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Fishability Test: Fountain 34 TE

Center-console fishing boat in the best Fountain tradition.

November 6, 2020
Fountain 34 TE running offshore
With twin Verado 400s, the 34 TE breaks 64 mph at full throttle, and has a range of nearly 500 miles at 37 mph. Courtesy Fountain

Fountain was among the builders that defined high performance in the boating world. Its founder captured speed world records that held for years, and lessons learned in racing helped the company design boats with the rough-water taming ability and speed ideal for competitive fishing.

But the new 34 TE is much more than a go-fast model. Thoughtful design, an ergonomic layout and detailed rigging show that Fountain understands the needs of hardcore offshore anglers.

For starters, Fountain’s trademark forepeak design makes for a roomy cast-netting platform, and dedicated storage for buckets and gear bags resides in the bow, beneath both a central deck hatch and the center console’s forward seating.

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Fountain 34 TE forward console lounge
The forward console lounge accommodates two and holds a 380 GT insulated cooler for dry or wet storage Courtesy Fountain

Rod storage on board is extensive and varied. There are eight rocket launchers, 14 flush-mount holders spread along both covering boards, and stowage for another dozen and a half rods divided between the forward console lounge, hardtop, leaning post and gunwales.

The helm station is wide enough to accommodate two in bucket seats, and it’s shielded from sun and rain by a hardtop, light-tinted to knock down glare, that comes factory-equipped with outriggers. The dash panel is finished in jet black, and has enough real estate for dual 16-inch multifunction displays, leaving room for a Mercury Vessel Command multifunction display.

A stereo controller and VHF radio also fit nicely at the helm, so nobody has to stretch overhead to communicate with other boats or change the playlist.

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Fountain 34 TE helm
The dash is wide enough for two 16-inch MFDs. Courtesy Fountain

A tackle-rigging station in back of the leaning post neatly stores an arsenal of line, terminal tackle and fishing tools in drawers, cubbyholes, slots for utility boxes, and racks for pliers, knives, hook removers and more. Beneath it, a 110-quart Frigid Rigid cooler slides out to access cold drinks or frozen bait, or to use its cushioned top as mezzanine seating for two crew.

In the cockpit, dual transom livewells are fed by pumps in an optional sea chest belowdecks to keep the water level and flow constant, and eliminate the potential for air lock caused by the speed-enhancing stepped hull. Side-mount drains allow the water to circulate out, making way for recharge while keeping live baits frisky, cradled in a solid column that prevents sloshing.

The 34 TE has plenty for dayboat enjoyment too. Supple upholstery on coaming pads and the center-lounge forward seating add party comfort for sandbar gatherings. The starboard transom door allows easy cockpit access, while a boarding ladder on the transom platform provides extra reboarding safety and convenience.

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Fountain 34 TE helm seating
Helm seating comprises dual bucket seats with flip-up bolsters, and arm- and foot rests. Courtesy Fountain

Special equipment on board included raw- and freshwater washdown systems, LED lights controllable from switches at the helm and LED spreader and spotlights on the hardtop. Courtesy lights were also LED, and red-blue controls allowed changing their colors to suit the conditions or mood.

All power equipment on board calls for a serious battery bank, and the 34 TE had it, along with a battery management center—with easy access beneath the helm seat—that distributes juice for recharging the batteries that need it most, either from the 120 VAC charger or the alternators in the outboards. Access to the dashboard systems (under the helm) and to the livewell pumps and fuel filters (inside the central aft deck hatch) is also easy, simplifying maintenance.

What about the Fountain’s ride and performance? Well, stepped hulls are known for speed and, in boats, speed is synonymous with efficiency. The 34 TE stepped hull boasts all-composite construction, which makes it durable and strong, desirable qualities when cleaving waves and riding bumpy seas. The ride during our test was smooth despite the wind chop, and dual Verado 400 outboards pushed the boat to 64.8 mph running at wide-open throttle.

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Some stepped hulls have a nasty habit of sliding out of a turn as the aerated aft hull panels lose grip on the water. The sudden loss of friction can cause a head-banging spinout. Despite making a number of aggressive turns, we never noticed that tendency on the test Fountain.

Fountain 34 TE livewells
Twin transom livewells afford ample capacity and the option to separate two types of live bait. Courtesy Fountain

Knowing the faster you go at a particular rpm setting, the better the fuel economy, we were pretty happy when we hit 1.2 mpg at 37 mph. It meant we’d have a range of nearly 500 miles, based on 90 percent of the 418-gallon fuel capacity, leaving a safety reserve.

One of Fountain’s consistent goals is to attain thrilling speed in a boat that anybody’s grandma could easily skipper. It certainly achieved that in the 34 TE.

Specifications

Length: 34′2″ | Beam: 9′6″ | Draft: 31″ | Fuel: 418 gal. | Weight: 13,500 lb. | Max HP: 1,350 | Base Price: $284,900 | Fountain Powerboats: fountainpowerboats.com

Test Conditions

Weather: Sunny | Location: Biscayne Bay, Florida | Wind: East 15 knots | Sea State: 3- to 5-foot chop | Test Load: Two adults, 100 gallons of fuel, 50 pounds of gear

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