It's one of those sweltering summer days in South Carolina. There's not a cloud in the sky, but there's
so much humidity, you're raining. It's amazing how the locals seem to take it in stride. Problem is,
the only place you usually find humidity like this is at the spa, which you can leave any time you want to.
But not here. The whole state of South Carolina is a spa today.
So you begin looking for refuge. And you find it, not in an air-conditioned lakehouse, but down on the
docks where you see Stingray's brand new 220DR deck boat sitting idle for the moment. You scurry over to it,
climb aboard, hit the blower and open the engine hatch to see what's powering this little jewel. You're a
bit surprised to find a 260-hp, 5.0L MerCruiser. Your initial thought is that this 22-foot deck boat is
probably a tad on the underpowered side for Stingray, which tends to be more performance oriented than most
of its competition. One thing's for sure, however; it will go fast enough to cool you off. So you start the
motor, close the hatch, loosen your dock lines and idle just far enough away from the dock to not be
offensive before you hammer the throttle. A mere four seconds later, the 220DR is on plane.
Boats are made for hot summer days. Conditions that seemed unbearable a minute before suddenly become
paradise. You cruise Lake Robinson long enough to cool your jets, and then back off the throttle and
shut off the engine. Trimming the outdrive up to trailer height, you walk to the stern and are surprised
to see the 220DR is outfitted with an Alpha 1 drive rather than the dual-propeller Bravo 3 that you might
have thought was responsible for the boat's quick time-to-plane. And it's sporting a basic aluminum prop,
not stainless steel.
In the process of checking the drive, you also make note of the 220DR's easy approach to the swim
platform. Rather than a transom door as the former DS model this replaces had, Stingray opted to integrate
a step system that leads from the cockpit sole right over the center of the rear bench and down onto the
swim platform. The center cushion easily removes to avoid stepping on it, and the transom is notched for
a step-through effect. The step on the swim platform has a top hatch that lets the unit double as a storage
compartment. One of the biggest benefits to this step approach is that you don't waste interior seating
with a door.
Consequently, the 220DR offers a great deal of seating given its relatively trim 8-foot-3-inch beam. Aft
of the driver's bucket seat, complete with a flip-up bolster, is a wraparound lounge that terminates into
a handy built-in refreshment center opposite the driver. A spacious bow brings the boat's seating capacity
to 11, which is remarkably good for a 22-foot boat.
Compelled to create breeze again, you restart the engine, which, with multi-port fuel injection is
instantaneous. (Stingray also offers a carbureted version of the 5.0). Then you notice another small
standard feature that could easily have gone unappreciated if not for the stifling humidity: side vents
in the windshield.
At about 18 mph you look over your shoulder to inspect the wake and see that the 220DR would make a
good recreational wakeboarding boat. Sit some extra buttocks in the rear, and the wake will be more than
adequate for launching amateur aerial maneuvers.
You watch the speedometer as you throttle onward, playing with the trim to find out where the boat runs
best. When you get it dialed in just right, you look at your GPS and are pleasantly surprised to see 50.8
mph. You fine-tune the trim more and get up to 51.3 mph, near Stingray's published top speed of 52.09 mph.
Load the 220DR with passengers and equipment as it's intended to be used, and you'll see a corresponding
drop in performance. However, it should be noted that Stingray also offers more power and alternate drive
packages. A 300-hp, 5.7L MPI will reach almost 56 mph, while a 320-hp, 6.2L MPI will take you to nearly
58 mph (one person, no gear), according to radar tests conducted by Stingray. Volvo Penta and MerCruiser
power are available, including a 150-hp diesel package from Volvo Penta should you want that option.
You attribute the 220DR's better-than-average speeds to Stingray's patented Z-plane hull. For one
thing it has a notched transom, which permits the drive to sit a bit higher out of the water, thereby
reducing drag. But there's more to the magic of the Z-plane. Unlike traditional hull designs, the Z-plane
has strakes with rounded edges (as opposed to sharp). According to Stingray, this permits the hull to
pass through the water without bubbles and vortices, giving the propeller a better bite. The boat turns
exceptionally well, even when the drive isn't trimmed all the way down, which may be because the rounded
strakes act as a spray release. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is the hull performs admirably in
Performance aside, the 220DR has several other fine attributes. In addition to the integrated cockpit
sink already mentioned, it has dedicated storage for a 25-quart carry-on cooler, which makes loading and
unloading the boat's cargo much easier. It also allows you to transfer goods ashore for beach parties or
barbecues. And to make beach landings more practical, the 220DR has a forward boarding ladder to complement
the one astern. But if you want to dine alfresco aboard, there is a collapsible table with pedestal sockets
both in the bow and the stern.
Another amenity worth its weight in gold when the need arises is an enclosed head in the port console.
Within you'll find a portable head with a self-contained holding tank (a dockside pumpout option is
available for $283), a freshwater sink, adjustable lights and a screened porthole. This feature alone can
extend both your boating range and duration. Napping aboard the 220DR is not a stretch of the imagination
either. Inserting filler cushions into the aft lounge converts it into a large sunpad/berth.
The boat is also equipped with not one, but two handheld showers. They are located at each end of the
boat, and draw off a pressurized 17-gallon freshwater system for quick cleaning.