Safe and Sound
Albemarle has been building flat-out fishing machines for 35 years, and today it offers a range of Carolina-styled fishing boats from 24 to 41 feet. Its 36-footer has remained one of its most popular models through a program of reinvention. Not long ago it was redesigned to optionally incorporate Volvo Penta’s IPS drive system, making it more fuel-efficient and uncannily maneuverable. To appeal to the fisherman who wants his family to join him on a weekend outing or a weeklong cruise, Albemarle has introduced the 360 EXF—or “Enclosed Express Fisherman.”
Descending three steps, the teak and holly sole and wood joinerwork provide a rich, warm atmosphere. To port a settee converts to over and under berths. Rods and reels are stowed in a hidden rack. A galley with a sink, microwave, drawers, and counter space is to starboard. Nearby is a stainless, two-drawer refrigerator/freezer. Above it a flatscreen TV faces the settee. A full-size head with a separate shower stall is also to starboard. Separated from the saloon by a folding door, the forward stateroom features a double berth as well as an optional single berth above. In total this 36-footer sleeps five. The enclosed bridgedeck option features a centerline helm with excellent visibility and room for three 15-inch displays. The forward windshield and two large side windows open for ventilation. Dropping the EZ2CY aft curtains provides full protection. The optional air-conditioning system keeps the area cool and comfortable. Aft of the helm is a raised settee with stowage underneath. The entire bridgedeck raises with the flip of a switch for easy access to the engine room.
It says something about Albemarle’s construction philosophy that its first boat built in 1978 (a 24-footer) is reportedly still in service. Today its hulls are built using up-to-date materials including Armorcote gelcoat and vinylester and polyester resins. Stringers are encapsulated in fiberglass and bonded to the hull for added strength throughout the structure. Above the waterline, the 360’s hull utilizes Baltec coring to increase strength and minimize weight. The hull-to-deck joint is bonded with stainless steel bolts and 3M sealants.
For a clean, neat appearance, the engine room and bilge area are finished with white gelcoat. The Volvo IPS600 engines are located amidships and connected to the drives with jackshafts. With the U-shaped fuel tank forward of the engines, the weight of the boat is ideally balanced.
Volvo’s IPS system is a $76,000 upgrade, no trivial amount for a boat in this price range. Fuel efficiency is improved by as much as 30 percent, but it’s the boat’s enhanced maneuverability that justifies the extra bucks. With its joystick control you can literally make this boat dance sideways. Find the perfect spot and you can stay there without having to drop anchor by engaging Volvo’s Dynamic Positioning System. Because the IPS drives deliver a more horizontal angle to the water, backing down hard doesn’t bury the transom. When in Volvo’s “Sportfish” mode, the drives “toe out,” greatly increasing directionality and allowing it to outmaneuver the quickest, most agile fish. A nasty front was blowing through on test day, but the Albemarle’s proven hull, with her 16.5 degrees of deadrise and Carolina flare, let us head into the steep 3- to 5-foot seas with confidence at her ideal cruising speed of 26-knots.
Albemarle, 252-482-7600; www.albemarleboats.com
: 25,000 lb.
: 450 gal.
: 95 gal.
: 2/435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600s
: 2/575-hp CAT C9ACERTs; 2/600-hp Cummins QSC8.3s; 2/530-hp Yanmar 6CX-530s; 2/660-hp CAT C12 ACERTs
Volvo IPS ($76,000); hardtop enclosure ($65,000); Garmin electronics and satellite-TV system ($45,000); helm deck air conditioning ($8,995); anchor windlass ($5,795); additional forward berth ($5,995); premium entertainment package ($6,995).
Air Temperature: 73°F; humidity 90%; seas 3-5'; wind: 20-25 knots; load: 350 gal. fuel, 25 gal. water, 3 persons, minimal gear. Speeds are 2-way averages measured with onboard GPS. Range is based on 90% of fuel capacity. Sound measured at helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.