You’ve got to love the versatility, space, and comfort provided by the deckboat platform, especially when it comes to bowriders, but you don’t have to love the stern drive that often goes along with it. Those innie-outties have given way to four-stroke outboards when it comes to reliability, sound and vibration levels, and - since new emissions-control regulations kicked in - even cost. Yet still, many manufacturers of bowrider deckboats designed for family fun build stern-drive platforms with no outboard option. One builder who’s taking on the challenges of major re-designs and tweaking their tooling to accommodate outboards on the transoms of their deckboats, however, is Sea Ray Boats. Recently they rolled out the 240 Sundeck OB (see Sea Ray 240 Sundeck: The Latest Deckboat Development), and now the 220 Sundeck OB joins their fleet.
When I ran a 220 Sundeck OB with a 250-hp Verado on the stern, the first big difference I noticed was how quiet it was. Idling at the dock, you might even forget the engine is running. Then, there was how it handled. Crank the wheel over, and the 21-degree deadrise hull carves through turns more like a sportboat than a deckboat. It has the speed to match, with a top-end that breaks 52-mph. At a mellow 4000 rpm cruise, we ran a hair over 30-mph. Vibrations are also reduced from what we’re used to in this type of boat in a stern-drive incarnation. Plus, the Verado version weighs around 400 pounds less than the stern-drive. And you get the full advantage of SmartCraft instrumentation. And the Verado’s reliability, eliminating common stern-drive problem areas like the boot and gimbal bearing. I also appreciated the clunk-free shifting. For you long-term thinkers, consider the easier repowering. Put all of these items together, and you get a strong argument for an outboard. One advantage I thought the 220 Sundeck OB would enjoy was more room at the transom. After all, it seems sensible that getting rid of that big engine hatch would allow you to “make” a lot of new space. But I was dead-wrong in this regard, and the outboard version doesn't have quite as much useable space aft as the stern drive does. Builders have become so good at designing stern drives into boats of this nature that between seating and sunpads the enginebox becomes an asset, along with a huge full-beam swim platform. The outboard, however, forces a break in the middle of that swim platform—without creating any real advantage I can see in the cockpit. The space that would usually house the engine becomes a machinery/bilge space, so there’s no advantage here, either. Score one for the stern-drive.
This year’s 220 passenger capacity jumps from 10 people to 12 as compared to previous year models, and since many of us like to take out large groups of friends and family on the water, this will be a big factor for folks to keep in mind. Cockpit seating is plenty comfy, and I like the way Sea Ray designed the bow cockpit to fit a pair of forward-facing lounging passengers, or four upright-sitting people. The bow is unusually wide for a 21-degree deep-V boat to provide extra space up here, hence the deckboat designation. Truth be told, however, the boat seems to me to lay somewhere between deckboat and traditional deep-V bowrider. Again, remember that sporty performance. Wider, flatter deckboat hulls may have even more space to play on but they just can’t match the deep-V handling, nor do they ride as smoothly in rough seas. Sea Ray is trying to get the best of both worlds in the 220 Sundeck, and they do a pretty good job of it.
|Fuel capacity||45 gal.|
Depending on what options you choose, you can get into a new 220 in the $60K range. But there are a few options you’re likely to consider must-haves. Get the head for the passenger’s side console, for starters. Watersports enthusiasts are going to want the tow tower, which has a slick integrated Bimini top. And if you’re into pulling lots of blow-up tow toys, the 12v air compressor will save you a lot of huffing and puffing. Regardless of what you do or do not want on the Sea ray 220 Sundeck OB, one thing is for sure: being able to choose that Verado powerplant is an ability that makes for more versatility and comfort than ever before. Other Choices: The Bayliner 210 is a smaller, less expensive option which also brings outboard power into the mix. The Stingray 215LR is a stern-drive option to consider. And the Chaparral 224 is another you might want to take a look at. For more information, visit Sea Ray Boats.