By Captain Steve Larivee
Mission- Improving the Breed
Sea Ray stepped up and went beyond just a renamed model for this new launch. Instead, several significant improvements were made to not only deliver a better product, but a better boating experience. It is part of Sea Ray's strategy to provide a full line of premium luxury boats.
Sea Ray is clearly morphing back to the days when the brand lead the industry with innovations and styling and its customers couldn’t be happier with the transition. In fact, with the current market trend leading towards more value-priced boats, these Sundecks may be one of the few premium offerings in class.
One of the most significant improvements in the new 220 Sundeck is how Sea Ray takes better advantage of the beam to add to the spaciousness. This is clearly evident at both the bow and stern cockpit areas where there is a noticeable increase in the amount of useable space making it easier to get around throughout both areas. And it’s not just an optical illusion. Because of this added space, Sea Ray was able to increase the capacity of the 220 Sundeck from 10 to 12 persons, a direct benefit to boaters with a lot of friends, and with this boat, believe that friends are going to be coming out of the woodwork.
The storage areas also got an upgrade for this new model year. The helm console storage is now lockable, and includes a stereo “pod” that houses the standard Sony premium head unit. Just beneath are a USB and MP3 port, a 12V power receptacle, and beneath that is a padded tray to hold the MP3 player of choice, all together in one spot. The compartment also includes dedicated storage for the optional cockpit pedestal table, and is now lockable, so no worries about having to take all the valuables that were brought aboard as everyone makes their way to the dockside restaurant.
The port console now features storage seating with the head being optional. This is a big improvement as most users of this boat are not going to need a head, but certainly will appreciate the added storage space for beach chairs, tote bags and whatever else gets us through the day. Optional interior treatments are now offered with upgraded decking, all bulkheads being padded, cargo netting added to the port bulkhead, and the forward bulkhead can have wood laminated cabinetry with two shelves.
And finally, in the category of storage, a dedicated space for a 25 quart (23.7 L) cooler has been added to the cockpit, under the L-shaped seating. It’s behind a door and slides out from a recessed holder with fiddles to keep it in position. It can also be accessed without having to lift the seat, meaning there’s no longer a requirement to have someone stand up just to get a soda… just swing the legs to one side for a moment, thanks.
The Bow Seats 7
As we look at the individual areas, the improvements keep coming. In the bow, designers were able to create both forward and aft facing seating, certainly an unusual step in a boat in this size and class. For the aft facing, the backrest measures 3'9” (1.14 m) across which creates 3-across seating, with two to each side able to relax with legs extended. The backrest comes up high enough to remain comfortable topping out at 11” (28 cm). The addition of an optional side mount pedestal table would really round out the comfort features of this bow area.
The usual storage accommodations are under the side seats but it’s more accessible thanks to the articulating hinges secured to the aft ends of the seats. The forward seat has covered storage under a hatch held in place with a piano hinge creating the added use as a step to the foredeck for disembarking to either a bow in docking, or a dive into the water.
The foredeck is also covered with non-skid and the hatch opens to reveal anchor storage that works in conjunction, as opposed to instead of, a location to store the four-step beach re-boarding ladder. The beefy hatch is nearly ½” (1.27 cm) thick and held open with a gas assist strut.
A Pet Peeve
The latch is the turn and close type to lock and we’d like to see these abandoned industry-wide. Nearly every builder uses them. They’re always turned the wrong way leaving the hatch inadvertently unlocked and allowing it to start flapping open when speed is added. Funny thing is, there are usually better latches elsewhere on the boat (in this case the helm storage compartment) that lift to unlatch, and automatically latch when the hatch is closed, so why not just use those and be done with it?
To the starboard side is an optional freshwater shower. The nav lights are separated to port and starboard instead of a combined unit at the forward part of the bow that would impede the passage off the deck, so thank you for that small touch Sea Ray. To both sides of the bow are 6” (15.24 cm) cleats bringing the total number of cleats on the 220 Sundeck to 6.
Moving back towards the cockpit the two consoles are separated by 17 ½” (44.45 cm) and Sea Ray provided not one but two in-deck storage lockers. A bi-fold door rests flush against the port console and closes off the walkway to add comfort on chilly boating mornings. The walk-through windshield has more of a rakish look to it as it is mounted at a sharp 27-degree angle, which has the added effect of giving the 220 Sundeck more of a look of speed. The windshield is still supported at both sides and I found it to be sufficient to support my full weight of 185 lbs. (83.91 kg) of solid muscle.
The upscale treatments are nowhere more evident than at the helm with a two-tone soft touch vinyl dash with a light tan lower and a dark brown upper sunshade brow. Our test boat was equipped with the optional Ritchie compass which was mounted a bit off to the left, but for this style and class of boat that will hardly be used for serious navigation, its position just out of the direct line of sight of the helm works fine.
Sea Ray went with anti-fog gauges with chrome bezels and the panel includes a SmartCraft gauge with its selectable information. The beveled area just below the gauges, that will hold sunglasses… etc., has a small drain allowing water, moisture or morning dew, should the 220 SD be left uncovered (for shame), to be directed into the bilge. Switches are all toggle type and are lit when activated. A stereo remote is over to the left-hand side, to the right are switches for the water pump to operate the showers and the bilge pump switch. Empty switch positions are still included even if the options are not selected and are just covered over with a dark tinted plug.
All the way to starboard is a good-sized cubbyhole that measures 3 1/5” (8.9 m) deep x 6” (15.24 cm) wide x 4 ¾” (12.1 cm) high. Finally a builder has managed to get the construction of such a compartment correct by angling it downward meaning that the contents won't dump out into the lap once the throttle is thrown forward. The three-spoke steering wheel is trimmed in comfortable vinyl and wood trim and mounted to a tilt base.
An angled footrest is molded into the console. To starboard, a padded caprail provides a comfortable place for the operator to rest an arm while making incremental adjustments to the throttle control. A lower armrest provides a second comfortable spot.
Storage is nestled into the bulwarks with stainless drink holders located fore and aft that also are fitted with drains leading into the bilge. An interesting departure from previous designs, Sea Ray has now moved the ignition over to the position inside this storage compartment meaning the keys are now well out of the knee strike zone, and even the bumping into zone. A second 12V charging port is located just forward of the drink holder/cell phone holder. A carbon fiber trim piece matches the look of the helm panel and again, adds to the upscale look of the 220 Sundeck.
Port Observer's Seat
The observer's station to port offers guests the same comfortable seat as the captain that wraps around fully, includes a flip-up bolster and a padded lumbar support inserted into the seatback. It also swivels around 180-degrees allowing the observer a more comfortable position to watch the end of the towline while reclining in comfort. The usual accommodations for storage under the port bulwarks are present as well as an aft facing speaker matching the position of one under the helm console. With this observers position the armrest is much wider reaching into the bulwarks area a full 7” (17.78 cm) and leads to a forward raked stainless steel grab handle with the stainless drink holder just in front.
Port Console Storage
Forward, a two-tone bolster wraps around the curved console. A door to the interior of the console has been improved in its size and functionality and now includes a small nonskid area for placing items, but it could use a raised lip to better hold items like suntan lotion and sunglasses. That would be an easy fix for Sea Ray to accommodate and it has done so on the 240 Sundeck by raising the wrap-around padded bolster to create that raised lip.
The door opens to reveal a storage compartment that includes an optional Porta-Potti. A beefy stainless piano hinge is used as well as a stainless latch that is now lockable. A strap mounted across the hinge prevents the door from opening far enough to slam into the helm console. Inside overhead clearance is very much on the low side, a consequence of the boat's length and freeboard height. Every boat is a compromise, and here it is on the 220 SD. However, a portable toilet will be very much appreciated in an emergency and it is well-suited for small children.
The 220 Sundeck features a fully fiberglass-lined deck with the entire cockpit draining through two scuppers leading into the bilge. Courtesy lights are thoughtfully placed in key locations. L-shaped seating to the stern provides not only a storage compartment under the aft seat but a dedicated place for a 25 quart (23.7 L) carry-on cooler under the side seat, accessed through a door underneath the seat. This is a welcome departure from the usual method of asking the occupants to vacate the seat and now a simple request to swing legs to the side gets the job done.
This is the area that separates the 220 Sundeck from the 220 Sundeck OB. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
In the outboard model there is a walk-through to starboard accessed by two steps from the aft platform. The stern has been well executed in this year's model. Non-skid is seen everywhere and accommodates walking not only in front of the engine, to aid in accessing for daily engine checks, but also for walking across to the port side swim platform, a position that is usually neglected by other builders like some orphaned child. Here, the port side is even more functional than the starboard side because it has a padded seat.
Sea Ray went with a seat on top of the access hatch leading under the L-shaped seating, in effect creating a welcome staging area for putting on boards while still allowing access to the storage underneath. The dual swim platforms are added on rather than molded-in and measure 1'10” (.55 m) wide and while adding 2’ (.6 m) to the overall length of the 220 Sundeck. Stainless rails are on the inboard sides of the swim platform. The re-boarding ladder is located on the starboard platform, angled out well away from the outboard.
With the sterndrive version, a large sun pad covers the engine box just behind the L-shaped seating. A grab handle is under the aft seat, and a latch is conveniently located making the raising of the hatch a single-handed affair. Engine installations are well thought-out and leave plenty of room to both sides for service. Daily checkpoints are within easy reach. Engine choices are the standard 5.0 MerCruiser with an Alpha drive, 5.0 with a BIII drive, or a 350 MAG MPI Alpha. And of course this version comes with a full beam swim platform.
Optional Towing Tower.
As this size and class of boat is so well suited to water sports Sea Ray also offers an optional wake board tower that is strongly recommended as it dramatically increases the enjoyment factor of the boat itself. It’s a beefy forward raked tower fabricated from 2” (5.1cm) aluminum tubular powder-coated rails. The tower is also collapsible by simply pulling two pins and leaning forward, and it can be done with one hand as it is so well balanced. LED lights are mounted into the underside of the tower providing much welcome illumination when operating after the sun goes down.
Our test boat was equipped with the 250-hp Mercury Verado four-stroke outboards. Options include 175-hp and 200-hp as well. We tested the outboard version of the 220 Sundeck. She has a length overall of 20’ (6.1m), a beam of 8'4" (2.54 m), and a draft of 3'3" (1 m). With an empty weight of 3,790 lbs. (1,719 kg) half fuel and two people onboard we had a test weight of 4,342 lbs. (1,969 kg). Our test boat reached a top speed at 6400 rpm of 53.3 mph. At that speed we were burning 27.7 gph giving us a range of 78 miles. Best cruise came in at 3500 rpm and 23.8 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 6.05 gph giving us a range of 159 miles and an endurance 6 hours and 42 minutes. We had a time to plane of 3.6 seconds, reached 20 mph in 4.4 seconds, 30 mph in 6.6 seconds, 40 in 10.7 seconds, and continued accelerating through 50 mph in 12.8 seconds.
She’s an exhilarating boat to drive. Acceleration is quick, and the response to the throttle is instantaneous, so aggressive maneuvers can catch passengers off-guard. Turns are at a comfortable 10-degree angle, and she stays planted to the water, unless cutting across waves, which will produce a perfectly normal, pseudo-chinewalk effect. She bleeds off speed in the turns, as most boats will, so add power when turning, especially when towing. When taking power off, she settles back into the water stern first.
Sea Ray has made great strides in returning to its roots in creating upscale boats, and this 220 Sundeck is a fine example of how that mindset is manifesting itself into reality. She’s a comfortable boat to be in as she’s clearly more roomy than her predecessors, and with this return to premium fit-and-finish, there’s an added bonus in the form of pride of ownership. For those sportboat owners who want more seating space and have been thinking about a pontoon boat, I think the 220 Sundeck offers a compelling alternative.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Sea Ray 220 Sundeck Outboard (2013-) is 53.4 mph (85.9 kph), burning 27.75 gallons per hour (gph) or 105.03 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Sea Ray 220 Sundeck Outboard (2013-) is 23.9 mph (38.5 kph), and the boat gets 3.93 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.67 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 159 miles (255.89 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 250-hp Mercury Verado four-stroke.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Standard Snap-in Liner|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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