by Eric Colby
Troy Hannon and the crew at Supreme Marine in Fort Lauderdale have been tasked with some interesting projects in the last couple of years. First, a customer wanted the former Papa’s Pilar Rum Super Stock class raceboat converted to a tow-behind tender for a superyacht. More recently, the veteran rigger and racer got an even more interesting request. Hannon had a 2000 38’ Fountain that used to belong to Jerry Schmid, the founder and owner of Stainless Marine. It was powered by twin Mercury Racing HP500 EFIs with Bravo One drives. A customer purchased the boat and asked Hannon and his craftsmen to convert it to a single-engine boat powered by a Mercury Racing 1075 SCi with a Dry Sump Six drive.
“He bought a property in the Bahamas and uses the boat to go back and forth,” explained Hannon.
The project was one of the longer ones Hannon and his crew worked on because the customer was prone to changing his mind and asking for modifications. The bilge and stringers on the boat had to be re-configured for a single engine and the twin engine hatches were replaced by a single version. The cabin was basically gutted and anything that was made with wood was replaced by molded fiberglass parts. Additionally, the windshield was removed and replaced with a faring that was made out of foam-cored fiberglass.
Because the Mercury Racing Number Six drive is designed to work in a surfacing application, Hannon could install it at a higher position than the Bravos. That meant replacing the transom. The Supreme Marine crew also blueprinted the twin-stepped bottom.
After re-flashing the ECU on the HP1075 SCi, the engine was making about 1,200 hp. In initial tests with a 1” drive spacer, Hannon saw 91 mph and 15% slip. Hannon had purchased the engine and drive from an international customer. It only had 30 hours of run time and had a 1.35 gear ratio and right-hand rotation. He switched it to a 1.50 left-hand. He hopes that a 1.5” spacer will get the drive in the position he needs to reduce the slip to the 10% to 12%, which should deliver a top speed of 100 mph. All Fountains have a pad in the keel that lends itself to a single drive mounted higher than with a conventional V-bottom design. “I mounted the drive high knowing that I could come down,” said Hannon.
The customer is a former offshore racer and he wanted a three-person bolster plus an aft bench seat. Usually, that would mean running the boat from a standing position, but when the customer saw the initial setup that was done by Fineline Interiors, he wanted to know where the drop-down cushions for the bolsters were. Drop-down seat bottoms were fabricated for the outboard bolsters.
The owner of the boat is using it initially to haul provisions from South Florida to his new home. The 38’ Lightning cruises in the mid 50s at 4,000 rpm and when he arrives, he’s lost count of the number of people who come check out his new boat.
Initially, the customer’s idea was that the single engine would give him space on each side to work on the engine. Hannon had Stainless Marine build some custom exhaust that exit on the outboard sides of the swim platform.
When he asked the customer what he would do if the main engine ever broke down, Hannon got an answer he wasn’t expecting. The owner of the boat bought a 20-hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard that can be installed on a removable mount and he would use that to limp home. It’s secured in a custom-fabricated bracket in the bilge.
At the helm, Hannon kept things straightforward with a VesselView display, a chart plotter and a few switches. The Latham shift and throttle levers are to starboard, which Fountain loyalists might consider blasphemy but secretly applaud. Hannon estimates that the cabin upgrades and going from twins to a single saved a total of 2,000 to 2,500 pounds.
That’s all well and good, but the most important thing to the customer just might be that he has the only single-engine 38’ Fountain in existence. “He wanted something unique and I don’t think this has ever been built,” said Hannon.