It seems like it's always a beautiful day in Newport Beach, California — but this one was especially nice, as we had the opportunity to test a brand-new Sea Ray 460 Sundancer.
Throughout many years on the water, I have skippered nearly every size and model of Sea Ray boat while cruising with friends, chasing marlin offshore or on yacht deliveries. Each time, I have found Sea Rays to be reliable, well-built boats and I have noticed their popularity has always been high — especially in Southern California.
Sea Ray was originally founded in 1959. In 1986, it became part of Brunswick Corp., the world's largest producer of marine engines and boats. Sea Ray was one of the first to use fiberglass and high-tech composite materials in its boats, and the company now produces more than 50 models.
Known as the world's largest manufacturer of recreational boats from 18 to 68 feet, Sea Ray builds everything from sportboats to sport cruisers, sport yachts and large motoryachts. Every boat is designed and initially tested at the company's 70,000-square-foot product development and engineering facility in Florida, which accommodates more than 250 designers, engineers and craftspeople.
Sea Ray is continually searching for new technologies and innovations, which keeps this builder at the forefront with the latest manufacturing processes.
We tested the 460 Sundancer on a sunny summer day with David Foley of Newport Boats, who provided our test boat.
At first glance, the 460's sleek hull design and fiberglass hardtop are immediately eye-catching. The forward hull flare is well designed to knock aside spray, and the section where the portlights are located has a slightly curved radius-outward design.
The bow pulpit is integral to the hull, with stainless steel rails enclosing the foredeck. The Sundancer has a solid molded, raised toe kick — a nice feature when you are walking forward to enjoy the foredeck's optional deck sunpad. In addition, the foredeck offers a windlass and anchor locker, and a spotlight is located on the tip of the pulpit.
Big and Friendly
The boat is 51 feet, 4 inches in length, with a beam of 14 feet, 8 inches that helps create a spacious cockpit for sportfishing or relaxing in the open air. The swim platform has a concealed swim ladder, and a transom compartment houses the boat's Glendinning Cablemaster shore power cord system.
There is plentiful seating in the lower area of the cockpit, with an electrically operated aft bench settee along the transom and an aft-facing curved bench seat backing the helm — separated by a movable table. The cockpit is equipped with a wet bar, a DC breaker panel on the port side and storage compartments.
You can reach the engine room through a hatch in the cockpit deck — and we enjoyed the additional headroom provided in this compartment, when compared to other boats of this size. The engine room is nicely gelcoated and insulated with a 2-inch vinyl barrier.
The main components in this space are an auxiliary generator and twin 446 hp Cummins 480 CE diesel V-drives, with underwater exhaust to help reduce noise under way. I noticed that the engines, hoses, Y-valves and seacocks are easily accessible, without having to become a contortionist.
The helm station, located under the hardtop, offers a nice dash layout with a digital engine display, gauges and electronics. Our test boat's package included Raymarine's RL80C and RH300 GPS and autopilot.
The switch panel is located on the right side of the console. A Euro-style adjustable skipper's seat is located on the starboard side, with additional guest seating centered at the helm, leaving the port side open for cabin access.
Foley started the main engines while the dock crew handled the lines and stowed the fenders for us, as we prepared to make the 45-minute-long cruise through Newport Harbor to reach the Pacific Ocean. I noticed that, at 5.5 knots, the engines were burning only 1 gallon of fuel per hour.
During our no-wake cruise through the harbor, I decided to go exploring belowdecks. I entered the saloon to find comfortable and inviting quarters, with deep pile carpeting, blossom cherry wood finishes and light-colored headliner.
The galley is located on the port side and offers a notable amount of cabinet space and drawer storage. The galley's countertop looks especially large, thanks to molded covers that conceal the sink and stovetop.
The 460 comes equipped with a coffeemaker, a microwave/convection oven, a three-burner cooktop and an upright refrigerator/freezer. Additionally, on the port side between the galley and forward stateroom, our test boat had a wall-mounted flat-screen television with a Bose surround-sound stereo system — including a DVD/CD player.
The main saloon has comfortable Ultraleather seating, with both an inclining chair and a sofa that turns into a slide-out berth with the flip of a switch. There is cabinet storage above the seating along the starboard headliner.
In the center of the saloon is a movable oval-shaped high-low table that has two kidney-shaped padded stools. Each stool tucks in out of the way under each end of the table, when not in use.
One head is located on the saloon's port side with access from the saloon or forward stateroom and the other head is located in the aft stateroom. The forward head has an enclosed shower with the aft head utilizing a pullout faucet sprayer, and both have VacuFlush toilets. There are two staterooms, as mentioned, and both have solid sliding pocket doors for privacy.
The forward stateroom has a flat-screen television that you can watch from your full-size berth. The berth offers storage underneath, where a subwoofer for the surround-sound stereo system is installed.
A vanity with a stool is located to starboard, and the stateroom is completed with two hanging lockers (to port and starboard).
The aft stateroom serves a dual purpose. It is a conversation area open to the main saloon during the day, then converts into an enclosed stateroom at night. You slide the dual sliding doors closed, then transform the area's wide settee into a full-size berth.
The stateroom also has a cedar-lined hanging locker and a flat-screen television.
At the Helm
After my tour belowdecks, I returned to the helm. As we cleared the jetty and left Newport Harbor, Foley offered me the helm. It was time to kick it up a notch, for some fast-paced cruising into 2-to-3-foot seas.
The hydraulic shifters had a good feel, and we found the ride starting out to be smooth and seakindly.
We hit wide-open throttle at 2,600 rpm, at 29.1 knots into the swell — while burning 49.1 gph. I backed down to cruise at 2,200 rpm maintaining a respectable 22.3 knots — and using considerably less fuel, at 29 gph.
This was a solidly constructed boat. We heard no rattles, pounding, thumping or other noises that are present on many boats as they perform maneuvers at top speed.
We put the boat through its paces, running figure eights, running through our wake at speed, throttling back from wide-open throttle to no throttle. The boat performed very well and handled like a champ — and tracked smoothly even when I let go of the wheel at wide-open throttle.
We found that with trim tabs completely raised, the bow was a little high — but the boat was well balanced and capable of cruising at 24 knots, at 2,400 rpm. We could feel the improved handling and noticed the speed when we trimmed out the boat.
After cruising outside the harbor for a while, we started our journey back to the docks. Even with a slight beam wind, Foley let me back this new 460 into its slip.
We had no problem walking this boat into position, as it offers good visibility aft. Still, it must have been a little nerve wracking for Foley to sit back and watch a writer back a brand-new boat into a slip. (Happily, we did so without scratching the sides or taking out the swim platform.)
I like this boat and its handling characteristics — both while cruising in the open ocean and while backing in to a slip. This is a boat that truly performs as beautifully as it looks — and one that looks as good running fast as it does standing still.
Sea Ray 460 Sundancer Specifications
|Fuel capacity||400 gallons|
|Water capacity||100 gallons|
|Maximum power||twin 460-hp diesel engines with V-drives|
|Price as tested with 446-hp Cummins 480 CE diesel engines with V-drives||$598,000|
|Top speed||29.1 knots|
|Miles per gallon at 22.3-knot cruising speed||.77|
|Estimated fuel cost for 100 miles||$238.96|
|Range at 22.3-knot cruising speed||307 miles|
|Sound level at 22.3-knot cruising speed||82 dB A|
(Estimated fuel cost ased on a fuel price of $1.84 per gallon.)
SmartCraft instrumentation and diagnostics system; 25,000 Btu zone-controlled reverse-cycle air-conditioning/heating system; carbon monoxide monitors; elliptical stainless steel rails; choice of blossom cherry or natural maple interior wood finishes; fiberglass hardtop with stainless steel grabrails and overhead lighting; six beverage holders; locking screened cabin door; self-bailing cockpit; Sunbrella canvas; ice-maker and wet bar in cockpit; two rod holders; Glendinning Cablemaster system with wireless remote; engine synchronizer; oil changer system for engines, transmissions and generator; crossover fuel system; Racor fuel filters; windshield wipers and washer system; two 13-inch television/DVD combos in staterooms; 20-inch flat-screen LCD television in saloon; DVD player; Clarion AM/FM/digital cassette/CD stereo with 6-CD changer; VacuFlush head system; cockpit shower (hot and cold); freshwater washdown system; anchor washdown; Lofrans Progress II windlass.
Generator sound shield; 6 kw diesel generator; bow thruster; CE option; satellite television system; wood galley sole; remote-controlled spotlight with dual halogen bulbs; cockpit refrigerator; 16,000 Btu air-conditioning/heating system for cockpit; central vacuum system; washer/dryer; Bose Lifestyle 35 Acoustimass surround sound stereo system with DVD player; Sea Ray Navigator sunlight-viewable 10.4-inch LCD PC chart plotter with touch screen; satellite radio; hydraulic marine lift at swim platform.
Fiberglass hull; fiberglass Hatman stringer system; high-performance Vinylester resin; molded fiberglass toe rail; 316 stainless steel rails; eight custom through-bolted stainless steel cleats; PVC rubrail with stainless steel insert; integral engine room vent system.
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Sea Ray Boats