NOTE: the 240CS was previously the 729zp
If you've ever tried overnighting aboard with wife and kids, you know
that the standard vee-bunk cabin found in 95 percent of the under-25-foot
fleet just doesn't cut it. There's space for two adults (barely),
stretched out along the bulkheads, with their feet veed together at the
bow peak. A very small youngster can sleep on the insert or filler pad
between the two. But as soon as you add another child, or the one you
have develops long legs, nobody gets much rest afloat unless part of the
crew camps out in the cockpit - not a good place to be if a rain blows
Stingray's 729zp not only provides more than enough sleeping room for
the whole family, it actually offers a bit of that rarest of commodities
on a small boat, privacy.
The belowdecks sleeping area tapes 80 inches beam-to-beam, and 50
inches wide. There's a maximum of 32 inches of headroom, and the area is
vented by a sliding window. It also includes reading lights and a comfy
sleeping pad. Privacy curtains cut this compartment off from the main
cabin, which is accessed by a hands-and-knees passage next to the entry
The remarkable thing about this hideaway cabin is that it appears to
be a "free" extra room. On a cursory glance, there appears to
be virtually no difference between the 729 and its sister ship, the 719,
which shares length and beam, but has no extra cabin under the floor.
The cockpit of the 729 is actually longer and wider than that of the
719. It's only when you closely examine both boats that you notice the
cap of the 729 is about 11 inches taller than the 719, the weight is
about 400 pounds more, and the fuel tank capacity is less - 65 gallons
versus 75 - as tank space goes to living space.
The main cabin of the 729 offers 5 feet 10 inches of headroom at the
entry, plus a full galley including pressurized sink with a 2.5 gallon
freshwater tank, 2000 alcohol stove, and ice box. (The water filler cap
Origo is inside the cockpit by the helm seat, so it's unlikely anyone will
mistake it for the fuel filler, which is located on the aft swim
platform.) A hot water system is available if you order the optional shore
power electrical wiring.
The cabin vee-bunks are 75 inches long, and are molded around a
circular dinette table that drops to become a filler pad for overnights.
There's also a stand-up head with portable potty. A marine head with
macerator and holding tank is an option. The cabin liner is molded in one
piece, which means there are no seams to collect dirt, and the liner adds
structural strength to the bow area. Two oval windows on each side plus a
Bomar hatch overhead provide light and ventilation. The cabin doors swing
on stout, stainless-steel piano-type hinges, and keylocks are standard.
In the cockpit, you get typical Stingray quality, which includes nice
touches like rot-proof polypropylene seat frames fitted with molded foam
upholstery, and covered in 36-ounce vinyl - some of the heaviest in the
The console sports a full package of analog gauges, with an easy-access
breaker panel on the lower port side of the wheel. A built-in depthfinder
and GPS keep the top of the dash clear - a Humminbird digital is included
in the base price, as is a compass and a Maxima 60-watt cassette stereo.
The wheel tilts, which allows a good fit for any sitting driver.
We found the seat base a little too close to the dash for comfortable
stand-up driving, but most who buy this boat will probably operate it
sitting down 95 percent of the time. A Bimini top is standard - it
includes a see through plexi-panel for those times when you have to
stand up, as in navigating shallow water. The windshield is safety glass
rather than plexi, and the center walk-through area is framed by stout
stainless-steel braces. A swing-out step helps you make it up to the
walkway atop the cabin to handle docking chores, and the cabin roof is all
non-skid. There's an anchor locker in the bow peak, so you don't have to
drag muddy anchors and lines into the cabin or cockpit.
The 729 features an integrated swim platform, easily accessed via a
transom door. A sunlounge/couch provides seating across the transom. The
swim platform has a standard flip-down stainless-steel swim ladder, and
also includes a ski tow eye and hideaway flexible shower hose.
The couch lifts up - easily thanks to hydraulic pistons - to reveal the
engine compartment. Like the aft cabin, the whole powerplant sits below
deck level. Access is very good, thanks to step-down areas on either side
of the engine. Batteries sit in racing-style trays on the port side, while
the starboard area would be good for storage. A check of the
stainless-steel cleats here revealed plywood backing plates glassed under
the gunwales to provide plenty of holding power.
The layup includes multiple layers of Coremat backed with 24-ounce
woven-roven, then more Coremat, then Klegecell for strength without weight,
then another layer of Coremat and another of roving. The stringers are
plywood encased in fiberglass and the stringer system is computer-cut for
a precise match to the hull. PVC pipes provide drainage of condensation
through the transverse stringers. A smart touch at the transom: the
plywood reinforcement ends a few inches above the bottom, so that there's
less danger of seepage into the core around the drain plug - the plug
area is solid, multi-layer glass.
The exceptional depth of the 729 means you're unlikely ever to get a
face full of spray, even upwind in a 20-knot blow, as during our test
runs. There's 60 inches of freeboard at the bow, and the windshield is
tall enough to provide both wind and spray protection.
Powered by the optional 5.7-liter MerCruiser with Bravo III twin-prop
drive, the 729 provided a spirited ride, with a top speed of 50.1 mph.
According to Stingray engineers, part of the reason for the boat's
impressive top end is the "Z-Plane" hull design, a
21-degree-deadrise vee with strakes that form a series of reversed chines
working their way up from the keel. The strakes don't stick out like
conventional strakes, and Stingray engineers say this reduces turbulence,
cuts drag, and gives the prop a better bite on the water. It's likely that
the notched transom helps as well - this cutaway allows mounting the drive
high to start, and also permits higher trim than with a standard transom.
The boat was no bolt of lightning out of the hole, averaging about 10
seconds to plane. But, when we began to feed it throttle and trim, the
nose came up and the hull took air like a bassboat. From 3500 rpm to 4000
rpm, speed jumped almost 7 miles an hour, and we added another 6 mph up to
the maximum 4500 rpm. The hull also proved to be exceptionally economical,
turning in a maximum of 3.61 mpg at 3000 rpm, with a speed of 29.5 mph. The
65-gallon fuel tank is not large for a boat this size, but with a range of
211 miles, it's more than adequate for most trips.
Driving the 729 is straightforward. It corners predictably, with no
tendency to trip or kedge at any reasonable speed, and the MerCruiser power
steering is smooth and effortless. The hull leaned considerably into the
wind when running through beam seas, a common characteristic of deep vees.
Those who boat big waters would probably want to add the optional Bennett
trim tabs to assist in leveling the boat. By dropping the upwind tab a bit,
it's possible to raise that side and provide a tilt-free ride. And when
there's lots of wind and spray, you can even tilt the upwind side UP, thus
making that side of the boat "taller" to block out the briny.
Noise levels in the cockpit were a bit higher than we've found with some
similar rigs with a reading of 82 dB at the helm at idle, climbing to 102
dB at full bore. The noise levels were not annoying, but you won't be
holding any long conversations at full speed in this boat.
Overall, the Stingray 729zp is an impressive package that combines an
amazing amount of living space with sport-boat performance and good
looks - all at a price that's not an impossible dream for many families.