Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht Review

Issue: September 2002
Manufacturer: Sea Ray 

The Modern Boating team first saw the Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, where Barry Bailey, Manager of Sea Ray’s Asia Pacific arm, told us he was keen for people to compare the new boat’s interior space with its competitors.

So we took up the offer to checked out his sales pitch. Once below decks it was obvious. In terms of interior space – usable, liveable space – the Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht has few, if any, peers. Or at least few that aren’t much, much bigger.

Barry continued his spiel, telling us that the concept of this boat came about following functions organised by Sea Ray in 15 American cities. The guests were all 45 to 65-years old, been there done that, quite a few boats down the track boaties, who were either retired, almost retired, or about to retire.

To cut the rest of the story short, the 480 Motoryacht is the result of input from those 200 plus people, all of whom had a pretty darn good idea of what they wanted in, and from, a boat. How relevant North American ideas might be down under is another story, but after testing the boat we suspect them to be extremely relevant.

Yes, the 480’s certainly outside the square of established Aussie convention, but it works perfectly. Given the outcome of Barry’s boat show challenge it’s apparent that this boat’s sheer “liveability” should earn it a place in the hearts of Aussie owners. Or at least amongst those in a position to see the value for money in the asking price – a step or two uphill from the million dollar hump.

Boarding the Sea Ray 480 at the marina is also uphill, because you have to climb a set of stairs on the stern to reach a bridge deck, which Sea Ray refer to as the cockpit. The helm, instrumentation and controls are much like any other flybridge control station, except that you have to walk across a roomy carpeted aft deck to reach it. Whatever you prefer to call it, this entire area is covered by a solid hardtop and surrounded by swept glass forward and neatly fitted clears aft. Thick acrylic doors lead out onto the cabin top.

Being rugged, outdoor Aussies devoted to fresh air, sunshine and balmy breezes, we had to open one of these to appreciate the centrally vented 38,000 BTU reverse cycle air conditioning controlling the climate on the upper deck. Outside, cold gusts, straight from the chilly heights of New England, were hitting around 25 knots. But with the door closed again, it was quite pleasant.

Of course the whole upper deck can be opened to the fresh air by simply rolling up the clears, but during our hot and humid summers, when plagues of insects tend to roam, it might be prudent to promptly close it all up again and stay in the air conditioning.

The bridge also has excellent 360 degree views around the boat’s extremities, which help greatly when slipping this 48 footer into her berth. Still on the bridge, entertainment amenities include a fridge/ice maker, sink and trash receptacle and the stereo system. On the practical side, the helm seating can aptly be described as a companion bench. It has an electrically adjusted helm seat facing a tilt adjustable wheel at the bottom of a three-tier instrument display.

Raymarine electronics include a 48 mile PL80 C colour radar integrated with a RN300 GPS chartplotter, a multi function Tridata ST-60 sounder/speed/sumlog, a model 220 VHF radio and a ST7001 autopilot. These are set below easy-to-read analogue tachometers and multi function LCD monitors for the engines.

But while the team’s infatuation with this boat centres around the word liveability, at the controls the boat’s layout is practical. Ground tackle can be set and stowed without leaving the wheel. There are big, efficient wipers to clear the view in bad weather and easy to reach lockers. These all add up to a well thought out boat. While staying with this line of thought, let’s leave the best to last. We’ll bypass the saloon and go below. By lifting the stairs leading to the forward accommodations, on their gas assisted struts, you encounter what Sea Ray call the “utility room”.

It houses a full-size washing machine and clothes dryer on one side and a large storage space on the other. “Somewhere to put the bloody golf clubs”, as one prospective customer described it. Further along are the battery chargers, kept here away from the engine room’s unavoidable heat. While still in the utility room we noted the neatly laid out and colour coded hot and cold water system plumbing, with shut off valves fitted to each individual line. That’s also good thinking. Something as simple as a leaking tap can be isolated and serviced, without compromising the entire plumbing system. A central vacuum cleaner system also resides in the utility room.

Moving back into the saloon, but just for a moment while we enter the engine room itself after lifting a hatch in the saloon floor – on its gas assisted struts of course. Down the stainless steel ladder we find the engine room is laid out with the same neat logic as the utility room. Even the fuel filters are placed where someone who isn’t a contortionist dwarf can service them. The same philosophy has been used on the sanitation system. It is also set in its own dedicated area, as are the batteries and the 12.5 KVA Westerbeke 240V generator set.

Back in the saloon there is headroom for someone 6′ 4″ tall in the old scale, which contributes to a feeling of space experienced throughout the living area. The saloon takes up most of the central cabin. It has a U-shaped lounge to starboard and a smaller lounge to port near the entry. The ottomans can either be converted to cocktail tables, or stow completely to clear floor space. It’s a great place to entertain, because there’s plenty of room for six or more people to relax in style and comfort.

If your guests can’t to entertain themselves, then the entertainment system on the aft bulkhead contains a television, VCR, AM/FM radio and a six-stacker CD stereo system. All the seating is upholstered in classy Ultraleather, which we assumed was the real stuff until told otherwise, while the marine carpets are quality Sunbrella. The galley is set forward and down with a step up to the dinette beside it.

The galley floor is polished timber, which makes sense when cleaning up the inevitable spills and splashes. There’s a recessed three-burner stove, microwave/convection oven, a domestic sized refrigerator/freezer, coffee maker, big sink and ample cupboard space with dedicated racks for plates.

From the saloon it’s downstairs, either forward or aft, to the sleeping luxurious accommodation in the staterooms. The stateroom in the bow has a full-size bed with an innerspring mattress. It is spacious, has ample hanging and storage space and a large dual entry forward bathroom. Because of the two-way entry this is, effectively, an en suite to the forward stateroom, albeit one shared with the other forward stateroom and the salon upstairs.

About the only space on board that isn’t notably spacious is what we call the kids’ room to starboard, opposite the forward head. Here infill cushions turn the pair of singles bunks into a double bed when needed. Although not as roomy as the other staterooms, it has a full length hanging space, which, like all the clothes storage aboard, is cedar lined. A light is also positioned above the wardrobe’s mirrored doors.

Now let’s go aft to the piece de resistance, the master stateroom. In here the only natural light comes from a window in the stern above the queen size bed. We found it a little gloomy until the lights went on, but otherwise this stateroom, with the accent on “room”, is quite capable of selling itself and probably the boat! By positioning upper deck above it, the aft stateroom is able to utilise all of the boat’s 4.6m beam. Actually, the Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht’s master stateroom is more bedroom than stateroom.

The bed is queen size with an inner spring mattress and there’s heaps of room to move around below a full height ceiling. There are two spacious wardrobes, plenty of clothes drawers, a separate vanity area with its own sink, a makeup mirror and stool. All this plus a separate toilet and shower.

This boat was designed so that six people could live aboard for extended periods in genuine comfort, even luxury. Everyone has their own space and nobody has to live in anybody else’s proverbial pocket. The Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht’s layout offers both privacy and the ability to entertain in style, because of the amount of usable space on board. But it also has a practical side. It’s a boat built for people who know boats, although this doesn’t precludes those who are new to boating, or those who prefer to pay others to get their hands dirty and employ a crew. But if you prefer to run the boat yourself, service the things that need servicing and fix the things that inevitably don’t work how they should, life is easy aboard a Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht.

On our third attempt we finally managed some weather appropriate for a photo shoot and the Gold Coast turned on one of those magic winter days southern Queensland is famous for. We let the 480 loose over the Seaway to spend a most enjoyable hour or so offshore, before recording our performance figures on calmer water inside the entrance.

To get the benefit of the great aft cabin will set you back around $1.3 million and in the team’s opinion it’s worth every cent. 

Engine Room

The Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht was fitted with the optional 616hp Cummins QSM-11 engines, which gave her a top speed of 29.5 knots at 2360rpm. At that speed the fuel flow instrumentation recorded a total consumption of 62.1 gallons per hour.

At 1750rpm we were still cruising at 19.3 knots and consuming diesel at an impressive 36.2 gallons per hour. Pushing the rpms to 2000 had us doing 24.3 knots and burning 44.8 gallons per hour. Her realistic cruising speed is somewhere in this vicinity giving a nominal range of around 240 nautical miles from the just under 1900lt fuel capacity. She’s an easy boat to run thanks to the twin controls, hydraulically actuated trim tabs and good helm ergonomics. A pair of 519hp Cummins QSM-11s, or 640hp Caterpillar 3196 TA’s are the other power options available for this boat.

Story by Warren Steptoe