BOAT TEST STINGRAY 250CS CABIN-CRUISER

By: John Ford


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John Ford spends a leisurely afternoon cruising NSW's Clyde River aboard a superb Stingray 250CS cabin-cruiser. Poor bloke!

BOAT TEST STINGRAY 250CS CABIN-CRUISER
Stingray 250CS cabin-cruiser

I was in the car park when the big Stingray appeared - or rather, announced its arrival. Tourists wandering the foreshore glanced at it approvingly as it neared the ramp, while one young fellow even exclaimed, "that's a bloody big boat!"

And he was right. I thought much the same as I admired it on its trailer, where it sat impossible to miss with its long and high shape and gleaming black and white finish. We were in Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, about to explore the Clyde River and the islands that guard the entrance to the bay. Those tourists looked at us enviously. This Stingray 250CS was to be our vessel of choice.

ROOM TO MOVE

The Stingray 250CS is an American-made, trailerable cabin-cruiser. With room for 10 and sleeping accommodation for no less than five, the boat also has an ensuite and galley, making it ideal for families and friends wanting to escape on holiday adventures. Maximum use is made of the available space and there are features galore - everything fits neatly and everything aboard has been well designed so the crew can spread out without getting in each other's way.

Once launched, I found easy access via the rear boarding platform and through the starboard door to the cockpit, which will impress you with its high sides and welcoming lounges. Two distinct sections make up the cockpit - a wraparound lounge and a wet bar at the rear, and a second lounge and helm seat towards the front. There's seating for five around the rear lounge and a removable table offers a cosy dining area.

To starboard is a curved servery with a recess underneath for a 25lt icebox; it also has a sink with hot and cold water and bottle holders to stop the champers sliding to the deck when on the move. In the forward part of the cockpit is another lounge with high padding for stretching out lengthways, providing a very comfortable observer's position. The captain's seat is a rotating bucket with bolster, which I found was nicely padded and formed.

At the dash you'll find walnut highlights to the instruments and switches breaking up the grey fibreglass. A brow shades the black-on-white Faria instruments, which have readouts for revs, speed, trim, voltage, engine temperature, oil pressure and hours. A separate panel contains the various switches for lights and there are also controls for an anchor winch and trim tabs.

A five-piece windscreen wraps around behind the helm; it's set high on the dash and its swept-back profile provides good wind protection. It has a windscreen wiper on the driver's side and the central section opens for access to the bow. This is aided by a moulded step on the cabin door which, when closed and locked, makes a steady walkway to the cabin top and the bow.

In addition, a folding bimini can cover the whole cockpit area with zip-on sidepanels that completely protect it from the weather. I really like the way this turns the boat into a spacious holiday camper and I can seriously imagine it being taken for extended trips and even overnighting in caravan parks while on the road between waterways.

DOWN BELOW

The Stingray has a sliding door to the cabin that curves around to become part of the roof; when it is opened, the roof slides away and you have easy access downstairs and plenty of headroom negotiating the steps. With a generous 1.8m-high ceiling and wide beam, it carries forward into an uncrowded setting below. Warm timber colours and mid-brown upholstery combine well with the cream head lining. To port of the walkway is a tunnel back to the sleeping quarters with a queen mattress that runs across the boat. Here it's sitting room only but it's pretty easy to access and it has good ventilation and lighting.

To starboard of the entrance is the head with a ceramic toilet connected to a holding tank as well as a vanity and shower. You get hot and cold water and while it's not overly spacious, it is a workable solution for colder weather as there's a second shower on the boarding platform to hose off the salt water after a swim.

On the port side, the galley has a moulded fibreglass bench and sink as well as a built-in wine rack. Kitchen facilities include a cooktop running on alcohol or 240V, a 240V microwave and a 12 / 240V 40lt fridge-freezer. Storage in overhead cupboards and below the bench can be augmented by more space under the bunks for longer trips.

But wait, there's more… in the bow section is a dinette with room for five around a removable timber table. Thick cushions and backrests mean it's a great place to relax, especially as it converts to a full-width bed that can also double as a safe play area for the kids.

Yeah, you can see why the tourists on the beach looked at us with nothing less than envy.

HANDLING AND RIDE

Before heading upstream to the tranquil reaches of the Clyde we turned the Stingray seaward, where there was enough swell and chop to get a feel for its offshore credentials. While this boat will predominantly be seen on bays and rivers, I'm told of several that have been sold to families who regularly cruise between places like Sydney and Pittwater.

Stingrays features a number of narrow planing strakes in their "Z-plane" hulls that are intended to give lift and push spray well away from the boat. They seem to work because the boat is easily driven and keen to get onto the plane. To allow space below for the sleeping berths, the cockpit is set high in the hull. This gives you the impression of being well above the water but it also causes the lean into turns to feel exaggerated for those onboard. It can be a little surprising at first but it tracks smoothly and is very predictable, even over the slight swell we found at sea. Across chop it was soft-riding and shudder-free as we cruised easily in the mid 27kt (50kmh) range.

Heading up the Clyde there was plenty of flat water and wide open space to enjoy things to their fullest. This was its natural habitat, where it transformed into an entertaining and spirited performer. From rest the Stingray accelerated onto the plane at 17.2kts (32kmh) and through its rev range to a top speed of 47.5kts (88kmh). The Duoprop would bite in for good acceleration and they'd hang on for surefooted drive through turns.

Around 3500rpm there was vibration from some fittings but it was only in a narrow rev range; by 4000rpm, doing 35.6kts (66kmh), it all got perfectly smooth with the motor emitting some healthy rumbles from the exhausts. At 5200rpm the big 5.7lt V8 sounded sweet and the Stingray sat high on the water, trimmed out and flying. Fast turns were predictable and smooth and there was ample power on tap for sporty driving - never forgetting, of course, that there are three tons to throw around.

At slow speed the Duoprop held the boat pointed where it was meant to go, with no sterndrive wobble, allowing for straightforward manoeuvring to dockside. Vision forward was also good from the high vantage point of the helm and all controls were easy to operate whether sitting or standing.

THE WRAP

George Klapsis, the Australian Stingray importer, had trailered this Stingray 250CS 100km or so from the Nowra Powerboats dealership. With an all-up weight of nearly 3500kg it certainly needs a large tow vehicle, but thankfully the choice is better these days what with utes from the likes of Mazda and Nissan joining Toyota LandCruisers as preferred tow vehicles.

I thought there was a lot to like about the Stingray - it's a lot of boat and it offers plenty of lively performance for the money. Considering its versatility and size, the 250CS seems like relatively good value at $118,000. Families wishing to spend extended time on the water will certainly love the room and the comfort afforded by its liveaboard features.

On the plane...
Good use of space
Quality finish
Lots of room for overnight trips
Plenty of power

Dragging the chain...
Needs a big tow vehicle
2.59m beam means a restricted towing width

SPECIFICATIONS

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $118,000
Options fitted: Camper canvas, windshield wiper, 240V electrical system, 240V hot water system, dual battery, snap-in carpet, two-tone hull with colour stripe
Priced from: $107,099

GENERAL
Type: Cabin-cruiser
Material: GRP
Length: 7.6m
Beam: 2.59m
Weight (dry boat): 2255kg
Weight (BMT): Approx. 3100kg (plus gear)
Deadrise: 21°

CAPACITIES
People: 10
Rec. HP: 320
Max. HP: 320
Fuel: 257lt
Water: 95lt

ENGINE
Make/model: Volvo Penta 5.7 GXi
Type: Multi-point injected-petrol V8 sterndrive
Weight: 485kg
Displacement: 5700cc
Gear ratio: 1.95:1
Propeller: F5 Duoprop

MANUFACTURED BY
Stingray Boats, Hartsville, South Carolina, United States,www.stingrayboats.com

SUPPLIED BY
Nowra Powerboat Centre, 6/10 Central Ave, Nowra, NSW, 2541, (02) 4422 1999, www.nowrapowerboats.com.au

Story and photos: John Ford
Source: TrailerBoat #283

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