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power_boat_review-sea_ray_330-largeThe big guy blasts it out of the park.

When you are the big guy like Sea Ray is, the world expects a lot and luckily, the new 330 Sundancer is a home run, with plenty of "big boat" features packed into a size that is affordable and manageable.

By manageable, we mean that this is a boat that is both easy to handle around the docks and at the bank. With a reasonable down payment or trade, a 2008 330 Sundancer could be in your slip for as little as $700 a month.

As one of the biggest and most important brands of the giant marine company Brunswick, Sea Ray is the big guy in terms of substantial worldwide sales, plenty of research and development resources and a long history of success as well.

Of course, everyone is chasing the big guy and challenging for the lead. The big guy can never rest. In the new 330 Sundancer, the goal was to pack more features into a smaller package. It's a familiar package too – a mid-30 foot express cruiser powered by twin stern drives and featuring a forward vee berth, aft cabin and a cockpit and bridge area that is the main living space.

This is a very well established layout. The challenge is to do more with it.

Sea Ray started that process above decks with the "Sport Spoiler" which is its name for the radar arch that has blossomed into a small hardtop with canvas extensions for added sun protection. It makes the bridge and cockpit more of an interior space.

At the bow is an enclosed anchor and roller with electric windlass, locker, remote spotlight, and stainless steel bow rail and side decks to – narrow ones but they are there and that's a good feature. A sun pad is included on the bow. Everywhere you step is diamond pattern non-skid and there are eight 10" stainless steel cleats for secure mooring.

The sweep of the sheer is very dramatic going from a high bow down to the swim platform. The huge side vents look sexy, like there are big engines to cool. There is a swim ladder mounted under the swim platform that has become a key living area and this boat has the unique feature of a large rear-facing rumble seat for a comfortable place to watch your children swimming.

There are more unique features in the cockpit where Sea Ray has designed a refreshment centre like we see on larger boats. This one has a sink, a Kenyon electric BBQ grill, a Norcold refrigerator and a tilt-out trash locker.

Opposite is a handsome wood table and fore and aft facing bench seats that make a lovely conversation or dining area. There is also snap-out carpeting on the self-draining fiberglass floor liner. A transom shower is included as are rod holders on the side decks for those who enjoy fishing.

Sea Ray seems to have designed the 330 Sundancer for either couples or young families. The cabin is six steps down a floating set of stairs from the bridge level. The head is immediately ahead to the port side while the aft cabin is behind the stairs.

The aft cabin is useful as a conversation pit and has a 26" LG flat screen television (big enough to be seen easily from the forward vee berth), side panel storage and mirrors on the bulkhead to expand the area visually. This makes a generous size berth and there is a privacy curtain but it is not a large area; best suited for children or occasional guests.

The dinette makes a double berth by lifting the seat back up. It has gas strut assists. There is access to the optional Beam central vacuum in the side storage area. The dinette table is on a single pedestal with flip-up ends to minimize the space it takes until it's needed for dining.

The vee berth is the master and Sea Ray has given the 330 the unique feature of an electrically tilting berth. It makes into a lounge seat for reading or television viewing. The test boat also had an overhead television and DVD player by Directed Video that swings down from the ceiling and has gaming ports.

You would almost think that TVs are more important than accommodations! However, the 330 has port and starboard side lockers, side panel lockers and a bin under the berth. You also get screened portholes, as well as an overhead deck hatch but most people will run the standard equipment A/C at night unless they are anchored out. A Kohler generator is included though, so you can even do that.

The head features a Dometic VacuFlush MSD with Felxiteek flooring, which is attractive and easy to care for. See Ray has used nice hardware for the shower; it even has a soap dish. The mirror is hinged at the top so you can tilt it out for a better angle while shaving. There is an opening porthole plus an air-conditioning vent and the door is mirrored to add to the spacious feeling.

The galley also has some strong features like the very big, round polished stainless steel sink. You can really wash dishes and pots there and it has a decorator faucet system. Sea Ray includes an LG microwave and coffee maker combination, a Waeco fridge and Isotherm freezer drawer as well – another unexpected big boat feature. A two-burner Kenyon stovetop and an opening porthole with ample storage space round out the galley details.

Living space is important but so is performance! The helm is the business end of the 330 Sundancer and you get a Raymarine E80 navigation system, SmartCraft Vessel View engine monitoring plus full analog gauges for a very impressive looking helm. The Merc' controls are electronic and very smooth. The flip-up bolster seat has plenty of space for two that is a feature many couples like. There is a beautiful wood rimmed, tilt steering wheel and the driving position is comfortable standing or seated. There is also a separate adjustable companion seat on the port side with storage underneath.

For deck access, you go forward up stairs built into the sliding cabin hatch door. The idea is that the cabin itself should be closed when you're under way to prevent exhaust fumes from being sucked in. The walk-through windshield has a lever to open both catches on the center glass, a feature we quite like.

Engine access is by electric floor lift and there is tons of storage room under the sole that has been left in case the boat is ordered with vee drive engines, which use up more space than stern drives.

Out on the water, the standard equipment twin MerCruiser Bravo Three drives blow out a bit on hard acceleration or tight turns, because the 320 hp MPI 6.2s have a lot of power. They really race for the redline. This feels like a sport boat. It turns very well at speed, heeling over noticeably but hanging on through a tight turn that an owner would almost never make. You'd send things flying all over!

By Andy Adams

To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com to check listings!