March 22nd 2014. By Kim Kavin.

Sea Ray Semi-Custom: Sundancer and Sunsport

Sea Ray isn't known for building boats over 60 feet, nor are they known for semi-custom models. The 630 Sundancer and Sunsport, however, offer some unusual options.

Sea Ray just introduced a new flagship at the 2014 Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show: a 65-foot flybridge yacht. The LOA may not seem so significant today, when Pershing, Azimut and other competitors in the express cruiser category have offerings well into the 80- and 100-foot range, but most people envision boats like the Sea Ray 250 SLX or the 260 Sundancer, when they think of this company. And the last time Sea Ray got into larger sizes—and even semi-custom production, to some degree—the builder was way ahead of the curve.

Sea Ray

This Sea Ray 630 has unusual features, like surface-piercing drives and an extra aft cabin.

The 630 Sundancer was in production for much of the 1990s, which was about a quarter-century ago. It was a great boat, but Sea Ray had a problem selling it: In the days of Baywatch babes and President Bill Clinton, 60-plus feet of boat seemed downright enormous.

“Back then, that was a huge boat,” says Mike Ehrlich, a longtime broker with MarineMax in Florida. “They were just too expensive to build. The big boats were hand built, less production like the smaller models. The dealers liked them, but production was a problem. We sold maybe six of the 630s a year—and that’s a really small number for us.”

Here’s the good news, then, for 630 Sundancers on the brokerage market today: They tend to be a bit more custom-built than newer boats in the same size range, and they tend to have owners, at least original ones, who believed in paying for quality. One example is Paper Chase, a 1996 Sea Ray 630 Sundancer  for sale through broker John Curry at Upper Chesapeake Yacht Sales in Maryland. Paper Chase is one of about a dozen 630s that were built with Arneson surface drives coupled to Cat diesels.

“Sea Ray built the 630 Sundancer and the 630 Sunsport,” Curry explains. “The difference is that if it’s a 630 Sundancer, it has the Arneson drives. The 630 Sunsport had standard drives. It made a big difference in the boat. When they went to the Arneson drives, they pushed the engines back farther, and that gave them room for a traditional aft cabin. The direct-drive boats don’t have that aft cabin. All the way back by the transom, they had a crew cabin with a double bunk. From my perspective and most buyers’ perspective, it’s not nearly as desirable as the Sundancer with the Arnesons. It has two good-sized cabins.”

The Arneson drives also gave the 630 a shallower draft and better fuel efficiency when compared with the Sunsport, and interior volume allowed for a dinette on the Sundancer that is lacking on the Sunsport model. Sea Ray built the 630 Sundancer with Arnesons from 1995 until 1999, Curry says, and given how few of them exist, they can be tough to find on the brokerage market. Most recently, one or two have been listed at about $370,000—which is nearly $100,000 more than the owner of Paper Chase is asking at $274,900.

“The positives on Paper Chase are that it’s been a freshwater boat,” Curry says. “It’s a low-hour boat with 700 or 800 original [engine] hours, the gelcoat’s in great shape, and the bottom’s in great shape—but it could use some updating on fabrics and electronics. All the fabrics, the upholstery, the electronics, they’re all original. It’s not a boat that somebody has put stuff into over the past 15 years, so it’s all original equipment to be replaced.”

Paper Chase’s owner, who is in his 70s, is retiring after a lifetime of boating and is willing to consider offers, Curry says. Contact the broker via the boat’s listing.

See more Sea Ray 630 listings.


Kim Kavin

Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of 10 books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine