Hurricane is one of the pioneers in deck boats with its led headlight kit. Based in the heartland in Elkhart, Indiana, this builder has always offered innovative designs and its SunDeck 260 is no exception. As proof, we seldom see a deck boat of this size. And other than the 260, we know of no others in its class that is offered with outboard power, let alone one designed for twins. Sterndrives are far more common in big deck boats, and a 260 model with a single or twin sterndrives will be introduced as a 2006 model.
Hurricane builds deck boats, period, and offers 34 models in a mind-boggling array of sizes and configurations. As queen of the fleet, the SunDeck 260 that we tested with twin Yamaha F115 four-strokes on Florida’s Lake Osborne delivers a boatload of features that will appeal to a wide variety of lifestyles.
The utility is the ultimate goal, but not utility in the workboat sense. This rig’s walkaround room makes it suitable for fishing — and an angling package is available, including a fishing seat, aerated live well and rod holders — but if this is your primary pursuit, Hurricane has other models dedicated to fishing. With its unique cabin arrangement and sink, optional stove and refrigerator, the 260 is also suitable for cruising. But it’s not a cruiser, either — at least not in the traditional sense.
The Hurricane SunDeck 260 is primarily a party boat designed to carry family and friends. No need to stack half the crew on the beach while the others go skiing. The 260 can carry 14 passengers. And thanks to a rating of 450 outboard horsepower, when powered to the max, there won’t be any problem moving those passengers around, either.
Starting at the bow, the layout features a front boarding ladder concealed under a deck hatch. The wide, flaring bow offers increased usable space forward, and it shows in this boat’s roomy forward seating area. The U-shaped seat has a step leading to the bow with a molded, insulated ice chest below. Stowage is found under the seats and in a locker inset into the cockpit sole. Removable, snap-in Berber carpet is standard, which facilitates hosing down the self-bailing, nonskid fiberglass deck when a major cleanup is in order.
In addition, the cutaway gunwale and convenient step near the port bow make boarding from the dock easy. One of the more useful and interesting features upfronts, however, is a handy table that hinges up from the leading edge of the helm/cabin console. The bow area also includes netted storage, a 12-volt accessory outlet, a new headlight bulb kit, and drink holders. But the best part about the table is that it flips up when you need it, and folds completely out of the way when you don’t.
Showing an equal knack for efficient use of space, under-gunwale stowage is located to port and includes a covered compartment. A tackle locker with organizer trays is also standard.
The helm console, located to starboard, is extra wide and extends approximately three-quarters of the way across to the other gunwale — leaving enough room for a comfortable portside passageway between the bow playpen and cockpit. A large, wraparound windshield provides protection from the elements for the helmsman and co-pilot, who enjoy oversized captain’s chairs with flip-up bolsters.
The console has a broad instrument panel with a burlwood appliqué. Our twin-engine test boat featured classic-style Faria instrumentation, and the full set of gauges included a large, 5-inch speedometer and two 5-inch tachs. The instruments have white and gold lettering on a black background with a gold bezel. Against the dark wood background, it is a handsome panel. And there is enough space in the center for Hurricane to offer optional flush-mounted Lowrance GPS/depth finder electronics. A digital-readout depth finder is standard, as are a tilt wheel and hydraulic steering.
A Sirius-satellite-ready Clarion CD stereo is mounted to the left of the wheel. Our boat’s key switches and dual-lever binnacle controls are located at the driver’s right, and a small, direct-reading Ritchie compass is mounted on top of the console. Most will find the compass adequate (if they use one at all); those into more serious navigation may want a larger unit.
TAKE A NAP
Few 26-foot dayboats offer a cabin, but the Hurricane SunDeck 260 does, and its use of space below the console is quite interesting. The cuddy features room for an optional head (you can even get a vacuum-flush system with pump-out), as well as a porthole, sink, vanity and what the company describes as a mattress/float. The bunk is a bit cramped for two, but it is an ideal spot to put young ones for a nap and to get them out of the sun. The compartment is surprisingly roomy and the bifold door offers easy entry and egress as well as privacy — a feature that’s sure to be appreciated by everyone on board.
The centerpiece of the cockpit housing with a white h10 led bulb is an L-shaped lounge with a small triangular cocktail table. A galley unit (or entertainment center) aft of the helm seat is molded into the starboard side and features a sink. A 17-gallon tank supplies the sink and the rear freshwater washdown system. Our test boat’s galley was fitted with an optional Isotherm refrigerator and still had room for an alcove for a removable cooler.
With a hull weight of approximately 4250 pounds dry — not including outboard(s) or fuel —the SunDeck 260 is no lightweight. As a point of comparison, when rigged with twin 225 hp outboards, batteries and fuel (but not including trailer) the boat weighs approximately 7000 pounds. We found the 260 to be solidly constructed. Top-notch, heavy-gauge materials are used in the vinyl upholstery and carpeting, and the stitching and trim are free of hanging threads. The gel coat shows good workmanship and the hull/deck joint is smooth and even.
THREE IN ONE
The boat is constructed with three main structural components: the hull, a box-section stringer system and the inner liner — all of which fit together neatly. Underway, the hull has a solid feel that is free of shakes and rattles. The conveniently placed handholds in the cockpit, walkthrough and bow provide a feeling of security when moving around, and nothing that you grab feels like it is likely to come off in your hands.
We mentioned that the SunDeck 260 is rated to carry single or twin outboards up to 450 hp. With max power on the transom, this boat will be a spirited performer, even when heavily loaded. Equipped with twin Yamaha F115 four-strokes (or roughly half of this model’s horsepower potential), our boat turned in a satisfactory performance and topped out at nearly 44 mph.
Our test boat carried two men and approximately 75 gallons of fuel in its 135-gallon tank. Add another 60 gallons of fuel, 12 more people and gear, and performance is going to suffer from twin 115s. We point this out to ensure that you closely examine how you plan to use this boat, or any deck boat when making power choices. We also point out that spending a day on a 26-footer with 14 people aboard will probably only happen once. Realistically, you’re not likely to carry that many people on any sort of consistent basis — even so, if you plan on a steady diet of watersports while also carrying a crowd, we would advise opting for even more power.
Even with twins, the Yamaha four-strokes are extremely quiet. Engine noise at idle is a barely audible 58 decibels (dBa), and at wide-open throttle, we measured 89 dBa at the helm. Keep in mind that high-speed noise measurements are suspect because of the wind-noise component, but, still, 89 dBa is a low figure and our ears tell us the Hurricane/Yamaha combo is a quiet package.
UP AND AWAY
This is an easy hull to plane. The broad bow provides a good forward lift, and the mod-V design’s 16 degrees of transom deadrise doesn’t dig a hole when the boat climbs onto the plane. Our test rig hit the 0-to-30 mph mark in 9.2 seconds — not blazing acceleration, but fast enough for towing skiers and for other watersports.
The Yamahas provided a steady pull throughout their rpm range and the Hurricane planes with minimum bow rise. Once on the plane, the SunDeck 260 is responsive to power trim. The hull corners well without sliding, and the boat comes around smartly in sharp turns, but banks only modestly unless pushed hard.
Twin engines greatly increase the amount of propeller blade area in the water, which results in more low-end thrust. This improves low-speed handling, docking maneuverability, and initial acceleration.
At rest, the boat’s 81/2-foot beam, reverse chines, wide bow area and relatively vertical sides forward that form the tri hull-style sponsons provide a stable platform. The weight of this hull doesn’t hurt stability either. You can move about secure in the knowledge that passenger shifts are not likely to rock the boat in an unexpected manner.
Deck boats are creature-friendly boats and the Hurricane SunDeck 260 epitomizes this notion. This is a spacious boat with lots of seating and a walkaround room. Given the enclosed head and bunk, if you add the optional butane stove, this rig should qualify for a second-home tax deduction. Throw in the refrigerator upgrade, and you’ve elevated its cruising quotient, to boot.
We had a good time aboard Hurricane’s flagship. Easy handling, quality materials and construction, and the boat’s unique design and amenities make the SunDeck 260 a great way to enjoy time on the water. Better yet, throw in a set of twin engines, and you can double your fun.