A powerful, high-speed, solid performer with an intelligent array of luxury features
Sea Ray, particularly after its acquisition by Brunswick in 1986, became one of the largest producers of recreational boats in the world. The builder produces 40 recreational boat models ranging from 18 to 65 feet. The L650 is the largest boat in the line and is the model we tested. The “L” stands for Luxury.
Sea Ray styling has always been on the “racy” side — the boats reminding one of a Doberman straining against a leash, just aching to be turned loose. The L650 turns that up a notch — several notches, in fact. The new vessel’s styling has been described as “futuristic” by traditionalists and “over the top” by the ultra-traditionalists. As far as this writer is concerned, the word elegant springs instantly to mind, because boaters who see the L650 for the first time will have no problem pegging it as a Sea Ray. The ability of the designers to produce such a highly styled vessel while retaining the iconic Sea Ray “look” is an achievement.
Our test boat had the huge lazarette fitted out as a small crew quarters. The space, while tight as quarters, is comfortable — two single bunks with a table between, a sink, a faucet and a toilet. The head here can double as the deck day head. If an owner decided not to have a crew quarters installed, there would be enough room for a home-style freezer and a pantry that could hold food and galley supplies for months of cruising.
The cockpit itself is set up almost as a second salon, complete with a lushly cushioned L-shaped settee and a handcrafted, high-gloss teak table. A fully equipped wet bar, a refrigerator and a grill make the cockpit suitable for everything from a cocktail party to a full meal, and an electrically operated awning covers the entire cockpit and stows in the deckhouse overhead when not in use. The vessel can be controlled from the cockpit by an optional docking station control set in the forward cockpit coaming.
The foredeck is home to a cleverly designed lounge area, adding additional outdoor social space for sun worshipers. There’s a forward-facing settee and a double sunpad that can be variously configured by adjusting sections. It can face forward, with backrests, or it can be turned into a pair of rear-facing seats. The space has built-in speakers and a sound control panel.
The interior is what might be called “elegant luxury,” with a blend of white Ultraleather settees and laminated walnut woodwork. Light-colored wall treatments and six and a half feet of headroom throughout add to the open, airy feeling of the main salon. In fact, thanks to a good-sized opening skylight, the main salon can be transformed into a sun room.
Flooring in the salon of our test boat was wide-plank distressed walnut, which is not a traditional boat-building material, but it looked elegant and will not show wear for years.
The salon, while generally an open plan, has a number of comfortable socializing areas. The one that draws the most attention is in the aft of the deckhouse. With the four-section sliding-glass aft wall nested away, the aft deck becomes a continuous, same level, open-air part of the salon. With the salon and aft deck in play, the L650 becomes a premier entertainment venue, with plenty of space for more than a dozen guests. A comfortable, well appointed U-shaped dinette, complete with a brightly finished solid wood table, provides luxury seating for a sit-down dinner, and a pair of seat-height leather-covered movable ottomans allows for plenty of flexibility.
Sea Ray designers paid close attention to the galley, something that is ignored by many builders. That focus led to very clever use of space. An example is the cabinet dedicated to the under-counter storage of plates, bowls, glasses and mugs. The entire cabinet, at the push of a button, rises vertically to provide access to the items.
The galley also boasts a drawer-style refrigerator and freezer, an induction cooktop, a drawer-style dishwasher and a convection microwave oven. Square stainless sinks, complete with removable grates that sit on short legs on the sink bottom, accent a galley that is truly different and will work very well.
Four staterooms and three heads are accessed down a set of centerline steps, forward in the deckhouse. A washer and dryer are tucked neatly under the steps. The two smaller staterooms each have comfortable twin beds, but other sleeping arrangements are optional.
The VIP stateroom, in the forepeak, is fitted with an island queen bed and plenty of drawer and locker storage, including hanging lockers. There are two heads, equal in size, with one being dedicated to the VIP stateroom and the other servicing the two other staterooms, both finely finished and with separate shower compartments.
The full-beam master is magnificent in design, style and finish. Plush carpeting, finely finished walnut woodwork and plenty of open space gave the space the feeling of a five-star hotel room. Dressing tables and plenty of drawers are situated along both sides of the space, making room for plenty of storage. The queen-sized bed in our test boat is very comfortable, and has plenty of storage under it.
The aft section of the master is taken up by a full-width bathroom space, complete with a rain shower in the glass-enclosed shower space — much larger than the usual shower stall. The long black and gold-flecked counter boasts his-and-her raised sinks.
We fired up the twin Cat C18A 1150 hp six-cylinder twin-turbo computer-controlled diesels, which put out their maximum torque at 1600 rpm. No wonder they were able to sling our 95,000-pound test boat from a dead stop to full plane in only 10 seconds and to 30 knots in about 25 seconds. Sea Ray may have refined its styling and finish a lot with the new L-class vessel, but that refinement has not been at the expense of Sea Ray’s reputation for plenty of power, performance and speed.
The vessel responded smartly and precisely to all helm inputs and carved high-speed turns like an Olympic slalom gold medalist. While the L650 did not have pod drives — the builder opting instead for the traditional shaft-drive system — it was joystick controlled using a computerized system that seamlessly coordinates thrusters with the standard drives. The vessel also sported an interesting docking feature. Making use of GPS and cameras, the skipper is presented with an overhead computerized view of the vessel that shows precisely where it is in relationship to the dock.
Cruising along at 1000 rpm, we made just less than 10 knots and burned a total of 13.7 gph. At a fast cruise of 24.6 knots (2000 revs), the yacht was getting just more than 0.28 mpg, and wide-open throttle gave us 31.2 knots with a total fuel burn of 117.2 gph.
While Sea Ray has certainly upped its game in the luxury and onboard convenience categories, it has not forgotten its breeding and background. The new L650 is a powerful, high-speed, solid performer with an intelligent array of luxury features. It is well finished without being ostentatious and would work well for an owner who wants an entertainment platform or is planning a long summer coastal cruise.