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October 26, 2001

Fountain 37 Cuddy

This Fountain 37TE represents an enlarged version of Reggie Fountains hull holding the world record for speed.

Lots of folks say to me, "Wow, you have the greatest job, traveling around the world, running nice boats and fishing all the time." While that's mostly true, no job is perfect. Take, for example, a day not long ago when the weather forecast called for the East Coast's worst blizzard in years. I could actually watch the thermometer drop. Let me tell you that running an open boat at close to 70 mph in below-freezing weather with the wind out of the north-northwest at 25 mph isn't a dream job. Luckily, the boat made up for the discomfort.

Performance
This Fountain 37TE represents an enlarged version of Reggie Fountain's hull holding the world record for speed. Unlike racing boats, the 37TE doesn't experience a half-minute of prop slippage to get going, thanks to standard outboard props and the twin-vent hull that reduces drag. Adjusting down both the big K-Plane-style trim tabs and the engines allowed this massive 37-footer to get up on plane immediately with barely noticeable bow rise, powered by triple 225 Mercury OptiMax engines.
Idling with two engines at 550 rpm, the 37TE trolls at 3.5 mph. One engine lowers that to about 2 mph, perfectly acceptable for live-baiting. Wide open at 5,700 rpm, the boat reached an upwind/downwind average of 68 mph, but, as expected, gulped fuel - 22 gph per engine (a total of 66 gph). But triples don't necessarily mean constant heavy consumption. It used a relatively conservative 21 gph total for three engines at 3,500 while running at 40 mph. Many twin-engine boats can't compete with that consumption rate at that speed. Nevertheless, those who don't want the expense of buying and running triple engines can still take advantage of this nautical ICBM. I managed a top speed of over 55 mph with only two 225-hp engines. Changing the props from the 23-inchers on the triples to 21-inchers with a twin-engine configuration should get the 37TE back close to 60 mph, still with 225-hp outboards. Expect inboard gas and diesel versions with stern-drives before too long, as well.
Fountain makes its own steering systems now because no company made a system beefy enough to stand up to the offshore rigors the company's boats needed. Reggie adapted a Mercedes steering system that requires only three turns, lock-to-lock. It helps this almost 38-foot boat respond to steering commands like an 18-footer. You won't find a more responsive boat this size on the market.
One thing I particularly like about testing a boat with Reggie Fountain aboard is that I always learn something. The man is a brilliant engineer and really knows boats, performance props and the like. He will also wring the last possible fraction of a mile per hour out of whatever boat he's running. Once he's done, the performance of that boat has been quantified absolutely.

Fishing
This 37 exhibited the drifting characteristics of a much smaller boat. When I put the bow into the wind and shifted into neutral, the boat ended up stern quarter to the seas. Simply turning the wheel allowed me to steer the boat down-sea, power-free. But there the similarity to anything small ends. A 10 1/2-foot beam soaks up a lot of rolling. Despite its blistering speed, the 37TE remains stable as a barge in a beam sea, thanks to a generous length-to-beam ratio.
You can't help but have a ton of fishing work space on a 37-foot center console with a cuddy. The 37TE provides great steps up to the foredeck and excellent nonskid on every square inch once you get there. Future models will offer even more cockpit fishing space as the cuddy gets shortened by about 3 feet. Ultimately, open bow and express versions will also come to market.
Among rod holders in the leaning post, T-top, under- and in-gunwale, combined with what you could potentially put in
the cuddy, the 37TE could double as a Penn Fishing Tackle warehouse. The transom holds a 50-gallon baitwell, with handy controls adjacent in the rigging station/ sink area. Though hull No. 1 sported four long but shallow fish boxes, future models will have much deeper ones.

Design/Construction
I'm sure you'll agree from a glance at the picture above that the Fountain 37TE even looks fast. But with speed comes some difficult physics. Running more than 60 mph over waves generates enormous pressures on a boat. Compression from landing and momentum stresses when you hit a wave and suddenly slow down all contribute to beating a boat to pieces. With his history in offshore racing, Reggie Fountain builds his boats to withstand the most punishing conditions.
For example, advanced composites, multidirectional fiberglass, high-density foam coring and vinylester resins ensure that the hull will take all the abuse you can give it. Hull, deck and liner joint get bonded five different ways: Plexus adhesive, fiberglass, rivets, thru-bolts and screws. Despite the industrial strength comprising the hull, aesthetics don't get overlooked. The handsome polished-chrome flush hinges on all hatches are works of art. The ergonomics look good and feel even better. Tiny details, such as the foam-filled support struts holding the top of the Acrylite windshield from flexing, all make this boat a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. My only criticism might be that I'd like to see edges of deck mold finished where they meet the liner rather than application of plastic covering strip. But considering the size and performance of this boat, I can live with that small concern.