|Length||47ft 3 in|
|Model||QSB 480 Zeus Pod Drives|
2011 SEA RAY 470 SUNDANCER COUPE CRUISER -- Courtesy of Canadian Yachting
It could be argued that the express cruiser line from Sea Ray 'the Sundancer series' is a sort of an international gold standard.
There have been many built and sold around the world compared to competing yachts in this size and price range. Add to that, Sea Ray's history starting back in 1959; this may be the most established boat brand in the world. While that is good for owners, it poses a challenge for the designers and builders at Brunswick Corporation's Sea Ray factory; how do you keep it fresh? How do you stay ahead of the boats from other builders who would be glad to be in Sea Ray's market position?
It has to be a process of refinement. You can't risk starting with a clean sheet of paper. The heritage and brand position is a big part of the attraction for buyers. So what are the refinements in the newest Sea Rays?
When we stepped onboard our Sea Ray 470 Sundancer test boat in Fort Lauderdale last October, there was one area of refinement that was obvious immediately: the big sliding electric sunroof sections drew our eye right away. Not as obvious but very effective were the twin power-opening windshield sections that brought in a grand blast of fresh air. Then we noticed the electric side windows. Like your car, one touch of the button and up they went.
Not visible but extremely important were the twin CMD MerCruiser Zeus QSB 480 engines with their pod drives. The Zeus logo is on the transom and the SmartCraft controls are on the helm beside the joystick docking control. That is a refinement most buyers are looking for today - effortless docking, even in windy conditions.
Performance is another thing you can't see but you certainly can feel it! Our test run was out on the Atlantic in slightly windy and rough conditions with random pattern rollers just outside of the channel. The Sea Ray 470 Sundancer was impressively level and soft-riding. I realize this is a big boat but even at that, wide-open throttle was no problem and no one was uncomfortable.
The CMD MerCruiser Zeus QSB 480 engines were quiet and just simply got the job done. Onboard were several engineers from the CMD MerCruiser organization. Their tests indicated the best cruising speed was 3200 at 35.3 mph and top was 39 mph. That is really tearing along for such a spacious big boat!
Acceleration was impressive as well. It takes a couple of seconds for the big diesels to come on the turbo boost and then away you go. A big load of passengers and gear for an extended cruise will not bog down the CMD Zeus powered 470 Sundancer. Credit should also go to the Zeus drives that have automatic trim tabs. They trim to optimum with no driver input. The tilt wheel was very nice and the driving position was excellent with good sight lines and visibility all around. We especially liked to rest our hand on the SmartCraft digital throttle and shift box to run the boat with the one single lever. It makes accurate speed control much easier.
Easy docking is another big feature with the Zeus joystick maneuvering system. First, coming into the close quarters of the marina, we used the "Skyhook" station-keeping feature that ZF and MerCruiser pioneered, to stop outside of our slip while we hung fenders and lines before approaching the pier. Then the Zeus joystick system let us pivot and move in any direction with solid control to gently snug up to the pier.
From the expanse of decking forward that carries the ground tackle and two sun recliner seats to the huge fiberglass swim platform, the topsides on the 470 Sundancer welcome guests. There are good side decks and well-placed handrails all around but the stern is where most people will gather. The transom treatment includes shore power cable storage, lockers for bulkier items and a boarding ladder under a cover. The whole aft seat lifts electrically to access the engine room. A hydraulic lift is also available for the swim platform so you can launch and retrieve a dinghy easily with a fairly wide walk-through transom gate.
That leads into the spacious cockpit with L-shaped seating on the starboard side and an elaborate refreshment area opposite. This includes a sink in the counter, an Isotherm refrigerator and the test boat had a trash locker and handy storage area for the barbecue grill and cover and two removable cockpit tables. This is a wonderful open entertainment area and a big part of the 470 Sundancer's appeal.
The bridge is up one step from the cockpit and includes an adjustable, doublewide helm seat with bolster and folding armrest. Sea Ray did a great job with the driver's ergonomics. There's a wood-trimmed tilting steering wheel and we particularly like the overhead array of analog instruments. At the helm was a pair of Raymarine E120 wide screens, SmartCraft Vessel View screen and the previously mentioned MerCruiser digital throttle and shift (DTS) control box. The driver is also treated to well-placed footrests.
To port is a small L-shaped seat good for two or three people and the impressive sliding electric glass sunroof sections split down the middle. Each can be operated separately. With the opening windshield and side glass sections, this feels like open-air boating without the inconvenience. You can even run the bridge heat or A/C!
There is climate control throughout the 470 Sundancer. The salon is down five steps from the bridge and our test boat had a rich dark-finished cherry wood interior with super high gloss cabinetry throughout. (See Canadian Yachting July 2010, page 32 for a story on the Sea Ray woodworking shop - it's state of the art.) The finish is most impressive with a "downtown penthouse at night" feel but buyers can also select the lighter cherry finish or a matte finish if they prefer.
There's a big couch in the salon suitable for five or six people. We really like the hull side windows and handsome wooden Venetian blinds; they add nicely to the elegance. A pair of floor-to-ceiling mirrored panels highlighted this area that boasts 6' 4" headroom throughout.
The galley is a very usable area with big stainless steel sink, designer tap set, a handy safety feature in the form of a edge-mounted grab rail. There are two big overhead lockers, a two-burner Eurokera ceramic stove top, three nice lift-up lockers overhead with locking mechanisms to hold the doors up in the air. There is a Sharp microwave convection oven, an impressively large Isotherm refrigerator/freezer combination, two more bins and storage under the sink. The 12-volt electrical panel is also hidden in the kitchen cabinetry.
The owner's stateroom has a queen island berth with inner sprung mattress, port and starboard cedar-lined lockers, six side lockers and two bins under the berth. There's a separate head compartment for the port side with really nice vanity and granite counters, opening porthole and a large mirror. There's also a separate shower on the starboard side with a mirrored door.
The mid-cabin features two single berths, air conditioning, a flat screen TV and a big hanging locker. There is a sink and a makeup table plus an enclosed head with handheld shower with a fold-down seat that covers the MSD.
Everything a buyer expects is there, plus the latest refinements in comfort and especially in performance and joystick handling thanks to the CMD MerCruiser Zeus system. Check out the Sea Ray 470 Sundancer at the boat shows this winter!
Re-published and produced with permission from Canadian Yachting Magazine. For more Boat Reviews click on CANADIAN YACHTING
Boat Reviewed by Canadian Yachting Magazine Staff