Since 1994, when the company was founded, its owners have been committed to building one kind of boat -- skiffs. That is their specialty. Like all Sundance boats the DX20 is also built to be rugged, reliable and a good value for money. While she is rated for a maximum of 130-hp, Sundance recommends that she be powered by a 90-hp engine. With that power she will be economical to operate and have a WOT speed in the mid 30-mph range.
Steel Molds For Foam Core and I-Beam Stringers.
Sundance is one of the few companies in the boat business that uses steel clam-shell molds. Its process is important because when the rigid foam cores with integral fiberglass I-beams are taken from the mold and placed in the hull they can be inspected to make sure their volume is precisely what is required.
I-Beam Stinger System.
Because a skiff has a bottom shape that is essentially flat its bottom will take a terrific pounding. Unless the bottom laminate of fiberglass is properly supported it will flex. The DX20 fiberglass I-beam longitudinal stringers laminated into its hull 6" apart for rigidity.
Full Inner Liners.
Because most skiffs are by their very nature low-priced boats, many skiff makers do not use an inner fiberglass liner. The DX20 has a full liner. This makes it easier to keep clean and it looks better.
Fold-Down Windshield and Hand Rail.
Both the windshield and the stainless steel hand rail going around it fold down so that the boat can be stored in most garages on its trailer.
Bow Jump Seats.
Seats that fold down in the stern quarters to form a platform are ubiquitous in this type of boat, but to have them in the bow is not so common.
Sundance believes in facilitating customization and has an extensive option list with prices on its website so customers can price out their ideal boat.
Any Color is An Option.
While Sundance offers five optional hull colors for its hull sides, it is one of the few builders in the industry that says that it will match any color desired.
All Skiffs, All The Time.
Sundance only builds skiffs. That is its reason d'etre. This means that the builder is not pre-occupied with building bigger, more expensive boats, but simply wants to do the best job possible in its chosen niche. This is refreshing.
We have not tested the DX20, but years ago we did test an earlier ancestor of the DX20. This was the Sundance B220 CC which has the same overall dimensions as the DX20 but weighed 170 lbs. (77.2 kgs.) more dry and without the engine. For that test it was powered by a 90-hp Honda outboard and the boat with two people aboard and 1/3 fuel which had a WOT speed of 36.9 mph. Four years ago Evinrude tested a Sundance B20 CCR which had the same hull dimensions as the DX20 but weighed 1,890 lbs. (859 kgs.) dry without an engine. With a dry weight of 195 lbs. (88.6 kgs.) more than the current version, the 90-hp Evinrude had a WOT speed of 35.9, just 1 mph less, and got slightly better fuel mileage in the process than the Honda four-stroke.We think that it is fair to assume that the DX20 which weighs just 1,575 lbs. (715.9 kgs.) dry -- or as much 215 lbs. (97.7 kgs.) LESS -- than the two tests sited above, she should have an even higher WOT speed with a 90-hp engine…say something in the high 30s. Best cruise should be in the 20 mph to 25 mph range, depending on the engine chosen.
Handling and Ride
Powered by a 90-hp outboard we suspect that the DX20 will be easy to handle in protected water conditions and not be over-powered. The builder offers trim tabs as an option but we doubt that they will be needed, except in rare circumstances. Because the hull is flat and the bow is dihedral-like in shape and because the bottom is flat, she will be most comfortable in smooth water or light chop. The trick of handling any skiff comfortably is to match the speed with the water and wind conditions. All boats are a compromise, and a skiff cannot be stable, have a shallow draft, be fast and also have a comfortable ride in a fierce chop. The alternative is a V-bottom boat which will draw more water, will not be as stable, will be slower and burn more fuel. Take your pick.
Typically in a chop skiffs are wet as the bow hits a wave shooting the water forward. Then the wind picks up spray and blows back onto the passengers with an apparent wind force of 40 mph or more. Sundance has addressed the spray problem by developing what it calls its "Side Relief Vee" (SRV) bow. With a 5-degree bow rise at speed the forward shape of the bow throws water down and away rather than forward. The builder claims that this design makes the boat dryer. We have not tested the boat so cannot confirm or deny this claim.
Skiffs have been around for a long time. They have flat bottoms -- or nearly flat -- which makes them remarkably stable. The amount of freeboard determines their carrying capacity for any given length and beam. Sundance rates the DX20 to hold 8 people, because there are seats for 8 -- two in the bow, two in front of the console (but that will be snug), two at the helm, and two in the jump seats aft.The rated person capacity on the boat's data plate next to the helm of most skiffs this size will state that its capacity is 11 people or even more. The reason for that is that number is arrived at using a formula promulgated by the USCG based on the boat's primary dimensions regardless of how many seats it has -- or what common sense might indicate. Sundance says 8 is enough and we agree.
We think of skiffs as being primarily for fishing, and the DX20 is certainly set up for it. Options can direct the boat to one type or another of species and habitat. The fold down seats in the stern and the bow provide places to sit while under way and places to stand and cast when fishing.
There are two insulated wells on the boat -- a 84-quart well in the port quarter and a 40-quart well under the seat which is molded in to forward side of the console. These wells, in addition to storage bins under seats are gel coated inside. There is some versatility there and buyers should talk to a dealer for the boat about other options. There are four standard rod holders, a tackle drawer center under the forward console seat, rod holder racks on the side of the console for 6 rods, and 4 pop-up cleats.
Cruising and Watersports.
For people who want to go day cruising in protected waters such as rivers, swamps, small lakes and bays, a skiff is a low-cost way of taking family and friends out on the water. For those lucky enough to live in areas with sandy beaches and protected water, a skiff makes a good swimming platform. Locals scuba diving in the keys or during calm days offshore will find a skiff a stable and adequate size for three or four divers.The DX20 is not set up for towing, although it can certainly pull a tube and thereby provide fun for kids.
Major items of standard equipment which we have not already mentioned includes a 76-quart Flip cooler under the helm seat, and insulated well under the console front seat, a 500 gph automatic bilge pump with indicator light on the dash, a 500 gph aerator pump and high-speed pick-up, and a harness ready to accept an optional trolling motor.
The DX20 can be upgraded in a number of ways by the factory--
Deluxe pilot seat with frame and cooler upgrade ($607); Aluminum leaning post with 75-quart cooler and 4 rod holders ($629); Add removable backrest to the leaning post ($535); 2 captain's chairs with swivel and slide upgrades ($193); Deck casting chairs ($179).
While they are not required by ABYC Standards for open boats such as the DX20, we would nevertheless specify all of the Sundance options on railing -- bow ($296), stern ($199), sides ($257).
We also recommend the sun shade option even though we see most skiffs on the water without it. Bimini top with boot ($579); t-top (NXD) with 2 spreader lights and 4 rod holders ($2,714).
The prices for this option depend on how much of the hull is colored and what colors are selected ($429 to $643).
An optional molded swim platform ($343); Tilt steering ($119); Hydro hydraulic steering ($893); Stereo package ($279 to $521); Raw water washdown ($343); a battery switch, which no boat should be without ($157).
We are impressed with the building techniques employed by Sundance. As mentioned above it is one of the few companies using steel clam shell molds. The fiberglass I-beam and urethane foam stringer system is created at the same time to insure good primary bonding of the glass to the foam in high-pressure, high-heat molds. The strakes in the hull bottom are filled with fiberglass putty to keep them from easily breaking and then the stringer system is laid in. Fiberglass cloth and resin is then applied on top of the foam and I-beam stringers which creates a sandwich core. The transom core is also made in a steel mold and laminated into the boat creating what the builder says is an extremely strong structure. There is no wood used in the hull. The decks are connected to the hulls with mechanical fasteners. The 24 gallon (91 L) fuel tank is fitted under the console, where there is a side fill.
The DX20 pricing depends upon which outboard brand and engine is selected. Pre-rigged the base boat has an MSRP ranging from $15,577 to $15,880. The total price depending on which 90-hp engine brand is selected can range from about $25,000 to $27,000. Pricing with a 115-hp outboard ranges from about $26,000 to $28,000 depending on the brand.
There are many skiffs on the market and most sell pretty much on price alone. Sundance does not take that route as clearly it is trying to build a superior basic hull first. The steel tooling that the company uses is expensive but it provides a stringer system that is unlike anything we have ever seen. The best part of it is that the builder can inspect the foam flotation before the lamination is completed to make sure that the boat will float level if swamped as required by the USCG for boats 20' and under. We also like the concept of the SRV bow design and look forward to testing this boat to see if it is dry as advertised. Sundance has a 10-year transferable hull warranty and a three-year warranty on certain other parts. But with this size and type boat, with proper maintenance the vessel should last a long time.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|