Sea Ray 310 SLX

Raising day boating expectations.

by Alan Wendt
Lowering fiberglass swim platforms into the water is a welcome feature that larger vessels have offered for nearly two decades. What I didn’t expect during my sea trail of the new Sea Ray 310 SLX was the sea creature that surfaced almost on cue from the mystic blue-green harbor at South Seas Resort Marina on Florida’s west coast.

Specifications

  • LOA: 31'6"
  • Beam: 10'2"
  • Draft: 3'2"
  • Weight: 10,787 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 130 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 24 gals.
  • Power: T-250 hp MerCruiser 4.5LMPI ECT Bravo III Sterndrives w/DTS
  • Price: Contact dealer

Searay.com

Instinctively, I fired off a few smartphone shots of a massive sea cow acting like she wanted to try out the hydraulic platform attached to the 310 SLX. Winter brings snowbirds to the warm waters of Florida, and manatees seek similar warmth in shallow bay waters. We often test boats  down here in the winter, when our northern lakes are frozen.

Some of us pudgier boaters have worn-out knees and bellies that rival the shape of a manatee. Hoisting ourselves in and out of the water has become a deterrent to fully enjoying the day boating experience. While politely acknowledging that non-model-like figures truly could find the hydraulic platform feature helpful, Sea Ray has poured a whole lot of R&D into the newest SLX model to attract families of all shapes who will have front-row seats to summer in a splendidly designed masterpiece.

Fast, smart and handsome

Arguably the best seat will be the Captain’s, thanks to a game-changing helm video display with free flowing screen edge curves to match the exterior fiberglass sculpting of the boat. Think of a favorite island vacation paradise computer screen saver, with instrument and operational LED overlays, and you’ll instantly hear the mermaid’s siren song — “buy me, buy me.” Running the full width of the helm, this one feature totally redefines gauge and electronic readout presentation. Designed by Medallion Electronics, this is a quantum leap over your typical helm; I suspect we’re only beginning to see what’s possible in dashboard instrumentation.

Sea Ray calls this Dynamic Display. There are dual touchscreen 7- and 12-inch displays, providing connectivity and control of the entire boat’s systems: navigation, audio, engine and lighting. Literally every function is displayed, right down to the horn. Yet a handful of these critical devices — like blowers, bilge pump and the horn — can be activated from redundant, more familiar push button switches. This is merely an instant safety convenience.

Touch screens control the mood lighting — a must on today’s dockside party destinations. Soft neon backlit logo panels on the exterior fiberglass hardtop, glowing blue cup holders and optional underwater lighting are so tastefully interwoven that even a skeptic of conspicuous bling is likely to surrender and start humming, “Sexy and I know it!”

Naturally, the sound system can cause a cacophonous scene, and I insisted we crank it wide open to match the throttle settings on the twin 300-hp MerCruiser 6.2L MPIs. Oh yeah! We were rocking and matching the roll of a very choppy day. Given the conditions, I would have expected far more sea spray from purposeful quartering and tight turns, as if I were returning to pick up a downed skier. Nope — pretty dry and supremely quiet. Sea Ray’s proprietary quietRIDE™ technology is a blend of vibration dampening material laminated throughout the hull, deck and liner for enhanced sound deadening. Partnering with Omni Products, Inc. they’ve created what they call a Tuned Transom, which reduces structural vibration you may have experienced on other boats created by the engine and drive train. Additional insulation and strategically placed bulkheads suck up noise. Engineered fit and finish of components and all that rattling disappears. You’re able to hear the music and the conversation.

Take a seat, any seat

Buoyed by the overwhelming success of Sea Ray’s flagship 350 SLX, the scaled 310 SLX captures “social zoning” with three distinct areas — bow, cockpit and swim platform — each with seating configurations that maximize the 31-foot, 6-inch overall length and 10-foot, 2-inch beam.

Now, a word or two about the seating. Never content with just “good enough,” Sea Ray’s product development and engineering team began experimenting with different foam thicknesses and the placement against fiberglass and the human backside. Instead of a standard 3-inch thickness, it’s now 4 inches: 2 inches of firmness, 2 inches of soft material. I know this sounds like a tale from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but they really did come up with a not too firm, not too soft, just right solution.

Up front, both bow loungers include a flip-down armrest for added comfort with deep storage below. Don’t believe me? I posed on the driver’s side with the backrest up to prove that even with seating for 17, you’ll have oodles of room for everything brought on-board.

Tucked into the passenger portside is a head compartment that will actually get used. It’s big, you won’t have to back down the step, and once inside, the only amenity missing is the washroom attendant and cheap cologne dispenser. It features a solid surface countertop, stainless steel sink and faucet, wood storage shelf, courtesy light, non-skid floor treatment and a VacuFlush head with a 20-gallon holding tank; for a 31-foot boat, this is a throne fit for a king!

While the Captain is in the proverbial catbird seat, guests will rave about the social zone amidships. Everyone is immersed in the conversation, there’s a table for snacks, and if you really want to impress, flip open the Kenyon outdoor grill and pretend you’re filming an episode of the Food Network with Guy Fieri. Barbecue sliders, please!

For those quiet reflective moments watching a sunset, or when the kids are playing in the water behind you, Sea Ray’s newly minted take on aft seating awaits. Simply raise the split cushion sunpad up and you’ll have an aft-facing bench seat — versatile to say the least. The leather wrapped grabrails, contrasting stitching and diamond pattern vinyl adds to the class of the 310 SLX. The entire boat has a very in-the-moment automotive feel, and for an industry that has historically trailed auto design by 10-15 years, that’s saying something.

Add a few options, like Axius joystick control for smooth docking, the retractable aft sunshade, Italian-made remote windlass (with rope/chain anchor neatly concealed in the bow), and a retractable anchor light that raises up at the push of a button, and there’s little doubt you’re ready to borrow Sea Ray’s tag line — launch into living.

 

 

Manitowoc MAR1_2017
Paul Gauguin Cruises