Story of a Sealine 290 Ambassador

A warm welcome from Bandit's crew!

A bit of history...

The 290 Ambassador was the younger sister to the earlier 285 Ambassador which shared very similar features and design. The 290 was just a modern recreation of the 285 with her modern looks which 'brought her into the Nineties' and was said to make comparable boats look old-fashioned. Sealine said "The design brief for the 290 was difficult, but at Sealine we think she has won her case. Conclusively". The 290 production ran from 1989 until 1992.

Bandit is a Sealine 290 Ambassador, designed by Ted Murrant and build by Sealine Boats in 1991. Her hull number is 078 which means she was the 78th Sealine 290 Ambassador built. She is powered by twin 4.3 litre Volvo Penta V6 carbureted petrol engines and drive Volvo Penta 290 duo-propeller outdrives. When new, Bandit would have been classed as a performance specification model with her 410 combined horsepower engines and twin duo-prop drives, once propelling her at a maximum speed of 32-34 knots and would have cost very very first owner £47,196 in 1991. We are now Bandit's fifth owners since she was built. From factory, our Sealine 290 Ambassador was called Vitamin Sea and was renamed Bandit by a previous owner.

How it all began:

We purchased Bandit from Chichester Marina in December 2015, just a couple of days after Christmas. We had her transported from Chichester to Cambridgeshire where she now lives on the River Great Ouse. Not where Sealine would have envisioned their performance cruiser to be, but she ticks all the boxes for us on the river with a low air draught, a small draught and a small enough beam (only just) which ensures we can squeeze her through tight locks and bridges on the Great Ouse river system.

The aim of this blog:

The aim of this blog is to provide what might be seen as a story for those who take an interest in boats, boat refurbishment or Sealine's as a whole. We have many restoration plans for Bandit and everything that we add to the boat or refurbish will be documented on this blog. Not only can this be interesting for you as the viewer, but it is a great way of documenting our time with Bandit for us to look back on in years to come. It will be nice to see what we had accomplished with Bandit and to relive the amazing adventures we're had with her.

Sealine 290 Ambassador Typical Specification

Some numbers:
- Total length: 31ft 8" (9.65m)
- Length at waterline: 29ft 9" (9.06m)
- Beam: 10ft 4" (3.10m)
- Draught: 2ft 11" (0.88m)
- Air-draught: 8ft 4" (2.49m) [Note: Bandit has a lower air-draught than this because we had to remove the GRP 'wing' from her radar arch for bridge clearance on our river system]
- Dry weight: 4,000kg (4.4 tonne)
- Water tank capacity: 40 gallons (181 litres)
- Fuel capacity (in two tanks): 100 gallons (508 litres)

Sealine 290 Layout


Starting from the outside, the 290 benefits from a fully enclosed cockpit and helm via a two-part canopy. It is easily folded back or removed altogether. You have the GRP moulded radar arch which holds the antennas and aerials for the boat's navigational equipment and entertainment. You also have a 360ยบ anchoring light, a set of horns, navigation lights and stainless steel grab rails. Deck hardware consists of six large stainless steel cleats which double as fairleads. Two at the bow, two amidships and two at the stern. The boat also benefits from a stainless steel pulpit rail that makes walking around the decks easier and safer. At the very bow of the boat is what we like to refer to as the 'nose' of the boat which is the very front of the boat that sticks out. This is a clever piece of design that houses a concealed swivelling anchor roller and 10kg Bruce anchor so it is hidden and can't be damaged. This 'nose' also doubles as another way of boarding the boat. At the bow, you have access to the large anchor locker consisting the anchor chain and a large storage compartment for fenders, ropes and mooring equipment. The large Lofrans Airon 500W reversible electric anchor windlass is mounted on the deck and is controlled by either the foot switches at the bow of the boat or by some switches at the helm. On the deck, you have a tinted glass hatch which also doubles as an emergency escape route. From factory, Bandit had a sun pad optional extra package and with that package were two stainless steel grab handles fitted to the deck. This makes moving around the boat a lot easier.


Looking at the stern of the boat, you have the main access to the cockpit via the transom gate located to port. You also have four large fender bins constructed from a stainless steel cage. Looking to starboard, you have the stainless steel ladder used for reboarding the vessel and a hot & cold transom shower for washing off after a swim. You also have a flag pole socket to starboard. Bandit benefits from newly fitted synthetic teak which lines the bathing platform and makes a nice addition. Another nice addition to Bandit was the two Weaver Snap Davits which are used to lift a tender upright on the bathing platform. On our 290, we've fitted a selection of blue LED lights on the bathing platform and on the underside to illuminate the boat in the evenings. All Sealine 290's are propelled by Volvo Penta 290 outdrives with hydraulic trim. The only two variations are either single-propeller drives or duo-propeller drives which is dependent on its original specification. Also below this platform are the Eltrim trim tabs used to stable the boat while planing.


You enter the cockpit via the transom gate or either side through the canopy. The arrangement of the 290 cockpit provides seating for ten people comfortably - six on the horseshoe seating to starboard, two on the seat to port and three at the helm. Originally, you would have had a large table in the cockpit mounted via two removable stainless steel poles. Ours was removed and replaced with a smaller, folding teak table for convenience as well as enhancing the room in the cockpit. Bandit benefits from new synthetic teak flooring in the cockpit too. This teak also acts as a brilliant non-slip surface which ensures safer cruising. The engines are accessed through two large hatches shown on the floor in the picture above. To port, there is the gas storage locker which houses two butane Camping Gaz 907 gas bottles. To starboard, there are two large storage compartments which we use for cleaning products and engine spares. These three compartments are lockable which adds to security.


At the helm, there is seating for up to three people. The skipper and two crew. Everything is easily accessible and perfectly visible to all three people. In regard to the specification of our 290, you have a large teak upright steering wheel ahead of the skipper with controls for the engines, trim tabs and bow thruster falling easily to hand to starboard. You also have controls for the outdrive hydraulic trims, outdrive trim indicators, the helm switch panel and full engine instrumentation. Above those, you have the ship's compass. Ahead of the co-pilot seat, you have a large area and clear plastic cover for a map/navigation charts. Behind that is the navigation equipment which consists of two Stowe Navigator and Navsounder units measuring speed, trip and depth. The 290 was either fitted with Stowe navigation equipment or by Raymarine ST50 navigation units. Beside that is a newer addition of a Garmin 172C chart plotter and to the left of that is our new surface mounted Lowrance Link 5 DSC VHF radio. The 290 was originally equipped with a telephone type VHF unit but ours has since then been removed and replaced for one with the DSC functionality.


The cabin is accessed through a large GRP opening door and sliding GRP lid which slides back into the dashboard for easy access. Immediately through the door are two steps which lead down into the cabin. Straight to port is the galley. To starboard are two doors; the rear door leads to the aft cabin. The door in front leads to the heads. Ahead of all this is the saloon with a large horseshoe seating arrangement which happily accommodates seven people. At the very front of the saloon is a 12v TV which has been added by us. Either side is a shelf containing two GRP moulded bins for storage and wooden cutouts which slide in to hold wine bottles (a nice touch there, Sealine). There is also a removable stall which brings the total number of people who can comfortably sit around the table up to eight. Below the saloon cushions are three large storage locker bins. The two to port and starboard contain tools and other pieces in our case. The locker nearest the bow contains either room for storage or the bow thruster depending on the spec/additions to the boat. The table drops down and infill cushions are added to create a very reasonable and comfortable double berth. Below the floor in the saloon will either be a factory fitted holding tank or an empty space where one can be fitted if needed. Above the saloon is the hatch/escape route and three lights for the dining area. Also accessed in the cabin is the port side wiper motor via a removable panel screwed to the ceiling. Looking back at the cabin, there is access to the bilge and seacocks through a removable hatch in the floor. This access hatch also consists of a GRP moulded tray which slots in to create another storage compartment underneath the floor. To starboard in the saloon is a final cupboard consisting a shelf and a large storage compartment (which we use as a place for our bin and quick-access tool box + torch).


After accessing the cabin, to port is the very well fitted galley with everything you need for comfortable staying on the boat. This includes a two burner gas hob, gas grill and oven, twin sinks and tap, a large pantry locker accessed through a lid built into the worktop, a 12v electric fridge (note: we've replaced our factory fitted fridge for a newer one and changed its location as shown in the above photo), two large cupboard for pots, pans and plates and four cubby holes above the galley for cups etc. There is also a 240v socket and a large opening window at eye level.


The aft cabin is below the helm position and cockpit and consists of two single berths with infill cushions which will convert the berth to a very reasonably sized double. Looking down the end is an opening door/escape route to the cockpit. To the right is a large opening window and to left is a smaller window which does not open due to its close location to the waterline. Below the cushion on the left in this photo is one large storage compartment. Below the cushion to the right in this photo are the twin fuel tanks. This is where you gain access to the tanks and senders. In the aft cabin also is three cupboards. One beside the escape hatch and two as you enter the cabin. One of which is a smaller cupboard and the other is a long length wardrobe. There is also access to the heads via an ensuite door. Above each berth is a 12v swivelling reading light and in the middle is a larger main light.


Accessed from either the cabin or aft cabin is the heads. This might only be a small room but Sealine really did manage to squeeze a lot in. The heads compartment consists of a sea toilet, a GRP moulded sink and tap/shower combo, a fair sized cabinet to hold cleaning products and toiletries and a loo roll holder. Also in the heads is a large opening window and blind. In the GRP moulded floor is a shower tray with teak infill so you can stand in there without trying to avoid the deep shower tray. In the shower tray is a bilge pump on an automatic float switch which detects water and pumps the grey waste outside the boat via a skin fitting in the hull as you shower. The grey waste from the sink also exists the boat via a skin fitting in the hull. The sea toilet in our Sealine 290 can only be pumped straight out the bottom through fittings in the hull. Our boat's specification didn't include a holding tank.


There was also a number of additional items of equipment that could have been added at the factory which was not selected in our case. We're added many new bits including an Eberspacher D2 diesel fired heating system. She also has all new warm white LED lighting in the saloon, galley and cockpit. There are many more bits which we've added or changed and all of that is recorded on the main page of the blog.


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