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September 21, 2007

Fountain 32 Center Console

The Fountain 32 Center Console will get a crew of anglers to the fishing grounds in short order.
The Fountain 32 Center Console moves right along.

The word "quiet" is not generally associated with Fountain Powerboats. The company is known for building seagoing rocket ships powered by teeth-rattling engines. So I was quite surprised when, on a recent visit to Fountain headquarters in Washington, North Carolina, the new 32 Center Console idled past with nary a sound, save for the gentle slap of water on its hull. A quiet Fountain? Can you say "oxymoron?"

The reason for the conspicuous silence was the pair of 275-horsepower Mercury Verado four-strokes squatting on the aft end. But the lack of noise certainly didn't translate into a lack of speed, as I discovered when we took the 32 out on the Pamlico River, next to the Fountain facility. Quiet though they may be, the Verados aren't short on torque or power. The 32 jumped on plane in seconds and was soon flying downriver at 61.9 miles per hour at a wide-open 6200 rpm with six people onboard and just under a half-tank of fuel. Fuel burn at that speed is around 29 gph, according to the company's test data. Cruise was a respectable 47.9 miles per hour at 5000 rpm, with a fast cruise of 56 miles per hour at 5500 rpm.

This is a brand-new hull and marks a progression in the Fountain line. "The 32 is the next step up from our 31-footer, which has been the best-selling boat in our fishing line," said Gary Baltz, Fountain's marketing vice president. "It was built in response to requests from owners of the 31-footer who told us they wanted a slightly bigger boat with more beam and amenities, but didn't want to make the leap to triple outboards."

SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 32'
Beam 9' 6"
Weight 7,450 lbs.
Draft 31"
Fuel 300 gals.
Water 20 gals.
Base Price $173,539
with twin 275-hp Mercury Verado four-stroke outboards

The hull of the 32 features Fountain's sea-friendly variable-degree deadrise, lift-providing twin steps and transom pad, and is over a foot wider than the 31. The nine-foot, six-inch beam provides stability at rest and when trolling, and really opens up the interior space.

Construction is typical Fountain quality, using vinylester resins and quad-directional fiberglass. The hull is cored with high-density foam, and the hull and deck are glassed together and bonded five ways to create a solid, one-piece unit.

While the river didn't afford much of a rough-water performance test, we jumped the wakes of the other Fountains on the river. The boat ran level and breezed over the speed bumps at every angle. With one engine in forward and the other in reverse, the 32 turned within its own length and maneuvered well when backing hard. On tight turns, the hull gripped the water, while the power-assisted hydraulic steering provided smooth, effortless control.

The boat is laid out for no-nonsense fishing. The level deck with molded-in diamond-pattern non-skid makes it easy to fight fish all around the boat. The bow has pop-up cleats, a spacious anchor locker, a large storage compartment with overboard drain and a pop-up fuel fill. Coaming pads line the interior of the 32, and the tops of the gunwales hit the angler at thigh level in the cockpit and waist height in the bow.

The 32 has five long, deep, insulated, indeck fishboxes with macerator pumps and overboard drains, offering a total capacity of 940 quarts, as well as a 25-quart cooler under the cushioned seat in front of the console. All in-deck hatches have deep gutters and gaskets to prevent the intrusion of water, while big scuppers in the aft corners of the cockpit drain the self-bailing deck.

A leaning post helps the helmsman keep control in rough seas.

The removable cushions of the transom bench seat conceal a round, 55-gallon bait well and a foldout cutting board. The transom door is located to starboard - handy to step through to fight a fish around the outboards. The top of the transom bulkhead has a small bait-rigging sink with pressurized water.

A hatch in the center of the cockpit affords access to the bilge, where the test boat had a 30-gallon fresh water tank, an optional holding tank, pumps, batteries and shut-off valves, all well organized and easy to service. The 300-gallon aluminum fuel tank is baffled, fully welded, foamed, glassed and bolted in place.

The console has the tilt steering wheel to port, below the SmartCraft gauges. The rocker-switch array is located to the right of the wheel, above the throttles. Large-screen electronics can be flush-mounted in a huge, flat panel that's protected by a lockable Plexiglas cover. The locking battery-selector switch is located below the helm area, just above the molded footrest. The standard aluminum-tube T-top features seven rod holders, halogen lights and a locking overhead box.

The leaning post is big, sturdy and comfortable and features independently adjustable helm and companion bolster seats and more rod holders. The 32 also comes with three flush-mount holders on each gunwale, plus two on the transom. There are no under-gunwale rod racks.

The stand-up head compartment contains a VacuFlush toilet, a sink and a shower. A large panel on the aft bulkhead provides excellent access to the console wiring.

The Fountain 32 CC is a well-built center console that will get offshore and back with ease. And anglers that miss the noise can order the optional stereo system. Fountain Powerboats; (252) 945-8631; www.fountainpowerboats.com.