Sea Ray 265 Sundancer

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Sea Ray 265 Sundancer

The Sea Ray 265 Sundancer is the ideal transition boat for those stepping up from a large day boat and looking for their first real cruising boat. Plus it is still trailerable. Barry Thompson checks out this pocket cruiser.

The Sea Ray 260 Sundancer was designed to be a versatile mini cruiser, with the ability to be transported to various locations. One weekend in the Hauraki Gulf, the next on Lake Taupo.  Despite its road legal beam, the boat is surprisingly spacious and more than justifies its pocket cruiser designation. If you are a bit of an adventurer and like exploring, then the Sea Ray 265 Sundancer might just be the boat for you. Where you go is only limited by your time and imagination.

There is dedicated accommodation for two and with a simple modification to the dinette, you can sleep up to four in relative comfort.  As an overnighter you get everything you need, such as a head, shower and galley, plus the cockpit is designed to make your time aboard is comfortable and enjoyable. Seating, storage, amenities, there is plenty of everything. As they say, the Sea Ray 265 Sundancer comes loaded.

Wide Range

Sea Ray has always been one of the leaders when it comes to small cruisers and their Sundancer range offers plenty of models. In the Sports Cruiser sector they list just two trailerable models, the 260 and the 265. However, I think that even at just a tad over 8m, this is the sort of boat that is destined for a dry stack, air berth or mooring. It comes in at 2500 kgs dry weight, so once you add a trailer, you are going to have more than 3 tonnes to tow. This will obviously vary depending on what power option you choose, and just how much gear you load into the boat. However, it’s still well within the tow ratings of today’s crew cab utes such as the Isuzu D-Max which has a tow rating of 3500kgs.

I was interested to know what the difference was between the 260 and the 265, as when you look at the layout, they are exactly the same. Scott Williamson, Sales manager of Sea Ray importer’s Sports Marine, explained to me that they are the same boat. The 260 Sundancer is the US built version and the 265 Sundancer is the European version, which is the model we get in New Zealand. There are a couple of variations in the colour options and dash layout, apart from that they are one in the same.

Cruisey Cockpit.

Let’s face it, when it comes to cockpit designs of trailerable cruisers, the US brands do it well. Unlike Kiwi boats that generally concentrate on the space requirements and fishing functions, the Sea Ray 265 is all about relaxing and enjoying the ride or anchored up in a quiet bay with a Chardy in hand.

Sea Ray are masters at pinching every available space for a task and in the 265 that results in a lot of seating. Unlike Kiwi boats of a similar size, where the seating is less important, in the 265 it’s the reverse.

There’s enough seating for ten seated on the port side lounger, double helm seat and starboard squabs. There’s also a wet bar, plenty of drink holders and a foldout aft teak table. A neat feature of the 265 is the rear seat backrest is adjustable to transform into a sun pad.  Also, a great seat when waiting for the fish to bite.

Yes, you can fish from the 265, but really it all needs to be done from the moulded aft platform. I would probably add a central stainless staple to attach a bait board or bait station and clip on a removable fish bin underneath. The cockpit coamings are way too high and quite impractical for a keen fisho.

You can get the boat delivered with a full teak package, which includes the cockpit sole and boarding platform or stay with the standard gelcoat finish. I liked the teak as it really sets the boat off. There’s a drop-down ladder off the platform to assist divers and swimmers.

Being a new boat and as yet to find an owner, the optional electronics package had not been installed, but there was space ready for a 12″ MFD. The Sea Ray badged instruments are all easy to read and the switches and controls come readily to hand.  The adjustable helm seat lets you stand or sit to drive, with uninterrupted visibility all-round.

The boat is also available with a full camper enclosure which lets you completely cover the cockpit from the screen to the transom and all with standing headroom. Great if the weather cuts up and you are parked up in a bay.  For a boat under 8m the cockpit is very impressive.

The 265 Sundancer  doesn’t have any side decks, with access provided via a fold out windscreen and built-in moulded steps on the cabin sliding door. You probably never need to go forward, but if you do, then Sea Ray has made it very easy.

Practical Cabin

I was pleasantly surprised as to the space in the cabin and it’s easy to see why these boats are so popular as weekenders. It may even be a little spartan, but it is a very practical and ideal layout for spending the evening relaxing around the forward settee.

If there is only two of you, you don’t need to convert the settee into a berth as you already have the aft mid cabin for that. But if you have to make up the extra berths, it’s a quick and straightforward process.

There are a fully enclosed wet head and galley with everything designed to make the best use of the space. Down aft, the mid-cabin takes advantage of the area available under the cockpit and is exceptionally spacious.

Power & Performance

The 265 Sundancer has plenty of grunt no matter what your choice of power is. While you are limited to a Mercruiser package, you have the choice of petrol or diesel, from  260-300 hp. Standard power is a Mercruiser 4.5 MPI ECT / Bravo III @ 250hp, with the option of a 6.2 MPI ECT @ 300hp. Our test boat was fitted with a Mercury Diesel TDI 3.0L @ 26hp, through a DTS Bravo IIIX Sterndrive, an engine that I reckon is the perfect option for New Zealand owners.

Being a very high sided boat it is susceptible to trimming so make sure you do have to work at keeping the tabs in the right position. Windage and wave patterns have an effect on how the boat sits on the water. Once you get it right and it’s a pleasant boat to drive. I would probably install a set of automatic Zipwake or Humphree interceptors. Being such a high sided boat it also remained extremely dry during our test run on Auckland Harbour and despite running through steep wakes, we never took a drop of water on the screen.

The 265 Sundancer has plenty of grunt no matter what your choice of power is. While you are limited to a Mercruiser package, you have the choice of petrol or diesel, from  260-300 hp. Standard power is a Mercruiser 4.5 MPI ECT / Bravo III @ 250hp, with the option of a 6.2 MPI ECT @ 300hp. Our test boat was fitted with a Mercury Diesel TDI 3.0L @ 26hp, through a DTS Bravo IIIX Sterndrive, an engine that I reckon is the perfect option for New Zealand owners.

Being a very high sided boat it is susceptible to trimming so make sure you do have to work at keeping the tabs in the right position. Windage and wave patterns have an effect on how the boat sits on the water. Once you get it right and it’s a pleasant boat to drive. I would probably install a set of automatic Zipwake or Humphree interceptors. Being such a high sided boat it also remained extremely dry during our test run on Auckland Harbour and despite running through steep wakes, we never took a drop of water on the screen.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a boat that’s more than just a big fishing machine and want something that is both versatile and practical, then the Sea Ray Sundancer 265 might be for you. It has all the right attributes for staying overnight as well as day cruising and that it can still be trailed is a bonus. Fishing, cruising, diving and just enjoying your time on the water, the Sundancer 265 has it all.

Specifications

  • Model: Sea Ray 265 Sundancer
  • Priced from: $NZ219,603
  • Price as tested: $NZ242,289  
  • Type: Trailerable Cruiser
  • Construction:  GRP
  • LOA: 8.07m
  • Beam: 2.56m
  • Deadrise: 21 deg
  • Trailerable weight:   3300 kgs (Est)
  • Power: Mercruiser TDI 3.0L
  • Power options: Mercruiser Sterndrive
  • Drive: Mercruiser Bravo 3X
  • Fuel capacity:  261 litres
  • Trailer: Optional
  • Manufacturer: Sea Ray

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