The difference between a pocket cruiser and a cuddy sometimes depends on whom you're talking to. Some people think
that anything with a cot and a cabin should be called a cruiser while others maintain that anything less than a
motoryacht should be called a cuddy.
Our definition is firmly in the middle: If a small boat has a cabin to sleep in, an enclosed head to take care of
business in, a shower and the capacity to cook food, then we'd tend to label it a pocket cruiser. If it just has a dinky
little cabin with a V-berth and no head, shower, or galley, then we'd be inclined to call it a bare-bones cuddy.
Having straightened that out, we were squarely of the mind that we were about to test a pocket cruiser when we stepped
aboard the Stingray 250CR, which is brand-new for 2005. The 250CR is also the largest boat in Stingray's cruiser lineup,
so we fully expected to see the best this company has to offer. We're not sure one thing has anything to do with the
other, but Stingray just happened to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a brand-new 25-foot boat, so there might be
more to the 250CR than meets the eye.
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
The first thing we look for on any cruiser is how well it delivers on the basics. As far as we're concerned, a cruiser's
first priority is to offer a comfortable ability to live on the water for at least an extended weekend without having to
visit a marina for anything more than fuel.
This means you need a way to keep perishable food cold, a way to cook the food and plenty of fresh water. Other
necessities include a berth with room to stretch out and sleep, a head with a holding tank and a shower for rinsing off.
That's about it for the basics. Some boats deliver on these essentials better than others, and, for a boat its size, we
found that the 250CR did the job in functional fashion without going over the top.
As far as food and water goes, we were glad to see the 250CR comes with an insulated 32-quart built-in ice chest. This,
taken together with the 25-quart removable cockpit cooler, should provide plenty of storage for food and ice for two or
three days. Hydration is also always a main concern, and most cruising couples and families bring more than enough bottled
water to last the duration of their trip. That, coupled with this boat's 17-gallon freshwater tank, will ensure there's
plenty of water for drinking, washing food and showering. This is all made better with a pressurized freshwater sink to
port aft of the helm and another wash basin to starboard aft of the helm, both of which sport oversized cupholders.
While the 250CR only offers an exposed transom pressurized freshwater shower, it's definitely better than not having a
shower at all — and in our view, it still serves the basic purpose.
When it's time to cook up some chicken, fish, hot dogs or burgers, the standard portable butane stove with stainless
steel case and auto light will fit the bill. Yeah, it might be more like cooking at the campground than in the kitchen,
but food is food.
Moving forward, the cabin is all it needs to be with a spacious V-berth and the standard Porta Potti. The Porta Potti
itself is revealed by lifting a hinged center cushion in the V-berth. There's plenty of headroom and the lockable cabin
door provides privacy while someone is using the facilities. The 250CR also comes standard with a holding tank with
pumpout, which makes extended cruises all the more comfortable. Outboard port lights work together with the opening
screened top hatch to let light and air into the cabin.
Because this is Stingray's new flagship cruiser, it would make sense that the company would try to make it its best and
brightest. We were impressed with the standard stainless steel hardware package, which included bowrails, stern, bow
and spring cleats; pop-up cleats; and a multi-step boarding ladder — that's a lot of shiny stainless steel for a
Some of the touches we liked around the helm cluster include an Italian Dino wheel, a Kenwood high-power CD player
with remote, a 12v dash accessory plug, twin Avenir Sport bucket seats with bolsters and tilt steering.
In fact, Stingray likes to point out that there are more than 25 standard features that would total to just over
$4,000 if they were options in what it calls its "Convenience Package." Some of these are obvious features that would
belong on any boat like this, including the electronic engine hourmeter, the windshield with side vent windows and the
removable cockpit cooler. But others are standards that would be options on other boats, including a magnetic compass, a
Sunbrella Bimini top with boot and even a personal Web site at www.MyStingray.com.
The 250CR grinded through the rough and chewed up the turns just as we'd expect a nimble little 25-foot deep-V to do.
With a load of two adults and a third of a tank of fuel (about 23 gallons), we were able to hit a top speed of 52.8
mph at 4,800 rpm thanks to the 320 horses of the 5.7 GXi Volvo Penta dual-prop stern drive (320 is the maximum horsepower
for this boat). Our time to plane was 5 seconds and our 0 to 30 mph time was just under 10 seconds. Our optimal cruising
speed was right about 36 mph at 3,500.
The 250CR was a quick and punchy boat and would hold its speed in and out of the most aggressive turns we were willing
to throw it into. We did experience a slight bit of blowout when we dug in really deep, but it was nothing to be concerned
about. There's also plenty of power to pull skiers and wakeboarders out of the hold.
Stingray is very proud of its patented "Z-plane" hull, which has no added volumes or surfaces (strakes). Instead, it
has Z-planes that act as horizontal planing faces when submerged. When very near the water's surface, the outside edge of
the Z-plane acts as a spray release. According to Stingray, this allows the boat to pass through the water without the
formation of bubbles or vortices by the hull and consequently gives the propeller better bite during both straight-line
high-speed running and hard cornering. The hull also has a notched transom, adopted from offshore racing boats, that
allows the drive to be mounted higher to reduce drag and increase performance.
If you're looking for a small pocket cruiser that can simply get the job done and is a blast to drive, the 250CR is a good
choice. Stingray definitely went the extra mile in order to fit everything a cruiser needs into a tight, nimble little
package. This boat would be ideal for a cruising couple looking for an extended adventure or for a family that wants a day
boat loaded with conveniences and a cabin for the kids to nap.
Even though we've seen bigger, more expensive cruisers with larger heads, enclosed showers and full galleys, we give
Stingray full marks for delivering on all the basics with a small, affordable cruiser.
Go Boating Test Team