Fountain 38 Sportfish Cruiser Review

You'll never hear your wife or kids complain about being uncomfortable aboard this boat.

fountain 38_03

fountain 38_03

Fishin' with Flash. That's what I call running boats with ReggieFountain. He's one of the very few people in this business whom Iconsistently learn from and improve my skills. If you want someoneto get that absolute last tenth of an mph from a boat, Reggie isyour man. There is no one better.

Performance
Sterndrive is the most efficient propulsion system available todaybecause it translates thrust closer to parallel to the water'ssurface than any other method. I realize that precious few offshoreanglers willingly choose sterndrive power, fearing corrosionproblems because the lower unit remains at least partially in thewater. Rest assured that today's anticorrosion systems on driveshandle saltwater admirably. (If you trailer or dry-stack your boat,the point is moot.) Add the fact that your engine(s) mount fartherforward in the hull for a better center of gravity than they dowith outboards. Not convinced yet? Read on.

Our test boat sported a pair of Yanmar 310-hp diesels with24-inch Mercury four-blades on Mercury Bravo XR sterndrives.Diesels need the muscle of the beefier XR drives. With thatpackage, the 38 cruised beautifully at an impressive 46 mph. Thoughwe topped out at 51 mph, the rpm hit the limiter at 4,000. Back atthe dock, Reggie had the props changed for a pair with 2 inchesmore pitch. We came back out with the new props and discovered(logically) that acceleration suffered, but we got a top speed of53 mph at a lower rpm. With diesels and sterndrive efficiency, this38 turned out to be a relatively fuel-stingy boat, even at thespeeds it can run.

Trimmed for optimum performance, the 38 SFC fairly hoveredacross the surface of the water. Double steps in the hull givetremendous lift. With winds in the 30-plus-knot range and hugeseas, we opted to stay on the waterway behind the Fountain factoryrather than run offshore. The biggest waves we could find werewakes produced by large trawlers running down the river. Hittingthe 3-foot wakes at full speed proved to be a nonevent. Drifting inneutral, the 38 SFC also handled these wakes broadside withterrific stability. In fact, I heard no wave slap or chine noise ina roll. The boat proved remarkably quiet for a stepped hull.

Fishing
Thanks to years of input from numerous kingfish pros, Fountainfishing boats come laid out and equipped properly for fishing.You'll find plenty of storage throughout the 38, with space for 11rods on the top and its legs. This cruising model comes withoutundergunwale rod storage, however. Two large fish boxes and twolivewells in the transom round out the fishing appointments.

I found the walkway forward quite narrow, so if you plan to takea fish-laden rod to the bow, be very careful. Thankfully, thisFountain provides exceptionally good handholds throughout. Thetransom gunwale came right to my knee level, while farther forwardit rose to midthigh. A high bow and low freeboard aft make a greatfishing platform.

The boat's performance orientation places the drives fairlyclose together, so it proves less nimble than a standard inboardboat when spinning on a fish. At trolling speeds, this 38 may offerthe cleanest wake I've ever seen. Minor surface turbulencedissipates by the second or third wave back, while subsurface whitewater is virtually nonexistent.

Design and Construction

At first glance,this boat looks like a cruiser, so ardent fishermen might scoff atthe flashy dashboard with a legion of gold-trimmed Gaffrig gauges.Being performance-oriented, Fountain gives much more engine infovia gauges than do most standard gauge packages because he believesa good fishing boat doesn't have to look industrial.

Belowdecks, I found adequate headroom even for my oversizeframe. A large double berth in the forepeak serves as a masterstateroom, while a midship berth set athwartships beneath thebridge deck provides guest accommodations. The joiner work belowconstitutes yacht quality. A functional galley, stand-up head withshower, settee with storage beneath and cedar hanging locker roundout the very comfortable and plush living space.

Because users benefit from additional knowledge to get the mostout of a performance boat with a stepped hull, Reggie Fountainprovides every customer with a detailed video demonstrating how totrim the boat out in various conditions. For example, trimming inthe engines more delivers a smooth turn in a washboard chop. Reggiewants his customers to enjoy their boats and get the most out ofthe experience. I call that a significant step toward improvedcustomer satisfaction.

Notable Standard Equipment
Full instrumentation w/alarms
Two livewells
Racing bolster seats
Bait/tackle center w/ice maker
Offshore racing trim tabs
Half tower w/enclosures

Specifications
LOA 37 ft. 11 in.
BEAM 10 ft. 6 in.
DRAFT 3 ft. 2 in.
WEIGHT 13,500 lb. (dry)
DEADRISE 22 deg.
FUEL 270 gal.
MAX POWER T425-hp gas I/O T300-hp diesel I/O
MSRP $346,543 (as tested)

Yanmar 310-hp 6LP-STZP diesel
TYPE 6-IL
DISPL. 254 cid
HP/LB RATIO 0.28
GEAR RATIO 1.36-1.50:1
WEIGHT 1,138 lb.
ALT. OUTPUT 80 amps
MSRP P.O.R.

In today's market, I'd anguish over deciding between outboardand diesel power. Diesel weight and cost come so close to those ofoutboards now, but but diesels last so much longer that thedecision becomes much tougher.

Fountain Powerboats
252-975-2000
www.fountainpowerboats.com