Issue: July 2002
Manufacturer: Sea Ray
Heading down to review this latest Sea Ray 310 Sundancer, the Modern Boating team is sure we are in for a treat. Why ? Because we are going to be testing this boat on the pristine waters of the Port Hacking river. To enlighten those who may not already know, Port Hacking is a small waterway just south of Sydney with its mouth adjacent to Cronulla Beach. Port Hacking’s, or Hacko as it is known by the locals, combination of cavernous deep channels, beaches, sandbars and exceptionally clean water, in close proximity to the Sydney CBD, make it an ideal testing ground for powerboats. On weekends Hacko can get a bit busy, but on this quiet Friday morning it’s perfect. Pretty much like the Sea Ray 310 Sundancer sportscruiser we’ve come to test.
After leaving the marina we feel a tad guilty hurling this 30 odd foot express cruiser across such glassy waters. But luckily when this boat is up and running the wake’s not too chunky. In fact, her wake’s no worse than one thrown by your average 6m family runabout or half cabin. Really we should take the boat through the swells and further out to sea, where we could really let her have it without upsetting anyone. But the back drop spells cruising. And the team feels more like a high speed run than punching through the waves, before cruising around Hacko. This is the best way to get full enjoyment from this style of sportscruiser anyway.
Pushing the pedal to the metal hard, the twin shaftdrive screws rocket the 5500kg hull promptly onto the plane, even though we have a stack of gear aboard. Once up and running, the hull’s stable and balanced with the bow responding extremely well to adjustments of the trim tabs. At 3200rpm the twin 260hp MerCruisers V8s produce a comfortable cruising speed a tad under 20 knots, while 3800rpm pushes the boat along at 22 knots according to our GPS readout. But crank the Sea Ray 310 into hyperdrive and the twin MerCruisers produce 28 knots at 4600rpm. A top speed of around 30 knots should be achievable without a headwind and with a bit more tweaking of the trim tabs. Throwing the boat into a tight turn the hull remains balanced and doesn’t lose too much momentum.
Also, as mentioned earlier, when the hull’s up and running the wake is not too excessive, considering there’s more than five tonnes of boat skipping across the water. Below decks the Sea Ray is all luxury. This particular vessel is decked out to the hilt. She has everything from air-conditioning, run via a Kohler genset, to a television and a multistacker CD. Surprisingly, most of these features come as standard with this boat.
For example, the air-conditiong unit is standard but the genset is an optional extra. Even though the bulkheads are all fibreglass there is still plenty of quality cherry wood cabinet work below, with loads of tasteful bonuses, including tallboy drawers in both the aft and forward sleeping areas.
The below deck layout gives an overall sense of space, which is re-enforced by the amount of room provided by the beamy hull. As you enter the main cabin the toilet and shower are tucked around behind the stairs on the port side. This helps create an openplan layout forward to the unobtrusive structural bulkheads.
But when you are lounging around the dining table looking aft, this same open-plan feel is enhanced by the large access way leading to the aft cabin. The toilet on this craft also has an optional macerator unit attached to it, but this can only be used on some waterways. Also, I wouldn’t plan on having too many long showers, because the 132lt of onboard water won’t go too far.
The galley has all the mod cons including louvred cabinet doors; Corian bench tops; powered ventilation; dual-voltage refrigeration; two-burner electric stove; and a microwave that can be run off shore power, or the Kohler genset. Once you have finished cooking up a storm in the spacious galley it’s back to lounging around sipping cocktails in air-conditioned comfort, while watching a vid on the TV. What! Not laid back enough for you ? How about simply enjoying the music pumping out of the six-stacker CD player, which can also be controlled in the cockpit via a handy remote ? The team agrees that with all this domestic technology surrounding you in the cabin you might feel a little bit detached from the nautical reality lapping around the hull.
But what the hell. If you have it, why not enjoy it ? Plus, you can always climb back out into the cockpit if you want to be more at one with the sea. Up here the wet bar, plush upholstery and vast array of electronic devices are all designed to make your life at sea easy out in the elements. This model comes with a few extras including a forward sunpad with runners and an all-chain anchoring system running through the standard remote windlass. There’s also a remote operated bowmounted spotlight, which will come in handy if you are trying to locate a mooring at night.
On the dash there’s a stack of quality instrumentation for the twin 5.7lt MerCruisers, with room for further inclusions, but what’s surprising is there’s no speedo. The helm station features a compass; horn; fuel; oil; twin tachos and hour meters; trim; volt; water temperature; digital depth sounder and VHF radio. Not to worry about the lack of speedo, because the Modern Boating team always carries its own handheld MLR GPS unit, which gives the team accurate figures on the hull’s performance.
Even so, fitting a speedo to this craft as an extra shouldn’t blow your budget. Overall, the Sea Ray 310 Sundancer exemplifies the high standard of layout and design offered throughout the Sea Ray range. With classic American styling and twin V8 petrol power, you couldn?t ask for too much more from a vessel of this class. And at $309,000 you shouldn’t have to.
Words by Andrew Richardson