Searay 220 Review:-
The 220 is the classic USA-built bow rider, but is far from being a fresh water-only animal. Freeboard is respectable and the hull has plenty of shape, including a bottom with 21 degrees of deadrise. Not in the class of offshore performers, but this is not a boat to take offshore. This is no fishing boat for other than the most casual line dangling; its style is much more skiing, estuary cruising, lunch trips across to Rottnest, family days out and the like.
The wakeboard tower it is fitted with suggests one of its possible pastimes, although there are no tricky ballasting arrangements or wake makers built in. It does have one outstanding feature for wakeboarders though: an analogue speedometer on the dash linked to the GPS for super accurate speed keeping. It also has very neat stowage for boards and skis. Lift the rear access panel to the engine space and you also reveal access to the long ski locker contained within the port side bulwarks.
The main entrance to the engine is from the cockpit, and involves lifting – effortlessly – the entire rear lounge and the sun bed platform behind it. The vast revealed space gives excellent accessibility to all parts of the 300hp 5.7 MPI Mercruiser. Or it does on the review boat; family-oriented buyers might opt for the standard 5-litre Mercruiser that puts out a still-respectable 260hp. The 48 knots 300hp delivered suggests they would still get a very rapid boat.
Few boats are more sociable than a bow rider, or make use of more of their length. For getting sheer numbers afloat in comfort the 220 would be hard to beat. The bow cockpit could handle four in comfort, or two in luxury if they used the back rests mounted on the consoles and reclined at ease. The rear lounge takes three or four, with its rear facing mirror image doubling that number. The two seats at the consoles and a jump seat round off the numbers.
The two first class seats feature a welcome and unusual structure. Instead of the normal vinyl covered cushion and squab, your back and tail are carried on mesh – known as Visionair – that keeps sweat at bay and copes with wet bathers, and is still comfortable. Naturally, bolsters are incorporated for the semi standing position.
The two consoles are big volume items, so big that the port side one houses a toilet: a definite bonus with all those people on board. The starboard one is a storage compartment whose door, when open, closes off the bow compartment. Inside is a dedicated housing for the off-duty cockpit table. This, and any other contents, can also be reached by tilting the bow settee back forwards.
The detail of storage gets more attention than on most boats. Where the under-settee space is usually opened up by dragging lids off, here it is done by tilting the lids aft on massively strong hinges. The revealed compartments are self draining wet lockers, ideal for swimming or diving gear. They are backed up by another locker below the bow cockpit’s deck.
You could use one of the wet lockers as an ice box, but a tailor-made portable box fits into a recess in the starboard bulwark of the rear cockpit. With table in place, stereo fired up and foot lighting switched on, this cockpit has a very clubby evening atmosphere.
In WA boats do a fair bit of anchoring, yet many USA-sourced boats provide nothing more at the bow than a small cleat. The 220 breaks the mould on that: no bowsprit, but open a hinged cover and you find a deep and roomy anchor well. This compartment also houses the telescoping bow ladder for beach picnics.
I discovered another lid at the other end. This covers yet another wet or dry locker within the depth of the swim platform. Also concealed at both ends are fresh water showers fed from an 18-litre tank.
People nervous of taking a largely open boat on the ocean (although non-self draining centre consoles spend their lives there) have the comfort of a bow cockpit cover. There is actually a vast area of covers laid on: a storage or travel cover for the rear cockpit, plus side, fore and aft clears to link to the Bimini.
Driving is pure pleasure. To start, just switch on and press a button – let the computer decide how long to crank. Adjust the wheel angle to suit, raise or lower the bolster, and electronically put the motor in gear. You can then choose mild or blistering acceleration, gentle or centrifuge-style turning. This boat operates precisely and reassuringly, and is comfortable enough for all day sitting.