Designed with the cruiser in mind, Sea Ray’s 360 Sundancer offers pleasurable opportunities.

"That’s my boat over there," the guy on the dock said to me as I stood on the swim platform and put a final wrap on the stern line. He was gesturing towards a 29-foot Sea Ray Sundancer a few slips over. I had just backed his boat’s big sister, the new Sea Ray 360 Sundancer, into her rather tight spot at Surfside 3’s make-ready yard at the dealership’s Lindenhurst, New York, facility. With boats on either side both longer than my boat and possessing rather imposing pulpits, the approach, setup, and final commitment had nudged the usual pucker factor towards the top.

The wind was down, and with just a bit of tide, all I needed to do was angle the bow slightly into the flow and bring her on back. Once her stern was inside the first two pilings, I gave her a nudge to port and we were done.

"Looked pretty easy," he said. "This time," I replied. "But I’m more used to using electronic controls than these mechanical ones," I added, casting a wary eye on the two pulpits that seemed to dwarf my test boat.

But for missing those electronic controls, which are my preference purely out of habit, I found the boat’s abilities with the docking maneuvers under these conditions to be smooth and easy. I got a good bite from the 21x23 four-blade Nibral wheels and quick response from the 370-hp 8.1 MerCruiser Horizon gasoline inboards. I’d also gotten good performance from the combination during the sea trial I was just returning from: a WOT speed of 40.2 mph and fast cruise speed of 37.1 mph, not bad for a boat that doesn’t aspire to performance as much as comfort. And out on the glassy-smooth water, her steering was quick and sure, thanks to the Teleflex SeaStar hydraulic steering system. While the conditions precluded me discerning the 360’s seakeeping abilities, I did notice little bow rise on acceleration and a rather quick jump out of the hole courtesy of those big V-8s

Those powerplants are nestled neatly beneath the cockpit sole and easily accessed via an electrically controlled hatchway. That opening, by the way, yawns large enough to allow plenty of room to swing a wrench or change a filter on an inboard or do any work on the outboard sides of the engines. When the hatchway is closed, the cockpit, with its opposing benchseats and removable table, becomes the perfect spot for taking in the sights while underway or for snacking during a day on the hook. In addition, the table lowers, and with the filler cushions in place the cockpit does double duty as a huge sunpad. Like every seating area on this boat, it’s chock-full of cupholders.

"I was thinking of bumping up to a larger boat," my dockside friend mentioned. He went on to explain that he and his son did a little fishing now and then on the Great South Bay, but now that his other child was old enough, he and his wife wanted to broaden the family’s boating horizons with the option of some long weekend getaways. And yes, price was a consideration.

With that in mind I invited him aboard to have a look at my test boat. It didn’t take long for him to see what Sea Ray had in mind when it launched the 360: cruising and family fun. She has a swim platform big enough (9'10" long and 2'11" wide) to tote a dinghy while providing swimmers, snorkelers, or even scuba divers with plenty of room for their activities. There’s a large stowage area built into the transom for holding all their gear plus fenders and lines, which is accessed from the platform, as well as the requisite compartment for the handheld hot and cold shower. Another large stowage compartment lies beneath the aforementioned cockpit seat, and to facilitate family entertaining, there’s also a sink to port with more stowage cabinets beneath as well as a refrigerator and freezer combo. My visitor noted that there was even sufficient room in the cockpit to bring in the occasional striper or bluefish.

We found the 360’s starboard helm well laid out, with all dials, gauges, switches, and controls within an average person’s reach. The helmsman is treated to a bucket seat with flip-up bolster, and there’s a wide companion seat just to port for the rest of the family. The 360’s elevated express configuration supplies unobstructed sight lines whether you’re standing or sitting at the helm, and the fiberglass radar arch, with recessed lighting and side grabrails, adds just the right rake to her clean profile.

For all her exterior amenities, it is down below where the 360 shows off the kind of cruising-in-comfort possibilities my friend was looking for. With 6'8" headroom, there’s all the space a traveling family would need, and the aft cabin converts to a double sleeper that’s perfect for the kids. Its well-padded overhead will prevent the stars from coming out early due to a sudden stand up.

Sea Ray 360 Sundancer Performance SpecsMoving through the boat, we found the main cabin’s banquette seating to starboard also converts to a double bed. Entertainment is supplied by an eight-speaker stereo with CD and subwoofer, and an adjoining table makes serving from the port-side galley easy. The galley is equipped with a two-burner Kenyon electric stovetop, Panasonic microwave, sufficient countertop space, side-by-side undercounter refrigerator and freezer units, television and VCR combo, and plenty of drawer and cabinet space. The head is just aft of the galley and offers a stand-up shower with curved plastic doors and VacuFlush MSD.

The forward stateroom has a pair of pocket doors for privacy, a centerline berth, and a clothing locker on each side as well as stowage cabinets. A television and VCR unit is conveniently mounted here also.

My time aboard the 360 was just about up, and as I packed up my gear I made one last check to make sure I didn’t overlook anything. I noticed my visitor up on the bow, leaning on the stainless steel rail and looking out into the waterway. "Well, what do you think?" I called out from the cockpit. He made his way aft and helped me set my gear on the dock. "It might be just what I need for my next boat," he said. Based on what he told me of his boating needs, I had to agree.

The 360 may be just the ticket for boaters like my dock friend. It offers a nice balance of maneuverable size, reasonable price ($237,589 with twin 370-hp 8.1 MerCruiser Horizon V-drive gasoline inboards), and practical accommodations for the cruising family and is an easy step up for owners of 29- to 34-footers. Add Sea Ray’s vast dealer and service network along with the traditionally good resale value of its boats, and owning a 360 Sundancer can not only be delightful but downright practical as well.

Base price: $237,589 with 2/370-hp 8.1L MerCruiser Horizon gasoline V-drive inboards
Optional power: 2/240-hp KAMD 44P EDC Volvo Penta diesel inboards; 2/292-hp 6LP-STE Yanmar diesel inboards
Standard equipment: extended swim platform; electric windshield vent; Sunbrella aft curtain, aft sunshade, bimini top, front and side curtains; Lofrans Progress I windlass; snap-in cockpit carpet liner; electrically actuated engine room hatch; cockpit wetbar and icemaker

SPECIFICATIONS
LOA: 39'0" w/platform
Beam: 12'6"
Draft: 3'1"
Weight: 18,500 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 250 gal.
Water capacity: 55 gal.
Test engines: 2/370-hp 8.1L MerCruiser Horizon gasoline V-drive inboards
Transmissions: Twin Disc
Ratio: 2.5:1
Props: 21x23, 4-blade Nibral
Steering: Teleflex SeaStar hydraulic
Controls: Teleflex mechanical
Optional equipment on test boat: 5-kW Westerbeke gasoline genset; Raymarine electronics package including Raypilot 7001+ chartplotter; 425 LCD radar, RL70CRC 7" color LCD high-resolution w/GPS/Raychart open array; black Sunbrella canvas package; central vacuum; cockpit refrigerator

CLICK HERE TO SEE SEA RAY YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Power & Motoryacht Magazine, January 2002 and is written by Captain Ken Kreisler. For more great powerboat reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/uncategorized/subscribe-power-motoryacht

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