Every once in a while, a boat comes along that’s so unique, there’s little else to compare it to. The new 64 F&S Boatworks HT is such a machine. Every moment aboard reminded me why I love my job and this industry.
This not your ordinary sport-fisherman: It’s a sleek enclosed hard-top express with a host of great ideas that are practical and simple, making the boat workable and unique inside and out. It is graced with a beefy, good-looking tower from Palm Beach Towers that fits the boat like a good paint job. It’s accented with a teak toe rail and a black wraparound mask that highlight its trademark F&S silky looks.
But you can’t be swayed by good looks alone, so the folks at F&S put together a boat from the keel up that will flat out get down the road with whispering speed, eat up a sloppy sea, fish hard, and keep you dry and cool while getting you to and from your destination. Based on the highly regarded variable deadrise hull of SeaCraft fame and patented by designer Carl Moesly, F&S boats have earned a reputation as good sea boats. The beauty is if you don’t care for the express deal, the F&S guys will build a flybridge boat that can get it done as well.
We tested the boat out of Baker’s Haulover Inlet in North Miami, Florida, on a sunny day with an easterly wind at 12 to 16 knots; however, there was a crazy, mixed up 3- to 5-foot sea left over from the previous several days’ blow. We carried 800 gallons of fuel aboard, full water and three people. As the captain pushed the boat up and headed straight east, the turbos boosted the twin MTU 2,650 hp diesels, and the 64 stretched its legs. It loped along at 1,500 rpm, making 30.1 knots while burning 105 gph, and it ate up the sea.
The bow rose a little, keeping the horizon in view — the boat’s helm deck is set up perfectly so that you enjoy excellent visibility all around and over the bow. Riding in an enclosed bridge is different. Riding in an enclosed express is even more so because you are closer to the water and it’s still quiet, cool and comfortable. We pushed the 64 up incrementally so I could get my data, and with every increase, the boat leapt ahead, never banging or hitting hard, with no spray at all. At 1,600 rpm, the 64 ran 32.3 knots burning 120 gph, and at 1,800, we clipped along at 36.8 knots burning 150 gph. On the pins at 2,450 rpm, the boat hits 49.6 knots. If you want to go that fast in a big boat, the economics become pretty simple — you need to feed the animal because every thoroughbred needs its oats.
We throttled back and trolled along nicely. The 64 steers well at speed and while trolling, leaving a clean wake. It backed around, spun and performed all the tricks anyone would need to chase a big fish. In fact, it backs down-sea at idle faster than most anglers can wind and did not bury, shudder or throw water all over the place. That’s when Capt. Clark Bergner showed me the video of sea trials and the 64 hitting a little over 51 knots with a group of folks aboard.
Laying to, the Seakeeper M8000 kept us level and did its job while we checked out the engine room — at sea, in those lousy mixed-up conditions. It actually felt like we were still back at the dock. Even with the massive horsepower, the engine room is well laid out with good access all around. The 27 kW Cummins Onan generator sits at the aft end of the starboard engine, and the Seakeeper sits behind the port engine. Plumbing and electrical chases carry all pertinent lines, so they are out of sight, and the room is easy to keep clean. Fuel filters, water pumps and through-hulls were easily serviced throughout.
Cockpit and Helm
The large cockpit comes with a built-in transom livewell/fish box, teak deck and covering boards, under gunwale storage lockers, and in-deck plumbing for additional on-deck livewells fed by an Elfin sea chest. The mezzanine provides storage under the large port seat for tackle, and under the deck level, there’s a large ice bin outboard to port for the Eskimo ice maker. A bait freezer sits next to the ice bin. You’ll find the access to the engine room on the centerline and to starboard. Outboard of the helm deck entrance is a neat lounge seat with storage. Under the deck level is a refrigerated drink box with dividers to keep things organized, and there is another freezer outboard.
With the enclosed space, entering the helm deck is more like entering the salon on a convertible. An L-shape settee with storage under is set to port, and a linear settee along the starboard side offers great lounging. Forward of the starboard lounge, you’ll find a refrigerator and the electrical distribution panel. The helm is nicely laid out, with everything within arm’s reach. Three big-screen Garmin units on the dash provide complete information, with engine data readouts under that. The helm sits on a carbon fiber pod that matches the counter surface over the refrigerator and the electric panel for a really neat race-shop look.
Two dash boxes to port house radios, the Seakeeper control, searchlight controls and the like. A reversible helm companion seat sits two people and lets you swing the backrest forward to sit looking aft, facing the settee. It also has storage with two big drawers that are perfect for chart kits. But the best parts of the helm deck are the drop-down windows on the aft bulkhead, which open the boat up to the cockpit, and the molded-in overhead fish boxes along the outboard walls that are practically unnoticeable.
Belowdecks, your eyes are drawn to exotic African woods: zebrano (zebra wood) veneer wall panels in the galley and hallway, wenge wood for trims and bullnose, and ebony timber in the heads. A galley to starboard contains four KitchenAid refrigerator drawers; a hidden under-counter, four-burner cooktop; a sink; an overhead Miele microwave oven; and a honeycombed granite countertop throughout. To port is an L-shape settee that expands into a double bunk, and a Pullman berth along the outboard wall allows you to sleep three.
The master stateroom is to port with an island berth athwartships, nightstands, a large cedar-lined hanging locker and large-area head forward with a steam shower. There’s a washer/dryer closet, and forward of that is a day/guest head. Fully forward lies the guest stateroom, with a full queen berth to port and two V-shape berths over top, port and starboard with lots of storage under and a cedar-lined hanging locker.
Jim Floyd and the F&S crew have been building good-riding, custom-built boats for quite some time. Never afraid to push the envelope or try new things, they have built a reputation for creating robust, oftentimes uniquely styled, boats that their customers love.
Fuel: 1,700 gallons
Water: 300 gallons
Disp.: 82,000 pounds (loaded)
power: MTU 2600 M-93