By Mike Gridley
Large day boats have continued to grow in popularity over the last several years. One of the more successful models has certainly been Sea Ray’s 290 Sundeck. For 2016, Sea Ray added a new power option to the mix. Our test model boasted some big news at the transom – optional twin Mercury Verado 250s with Joy Stick Piloting. Twin 225s are standard.
With clean rigging the 290 OB retains a very useful swim platform, a key feature for this Sundeck. Access to the water is simplified with the easily deployed swim step.
When not underway, there will be competition for the extremely comfortable transom loungers. A centre console with storage, drink holders and a draining locker means you can relax with everything at hand including a stereo remote. A bonus with outboard power is the cavernous storage under the loungers.
Big day boats are all about spending time on the water socializing with family and friends. When Sea Ray was designing the 290 they created a fantastic main cockpit, with seating that wraps all the way around the perimeter. This allows everyone onboard to face inward to interact and socialize. It’s a more functional layout versus having the passengers lined up along one side of the boat only or at the transom facing forward. They have come up with a seating arrangement where every one can join in, even those in the helm seats due to the backrest that flips forward.
The volume of seating in the cockpit is only matched by the volume of storage under the seats, in the transom walkway and in the two lockers under the deck. The layout gives up only one storage area for battery access. With a wet bar, fridge and portable cooler rounding out the amenities, the Sundeck 290 does not lack for creature comforts.
With a deep V hull and a beam of nine feet, the head compartment is spacious and well appointed. Being a deck boat, the bow seating is expansive and quite comfortable for two with real seating for four adults. Again there is a ton of storage and the hinges used on all of the seat bases reflect the overall quality of the 290.
From bow to stern, this Sea Ray reflects the company’s commitment to luxury and quality and they have capped it all off with a standard aluminum arch and Bimini top.
For the captain, the refinement extends to the helm. It’s clean, stylish and functional. Two Mercury Smart Gauges flank the standard Raymarine a65 chart plotter, and more data is displayed on the Vessel View screen.
Power assisted steering, DTS and Joystick Piloting make handling the 290 child’s play. With a few deft movements of the joystick, the 29 foot Sea Ray ignored the tide running into the marina and I was off the dock effortlessly.
Contrary to the tourism promotions, Florida is not always sunshine reflecting on blue waters. Our test run really put the 290 Sundeck to the test. As the waves built, the 290 took them in stride. As the wave patterns changed there was the occasional jolt, but overall the boat instilled confidence in these tough conditions.
Pushing the 290 with the Verado 250s wide open I was able to clock just over 50 miles per hour – impressive given the rollers. Testing the limits of the 290’s handling in the onshore waves, one would expect a misstep, but after several attempts I could not induce one.
As expected, with twin Mercury Verado 250s, acceleration was impressive. The stainless props really hooked up, delivering planing speed in under five seconds with minimal bow rise.
Past experiences with Sea Ray’s Sundeck 290 have always been great. Adding the twin Mercury Verado 250s really takes things up a notch. We tested in some pretty rough open ocean water with three to four foot waves, and being able to throttle up and down with the power on hand from the Verados was great.
Overall Sea Ray has a great day boat in the Sundeck 290 and the option of twin Mercury Verado 225 or 250 outboards makes a great package.
TEST BOAT ENGINE
Twin Mercury Verado 250 XL FourStroke Outboards, 2.6 L Inline 6-Cyl, 250 hp, supercharged with charge air cooling and electronic boost pressure control
0-20 / 5.0
TOP SPEED (rpm/mph)
6,200 / 50+
CRUISING SPEED (rpm/mph)
4,000 / 35.0
Length: 29 ft 2 in / 8.9 m
Beam: 9 ft / 2.74 m
Draft: 3 ft 2 in / 0.96 m
Weight: 7,030 lbs / 3,188 kg
Fuel Capacity: 130 gals / 492 L
Water Capacity: 20 gals / 76 L
Waste Capacity: 10 gals / 37 L
Price: $204,013 USD as tested with trailer
SPEED TESTING by Raymarine GPS
This boat is featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Boats&Places.