There is no way we’re going to make this turn. This thought ran on a loop through my mind while I watched Sea Ray‘s professional captain crank the wheel hard to port to turn us around in the tight running space of our test waters. In the split second this all went down, I noticed too that he didn’t ease back on the throttle. He arced the Sea Ray 450 Sedan Bridge through a turn not much wider than its length. As the boat came about and settled into a comfortable run in the opposite direction, I thought the headline for this review should read like the disclaimers in so many car commercials: “Professional stunt driver — do not attempt at home.”
Then the captain ceded me the helm. After putting my own spin on the sea trial, I can say with confidence: Try this at home. The twin Zeus drives that propel the 450 Sedan Bridge change the way a boat like this will behave. They lead to the easy conclusion that pod-drives make it necessary to reevaluate the way we see cruisers.
A boat with such a high profile would, in the past, instill trepidation in even the most inveterate captains if a high wind kicked up during docking maneuvers. The independently rotating pods work in concert to negate those effects, helping the person at the helm slide into a slip with surgical precision. A boat like this would also cause the driver’s blood pressure to elevate in another tightly confined situation — idling near a bridge waiting for the draw to open. Press the Skyhook button and the pods rotate to hold the boat in place regardless of wind or tide. Little features like this help boaters get where they want to be in the first place: enjoying time on the water.
Sea Ray has mastered the art of building boats that maximize enjoyment time, and the 450 Sedan Bridge is no exception. It starts up top, where I practiced all those joystick maneuvers. I appreciated the excellent line of sight from the helm seat. To port, the double-wide passenger seat rotates almost completely aft, so under way the captain can have company, and on the hook, the crew can spin the chair to create a circular conversation pit with the settee. Our test boat had the optional retractable ragtop roof, a fantastic feature that allows guests to have sun or shade.
Those lounging in the L-shape seating in the cockpit will enjoy the shade provided by the bridge. From there, it’s easy to access the extended swim platform or take a few steps up onto the main deck, where the combination of light Ultraleather furniture (a sofa and two movable chairs) and wood paneling give the salon a warm ambience, enhanced by the natural light through the curved windows. Forward, the elevated dinette to port gives the impression of a second room above the rest of the salon as well as the galley to starboard. (The dinette can be converted into an optional lower control station.)
The raised dinette allows for extra headroom in the guest stateroom directly below it — a twin bed configuration that can be filled in with cushions to create a king. The guest head is just forward, and because the master stateroom has its own, it is for all practical purposes a second private head.
The master stateroom features an island queen, with voluminous stowage underneath, and twin cedar-lined lockers. The master head has a tile sole and solid-surface counters, as well as a stand-up shower that can be cordoned off from the vanity and toilet with a bifold door.
Overall, the interior arrangement gives the 450 great practicality as an overnighter or family cruiser, but heading back through the cockpit and up to the bridge reminded me that this boat is also well equipped as an entertainment platform. The bridge alone features nine drink holders and a 12-volt refrigerator. If the captain wants to be alone with his thoughts, the party can move below to the cockpit, particularly with the optional wet bar, 240-volt grill and 12-volt refrigerator added for good measure.
Whether the driver has company or not, he will have fun at the helm. As I found during my sea trial, the Zeus drives make this boat sportier than one would expect, and it makes decent speed: 30-plus knots at wide-open throttle. Upgrading to the optional 600-horsepower Cummins will only boost those top speeds. Most people will probably operate this boat more in the 2700 to 3000 rpm range, where it can run between 20 and 25 knots, a far more economical clip.
Besides executing hard turns at speed, we performed more realistic maneuvers, like S-curves, joystick docking and spinning within our own length. In each case the boat did exactly what it was told, despite fighting against a 14-knot wind.
The sportiness brought out by the pods transcends the helm; it is ingrained in the look of the boat. The 450’s profile has been restyled with curved lines and rounded windows. Subtly done, it gives the boat a more stylish, provocative look without compromising its Sea Ray identity. When it carves a tight turn in the channel or holds position next to you by the bridge, you’ll be watching. You might mutter to yourself, “No way,” but like me, you’ll be wrong. Way.
DISPL.: 36,602 lb.
FUEL: 375 gal.
WATER: 130 gal.
DEADRISE: 17 degrees
TEST POWER: 2 x 480 hp Cummins MerCruiser QSB 480 diesels with Zeus drives
STANDARD POWER: 2 x 480 hp Cummins MerCruiser QSB diesels with Zeus drives
BASE PRICE: $941,688
PRICE AS TESTED: $1,016,001
Test conditions: Speeds were measured by GPS in the Intracoastal, with calm seas and 14-knot winds, with ½ load of fuel, full water and three people on board. Fuel consumption was calculated by the electronic engine-monitoring system. Sound levels were measured at the helm.
RPM Knots GPH db(A)
600 4.3 1.4 63
900 6.0 2.6 64
1200 7.5 4.2 66
1500 8.8 7.2 67
1800 9.6 13.1 71
2100 10.6 20.4 72
2400 16.7 24.6 75
2700 21.2 30.6 76
3000 25.3 36.0 78
3450 30.4 51.0 80
Sea Ray Boats, 865-522-4181; www.searay.com