VOICES OF EXPERIENCE
By Richard Thiel
Power & Motoryacht, June 1998
A couple of veteran powerboaters cast a hard eye on Sea Ray's 560 Sedan Bridge and like what they see.
(Above): With a brace of 776-hp Caterpillar diesel inboards in her engine room, Sea Ray's latest Sport Yacht turns in an impressive top speed of 34.6 mph.
After 26 boats in 18 years, Nort and Toby Saul know a thing or two about what they like. And they like Sea Ray's new 560 Sedan Bridge.
Owners of a 1996 Sea Ray 55 Sedan Bridge, the Sauls had been invited by Sea Ray to ride along on our boat test during the Miami International Boat Show. The company apparently valued them as potential purchasers of its latest Sport Yacht, but the Sauls also turned out to be a major resource for my valuation of the 560.
Topping the Sauls' comments on the 560 was "love the layout." Specifically, they liked the galley, which they observed has "less plastic" and more aesthetically pleasing materials, including matching fabric blinds and curtains, oak cabinetry (cherry is a no-cost option), and Corian countertops. Toby deemed the galley - forward, to starboard, and on the same level as the saloon - "much wider than ours" and observed that such spaciousness was due in large part to the undercounter Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer and unobstructed outboard windows and windshield that provide panoramic views.
Stowage was another key element in the Sauls' evaluation, and this galley delivered with lots of cabinetry above and below counter, including dedicated dish stowage and a handy removable trash container. The sole here is solid oak, and both the sink and stove can be covered with Corian panels to maximize work space. That's a nice touch, but I noticed that there was no place to stow the panels, a particular problem for the large, surprisingly heavy piece that covers the three-burner Kenyon stove.
Directly to port and up a step (to make room for the stateroom beneath), the dinette can easily seat six adults. Its top, of matching Corian, folds back and turns into a set of drink holders, and there's stowage beneath the seat. A full-beam shelf forward and immediately abaft the windshield is ideal for stuff you want ready access to.
The Sauls are one of those couples who really use their boat, taking at least one trip a month to such far-flung destinations as Eleuthera and the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. Not surprising, then, that a roomy, comfortable saloon is important to them. Both commented on the 560's headroom of 6'8" and its light decor, a combination of maple burl, light oak trim, and tan vinyl upholstery that looks and feels for all the world like leather. I liked the fact that as soon as you walk in the door from the cockpit, all light switches - even those for the bilge and cockpit - are immediately on your right and clearly labeled. The entertainment center, complete with a drawer especially for stowing VCR tapes, is in the aft starboard corner, which means as many as eight can view the standard TV from the comfortable C-shape, port-side sofa. As for music, the 560 offers a luxury that would appeal to any cruiser: two standard Clarion CD players, one for the saloon (that feeds Bose Accoustimas speakers) and one for the flying bridge.
Above: Emphasis in the saloon is on livability, hence the bright, comfortable ambiance, a melange of maple burl and light oak trim, and enough seating to accommodate a crowd.
Left: The master stateroom contains an extra-wide island berth. The hatch above it (with retractable mosquito screen and shade) makes sunlight and fresh air easily accessible. Right: The U-shape galley here has more features than most, with Corian countertops, natural light streaming in from side windows and a windshield, and an adjoining six-seat dinette.
The coffee table in front of the sofa is free-standing, so you can push it in for dining or pull it out for casual entertaining. In the saloon, as throughout the 560, air conditioning outlets are recessed into the valances. This treatment is not only more appealing visually but it's quieter, too.
The cockpit's well-rounded shape was one reason the Sauls judged the 560 "more European" than their boat, but they saved most of their praise for the easy-to-scale, molded-in stairs to the flying bridge, a feature Nort said he waited for before buying his 55. I was impressed by how well Sea Ray integrated standard fishing features, which include a big transom door, fresh-water washdown, large and small transom wells, and four rod holders. Balancing these are standard, snap-in berber carpeting (under which our boat had optional teak decking), a large swim platform with centerline ladder, and a surprisingly comfortable transom seat that folds flush when you're ready to make use of all those fishing amenities.
But the most remarkable aspect of this cockpit is below decks. Lift a hatch on gas-assisted struts, and you step down into a lazarette, which I estimated to be about 14 feet long. It's a great place to stow big stuff like spare props and shafts. What's surprising is that you can order the 560 with a module that drops into this space and turns the whole thing into roomy crew quarters. Either way, the engine room, with four-foot headroom, is directly forward (compared to being accessed from the saloon in the Sauls' boat). More attention to detail: all eight batteries are contained in custom-made boxes, all pumps are live-mounted on rubber hose to damp vibration, and there's even a 12-volt outlet and fresh-water spigot with hose down here.
Toby remarked a number of times that she "couldn't believe the space" on a boat only slightly longer than hers. Among the areas she was referring to was the flying bridge, which Sea Ray obviously designed for entertaining. A big settee abaft the helm and 270-degree seating forward of it can combine to cosset as many as a dozen passengers.
The helm itself is uncluttered, even with the Raytheon electronics package (Ray Data, Ray Plot, Chart Display, Ray Pilot, and R41XX radar), Sea Ray systems monitor, and Vetus bow thruster control. Part of the credit for the spacious look up here goes to the standard hardtop that blends seamlessly with the radar arch. It includes an electronics box with flip-down VHF/loudhailer compartment, stainless steel grabrails, integral lights with dimmer, and a full isinglass enclosure. The Sauls opined that while their boat's bridge might not look so sleek, its isinglass could be put up more quickly. They also observed that the 560's bridge offered less stowage, but that was probably due to the air handler in the forward compartment for the optional flying bridge air conditioner.
The Sauls also liked the 560's three-cabin layout with port and starboard guest quarters and forward master stateroom that measures eight feet from cabin door to berth and offers 6'8" headroom. In comparing the en suite master head (containing a stall shower with molded-in seat) and guest head to their facilities, Toby could only marvel at the room and amenities. "There's just no comparison," she judged.
But the Sauls saved their greatest praise for the 560's performance. Powered by twin 600-hp DDC 6V-92s, their 55 is no slouch, but when they felt our test boat, with its 776-hp Caterpillar 3406Es, accelerate and saw our radar gun register a top speed of more than 34 mph and a cruise speed of better than 30 mph, they were clearly impressed. Impressed enough to trade in their 55? "We're thinking about it," Nort offered. "Regardless, it's amazing how much Sea Ray has improved this boat in just two years."
Coming from a couple who has spent most of their life on the water - and a large part of that onboard Sea Rays - that's a considerable compliment.
PMY TESTED: SEA RAY 560 SEDAN BRIDGE
|Base price:||$1,150,000 with 2/640-shp Caterpillar 3196TA diesel inboards|
|Optional power:||2/735-shp Detroit Diesel 8V-92TA or 2/776-shp Caterpillar 3406E diesel inboards|
|Standard equipment:||Lofrans windlass; snap-in cockpit carpet; transom door; fiberglass hardtop; galley; undercounter refrigerator, freezer, trash compactor, Nutone blender, microwave/convection oven; digital LCD systems monitor; Bose Lifestyle AM/FM radio/CD; saloon entertainment center with surround-sound system for TV|
|Construction:||hand-laid fiberglass w/vinylester resin; all-fiberglass stringer system; osmotic barrier coat below waterline|
|Fuel capacity:||800 gal.|
|Water capacity:||200 gal.|
PMY TEST RESULTS
|Engines:||2/776-shp Caterpillar 3406E diesel inboards|
|Props:||30x34 4-blade Nibral|
|Controls:||Twin Disc electronic|
|Optional equipment on test boat:||Vetus bow thruster, bridge A/C, Sea Recovery watermaker; teak cockpit sole|
Conditions: temperature: 72°; humidity: 60%; wind: 10 knots; seas: 1-2 feet; load: full fuel, no water, 8 persons, min. gear. Speeds are two-way averages, measured Stalker w/radar gun. GPH measured w/Caterpillar electronic monitoring monitor. Range: 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Decibels measured on A scale. 65 dB is the level of normal conversation.
Left and center: Whether you prefer Pullman-style or parallel berths, the guest quarters onboard have you covered. Right: The en suite master head has a separate stall shower, with molded seat.
560 Sedan Bridge
This review/article originally appeared in Power & Motoryacht Magazine, June 1998 and is written by Richard Thiel. For more great boat reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/uncategorized/subscribe-power-motoryacht