Sea Ray 275 Sundancer Review

Issue: April 2003
Manufacturer: Sea Ray 

The Sea Ray 275 is a typical family orientated express cruiser in the popular 26′ to 30′ size range. She’s small enough for one person to handle and keep the budget in check, but large enough for the whole family to stay overnight in relative comfort. Plus, she also has a fair amount of grunt to add a bit of spice to those weekends away.

Normally, 27 foot boats don’t have a bow thruster fitted, or even one offered as an option, but this boat did. And it proved its worth from the moment I took over the helm. The Modern Boating team was conducting this test with the help of Russell and Andrew Short, heading out from their marina at Yowie Bay in Port Hacking, Sydney.

I had just dropped Russell off onto another Sea Ray that was to be the photo boat for the shoot, but there was a strong southerly blowing. Before I knew it was drifting too close to some oyster ridden shallows at the northern end of Burraneer Bay. With no space in which to turn, because of all of the other moored boats; a quick twist of the thruster toggle got us out of a very tight spot.

It was an experience that really demonstrated the benefits of a bow thruster – a small bow-mounted prop in a tube powered by a separated electric engine that enables sidewards movement, even on a small cruiser. This particular model didn’t have a lot of grunt, but it still did the job well.

As a dealer fitted option it will set you back around $7000. The 275 Sundancer is an express cruiser with the high quality finish for which Sea Ray boats are renowned. Sea Rays are built in the USA and are part of the huge Brunswick Corporation, which manufactures a range of other leading boat brands such as Bayliner and Maxum as well as Mercury engines.

Sea Ray is its top-of-the-line range and features luxury fittings, quality internal woodwork, leather upholstery and plenty of attention to detail during their construction. The internal layout of this 27′ craft also demonstrates clever use of available space. There’s a forward convertible vee-berth/dining settee in the bow and a port galley and starboard head/shower. The main cabin is also well lit from hatches in its roof.

On the port side is the entryway to a roomy aft cabin, located under the helm area, that’s just great for the kids. The aft cabin has a small window for ventilation and enough headroom so its occupants don’t feel claustrophobic.

Climb up the stairs and you enter the cockpit. There is a bolster bucket seat at the helm adjacent to a settee that converts into a sun lounge on port side. Move further aft and there is a step down to a bench seat nook that has a removable table and a wet bar with under bench cooler. It’s the perfect place for twilight drinks, or that light summer lunch. The table has to be removed to make up the sun lounge, but there is storage for it in a starboard locker located in the main cabin.

The cockpit is where most of the fun is to be had. The transom door opens onto a swim platform, where there’s a freshwater hand shower and a concealed swim ladder. I can visualise the kids all hanging around the swim platform while the oldies sip on an ale served from the wet bar. Hang on. I’ve just had another more inviting thought. A few young ladies out with the boys on Sunday, the bikini-clad girls are sun baking on the sun lounge and bow sun pad, while the guys and I sip Crownies around the helm station. Delightful. Either way, with the capacity to seat nine in the cockpit, this layout would keep most boaties happy.

It’s worth mentioning that Sea Ray 275 had a stainless steel brace set-up on the transom to hold a Zodiac RIB tender onto the swim platform. This made launching the dinghy, a snitch. It was a hot summers day and the team was quite impressed by this boat’s performance and handling as we headed out across the bar at the entrance to Port Hacking, heading towards Jibbon Beach.

This area normally has a bit of swell rolling through it, which sometimes turns into a break around the shallows between Gunnamatta Bay and Bundeena. It’s known as bay surf. But there was no bay surf today, just steep crests, which the Sea Ray 275 tackled easily at around 22 knots.

We had to be careful with trim tab and sterndrive adjustment, but once set, the hull sliced through steep swells cleanly. The driving position had good visibility and in these conditions it was easier to stand at the helm using the adjustable steering wheel.

You also have to keep in mind that this rig is not light, so in the turns she needed a bit of stick to keep her on course. But the MerCruiser 260hp MPI engine had more than enough grunt to hold the Sea Ray on line.

Spinning a 17″ prop, driving through a Bravo II leg, she revved out to 5100rpm and hit a top speed 28 knots. During the test we found a comfy cruise speed was 21 knots pulling 4000rpm. The 275 Sundancer’s dash featured full instrumentation including fuel; volts; GPS boat speed; trim; tacho with hour gauge; oil pressure and water temp. Also at our fingertips were controls for the horn; nav lights; wiper; courtesy lights; water pressure; bilge pump; windlass; engine blower and bow thruster.

The clarion CD player had a small remote control unit located on the dash, close to the Lowrance depth gauge and the controls for the automatic fire extinguisher system. To guide us the right direction there was a Hummingbird GPS/Chartplotter, a dash mounted compass and a 27Mhz radio.

Overall the Sea Ray 275 is a well balanced package ideal as a family overnighter, or day boat for a crowd. The quality of finish was high as was the top speed of 28 knots, which isn’t bad for a relatively heavy single engine rig.

The Sea Ray 275 Sundancer costs $153,864 as tested including bow thruster, or around $133,000 as a basic package.

Engine Room
The 275 Sundancer was powered by a 260hp 5lt MPI MerCruiser spinning a 17″ inch prop through a Bravo II sterndrive leg.

Story by Andrew Richardson