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What do you do when you have produced one of the top boats in the fleet? You take everything you’ve learned from it and make it better. I had the pleasure of experiencing F&S’s latest flagship, Hull No. 31, Special Situation, in Palm Beach, Florida, with company president John Floyd, who was on-site to walk me through the build. While the last tournament-winning 78-foot Special Situation has moved on to the next owner, she didn’t move far, sitting only a few slips down from the new one. However, the latest version is a little bigger, comes with more range, and consists of only the best of the best. And, to no surprise, not a single corner was cut.
Cockpit and Flybridge
Seeing the cockpit for the first time just before first light, it was hard to grasp the sheer size of it, only able to really take it in as the sun rose above the horizon. The first thought that popped into my head was clean. For such a big boat with all the toys, the cockpit appeared like any other, but as Floyd walked me through, I quickly found out that it was anything but basic.
A cavernous, pressurized livewell with the option to add tuna tubes sat in the transom; additional fittings laid hidden in the deck for external wells. A watertight lazarette hatch is installed to keep all of the gear dry while fighting fish in big seas. But what really grabbed my attention were the curved steps leading up to the mezzanine. Not only are they beautiful, but they’re also extremely wide, making it easy to quickly and safely run down to the dance floor from the mezzanine. Beneath the step, massive freezers are at the ready for long-range adventures, and the tackle center features F&S’s trademark teak drawers. A hidden purified-water dispenser is installed in an effort to reduce single-use-plastic waste. Additional storage is present under the mezzanine seating, which also features backrest air conditioning.
On the bridge, three helm chairs sit behind a large center-oriented helm. Three Garmin displays outfitted with both Garmin and Furuno technologies are flush-mounted on a matte-black panel. The Furuno Omni 360-degree sonar’s remote controls are located in the starboard flip-up box, and the overhead drop-down box features dual MTU monitoring screens. For watching the spread, an additional Garmin drop-down display is also mounted overhead.
Bridge seating features a full 180-degree bench and wraps forward around the helm, with an additional bench directly in front. For additional freezer space, look no further than the helm itself: The top flips open and features a massive internal freezer with custom dividers.
Salon and Accommodations
The first thing in the salon that caught my eye as I passed the day head were the three bar stools parked in front of the countertop. The blue cushions match the piping on the chic white U-shaped sofa on the port side, and the starboard love seat provides the perfect accent. A Release Marine convertible coffee table rests in front of the sofa and features a beautiful mother-of-pearl marlin inlay, mimicking the stool backs.
The U-shaped dinette is located to starboard and is the perfect spot to cozy up and enjoy a hearty meal. The cooktop and convection oven/microwave are nicely hidden, and four KitchenAid refrigerators/freezers sit flush under the countertops. All of the cabinets feature laser-cut inserts to hold the contents snugly in place. When you want to have a drink from your own hidden speakeasy, a hidden corner liquor elevator rises and falls flush into the countertop with the touch of a button. And if you don’t want the dock neighbors to know you’re drinking the good stuff, all of the salon windows change to completely opaque at the touch of a switch, eliminating the need for blinds and valances.
The portside closet is set up similar to a butler’s pantry, with plenty of storage for provisions and additional slide-out refrigeration. On the starboard side, the electrical closet with breaker panels and switches is neatly organized behind custom cabinetry.
Stepping down the curved teak-trimmed companionway, the master stateroom is oriented to port, and you can’t help but appreciate how bright and large it feels. A king bed is centered between handsome sconces mounted against a mirrored background, and the room offers an abundance of storage, including a dresser and hanging closet. Oddly enough, my favorite part of the master stateroom was the head. The dark-blue wall covering accented the teak perfectly, giving the space a warm feeling, while the white counter and silver hardware nodded toward a more contemporary finish. Working in unison, the stateroom felt new and inviting—a perfect combination of class and style.
The VIP stateroom with a private head is located all the way forward, and two additional bunkrooms are set off to the starboard side with an additional shared head. Aft finds a generous crew room with a private head that includes three large bunks and plenty of room to spread out. As Floyd showed me the hanging locker, he also noted the false wall, that when removed, displays a custom storage area for larger tackle—a testament to the importance of using the boat’s all-available space.
Engine Room and Performance
Floyd practically glowed as he opened the soundproof sub door from the crew quarters into the pump and engine rooms. The pump room features only the best of the best: Spot Zero SeaXchange reverse-osmosis system, ElectroSea Clearline system, twin Seakeeper 16s with custom top panels, and the F&S patent-pending closed-loop cooling system, eliminating raw-water cooling in everything except the main engines.
The boat features two MTU 16V 2000 M96L engines that put out 2,600 hp per side, as well as two Onan generators. Her engine room is generous and neatly organized; the battery boxes sit inboard, as do the breaker and oil-change system, making access a breeze. The rear hatch that opens to the cockpit was specifically designed to be large enough to be able to remove and service a majority of the engine and pump-room components, without the threat of excising the deck or salon floor.
The weather was perfect for our sea trial. As Capt. Tucker Colquhoun pushed Special Situation through Lake Worth Inlet, the 82-footer leapt from the water. Floyd explained the variable-deadrise technology that he put in place, which features longitudinal steps and custom wake-adjusted running gear. When you consider all of the high-end finishes and machinery on board, Hull No. 31 is still quite light compared with similar-size vessels—proving that the F&S build process reduces weight in all possible areas.
Jogging down the shoreline at a slow cruise of 28 knots, 1,650 rpm burned around 122 gph. Colquhoun finds that the boat runs best at an 80 percent load (2,000 rpm), where she scoots along at 36 knots burning 192 gph. Slowing down to trolling speed, we admired her clean wake. Simulating a fish on, Colquhoun backed around hard and spun the boat while the CJR props chewed up the seas, launching us in whichever direction we desired. Pointing toward home, we opened her up completely, slicing through the seas with a top end of well over 42 knots at 2,450 rpm burning 278 gph.
I finally got the chance to admire those clean lines back at the dock in the full brilliance of daylight; the signature F&S curved salon glass really makes the boat unmistakable. I shook hands with Floyd and Colquhoun, thanked them for their time, and walked back to my truck, thinking to myself, If I were to build a custom sportboat, it would be just like that one. She certainly is special.
Read Next: Marlin goes behind the scenes with this tour of the F&S facility in Bear, Maryland.
F&S Boatworks 82 Specs
- LOA: 82’
- Beam: 21’9”
- Draft: 5’5”
- Displ: 110,000 lb.
- Fuel: 3,200 gal.
- Water: 500 gal.
- Power: MTU 16V 2000 M96L; 2,600 hp
- Gear/Ratio: ZF 3070A/2.03:1
- Propellers: CJR, 5-blade
- Paint: Awlgrip, Cloud White
- Climate Control: Technicold