Tips for Overnighting On Your Boat

Published on June 11, 2024


Spending the night aboard a Sea Ray is easy once you know which model to choose, how to equip it, and how to take care of a few details.

For most boaters, when the sun gets low on the horizon, it’s time to call it a day and head for shore. But when you’re overnighting on a cabin cruiser, this suddenly becomes the best time of the day. Imagine having a delicious dinner while watching the sunset and then just chilling out while listening to the sounds of nature. Away from civilization, when it gets dark, the stars come out in numbers you don’t see in town. Without all the distractions found at home, conversation flows easily as your family talks about the day’s events and plans for tomorrow’s activities. Before long, it’s time to head down to the cabin and settle in for the night, where you might even go old-school and play a board game before hitting the sack. Then, thanks to the motion of the boat gently rocking you to sleep, you experience the best night’s rest in a long time.

Overnighting aboard a boat is a magical experience. Unlike land-based trips, there are no roads to dictate where your adventure on the water will take you. There are no crowded campgrounds where the family next to yours is only a few yards away. What do you need to be able to overnight on the water? You need the right boat, the ideal anchorage and the knowledge to ensure a comfortable and stress-free experience.


What are the Best Sea Ray Models for Overnighting?

Sea Ray has six models that are ideal for up to four adults to spend the night on the water. All have joystick docking systems that provide ultimate control, even for those without boating experience. The Sundancer line has four models that stretch from nearly 33 feet long to almost 40 feet. Two Sundancer 320 models and two newly designed 370 Sundancers give owners the choice of outboard power or sterndrives. Generators allow those aboard to enjoy amenities like air-conditioning and heating, as well as power other features without draining the batteries. The 320 Sundancers have generator options, while the 370 models have generators as a standard feature.

The other two models that are Sea Ray’s best for overnighting are the SLX 400, powered by twin 430-horsepower sterndrive engines, and the SLX 400 Outboard, which has several power choices. One of the unique options offered with the 400 SLX Outboard is the ability to replace the generator with the lithium-ion battery-powered Fathom e-Power system when choosing select Mercury outboard options.


What are the Best Boat Options for Overnighting?

Adding a few options is recommended to make your boat self-sufficient for overnighting. One of the most important is a grill for cooking. The Sundancer models have options for single electric grills, while SLX 400 models have the option to add two of them. Wisely, Sea Ray designers positioned the grills outside the cabin so cooking smells don’t linger inside. All the models mentioned come with refrigerators as a standard feature inside the cabin, along with a microwave, but owners can add additional refrigerators outside the cabin to increase the capability to keep more fresh food and cold beverages within easy reach. Another helpful addition is an optional inverter, which allows owners to plug in home appliances like blenders, coffee makers and toaster ovens.


How to Pick the Best Spot to Anchor for the Night

There are several keys to picking a great spot to spend the night on your boat. First, it should be away from established boat traffic patterns that are close to marked channels or in locations that are in between popular destinations. Boat wakes tend to rock the boat, making it hard to cook or sleep due to the motion. And even though boats on the water at night should always have an anchor light on to warn others of its presence, inattentive boat drivers can fail to see it, creating a collision hazard.

Look for locations protected from the wind. Places like small coves are usually calm and are out of the way of other boats while providing scenic places to spend the night. If anchoring on a river, look for oxbows, which are old river pathways that have been replaced by a more direct flow and sometimes flow around small islands or look like small bays. These tend to have less current and are usually devoid of other boat traffic. Make sure the boat has enough room and deep water to swing in a 360-degree arc in case the wind shifts.

There are anchoring regulations and restrictions in some places, like areas near marinas or in state or national parks. Do research to make sure you comply.


Anchoring Tips for Overnighting

Look for areas that have good sea bottom for anchoring. Deep, rocky or weedy sea beds can make it hard for an anchor to hold. Look for shallower areas with sand bottoms, firm mud or clay that usually provide good holding power. The maps on GPS displays or charts describe the composition of the sea floor with abbreviations.

When at the ideal anchorage, drop the anchor and let out at least seven times the length of the anchor line as depth. This ratio of line to depth is called scope, and it’s necessary to have enough line let out to ensure the anchor is firmly set. Having a windlass, which electronically raises and lowers the anchor, makes the job easier, and the Sundancer 370 models and SLX 400s have them as standard features. The Sundancer 320 models offer windlasses as an option.

For peace of mind at night that the anchor isn’t dragging, several free or inexpensive apps like Anchor Pro use your phone’s GPS to sound an alarm if the boat moves out of the area you set.


Dining Aboard a Boat

One thing you’ll discover about meals aboard a boat is that food tastes better when on the water. Mealtime takes on more importance and becomes one of the day’s highlights. The trick is to make meal prep, cooking and cleanup as easy as possible. Make microwavable meals and side dishes in advance. Items like shish kabobs, steaks, chicken, seafood and veggies can be prepped, bagged and made ready to toss on the grill. For sandwiches, have a plastic container to store bread so it doesn’t get squashed. Bring along at least one cooler to store meals. Freezing items like water bottles and certain foods replace the need for ice.

Use sturdy paper plates to make cleanups easy and have ample quality trash bags that can be securely sealed after each meal. Designate one storage compartment to hold the trash bags and dispose of them wherever there’s a stop.

For cleaning hands and faces, use wet naps instead of the sink to conserve water. Because the family will likely be doing a lot of swimming, save the shower for quick rinses and washing hair.


Don’t Leave Home Without These Items:

Everyone should carry a small flashlight for reading or navigating to the head at night. A device called a Thermacell is highly effective in warding off insects like mosquitos without using bug spray.

Pack personal belongings in small duffel bags or backpacks instead of hard luggage.

Bring a second swimming suit to change into after swimming to stay dry.

Take sunscreen and hats to prevent sunburns.


Having a boat your family can sleep aboard adds an element of adventure to boating that’s guaranteed to create lasting memories.



This is for general information purposes only. Your use or reliance on any of the information in this Blog is solely at your own risk. Under no circumstance will we have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any of the information provided.

Options and features mentioned subject to change. Please confirm availability of all accessories and equipment with an authorized Sea Ray dealer. 

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