Deck boats are not my cup of tea. Too much like minivans, I guess. Yet, if there was one boat
that could change my mind, Stingray's new 220DR could be it. With a full windshield and a simple,
wide-open layout, the 220DR offers a world of possibilities. Amenities such as abundant seating in
the cockpit, twin loungers in the bow, a movable snack table, multiple ice chests, standard Bimini
top and boarding ladders fore and aft help this boat effectively fulfill its primary role as a day
Yet, with a deep smooth-riding hull, filler cushions for the cockpit and bow, an enclosed head
in the port console, a mini-galley with pressurized fresh water, a dedicated anchor locker and the
full canvas option ($986), I can envision the 220DR as a suitable weekend cruiser.
This deck boat supercedes Stingray's 220DS, which had L-shaped cockpit seating spanning the port
side and across the stern, with a gate in the starboard side of the transom leading to the swim
platform. The 220DR, on the other hand, has a U-shaped seating plan, similar to that of Stingray's
240LR ("Balancing Act," February 2002), introduced for 2002.
This approach opens up more seating, but loses the transom gate. To make up for it, Stingray
incorporates a notch in the middle of the transom, with a step-down to the integral swim platform.
For 2003, the non-skid on the step has been improved with a diamond-pattern sole.
A step-through transom is a cool concept — and other builders have already copied it. A
downside is that you have to remove the middle cushion of the stern bench seat — or walk on
it — while moving to and from the platform. Also, the step-down, which doubles as storage
locker (and is great for stowing fenders and lines), gobbles up space on the platform.
On the other hand, access to the engine compartment is excellent. Remove the unique cover and
seat cushions, and there's plenty of room to service the power plant. This proved particularly
useful as we hooked up our test equipment.
The bow on many deck boats is low-slung — a concession to make boarding from a shore
camp easier. However, the bow on the 220DR is relatively high and deep, lending a feeling of
security and allowing for a pair of very comfortable lounge seats. To ease the boarding process,
there is a recessed area at the forepeak, creating a platform. There's also a boarding ladder
that folds into a hatch. This is a neat design, but we'd like to see a grab rail, as there is
nothing to hold on to as you climb into the boat from deep water. This is intentional, as Stingray
intends for the forward ladder to be used only for shore landings. Use in open water creates a
safety issue, the company says.
TWEAKING THE HULL
Stingray also modified the running surface. Using the hull from the 220DS as the starting point,
engineers sharpened the trailing edges to help create more lift for the 220DR.
We ran our test unit on Lake Robinson, near Stingray's Hartsville, South Carolina,
headquarters. The 220DR was powered by a 260 hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI with an Alpha drive spinning
a Laser II 19-inch-pitch stainless, vented three-blade prop.
We achieved a top speed of slightly over 50 mph at 4900 rpm. Acceleration was adequate, but
not overwhelming, boosting the 220DR from 0 to 30 mph in slightly under 10 seconds. There is very
little bow rise.
Handling is about as smooth and predictable as it gets. The hull corners flawlessly, with nary
a hint of sliding or skipping, even in a full-speed brody. This is a strong testament to Stingray's
patented Z-plane hull, which also handled the small waves we encountered with quiet confidence.
Deck boats with full windshields have become the norm these days, and I applaud the trend.
There will always come a time when you or your passengers want some protection from wind-blast
and spray. For even more protection aboard the 220DR, you can order an optional canvas flap ($84)
that snaps into the walk-through area.
I also liked the windshield itself. It's a design from Water Bonnet that features a new system
for connecting enclosure snaps. Instead of the conventional clips, there are plastic tabs that
slide in a track in the windshield frame. Once the snap is screwed into the tab, the plastic
expands and locks in place.
You can also easily repair scratches in the Water Bonnet frame, since the finish is designed
to match Rust-Oleum's Silver Metallic paint, which is widely available.
In addition to handling well, the 220DR is fun to drive. Much of this is due to the ergonomics of
the helm, starting with the adjustable bucket seat, which has a flip-up bolster, in case you want
to look over — rather than through — the windshield. Tilt steering, a starboard-side
arm rest aft of the throttle/shift control, angled foot rest and an unobstructed view of the
instrument cluster all contribute to the joy of manning this helm.
I also like the placement of the breaker panel for the ship's systems and accessories: It's
located below the dash, out of sight, yet easily accessible — a small touch, but one that
boat nuts like me greatly appreciate.
Overall, Stingray has done a great job of designing a craft that will easily win the hearts
of deck boat lovers. What's more, it may also win over those who are less enamored — even
those who view the deck boat as the marine equivalent of the minivan.
Trailer Boats Magazine