F&S 75 - Boat Review

This serious 75-foot fishing machine combines head-turning good looks with luxurious accommodations

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Form ever follows function, which becomes obvious when either admiring Blue Time’s lines as she sits at the dock or, even better, while underway. Photo by Capt. Ken KreislerCapt. Ken Kreisler
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Blue Time can carry a lot of live bait in two 55-gallon transom wells and two big deck wells, which can be stored belowdecks. Photo by Capt. Ken KreislerCapt. Ken Kreisler
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Twin 2,600 hp M94 MTU diesels provide a cruise speed of 37 knots at 2,100 rpm. She hits almost 46 knots wide open. Photo by Capt. Ken KreislerCapt. Ken Kreisler
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F&S 75 Performance Specs

LOA: 75 feet; BEAM: 20 feet, 9 inches; WEIGHT: 93,000 lb. (dry); FUEL: 2,800 gal.; WATER: 400 gal.; POWER: Twin 2,600 hp M94 MTU engines
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Form ever follows function, which becomes obvious when either admiring Blue Time’s lines as she sits at the dock or, even better, while underway. Photo by Capt. Ken KreislerCapt. Ken Kreisler

Blue Time, the new 75-footer from Delaware-based F&S Boatworks, is a single-minded, impeccably built custom boat designed and built solely to be a viable player on the fishing circuit. "When it comes to fishing, luxurious accommodations and everything else we would need, we did as much aboard as we could do," says Capt. Bill Wieteha. "As much as we could and more."

Wieteha has been with Blue Time's owner through two previous production boats. "He's very competitive, as is his circle of sailfishing friends, and we were looking for a boat that could fill that need," he says. In between their visits to other builders, a 72-foot F&S named Momo came into their home port at the Cocoplum Yacht Club in Coral Gables, Florida. That visit and the ensuing getting-to-know-you-time resulted in a phone call to Jim Floyd, the company's inspirational founding force at F&S. Finding out a 75 jig was available, they came to terms, and Blue Time was contracted to be built.

Form ever follows function, which becomes obvious when either admiring Blue Time's lines as she sits at the dock or, even better, while underway. Her design, shape and profile are first and foremost based on her intended purpose. Low, sleek and appearing as if in constant motion, she is in perfect proportion to her length. Whether viewing her landing strip foredeck, the gentle slope of the house with its familiar black brow or the open bridge design with its massive and fully functional Palm Beach tower, everything about Blue Time is in harmony and balance. And even up on the bow, her removable casting station and flush-mounted livewell make sense.

INTERIOR

Blue Time's owner wanted the kind of creature comforts only a big boat could supply. And with Wieteha working closely with the F&S designers and planners, the accommodations layout delivers on all counts. Entering from the cockpit mezzanine through an actuated sliding door, a day head lies directly to starboard. "This was a necessity for us," says Wieteha. "The last thing you want on a boat like this is a crew of fishermen trailing through the salon with blood, guts and scales all over them."

The expansive salon has C-shaped -seating to port with a Release Marine custom teak table featuring storage below. “They made it so we could have this space for taking meals as well,” Wieteha says as he demonstrated how easily it transforms into a dining platform. The fully found galley lies forward; opposite, a spacious dinette, under which is an electrically operated rod storage drawer. Of particular note here is the distinctive overhead cutout that adds an effective and special design statement to the area.

A beautiful wood console houses a 75-inch HD television, electrical panel, bar and extra storage spaces. Blue Time has a four-stateroom, five-head layout with a full-beam master, which has its own 75-inch HD television. No matter where I visited in the accommodations areas, I found superior woodwork, excellent headroom, fastidious attention to detail and ample space for all fishing tackle and gear, including a dedicated walk-in closet forward of the galley for kites and related equipment.

COCKPIT

“We do a lot of live-bait fishing, perhaps 80 percent of the time, and as big as she is, we wanted to make her complete with some innovations we feel many other rigs do not have,” Wieteha said as we reviewed the inventory list of fishing amenities. He had the transom designed for a pair of 55-gallon livewells with the ability to run both with just one pump. The wells can also be pressurized while the boat is running to prevent any sloshing around in a big sea and injuring or killing the bait.

To either side of a state-of-the-art Release chair, with its custom reel seat back that Wieteha designed, sat a pair of above-deck fiberglass wells. "I supplied those through my own company, Offshore Bait Solutions, specifically for Blue Time. If switching over to, let's say, marlin fishing, we can break them down, including all the plumbing, and store everything elsewhere in a matter of minutes," Wieteha says.

Other features of the 170-square-foot cockpit include the mezzanine seating area, tackle storage, three large stainless-steel-lined freezers, a pair of KEP networked monitors, a Freeman watertight lazarette hatch, tuna tubes in the aft baitwells and an Eskimo ice maker, among many other accessories.

BRIDGE

There are 11 rod holders on the aft rail of the bridge and three Release pedestal seats — and that’s just for openers. “We’re doing a lot of kite-fishing right now,” Wieteha says, “so I had Palm Beach Towers put a center grommet here for me to just clip my line to. It’s a small thing but comes in real handy for us.” With her busy fishing schedule, being able to transition quickly over to species-specific techniques is an important ability for the crew. There are spreaders all the way around on the tower, and the entire area around the boat can be lit up at night for dipping bait.

When I climbed to the top, I found a gray-painted platform underfoot to cut down on glare, all the antennas placed topside, as well as all the controls, wheel and equipment set just right to allow Wieteha to have optimum visibility while fishing. The island-style helm is well-laid out with all Garmin screens, throttles, radios and electric teaser reels in the overhead, in addition to all switches within easy sight and reach. There is plenty of seating for guests and, of course, the requisite storage areas, freezer and drink compartments.

ENGINE ROOM

Big boat, big engine room, big space to move around in. There's no argument here; with a 75-foot length and 20 feet, 9 inches of beam, Blue Time has the kind of engine room that offers space, space and more space. There's ample room for the 2,600 hp MTU mains, the pair of 32 kW Cummins Onan gensets, the M26000 Seakeeper gyro mounted in its own custom-made cradle on the centerline forward of the engines, and all of the pumps, water management and air-conditioning systems. The battery banks, electrical systems and the FCI 1,200 gpd watermaker were easily reached, as were all critical service areas. I found ample room to swing any kind of tool without getting into any knuckle-busting, elbow-twisting, head-banging or body-contorting situation. And, of course, it's all brightly lit and faired and finished off as meticulously as is her flawless white Awlcraft 2000 painted hull.

CONSTRUCTION

Blue Time's build took around 20 months. As with all boats of her class, there were challenges to be met, including designing in the necessary headroom and supplying the large storage spaces aboard, especially those associated with her fishing profile. She is built using diagonal-planked Okoume plywood, with three quarter-inch layers on the sides, three half-inch layers on the bottom, and one extra layer of half-inch beneath the engine room. Next comes one complete layer of 17-ounce biaxial cloth between the second and third layers of plywood, followed by two complete layers of that same cloth placed on the entire exterior of the hull. A layer of 12-ounce Kevlar covers the bottom, and another layer of 17-ounce is placed on the complete interior from the chines down. All the stringers, shear, chines and keel are constructed of clear vertical grain Douglas fir, while the topsides, from the shear up, are of Core-Cell and biaxial cloth.

PERFORMANCE

Running on her variable deadrise bottom with longitudinal steps, a design derived from Floyd's SeaCraft days and one that he has adapted and evolved over the years to the sport-fishing sector, Blue Time is a spirited performer. A pair of 2,600 hp M94 MTU diesels, turning 38-by-56 Veem Interceptor five-blade wheels, power her. Being a release rather than a pressure design, the effect is a somewhat softer ride due to the aeration along the steps as pockets of air are trapped between the hull and the surface by those steps. That is transferred to the hull as it moves through the water.

And while test day saw calm seas with only a slight breeze, Wieteha did comment on her ability to cut through head-on and quartering waves, in addition to excellent stability with following seas. She jumped quickly up out of the hole and settled into an impressive 37-knot cruise speed at 2,000 rpm, a turn just over 40 knots at 2,150 rpm, and she hit almost 46 knots on the pins. With the multikeel effect of the vertical surfaces of the steps, she displayed superior directional stability and tracked straight and true during flat-out speed runs.

ON THE BITE

Since her launch in late December, Blue Time has participated in the Sailfish 400, the Sailfish Challenge and will fish the upcoming Jimmy Johnson National Billfish Championship; if their schedule allows, perhaps they will also -participate in the Key West Tournament, some marlin fishing in the Abacos, possibly the Custom Boat Shootout, maybe a BBC or two, and a handful of others.

"That's what we're all about," says Wieteha. With a boat like Blue Time, I couldn't agree more.

F&S Boatworks; fsboatworks.com