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ometimes boats can be predictable. Let’s take 24-foot
cruisers, for example. This is
generally the smallest of the
cruisers, and, when coupled
with an 81/2-foot beam, it gives
boatbuilders just enough space
to craft a comfortable cabin
where a couple or small family
can spend the night. Most cruisers of this size, however, feature
similar cockpit layouts: a helm
seat with a chaise lounge to
port, and a bench seat at the
stern. You don’t see much variety because there’s not a lot of
room for designers to work with.
But when you climb aboard
Sea Ray’s new 240 Sundancer,
you enjoy unpredictability.
Check out the cockpit’s port side
— where is the chaise lounge?
This boat takes a bold step, as
designers transformed the cockpit from a place for reclining and
stretching out to a nautical sitting room built for entertaining
friends and family. And Sea Ray
took this idea to the next level by
positioning the seating so that
passengers face one another,
making conversation much
easier.
In place of the chaise lounge,
the 240 features a pair of seats.
But instead of orienting the
seats aft or forward, they are angled toward amidships — where
the driver and passengers dwell.
Though this idea is new for the
U.S. market, we have seen a similar seat design from Cranchi, an
Italian builder.
Featuring an innovative and hip new
layout, Sea Ray’s 240 Sundancer is made
for entertaining
Social
48
AUGUST 2006
Animal
T RAILERBOATS. COM
ZENON L. BILAS PHOTOS
By Zenon L. Bilas
■ The Sea Ray 240 Sundancer offers
innovative seating that caters to
socializing. You can even sit next to the
driver courtesy of a handy side seat.
T RAILER BOATS
ENTERTAIN LIKE MARTHA
Adding to the livability theme is
the placement of a “shaped”
bar between the two port seats.
The countertop gives at least
those two passengers a place
for food and drinks. But there’s
more to Sea Ray’s unique design: The bar’s countertop
swivels out into the aisle to create additional counter space
and better serve passengers.
Everyone from the helm to the
cockpit can share a bowl of
chips and salsa or a plate of fruit
and cheese.
And the theme of entertaining
AUGUST 2006
49
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
Social Animal
It’s wide and comfortable, and
features a smooth, swing-up
bolster that provides a taller
perch for drivers when needed.
In addition, the helm seat has a
side seat that allows passengers
to sit next to the driver and face
forward — or sit sideways and
talk to passengers on the port
side. The flexibility of this seating clearly gives the 240 Sundancer its own look.
At the aft deck section, we
see the traditional bench seat —
however, Sea Ray provides additional comfort through the use
of a tall backrest and an extralong base that supports the hamstrings of tall adults.
DESIGN TACTICS
The 240 Sundancer’s unique
deck design is ingenious in its
fabrication, too. The intricate
cockpit seating is built into the
deck. So is the small, oval bar on
the port side. By putting the features into the deck mold instead
of adding them afterwards, Sea
Ray was able to get creative
while better controlling costs.
Thanks to this design, all that’s
Test Notes
Facing cockpit seats
are a natural for
entertaining
●
Base engine may be
a bit underpowered
for some tastes
● Flat and wide
gunwales, and boarding steps, make
climbing aboard easy
● Midberth and head
compartment
headroom could be
larger
● Delivers agile
handling and a
smooth, solid ride
■ Much of the 240 Sundancer’s
design is built in and seamless.
Cockpit conversation is easy from any
angle. Note the flat space at the helm
designed for electronics.
missing are the familiar caulk
lines so often seen in boats.
The “built-into-the-deck” design also allowed Sea Ray to install another bar counter with
hidden cooler inside a cabinet
just behind the helm. This bar accommodates passengers relaxing
on the stern seat. As an upgrade,
a sink can be added to turn this
station into a wetbar. It’s a worthwhile option, in our opinion.
ZENON L. BILAS PHOTOS
continues with the helm seat.
This cruiser’s topside layout
also makes things more convenient when entering or exiting
the craft. The deck design features a step built into the port
and starboard aft sections to aid
passengers when climbing into
or out of the boat. In addition,
the gunwales are flat and wide
(7 inches wide, in fact), so
there’s plenty of gunwale space
to use as a step when boarding
from the dock. It’s great to see
a design thought out so completely and executed so well.
INTO THE CABIN
When you enter the cabin of
most cruisers, you will see a
V-berth, galley and head —
basic overnight requirements.
●
50
AUGUST 2006
It’s clear Sea Ray wanted to
give this small cruiser the feel
of a bigger boat by putting a lot
into it.
For example, the 56x66-inch
midcabin berth offers plenty of
width and length. And the removable table that is stored under the forward Vberth is larger than
expected. The galley
station is also a bit
bigger than usual for
Log onto
a 24-footer, and is
TrailerBoats.com
for a detailed look accented by y o u r
c h o i c e o f cabinat the options
etry in maple or
available for Sea
plum. The extra
Ray’s newest
cruiser.
space can be used
for an optional single-burner stove. In addition to
a shorepower system, standard
features include a microwave
oven and a fair-sized, dual-voltage refrigerator.
When you pack so many
features into a 24-footer, however, things can get squeezed
in places. For example, while
the midberth area is fairly
roomy, with only 22 inches of
headroom, it is best suited for
kids. Fortunately, it’s well upholstered, so you don’t have to
worry about them bumping
into anything hard. And
though the enclosed head —
which features a chemical toilet (a VacuFlush unit is optional), vanity and pull-out shower
— has everything you need,
with only 4 feet, 8 inches of
headroom, it can be a bit tight
for big adults.
As you check out Sea Ray’s
new cruiser, it’s quickly apparent that the overall design is attractive. For example, seating
■ The bar behind the helm seat can
be fitted with an optional sink, and
the portside countertop even
swivels out to increase
counter space.
upholstery and headliner vinyl
in the cabin are upscale in looks
and quality. And the hull’s gelcoat luster and color make the
240 Sundancer quite a headturner. The tall stainless steel
bow rails are beautiful. And for
a clean look, a locker at the
stern keeps the fenders out of
sight, yet easily accessible.
The clean look continues in
the engine bay, as the 240 features a gelcoated finish even in a
section that is often hidden. Sea
Ray designed plenty of room in
the bay to work around the
engine.
On the other hand, features
like a galley counter that is
molded fiberglass instead of
faux rock detracts from the pizzazz of this cruiser. And while
— most importantly — the
gauges at the helm are easy to
read, their layout and look are
not as striking as the rest of the
240 Sundancer.
AT THE WHEEL
When you think “cruiser,” you
generally don’t think of exciting
performance. And when cruisers
such as this new model offer
surprising handling, it’s a welcome change. We put the boat
through its paces in Destin,
Florida, in a variety of water
conditions that included blustery
winds and closely spaced 2-foot
chop. The boat carried two men,
test gear and approximately one
half of a load of fuel, or about 35
gallons. And no matter what the
conditions were — smooth or
bumpy — the boat’s most noticeable characteristic was its
turning ability. She turned in
either direction with preci-
Sea Ray 240 Sundancer
■ Although headroom in portions of the cabin can be a little tight, the
V-berth is not short on length and width when it’s time to get horizontal. A
removable table easily stores out of the way.
T RAILERBOATS. COM
handsome cabinetry. A refrigerator,
microwave and shorepower system
are standard.
ENGINE AS TESTED
Make MerCruiser 350 MPI
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Bimini top with boot; Clarion stereo with Sirius
satellite receiver and four speakers; shorepower
system; battery charger/converter; refrigerator;
microwave; Mercury SmartCraft digital
instrumentation
NOTABLE OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT
MerCruiser 350 MPI Horizon/Bravo 3
T E S T
Horsepower
Number of Cylinders
Displacement
Weight
Gear Ratio
Maximum WOT RPM
Propeller
Engine
(rpm)
1000
1500
2000
2500
3000
3500
40002
4500
5000 (WOT)
1 Based on 90% fuel capacity
Idle at Helm (600 rpm)
Idle at Transom (600 rpm)
Cruise at Helm (3000 rpm)
WOT at Helm (5000 rpm)
T RAILER BOATS
Horizon/Bravo 3
300
V-8
5.7L (350 cid)
1046 lbs.
2.20:1
4600-5000
Bravo 3 20” cupped
stainless propset
MerCruiser, Dept. TBM, 3003 N. Perkins Road,
Stil water, OK 74075; 405/743-6566; mercurymarine.com
We extend special thanks to Marine Max (800/5260935; marinemax.com) of North Palm Beach,
Florida, for its assistance in our exclusive photo shoot.
R E S U L T S
40.7
Top Speed
0-30 mph
■ The galley is outfitted with
Sea Ray, Dept. TBM, 2600 Sea Ray Blvd., Knoxville,
TN 37914; 800/SRBOATS; searay.com
Base Price
(w/ MerCruiser
5.0L MPI/Bravo 3) $68,977
Price as Tested (w/o trlr.) $71,644
Length (w/ swimstep) 24’ 6”
Beam 8’ 6”
Deadrise at Transom 18 degrees
Weight 5593 lbs.
Draft (drive down) 37”
Fuel Capacity 75 gals.
Maximum Horsepower 320
mph
Speed
(mph)
(gph)
(mpg)
30.7
13.4
2.3
5.4
6.9
8.3
10.6
18.8
25.6
35.5
40.7
Fuel
1.6
2.5
4.4
6.9
9.0
10.9
18.1
22.4
2 Optimum cruising speed
3.4
2.8
1.9
1.5
2.1
2.3
Range1
(miles)
229
189
128
101
141
155
155
2.0
1.8
135
121
ACCELERATION (seconds)
11.6
SOUND MEASUREMENTS (dBa)
AUGUST 2006
62
74
85
93
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Social Animal
52
AUGUST 2006
ZENON L. BILAS
sion, staying balanced and in
control. In tight turns, the 240
Sundancer cruiser performed
more like an exciting bowrider.
The boat weighs about 5600
pounds, so with its many features, the 240 Sundance is not
light. Yet, despite the wind and
bump, the boat’s solid and
smooth ride under these conditions speaks to Sea Ray’s functional hull design and strong
construction.
From the driver’s point of
view, thoughtful design in front
of the wheel is obvious. A low,
unobtrusive dash brow allows
for an excellent view of the waterway from the helm seat.
Mercury SmartCraft digital instrumentation is standard, and
includes a multifunction
tachometer gauge that provides
helpful fuel-flow information.
We also liked the tilt wheel and
lighted chrome toggle switches
for the controls, but perhaps our
also offers diesel power in the
form of a 157 hp Volvo
Penta D3-160DPS sterndrive
package.
■ Sea Ray’s latest small cruiser is characterized by tough construction,
smooth performance, creative use of space and attractive fit and finish.
favorite feature was the flat panel designed for flushmounted electronics.
Though a 260 hp MerCruiser
5.0L MPI/Bravo 3 package is
the base powerplant, our test
boat featured an optional
MerCruiser 350 MPI Horizon.
Mated to a twin-propeller
Bravo 3 drive, it delivered its
300 horses to the water via
2.20:1 gears and 20-inch-pitch
stainless prop set.
Acceleration to 30 mph aver-
aged 11.6 seconds, and our rig
maxed out at 40.7 mph, which
indicates acceptable, if not exhilarating, performance in terms
of quickness and top end. Assuming that owners will often
have more people, fuel and gear
aboard, our impression is that
the 350 MPI package is probably the least you should consider for this hull; better still, you
might want to step up to the
max-rated 320 hp MerCruiser
MX6.2L MPI/Bravo 3. Sea Ray
T RAILERBOATS. COM
BACK AT THE DOCK
When you step back and observe
the lines of this new Sea Ray
cruiser, its rich gelcoat colors
(black, blue, cinnabar or pewter
hulls are optional) and high luster impress you. And once you
peer into the cockpit, you see a
boat that clearly breaks with tradition — thanks largely to its
unique and varied seating. The
boat’s design shows that small,
trailerable cruisers have room
for innovation.
This is not a boat for families
who want a cockpit characterized by spaciousness and lots of
room for lounging. Instead, the
new 240 Sundancer is clearly
designed for boaters who want
to entertain friends in a more refined way. And in that sense,
Sea Ray’s latest social animal
shows a difference that’s refreshing and welcome.

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