgs.), that means 12 people.When we use the BoatTEST.com comparison feature we see that the 260 Sundeck falls pretty much in the middle of the competition basic-spec-wise. She is lighter than some and heavier than others. Same goes for fuel and water capacity. Issues like freeboard and cockpit depth are not measured and these are important areas for consumers to investigate on any sportboat being purchased.
With the 300-hp 350 MAG MerCruiser turning a Bravo 3 outdrive we reached a top speed at 5290 rpm and 46.9 mph. At that speed fuel burn was measured at 23.6 GPH giving us a range of 116 miles. Best cruise was found to be at 3000 rpm and 23 mph. That reduced the fuel burn to only 7.2 gph which the 260 Sundeck can keep up for just over 8 hours and 186 miles while still maintaining a 10% reserve.Clearly, if you plan on loading your 260 up to the 14 person max capacity and still do some towing, the 350 MAG will be the way to go. It gave us very quick response to the throttle reaching planing speed in 3.4 seconds. We then continued accelerating through 20 mph in 5.7 seconds, 30 mph in 8.5 seconds, and passed 40 mph in only 12.6 seconds.
I found the 260 Sundeck to be an exciting boat to handle. Her quick response to the throttle certainly has a lot to do with that but mostly it's the way that she handles my aggressive behavior behind the wheel. She comes around smartly in a turn but the slight bank angle coupled with a bit of a slide keeps the turn comfortable and manageable. I also found her to be very responsive to trim adjustments, and a couple of shots of up trim are all you will need to get her into running attitude. You will feel the boost in speed and the spray moves from the helm area towards the stern. If you add any more trim you'll start to ventilate the propeller.
Overall, it looks like Sea Ray has created a more compelling package with the new 260 Sundeck. Its designers took a model that wasn’t broke, made it better anyway, and left us with a version that leaves little to be desired for most general applications.We would not get too wrapped up in the details of whether the 260 is a deckboat or a sportboat as clearly she has DNA from both species. Sea Ray has designed a vessel to stand on its own and has dubbed it a "Sundeck." When comparing boats, then, we would look at the specs, standard equipment and over-all utility, as well as price.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Sea Ray 260 Sundeck (2013-) is 46.9 mph (75.5 kph), burning 23.60 gallons per hour (gph) or 89.33 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Sea Ray 260 Sundeck (2013-) is 23.0 mph (37 kph), and the boat gets 3.19 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.36 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 186 miles (299.34 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Standard Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty
||Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty|