Sometimes when a company steps out of its lane, it doesn’t end well. But Formula, best known for its luxurious performance boats, has nailed its first fishing boat in 37 years. The company designers clearly sweated the details to bring a new perspective to the offshore center-console.
A common offshore problem is peering through a windshield that’s speckled with spray when looking for birds, weed lines and feeding fish. Formula’s 387 CCF features an electronically actuated flip-up windshield that not only improves visibility but also adds much-needed airflow to the helm.
We gave the 387 CCF a real-world test in the waters off Miami, on a warm, near-cloudless day by fishing weed lines near the color change. Like animals in the desert, anglers seek the shady side of the boat in the noonday sun. But on this boat, there were two shady sides thanks to the extended width of the hardtop.
With its 12-foot beam, there’s plenty of fishing room, including 24-inch-wide walkways around the console. Two pressurized 40-gallon livewells on the transom keep flowing even in rough water thanks to the boat’s sea-chest-contained livewell pumps. Red and white lights and clear lids allow for easy monitoring of bait, day or night. There’s an option for four electric reel outlets ($2,265), and the 90-gallon aft fish boxes can be optionally equipped with freezer plates ($35,490).
Our test boat was equipped with Gemlux Bluewater 22-foot outriggers ($8,505) and the optional rod holder package that added a dozen extra ($4,345). The gunwale holders had graduated rod angles to maximize the spread. The elevated rear-facing mezzanine seat behind the triple-helm-chair array is artfully designed. When in rigging mode, there’s a Corian working surface and a removable cutting board for bait prep, with adjacent drawers that accommodate Plano tackle boxes. When seating is needed, a tall footrest and seat bottom slide out and cover the working surface. The footrest also serves as a step to help reach rods on the hardtop.
For overnighting, a fully equipped cabin comes with a VacuFlush head, sink with vanity, hot-water shower, 32-inch TV, high-low dining table, and an 8,000 BTU AC system with cockpit vents driven by a Fischer Panda 8.5 kW Mini 9 diesel generator fed by a 25-gallon fuel tank.
The boat’s 38-foot-7-inch hull length features a double-step design with 23 degrees of transom deadrise to slice through waves. On the return trip to Haulover Inlet, seas kicked up to 3 to 4 feet. We settled on a comfortable cruise speed in the low 30s, and it handled the conditions well. Slow speed control is precise with the Mercury Joystick Piloting for Outboards that interfaces with a bow thruster.
At the helm, our test boat was equipped with the available triple Garmin 8616 displays ($12,755), which allowed us to view navigation, sonar and systems monitoring simultaneously without resorting to split screens. Twin 16-inch displays are standard.
Powering our test boat was a trio of Mercury Racing 450R outboards, this boat’s maximum. They provided a thrilling ride as the 387 CCF reached a top speed of 61 mph in the channel that splits Stiltsville on Biscayne Bay. The base boat ($1,365,800) is powered by triple 300 hp Mercury Verado outboards; while it shaves $145,150 off the price tag of a 450R-powered boat, 900 hp just doesn’t feel like enough for this 22,500-pound fishing machine.
Perhaps the most intriguing power setup is with twin Mercury V-12 Verado 600 hp outboards, which are $37,030 less than triple 450Rs. While some anglers might be adverse to this combo because they fear the tall engine height could interfere when landing a fish, it’s a cleaner installation, and the smaller footprint adds more swim-platform real estate. With a 500-gallon gas tank, the 450Rs yielded a respectable max range of 303 miles at 38 mph with a 10 percent fuel reserve.
A first for Formula is a sheerline that subtly swoops down on the aft half to add cool-looking style lines. The premium INEOS Maxguard LE gelcoat finish is standard on the 387. Our test boat, however, featured the striking Axalta Chroma Premier base coat and Imron clear coat, in addition to the optional Flagship Graphic A (a $13,010 option) help identify its Formula DNA.
The design for the 387 CCF and sister boat, the 387 CCS (Center Console Sport—a family-friendlier iteration), was a collaborative effort headed by John Adams and included Michael Young, the Porter family (which owns Formula), and the company’s R&D and engineering groups. Wisely, Formula makes many of the features exchangeable. So, if a CCF buyer wants bow seating instead of the open bow, they can have it set up exactly the way they want.
|Price:||Starts from $1,203,200 w/triple Mercury Verado 300 outboards|
Formula Boats – formulaboats.com