I measure my success in life not by dollars but by the number and quality of great adventures I have. A pilgrimage to visit with Reggie Fountain and run his boats always qualifies as an adventure. I know that sometime during the day, I will get to drive ridiculously fast on the water and will love every minute of it.
Fountain holds the world record for the fastest V-bottom boat, at just over 160 mph. The fun part of that from your perspective and mine is that Fountain translates the technology that allows that kind of speed into the company’s other boats, like the new Fountain 38 LX – the LX denoting luxury.
We ran the 38 LX on the hallowed waters of the Pamlico River behind the Fountain factory in Washington, North Carolina. While a 3-foot wake constituted the biggest sea we could find, the 38’s ability to ignore it completely speaks well for its projected seakeeping abilities offshore.
Our boat sported triple 225-hp Mercury Optimax Saltwater outboards, along with a set of water pressure, voltage and trim-angle gauges for each. In addition, each Fountain receives a Gaffrig GPS-based Tattle Tale speedometer with analog face as standard equipment. This very simple but accurate unit remembers the top speed until you hit reset.
Despite three big blocks on the transom, we idled very quietly at 5.7 mph with all
|| |—| | Fountain 38LX At A Glance****LOA 37 ft. 11 in. BEAM 10 ft. 6 in. DEADRISE 22 deg. DRAFT 2 ft. 6 in. WEIGHT 11,325 lb. (w/o power) FUEL 325 gal. MAX POWER (3) 275-hp OB MSRP $284,695 Fountain Boats Washington, North Carolina 252-975-2000 www.fountainpowerboats.com *** * *****Mercury 225-hp OptiMax Saltwater** TYPE 60-degree V6 DISPL. 186 cid MAX RPM 750 HP/LB RATIO 0.45 FUEL SYSTEM Direct injection GEAR RATIO 1.75:1 WEIGHT 497 lb. ALT. OUTPUT 60 amps MSRP $15,103It’s a tribute to the torque of these 225s and the efficiency of the Fountain hull that they got this 38-footer on plane in less than three seconds.*** * *****Notable Standard Equipment** * Electric leaning post bolsters/seat * Half tower * Hi-Lo cabin table * Full engine instrumentation * Vacu-flush head * 50-gallon livewell*** * *****Impressions** You’ve never experienced a 38-footer with performance this good.| three engines in forward. You can slow that by using just one or two engines in gear. Most important for a Fountain, top speed hit 60.5 mph at 5,700 rpm using 21.8 gph per engine. Dropping that to a more stately 50 mph burned only 14 gph per motor at 4,800 rpm. A moderate cruising speed – a seeming snail’s pace of 40 mph at 3,500 rpm – equaled 8.8 gph per engine. Incredibly, at 40 mph you can enjoy a range of 450 miles!
The 38 LX got up on plane in about three seconds with just two engines and topped out at 50 mph at 5,300 rpm. Otherwise, with full tabs and engines trimmed full in, we lifted onto plane in less than three seconds. Fountain refers to this practice as “drag racing.” Slow-trollers will appreciate the ¼/@ gallon per hour each engine sips at the 600-rpm idle speed.
Each LX also uses Latham Marine steering (about $5,000) with the power to make your 38 LX drive like a car.
Fountain mounts 18-inch Kiekhaefer racing tabs on these boats. Running with 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 degrees of tab doesn’t induce drag, but rather increases speed because you effectively lengthen the bottom. More trim than that drops the bow.
With the 38’s ventilated bottom, you turn sharply by trimming the engines all the way down. That done, the LX reverses course in a remarkable 1-1/2 boat lengths at a 50-mph cruise speed without throwing anyone out of his or her seat. It leans dramatically into a turn for two reasons: one, to keep people in their seats and two, to prevent the boat from barrel-rolling toward the outside of the turn radius.Though I rarely find it necessary to back down hard in an outboard boat, the LX backs up and spins quickly with two outside engines. But maneuvering with just the center engine works just like a little single-engine skiff. Best of all, once you start backing hard with the wheel turned and want to turn in the opposite direction, the LX doesn’t lock into the first turn and resist your commands. It responds perfectly.
Our boat boasted a full enclosure. I’m certain that removing it would boost the top speed by a few miles per hour. In any case, the Fountain 38 LX handles beautifully.
Don’t let the fancy interior, comfortable seating at helm and transom, and racing heritage fool you. Taking off the cushions and back rests equates to taking off the gloves as far as the fish are concerned. You’ll find everything you’d expect on a no-nonsense offshore fishing boat aboard the 38 LX. Loads of storage, four in-gunwale and two in-transom rod holders augment the seven across the back of the top. Several compartments store removable tackle boxes, and each of the in-deck fish boxes will easily accommodate a few 60-pound yellowfin. The 50-gallon livewell in the transom also makes switching out baits quick and easy.
Our boat bore a pair of new Rupp Z-30 outriggers. I liked that by using the hand crank you can enjoy infinite position adjustment, but the bases protruding through the top whacked me a good one in the head when I was passing through the companionway to the bridgedeck.
Drifting in a beam sea, the 38 LX rolled gently and softly. This hull carries a wider beam than many performance boats, and that helps maximize roll stability. Fountain claims the steps also help cushion the roll on each side, and I believe they help attenuate chine slap, allowing the 38 LX to roll more quietly than nonventilated boats.
Design and Construction
Belowdecks, Fountain provides full 6-foot-5-inch headroom, and that’s just the start of the yacht-quality interior. The galley’s Corian counters, polished stainless-steel sink, ceramic cooktop, stereo, plasma TV and microwave, plus spacious V-berth with stand-up head with shower, make it a pleasure for a couple to weekend aboard.
Fountain uses vinylester resin, a solid bottom with multidirectional fiberglass and high-density foam where possible to reduce weight. It’s a proven combination on the toughest race course in the world – offshore.