It is no secret that pontoon boats have grown in popularity the last decade because their large platforms and open seating permits many guests aboard for entertaining. But pontoon boats have their limitations, particularly in big water. And then, there are people who wouldn't be caught dead in one because they don't consider them to be "real boats".
The Sea Ray 300 Sundeck is built for boaters who desire a large platform with plenty of room for a crowd while still being able to move about. She is also intended for use on large bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes large lakes and in coastal waters. Her main mission is to be a party, picnic, BBQ and sightseeing vessel for day boat and sundown cruises. Her wet bar with sink and food prep counter is noteworthy in this size boat for its amenities and possibilities.
Her secondary mission is to be a huge watersports platform. With a couple of spotter seats, a large swim platform, the ability to make good-sized wake, and maneuver like a sportboat, she is an able tow boat even at 30' (9.14 m). Wakeboarders like an audience and there can be a big one aboard the 300 Sundeck.
With the recent advent of "cuddy bowriders" -- i.e. bowriders with a compartment below in which to hangout in or even sleep over night -- Sea Ray has designed not only an enclosed head, but also a cozy cabin for one. The head is large and comfortable. The starboard cabin becomes a welcome escape location for someone wanting a mid-day nap, as well as being a second changing compartment. With the capability to overnight aboard for the captain, an extra measure of utility is added to this boat for an adventuresome owner, making her a 3-in-1 type of boat.
What Makes a Sundeck?
Sundeck is a proprietary term used by Sea Ray to differentiate its deckboats from its sportboats. So that begs the question, what is a deckboat? Simply put, it’s a boat that has more interior space, and is therefore more family friendly. It was intended at first to compete with pontoon boats and be a platform for swimming, tubing, and beaching.
The quick spotters-guide method for picking out a deckboat from the sea of sportboats is to look at the bow. With a sportboat, the bow will usually come to a pronounced “V” with seating typically converging at the forward point. A deckboat, on the other hand, will carry the boats beam farther forward meeting at a more rounded bow. The bow seats will then be much more parallel, and most builders will even add another seat at the front of the bow, typically with a step under the cushion and a cooler or storage under the step. A flat surface at the foredeck is then added making a launching spot for hitting the beach, or diving off the bow. Most will add a 4-step bow re-boarding ladder that reaches the beach and that will store in the forward anchor locker.
As we move back, the consoles also play an important part in the deckboat scenario. They will usually be placed a bit farther aft than in a sportboat, and this creates more room in the bow along with more evenly proportioned seating arrangements, although this seating area ratio will be less pronounced as the size increases. The beam is also carried well forward.
All Deckboats Are Not the Same.
When deck boats were first introduced over 20 years ago they tended to be low-freeboard, blunt-bow vessels made for protected water. They were often wet, Spartan, pounded because of their rather full sections forward, and relatively cheap compared other sportboats the same size. Over time, the breed evolved and improved. The Sea Ray 300 Sundeck is one of the largest and most sophisticated deckboat on the market. She is state-of-the-art as far as deckboats go these days.
As big deckboats go this one is among the biggest. That narrows down the field of competition.
A cabin suitable for one -- or a couple of small children -- is included in the design. This space is under the helm console and starboard bow seating. It is a small compartment but it keeps the forward half of the boat usable -- unlike a conventional cuddy that can only be used for sleeping or storage.
Booth seating in the cockpit certainly sets this boat apart from the crowd. Sea Ray went with additional fore-and-aft bench seating to the starboard side, just behind the wet bar. The seatback on the companion seat moves forward to create a lounger facing aft.
Convertible Dinette Table.
Few boats in class have a dinette table for four people. In fact, not many pontoon boats have one. This seat also can drop down converting the area into a large sun pad.
Integrated Transom Seat.
Everyone likes sitting on a transom seat and watching the sunset, or watching their kids swim off the stern.
World-Class Wet Bar.
The boat comes standard with a stainless sink, faucet, cutting board and trash container. An optional propane grill and 12V refrigerator can be added turning this console into a mini-galley, one of the few on the market in this size boat.
350 MAG Standard Power.
We would have expected Sea Ray to start with the 260-hp 5.0 MPI as standard in order to keep the entry price down, knowing full well that no one would ever go with the standard power. Instead, it went straight to the 300-hp 350 MAG, and it actually has the stones to get the job done on this size boat. This rig includes the Bravo III dual counter-rotating prop lower unit and Merc’s DTS -- two important amenities that should not be overlooked.
Along with having plenty of room, the 300 Sundeck is uniquely laid out for ensuring that everyone is relaxed while onboard. We say unique because often we see seating that converts to lounges, and while that’s certainly present here, there is also a dedicated lounger to port that will allow for relaxing, even with a crowd onboard. A standard cockpit table is on a swivel mount and even when no one is eating it’s easy to see the value of having a table always at the ready. Any restaurant or bar owner will tell the same story. Whether it’s a place to rest the arms, or a drink, a table is a staple of entertaining.
The portside companion seat is convertible, but rather than have a flip-back seatback and call it a day, Sea Ray went one better and made the seat back slide the length of the seat to offer many more seating options beyond the usual. Now we have forward or aft facing, as well as the multi-positioned lounger.
At the bow, lengthy loungers offer folding armrests and plenty of storage under hinged seat cushions. All the way aft, integrated aft-facing transom seating allows another venue for relaxing while at anchor, adrift or beached, and certainly makes an ideal location for watching the action while swimmers are in the water.
Sea Ray went with a clever use of space inside the helm console. Entered through the same door that would normally access console storage, there is instead room for two young children to get out of the sun and take a nap -- or one adult. Can it handle two adults? That is a good question and the answer depends on how well-acquainted they are… This compartment (we hesitate to call it a cabin) features has a portlight for air and cushions. Pull out the filler cushion and an adult can sit up in it. More likely it will be used by an adult for mid-day naps or by kids who love to play in spaces like this one.
Because the 300 Sundeck is over 26' (7.92 m) in the U.S., she falls outside the USCG requirements for rated people-carrying capacity. So how many can she hold? The answer is the number that can be safely held. In this case we’d say the number of seats is the controlling factor, around 15 people. That is as many as most pontoon boats will legally hold. Remember, the owner or captain is always responsible for the safety of everyone on board no matter what the little metal plates say.
Standard Equipment We Like
The 300 Sundeck has a long list of standard equipment, some of which we have noted above, but following are just a few items that caught our eye--
Options to Consider
Builders have options so as not to waste money on gear a particular owner will not use. Here are some options to consider, depending on one's intended use--
We have not tested the boat so we can make no comment. One Sea Ray dealer told us that with the 380-hp 8V 5.2 L Mercury engine the boat will exceed 50 mph. But that's hearsay. We would say the important aspect of this boat is that she is designed to be powered by a single engine and we find that preferable to twins. However, the intended load and activities will determine which of the two engines to specify.
Price, of course, depends on how the boat is equipped and which engine is in place. For planning purposes, Sea Ray lists the we would suggest that the 300 Sundeck can probably be found for something around $150k, more or less. MSRP $114,884.
We have found that day boating is most fun with lots of people aboard. It gives us pleasure seeing other people enjoy the water and being outdoors as much as we do. Anchoring out, grilling up some burgers, and drinking cold beverages seem to all taste better on the water. The 300 Sundeck
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Standard Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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