Having already acquired a solid reputation for producing well-made, smart-looking boats with excellent seakeeping abilities, the folks at F&S have exceeded expectations yet again, this time with their 50 Flybridge IPS. Equipped with twin Volvo D11 700-horsepower diesel engines and the IPS 900 system, as well as a full custom tower by Palm Beach Towers, the F&S 50 offers up a well-balanced fishing machine with plenty of power.
Big Yet Simple
It warmed my heart to step aboard a sport-fisher under 60 feet and see it laid out in a very simple, clean and well-done way. Her bridge is set up just right, so the helmsman can easily see both corners of the cockpit, the chair and the entire bow area. The console sports a very efficient layout, with wraparound seats in front of the console and two helm chairs aft. The console houses a host of gear and electronics similar to that found on any 70-footer, all within arm’s reach. Her list of gear includes a Furuno black box, a Garmin 7215 GPS echo sounder and plotter and a Garmin 6208 GPS plotter backup, FLIR night vision and a Volvo user-friendly color LCD display. An overhead drop-down box holds the radios.
The neatness, simplicity and crafts-manship found on the bridge extends to the rest of the boat. You can tell that F&S spent a considerable amount of time making sure that the cockpit
was laid out perfectly for chasing
fish, and the entire space feels much larger than what you would find on some of the production boats in the same size class. The boat comes with a transom livewell, a transom door and a sculpted mezzanine deck, with cushioned seating, freezers and storage underneath.
You access the engine room through a lift-up hatch that provides plenty of room for an easy entrance and exit. As an added bonus, you’ll also find tackle storage drawers and a foldout bin for the cockpit joystick controller in a locker on the starboard bulkhead.
On deck, there’s no lack of storage space either; you’ll find enclosed storage bins under the gunwales, the teak deck and even the cover boards. Two large removable hatches in the cockpit over provide access to the IPS drives and allow plenty of room for all maintenance and service chores. The generator sits under the cockpit deck along the centerline.
The clean-and-simple theme continues in the engine room, which provides plenty of space and offers good access to the fuel filters, main-engine water pumps and all around both sides of the engines. A crawl-through hatch at the rear engine-room bulkhead provides access to the generator as well as the pump room, where you’ll find all of the water pumps, livewell pumps and the like. A Reverso oil-change system is located on the aft bulkhead and is well labeled and easy to get to.
The galley’s open layout gives the F&S 50’s salon an incredibly roomy feel for a 50-footer.
While some 50-footers can feel a bit cramped in the living spaces, you get a much roomier sense of space entering the salon on the F&S, thanks to her open galley. A cabinet in the aft starboard corner houses the electrical panel, and a bench seat with storage underneath and a low cabinet forward of the bench acts as a bar area, storing liquor and glasses.
A large L-shaped settee to port offers storage underneath, and a triangle-shaped table folds out into a much larger table during meals or can be easily removed and stored to really open up the area for seating. The galley lies forward to port and provides a lot of counter space, with a large sink and four Kitchen Aid refrigerator and freezer drawers under the counter.
Always looking out for the traveling crew, F&S builds in a great deal of storage space both over and under the counters and stows the microwave in a teak cabinet. A small island on the centerline has even more storage and offers just a bit of separation between the galley and the salon without cramping either space. The flat-screen TV is on the centerline over the counter and is mounted on a lift-up panel. That same panel offers access to the storage area in the bow behind the cabinets.
The rod locker built into the strairway is also a nice touch.
The companionway stairs curve down belowdecks, and you’ll find a large rod locker built in on the starboard hull side. The space boasts a big access door that makes it easy to load and unload rods. The built-in racks allow you to stow large rods and bent butts separately to conserve space, but you can store smaller rigs on the racks in one piece. I like how F&S used this sometimes-wasted space for the rod locker — it’s usually ignored on boats this size.
The guest or crew stateroom is found under the galley sole; it’s nicely appointed in teak veneer and has two bunks. The bunks sit atop two of the fuel tanks, but the room still boasts ample storage with hanging lockers and large storage cabinets outboard. The guest head is to port and is complete with a full shower, stone countertops and a lot of storage both under and over the counter.
The master stateroom lies forward with an entrance to port. A work desk with a pullout stool and flip-up lid houses a computer along the port outboard wall. A large stand-up cedar-lined hanging closet sits along the port wall, and it also has storage over top. The master head is to starboard and features a giant shower as well as a large countertop vanity with storage cabinets on either side of the sink at eye level. Under the sink, there are even more drawers and storage shelves. A large raised island berth has storage underneath, and storage lockers line the outboard walls over the bunk. You’ll also find a built-in entertainment system next to a large hanging closet.
We got to run the boat on a nice day out of Coral Gables. There was a light southeast breeze at 10 to 12 knots and easy 1- to 2-foot seas. There were six of us on board, including owner Eric Toraño, who was very pleased with his boat, since he’d already had some input on how he wanted things to be set up.
As we got into Biscayne Bay and pushed the throttles up, the F&S 50 accelerated to plane quickly, and we headed around Key Biscayne and continued offshore.
IPS boats steer so nice. They are very responsive and agile, and the F&S 50 proved to be no exception. You can put this boat into a tight turn at speed and it does not slip, bog down or experience any cavitation.
At cruise, the IPS drives keep things quiet below and run smoothly with little vibration and no rattles or creaks. At a 5- to 6-knot trolling speed, she leaves a pretty clean bubble trail, but it does gets a bit dusty at 8 to 9 knots; but, then again, every boat does.
The really neat thing about the F&S 50 and her IPS drives is her incredible maneuverability when chasing down a fish. There are no reels with a high enough gear ratio to allow an angler to keep up when you’re coming back on a fish. This boat will spin, back up, and spin again on its axis at such a rate of speed that you’d better have everyone holding on tight.
With nearly 600 gallons on board, she chugged along nicely at 1,800 rpm, making 23 knots and burning 42 gph. At 2,000 rpm, she clipped along at 27.8 knots and burned 48 gph. Pushing her up to 2,200 rpm, she gave us 32½ knots, and on the pins she very nearly reached 36 knots while burning less than 70 gph.
The F&S 50 is a nice, clean, simple, well-built, well-executed boat that meets the owner’s requirements and would, in turn, suit a host of potential fishermen. She combines good looks, good fishing ability and a solid ride — all in a midsize fishing boat with plenty of amenities. That’s quite an accomplishment.
• IPS 900 system
• Furuno black box • Garmin 7215 GPS echo sounder and plotter
• Garmin 6208 GPS plotter
• FLIR night vision
• Volvo color LCD display
Displacement: 46,000 pounds
Fuel: 863 gallons
Water: 150 gallons
power: Twin Volvo D11
700 hp diesels