By Capt. Steve--
Advantages of the Sea Ray 370 Venture
It is hard to emphasize the importance of Sea Ray’s innovative new design for express cruisers in the 30-something range. In no particular order of importance, here are the major aspects of the 370 Venture design that we think are important—1) By eliminating the traditional sterndrive or inboard engine room most of that space can be devoted to creating the largest and most comfortable mid-cabin, full-beam master stateroom in class. 2) The outboard motors can be tilted up completely out of the water, thus fouling and corrosion issues will be minimized. Owners with docks with very low water on moon tides can simply let the 370 Venture rest on her own bottom unhurt. 3) A corollary of point #2 is with the drive units trimmed partially up, the vessel can be used in very skinny water and even beached, thus extending the cruising possibilities of this large boat. 4) Whether the engines are fully deployed or all the way up, the extended swim platform reaches far beyond the props, making it safe for swimmers sliding into the water. 5) By creating engine boxes over the port and starboard outboard wells the engines are effectively muffled twice, once by their shrouds and again by the engine boxes themselves. This treatment obviously makes the boat remarkably quiet.6) Because the outboard engines are mounted so far aft and so low, the cockpit is huge and able to seat six people around a table for entertaining.
7) Because the outboard engines are lighter than the 5.7 L sterndrive 300-hp engines, that they will likely replace, the weight savings by the 300-hp Mercury Verados is about 622 lbs. (282.7 kgs.). 8) While we haven’t measured it, it appears to us as if this boat has slightly more freeboard than other boats of its displacement. If true, the added freeboard serves two important purposes: 1) Providing more headroom below, particularly in the master stateroom; 2) Making the boat dryer in sloppy conditions and therefore making her a more able coastal cruiser.
The Outboard Engine Concept
Last year 178,000 outboard engines were sold in the U.S. – more than the total number of powerboats of all types, which was about 142,500 according to NMMA figures. That means that outboard engines are very popular among American boaters. Indeed, the old days when outboard motors had a reputation for being cantankerous has long passed and now they are generally considered to be as reliable as any other type of marine engine. With millions of boaters now used to the new generation of outboard power, the creation of an outboard-powered express cruiser may prove to be a marketing masterstroke.
With laws on the books in the U.S. mandating greater gas mileage for automobiles in the future, the big-block engines used in gas inboard and sterndrive applications are an endangered species. Outboard engines present an interesting alternative because they do not rely on Detroit for their GM engine blocks as do most sterndrive and inboard gas engines.
Silence is Golden
One of the most notable features of the 370 Venture is that it is so quiet. There are two reasons for this, most significant being that this boat was manufactured using the new proprietary Quiet Ride technology. By engineering noise reduction into the build process with features such as a proprietary tuned transom, inner laminate material, engineered fit and finish of all components to reduce vibration, and full beam bulkheads with acoustical insulation, there’s less noise, and therefore less operator and passenger fatigue. So a casual conversation can be had, even while at cruise speed. Secondly, not only is sound reduced from the engines being in their native shrouds, but they’re under sound proof hatches at the stern of the boat. So when the 370 engine is started the only telltale sign that they are running will be seen (and not heard) at the gauges. At the helm, I looked at the decimal meter before starting up and measured 52 dBA. Once the engines were fired up the decibel level remained at 52, so it's not just talk. Once we got underway the real quietness of the 370 became apparent. We were testing on a rainy day and the rain was louder than the engines. Once we got out into the main channel we could hear the water lapping against the hull, and we could hear the wake being generated behind the boat, all louder than the engines.Additionally the level of sound really comes into play down in the cabin. At full throttle I only read 72 dBA and the sound did not increase when I opened up the companionway hatch. Without a doubt, one of the biggest benefits of the 370 Venture is this startling amount of quiet.
The 370 Venture has an interesting acceleration curve. Get out of the mindset of having the sterndrive, or even V- drive engines, so she won't get on plane until at roughly 5000 rpm. But once she's on plane the performance is quite remarkable.
I noticed an 11-degree bow rise upon acceleration, but surprisingly once we were at cruise speed we were riding at only a 1-2-degree bow high attitude where 5-7 is the norm. That bow rise will cause a loss sight of the horizon from the seated position, and while she has a good time to reach planing speed the bow takes a little longer to come down, a full 7 seconds. At cruise, the trim only has an effect of giving added performance. There is no change in the 370’s attitude and/or the spray coming out from the side of the hull, but there is a boost in speed.
Turning is Different.
The 370 Venture does not have sportboat-like handling when compared to the 370 Sundancer with its sterndrive engines. For example, when I put the 370 Venture into a hard over turn at speed the propellers did tend to ventilate, and once they pick up the air they keep it so the driver needs to bring the speed back down again to get the thrust back. But so long as hard over cranking and banking isn’t part of the day’s fun, the 370 Venture has excellent handling characteristics. When put into a turn, she digs her front shoulder in just ahead of the helm which causes her to bleed off speed and keep the turns calm for the guests onboard. The 370 will lean 20-degrees into the turn which keeps everybody planted firmly in their seats rather than being forced to the outside of the turn. In close quarters, with both engines reversed the 370 Venture tends to back to port, but the engines are far enough apart where the split controls get much better controllability.
Aside from the 370 Venture being such a comfortable boat to handle and operate I was just continually overtaken by the quiet. At full speed three of us on board were having a casual conversation without having to shout at each other. It's just a hard feeling to get used to in a boat of this size. More to the point however is the fact that the 370 Venture is completely absent of virtually any vibration. It's without a doubt one of the smoothest boats in class that I've ever operated. From the port hand lounge seat in the cockpit a passenger can be sitting back and recline while enjoying this unbelievably smooth ride. Far more surprising is that because of the 370’s level cruise attitude there is full visibility past the bow from the seated position and that's something that passengers don't usually get… the same enjoyable view as the captain gets.
Our Sea Ray 370 Venture had an LOA of 37'2" (11.3 m) and a beam of 11'3" (3.4 m). With an empty weight of 15,432 lbs (7,000 kg) half fuel and three people on board we had a test weight of 16,703 lbs (7576 kg). With a pair of 300-hp Mercury Verado 4-stroke engines (the only power choice available for the 370 Venture) turning 15 x 15 Enertia propellers, we reached a top speed at 6400 rpm of 43.7 mph. At that speed fuel burn was 59.6 gph giving us a range of 146 miles.
Best cruise came in at 5000 rpm and 30.9 mph. That gave us a fuel burn of 25 gph which the 370 Venture could keep up for nearly 8 hours and 247 miles while still maintaining a 10% reserve. We reached planing speed and 6.4 seconds, 20 mph in 9.5 seconds, 30 mph in 15.4 seconds and continued accelerating through 40 mph in 26.4 seconds.
There is much more to the 370 Venture story than just its propulsion system, although much of what is to follow is because of it. First of all, the owner’s stateroom has been designed to be the most spectacular of any boat in her displacement category. She has a full beam master with a queen bed placed on the diagonal. On her starboard side she has a sofa that is long enough to sleep a third person. Port and starboard at the head of the bed are smart countertops. The standard layout of the 370 Venture leaves the master open to the forward salon. This indicates to us that the 370 Venture is designed for a cruising couple or perhaps a couple with young children. We like this layout sans bulkhead because it opens up the boat.However, for people who want to cruise with another couple, a privacy curtain closes the stateroom off. Sea Ray will also put in a bulkhead as an option.
Port and starboard in the master are large windows, the size of which are rarely seen on American-made boats in this size range. Their advantages are obvious. The interior decor both here and forward has a distinctive European-modern look in terms of materials used, shapes and color.
Again Euro-styling is obvious in this large salon area. And again, the basic design was intended for a cruising couple. There is a lot to like in the salon and a few of the things that caught our eye were—• The U-shaped banquette is as big as, if not larger than we have ever seen in a boat this size. Note the forward end of the banquette which is particularly wide. • Large, long windows are embedded in the hull and provide not only lots of light but a good view. • Above the seating and over the windows Sea Ray has installed cabinets which surround the whole salon. Not only does it provide lots of much-needed storage, but it also gives the interior a finished-off look of a far larger and more expensive boat. • The salon table is large and lowers to make a large berth.
The galley is small and has a sink, microwave, refrigerator and a coffeemaker. There is no stove top, but topside on our test boat there was an optional electric stove and grill installed in the counter.
The wet head is to starboard complete with a VacuFlush toilet plumbed to a 28 gallon (106 L) holding tank. There is a shower curtain and a shower wand with a vertical adjustment. The compartment has a power vent, a medicine cabinet, and storage under the sink. There is a full length mirror on the inside of the head door as well as one on a bulkhead.
Topside of the 370 Venture
Sea Ray has taken the design criteria for the outboard propulsion system and cleverly turned it into functionality and improved utility for the boat owner. Let’s start at the stern.
There are actually two swim platforms on the 370 Venture, a lower one that is called the “extended” swim platform, and an upper one which is integral to the hull. The extended lower platform has a four-step swim ladder on the centerline and the platform makes a “floating beach” just a few inches above the water. The upper platform is a place to sit and put on skis or scuba gear, or just to watch the sunset. Underneath this structure the outboards can be tilted up out of the water so this platform serves a couple of important functions. Particularly noteworthy is the walkway from the swim platform between the two engine boxes. It is on the same level as the rest of the cockpit and deep storage compartments are added in the deck. The boxes over the engines make ideal sunning pads. If there is a gang of sun worshipers on board for a day trip and the pads aft are not enough, then the C-shaped settee to port can be converted into a huge sunning area.
Because the engine boxes are so far aft, there is more room in the cockpit and Sea Ray has used it well to provide an entertaining area that has seating for 10 to 12 people. The large teak table is standard. By pulling up a couple of deck chairs it can comfortably seat six for lunch or dinner. To starboard is an L-shaped settee and forward of that is a good-sized entertainment console. It comes standard with a stainless steel sink with faucet, a refrigerator, an induction stove, and a trash receptacle with storage below. This is a large galley for a cockpit in this class. When in cocktail party mode the counter will be a good place to put out glasses and beverages plus still have room for a tray of hors d'oeuvres. The table, of course, can handle even more snacks. A hatch in the cockpit deck leads to a mechanical room housing the electrical components, holding tank, twin 111 gal (420.2L) fuel tanks, bilge pumps, and optional Kohler generator. One of the reasons the cockpit is so roomy on the 370 Venture is because there are no side decks. Sea Ray designers have been able to take full advantage of the boat's 11'3" (3.43 m) beam. The foredeck is accessed by means of wide molded-in steps on the port side of the companionway and an opening windshield. There is a stainless steel railing installed to the right of the steps so there is something to hang on to when going forward.
The helm's instrument layout is simple and functional with throttles controls on the right of the steering wheel, a nav screen on the left and gauges across the top under an eyebrow of the dash. The helm seat has space for two people and both seats have bolsters. To port is an L-shaped lounger seat that can be used in three different ways: 1) One person can be facing forward; 2) Another person can be reclining and facing aft; 3) In cocktail party mode two or three people can be seated here. We’d like to see the backrest be made adjustable as currently, it’s leaning too far back to be enjoying the view aft.
Also included as standard is what Sea Ray calls a "spoiler." This is what has traditionally been called a "radar arch." The term "spoiler" covers a multitude of functions. The spoiler on the Sea Ray 370 Venture has been designed with an integral Bimini top system. The spoiler anchors the standard Bimini and cruising canvas.
The Ship's Systems
The boat is powered by twin Mercury 300-hp 300CXL Verado 4-stroke, in-line six-cylinder supercharged outboard engines that each displace 2.6 L. The engine has 24 valves (DOHC), develops from 5800 to 6400 rpm at WOT and produces 70 AMPs from its belt-driven alternator. 92 octane fuel is recommended, but the engines are "87 octane compatible (up to 10% ethanol)", according to Mercury. The system comes standard with digital throttle and shift (DTS). Mercury has been working hard over the last few years to make its outboard engines better adapted to the saltwater environment which is obviously where a lot of the 370s will be used. The units installed in the 370 Venture will have the new 5.44-inch gear case which is larger and more robust than the 4.8-inch gear case which is more appropriate for, and is still used in, single-engine applications. The new gear case has two water inlets in the front tip of the torpedo. Mercury has also added many stainless steel components and uses a low-copper XK360 aluminum alloy to protect against saltwater corrosion. The boat comes standard with hydraulic trim tabs.
The 370 Venture has a pressure water system that feeds a freshwater washdown spigot, a hot and cold water shower in the cockpit, all three sinks and the shower in the head. The boat comes standard with a 31 gallon (117 L) freshwater tank and a 6-gallon (22.8 L) hot water heater.
A VacuFlush toilet is standard and it leads to a 28-gallon (106 L) holding tank which has a dockside pump out connector. There is a freshwater sump with automatic pump. A separate gray water tank is optional.
The 370 Venture comes standard with two batteries, two battery switches, a 120V battery charger/converter. Shore power is dual 30 Amp/120V/60 Cycle with 50' (15.2 m) of cable and adapters. (240V/50 cycle systems are standard for boats shipped to areas where it is used.) There is a main DC breaker panel as well as an AC/DC distribution panel and a galvanic isolator. On hull #1 the ship’s electrical panel was on the aft bulkhead in the master stateroom. Future versions will see it moved to a more appropriate location in the salon.
The 370 Venture comes standard with Sea Ray's customized Smart Craft "4-in-1 multigauges" which monitor fuel level, oil pressure, water temperature and volt output. Also included is a speedo, air and water temperature gauges, depth gauge, engine hour meters and engine alarms among other monitors.
The boat comes standard with Sunbrella sunshade with aft curtains with bungee straps. There are also front and side curtains. These anchor to the spoiler.
The Sea Ray 370 Venture's standard equipment list is pretty complete with virtually everything needed in order to leave the dock and go boating, except for ground tackle and the USCG safety package. Nevertheless the options list permits buyers to customize the 370 Venture to their particular application. Optional items that caught our eye were--
- 5 kW Kohler low-CO gasoline generator
- Colored hull
- Teak flooring for cockpit and swim platforms
- Built-in grill for the cockpit
- Extended Bimini for full cockpit coverage
- Bow thruster
- Electric anchor windlass
We think Sea Ray has developed a well-designed and thoughtful new vessel that deserves the consideration of anyone looking for an express cruiser in the 370 Venture's size range. There are enough features and innovations aboard that we think a "look-see" will not be a waste of time for anyone.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Sea Ray 370 Venture (2014-) is 43.7 mph (70.3 kph), burning 59.60 gallons per hour (gph) or 225.59 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Sea Ray 370 Venture (2014-) is 30.9 mph (49.7 kph), and the boat gets 1.24 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.53 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 247 miles (397.51 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 300-hp Mercury Verado.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Carpet: Cockpit||Standard Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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