Want to go so damn fast that all of South Beach is one big blur? Too bad, since many of the women on South Beach are topless. But if you're willing to trade scenery for speed and you place fishing high on your to-do list, Fountain's new 38 CC is a boat you have to check out.
CULTURED PEARL. Few people know how to make a boat go fast like Reggie Fountain, so you're right to assume that the new Fountain 38 CC is going to boil the water. And with a 72.5-mph top end, the wind resistance will bend your rods more than a 100-pound tuna. But because we're talking about Fountain, a top end that beats the competition is no surprise. But this is: Cruise at 4500 rpm and you'll be running at about 50 mph while burning only 33.6 gph. That means you're getting 1.5 mpg. Sounds pretty amazing for a 38' boat, doesn't it?
That efficiency is a hair above another twin-step, triple-Verado-rigged competitor, the Donzi 38 ZF Open ($212,000). With identical powerplants, the Donzi makes 1.3 mpg at 4500 rpm, but it cruises about 5 mph slower. At 5000 rpm the Donzi runs just a tick under 50 mph-and gets 1.1 mpg. Note that even though it goes faster, the Fountain has a foot more beam than the Donzi, and their weights are nearly identical. The Donzi has an advantage when it comes to fish stowage, though, because at 7'4" long, 2' deep, and 3' wide, the forward fishbox is the largest in this class.
What makes the 38 CC run so well? It's not just the twin steps. This boat also has a setback and notch built into the transom, as well as a V-pad on the hull bottom, which is where the entire boat rides at high speeds. The net result? An 8 to 15 percent increase in overall speed, midrange performance, and fuel economy over plain-Jane V-bottoms. Some people believe steps improve a boat's ride-count me among them. The steps introduce a cushion of aerated water under the boat, which breaks adhesion and allows the hull to run faster. But, to me at least, it also seems to soften re-entries and impacts when the seas kick up. If you want to run above highway speeds, the boat has to be built to take it-and construction is another area in which Fountain takes a sophisticated approach. The hull is solid fiberglass from the waterline down, with the keel, strakes, and hullsides cored to boost stiffness and rigidity. The stringer grid is molded, glassed into place, and pumped full of foam. And the hull-to-deck joint is tightly secured: It's riveted to keep it in place when the through-bolts are run through, Plexus adhesive/sealant is applied in the joint, and where the two parts meet they're fiberglassed together. Popping across a chop at 65 mph and taking large boat wakes in the 50-mph range, the boat felt as solid as most competitive boats do at 30 mph.
I did, however, find two things I didn't like about the way the 38 CC is put together. First, wires running under the starboard side gunwale weren't chafe protected nor were they well loomed where they went through a cutout. After a few years of bouncing around in the rough stuff, the insulation on those wires will be history. This may have been because my test boat was rushed out the door for a boat show, so peek under the gunwales when you're assessing a 38 CC and see for yourself. Also, the electronics box door is held up with spring struts, which tend to bend, break, and shut on your hand.