Sea Ray's 450 Express Bridge puts a new spin on sporty accommodations.... 

When I view a new boat for the first time, my eyes immediately lock on safety features. The reason is, I operated a 45' convertible alone for years. That's where I learned that if a boat is designed well enough for solo handling, it will be more than comfortable and safe when the crowd comes aboard.

   The new Sea Ray 450 Express Bridge is such a boat. With three staterooms, a large cockpit, bow seating and a sprawling flying bridge, this yacht is the definition of a party boat. Yet sensibilities prevail.

   Wide, molded fiberglass steps with a stainless grabrail lead to the flying bridge from the cockpit. A fiberglass panel drops at the bridge front for access to the foredeck down more molded steps framed in stainless-steel grabrails. The bow area is guarded with bulwarks and an 1-1/8" stainless-steel rail that's waist-high and a factory-installed Lofrans windlass does the heavy lifting for you. Moving aft to sweat a springline, the narrow sidedecks wedge you between the bowrail and the cabin sides. It's tighter than I like but the sidedecks are cantered inward toward the house and more grabrails flank the bridge wings so you won't lose anybody overboard either. The low-profile shelter cabin means the captain will have you in view all the while you move along the sidedecks.

   In the cockpit, port and starboard molded steps provide access forward. Grabrails are right there, too, as well as on the sliding entrance door to the saloon. The cockpit has twin transom doors for reaching the swim platform, which is topped with another grabrail. An option provides a hydraulic lift for easy personal watercraft launching and retrieval. For safe sternline handling, there are 10" stainless-steel cleats on the coaming (which double as aft spring line cleats) and a pair on the transom. If I had to back into a tight slip in a busy marina, I'd have my guests use the coaming cleats to secure the boat initially. After coming off the bridge, I'd likely tie up using the transom cleats so the lines wouldn't flake over the cockpit wall. Rather than reach overboard to snare a line, I'd much prefer having my guests remain in the safety of the cockpit until I can rearrange the lines to my liking. I am impressed with these kinds of choices, which prove to me the builder thought through the details.

   Casual fishermen also should note the transom bench seat folds down for uncluttered cockpit access, although if you prefer more stowage, you can order a fiberglass seat with stowage below. The starboard stowage bin in the transom will accommodate king mackerel, dolphin and school tuna handily. Want a built-in livewell? No problem. The port well, which is designed to chill beverages, can be outfitted with a pump to keep bait frisky.

   The flying bridge is noteworthy on several counts. There's seating forward and abaft the centerline helm station, a wet bar with sink, bottle stowage, icemaker, table, an aluminum-framed windshield and, of course, plenty of stainless-steel handrails. But I overlooked these items at first and focused on the L-shaped helm station, a separate island of sorts on the expansive bridge. Guests can stretch out on the aft bench and back to back seating to starboard. The beauty of this set-up is that no one interferes with the skipper's view ahead. Visibility was great in fact, although I noticed the glare from the sun at my back blanked out the white pointers on the black gauge faces when I stood at the helm. Perhaps it's because I am so used to standing while running a boat. Or, perhaps I just need to learn how to relax more, which I found easier to do once I sat at the helm. An adjustable seat and a tilt wheel let me settle in comfortably behind the burl dash instrument panel. Electronics and accessory switches are to port and the swivel seat makes it an easy motion to access them. The Teleflex controls and hydraulic steering were effortless, although I would prefer a tighter turning radius. Six-and-a-half turns lock-to-lock is more play than I am used to.

  I was spoiled by the smoothness and effectiveness of the underwater exhaust system. Fumes and noise from the optional twin 407 hp 3126TA Caterpillars were buried deep in the wake. Running wide-open, I recorded 81 decibels on the flying bridge. This means if you want to play the stereo, CDs or cassettes under way, it's not necessary to blare the sound system at top volume to the point of distraction. Holding a normal tone conversation is easy to accomplish. It also means you have to glance at the gauges and scan the electronics to appreciate what kind of speed you are making since wind noise rushing through the enclosure opening makes more sound than the Caterpillars.

 

Snappy performance melds with inviting accomodations aboard this sport yacht.

   I also enjoyed the hardware selection in the engineroom under the cockpit sole. The 450 uses V-drives to save cabin space, yet Sea Ray hardly skimped on real estate for the machinery with 4'1" headroom and clearance to get around everything. Each Cat gets two Racor 900s, and the engines and 8kW genset are protected with internal Groco basket type raw-water strainers, a rarity these days. Chafe gear is everywhere it's needed and the electrical, plumbing and mechanical installations are top shelf. So are the gel-coated bilges, which will be easy to keep clean.

   The 450 Express Bridge replaces last year's 440 EB and is 9" wider and 1'6" longer. A reversed floor plan which moves the raised dinette to starboard and the extra interior volume allows for a third stateroom aft with a full-size berth and the standard washer/dryer combo. The master stateroom is forward while the guest stateroom which partially tucks beneath the dinette in the saloon is starboard. Additional privacy is assured by spacing the master head to port and the guest or dayhead to starboard. Even if the VacuFlush heads are used at night, I doubt other guests will know. Corian is used extensively in both heads and each features a circular shower stall.

   Joinery in the saloon and staterooms is cherry with a high-gloss finish. The portside galley features hidden appliances revealed when the joinery is opened. The portside granite-colored countertops are scalloped to create distinct work stations and ease traffic flow, and there's even an area set aside for a computer monitor. A pair of bar stools swivel out handily from beneath the breakfast bar.

   When I was running the 450 EB I could tell immediately that this sport yacht met my criteria for solo operation. But as I backed her into the slip at the factory after the sea trial, I also realized she would be perfect for a couple, a foursome, or as many friends as you could muster onboard.

PERFORMANCE

Speeds collected with GPS measured with four persons aboard, 1/4 fuel, full water on calm water. Sound levels taken at helm.

RPM9001200150018002100240027002800
SPEED/KNOTS7.18.810.014.919.723.125.827.6
SOUND/dBA6568727477788081

 

450 Express Bridge

With room to move, the Sea Ray 450 EB tops out at 27.6 knots with 3126TA Caterpillar diesels.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OTHER SEA RAY YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Yachting Magazine, July 1998 and is written by Peter Frederiksen. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://yachtingmagazine.com/subscribe-to-yachting-magazine

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