Nor'Westing Magazine 310XF Sea Trial
Pacific Northwest sport fishermen have traditionally selected from the same eight to 10 brands of mono and catamaran sportfishing hulls when shopping for a new
boat. While it is possible to fish from a vessel of almost any sort, a slow cruise past the fleet of serious anglers mooching for mid-winter blackmouth can be extremely informative with regard to the local popular taste in
fishing boats. The brand mix has not changed very much in recent years, but an old nameplate that is new to the
Pacific Northwest will be claiming a fresh share of the market; and deservedly so.
East Coast saltwater fishermen routinely demand performance from their boats that seems almost extreme by
Puget Sound and other inland waters standards. Some of the best fishing along the Atlantic seaboard can be
found as much as 50-60 miles offshore,beyond the continental shelf and in open ocean conditions. Boats need to be capable of extended, high-speed runs through
rough water, and seaworthy enough to endure any unexpected turn for the worse while a very long way from home port.
When fishing closer to shore (such as in the Chesapeake), the same sort of steep, closely spaced chop that characterizes a breezy day on Puget Sound is very commonplace.
An entire culture of regionally popular boats flourishes in New Jersey, the Carolinas, and other seaboard states. Atlantic seaboard demand has traditionally absorbed much of the available production from venerated names like Viking, Bertram, Egg Harbor, and Hatteras, but on the rare occasions when such boats have been relocated to the Pacific NW they have been very well received. Edmonds Yacht Sales is the Pacific NW dealer for a line of sportfishing boats that has earned a place in that panoply of esteemed East Coast trademarks: Albemarle. Albemarle boats are now regularly available here, and as Pacific NW anglers become acquainted with their characteristics and quality they will sell increasingly well.
We spent a morning with Scott Linnane of Edmonds Yacht Sales and got underway in the Albemarle 310XF Sportfisher. What a neat boat. With the 310XF (Express Fisherman), Albermarle has combined pleasant, well-appointed forward cabin accommodations with a super-fishable bridge and cockpit. This twin diesel inboard is a boat that will be the envy of other folks on the fishing grounds, yet provide a perfect platform for a family or romantic weekend getaway.
The 310XF features a Carolina bow, characterized by an almost extreme flare. The chances of taking much spray over the bow or burying the nose in a head sea are substantially reduced by this protective and buoyant design. Our test boat was equipped with the optional hardtop: a feature most regional boaters would consider
nearly essential in our climate. The self bailing 64-square-foot cockpit has a 45-gallon fish box located under a hatch cover, as well as a 45-gallon fish box built into thetransom. Baitfish can be kept alive and fresh in a 30-gallon livewell located in thestarboard forequarter of the cockpit and rigged at an adjacent sink and cutting
board. There are fresh- and raw-water washdowns in the cockpit, as well as a 14-gallon insulated drink cooler in the port forequarter. There are four rod holders atop the transom gunwales, and six rocket launchers incorporated in the aluminum support for the hardtop. Stern lines are led through flush stainless hawse pipes to cleats affixed where they will not snag a line when a fish is being played. The bridge deck includes a pair of Pompanette helm chairs, and the wheel is located on the centerline. There is ample room in the helm console for a new owner to install his or her choice of electronics. We noted an L-shaped settee to starboard as well as a bench to port that would allow as many as a half dozen adults to be on the bridge deck at any given time. The boat at Edmonds Yacht Sales is fitted with a full canvas enclosure for the bridge deck, with panels that roll up under the hardtop when conditions create a desire for more of an open-air experience.
Engine access is quickly available through a service hatch immediately adjacent to the helm chair (and strategically
designed for easy checking of oil, coolant, etc). When serious maintenance or a repair might be required, a hydraulic lift system will tilt the entire bridge deck up against a pivot point along the aft cabin bulkhead. Few inboard installations have any more elbow room, fresh air, or light potentially available to anyone involved in mechanical adjustments.
Anyone stepping into the cabin of the Albemarle 310XF for the first time will likely be very pleasantly surprised with the generous use and the quality of the woodwork. Impressive as well are the upholstery, the appliances, and the thoughtful use of space. The yacht quality of the cabin can be somewhat explained when considering that Albemarle is part of the Hatteras Collection, and the interior is finished up to a standard that truly deserves to be associated with a name often considered the most traditionally prestigious in American boatbuilding. A teak and holly sole at the base of the companionway steps will hold up under assaults by wet-footed fishermen passing through to use the nicely appointed, fully enclosed head with six feet of standing room and a shower. A compact galley is situated at the aft bulkhead, with a microwave oven, a sink, a refrigerator, and a Granicoat countertop for food prep. The back cushions for the port and starboard settees flanking the dining table swing up to create upper and lower berths on each side, allowing the 310XF to make a realistic claim of sleeping four. A built-in stereo system, a book and storage shelf, and a flat-screen TV that swings down from a mount above the galley provide several entertainment options.
Albemarle hulls are hand-laid in the traditional manner, with 24-ounce woven roving and a both polyester and vinylester resins. Decks are cored with Baltec to reduce weight and add stiffness. All cleats and other hardware are reinforced with backer blocks, and through-hull fittings are bronze below the water line and stainless above. A shoebox style overlapping hull to deck joint is chemically bonded and reinforced with stainless steel fasteners every six inches. Albemarle places a high priority on providing a solid, comfortable ride in high seas; and in pursuit of that goal they choose to use laminated marine fir stringers, fully encapsulated in fiberglass. Albemarle engineers favor this approach as the encapsulated fir has just enough flex to allow the hull to withstand the constant pounding that can be associated with offshore runs, yet maintains maximum structural strength.
Boaters with any concern about the use of wood in stringers will be pleased to note that the highly engineered fir structures carry a lifetime warranty, so Albemarle is obviously very confident in the durability of the material. (The remainder of the hull carries a 10-year warranty.) An informal test of a quality boat is the heft factor. Every hatch, cabin door, and locker feels very solid, substantial, and heavy on the 310XF. If there is anything that could be called flimsy, we were unable to find it. We noted that even the hidden undersides of most molded pieces were finished to an extremely fair standard.
Our test boat was equipped with twin Cummins 330-hp diesel engines, driving 20x27 props through ZF Hurth 1.75:1 gear boxes. Offshore AC power is provided bya 5 kW genset. As one expects from nearly all of the latest generation diesels, the Cummins started instantly, even when cold, and produced next to zero smoke at idle. Boaters who might have objected to the diesel smell of similar boats a few years ago would be hard-pressed to notice any exhaust odor of any kind. The port and starboard engine controls are long, single levers on opposite sides of the wheel console. You are not likely to get the engine controls confused when they are so widely separated, we commented. Yes, confirmed our host, Scott Linnane. I have noticed that this arrangement makes it much easier and is more intuitive to use when facing aft to back down on a fish or simply dock stern-to in a marina. After motoring out past the Edmonds breakwater, we throttled up to put the Albemarle 310XF on plane. Albemarle suggests that the boat's handling characteristics are enhanced by the deep-V hull, as well as a carefully balanced distribution of weight. We experienced very little bow rise during a quick but steady acceleration, without the use of trim tabs. We were on plane at about 1,600 rpm, creating very little wake. The balance was evident with engines that are set well forward (the drive shafts are 95 1/4" in length), so there is no need for the deep prop pockets that rob many boats of critical buoyancy astern. Wide-open throttle of 2,870 rpm will push the Albemarle 310XF to just over 31 knots. A fast cruise setting of 2,600 rpm still logs over 28 knots, and slowing down a bit more to 2,500 rpm allows a speed in excess of 26 knots. The sensation on the bridge at high speeds is most definitely one of outdoor boating. We ran with only the aft curtains of the full enclosure rolled up, so while there was no cold wind whipping across the bridge deck, we were well aware of engine noise and the cool, sweet smell of fresh salt air. Frankly, it was a blast, and we made a note on the cassette tape recorder that the experience could be defined as comfortable adventuring rather than luxury yachting, and we expect that most prospects for a sportfisher will appreciate and value the difference. Conditions were calm, but we managed to find a steep four-foot wake. We slammed into it at 28 knots and simply punched through the wall of water with nothing more than the sound of an impact. We were not suddenly airborne and looking for a place to land, we just motored along as if we had hit a six-inch ripple instead of standing water almost as high as the deck. Nothing rattled, groaned or banged. It was if the Albemarle was chuckling with confident delight and remarking, That was easy, what else you got?
We would advise anybody considering the purchase of a high-caliber inboard sportfisher to take an opportunity to view the Albemarle. Many of the characteristics that have made this boat a legend on the Eastern Seaboard will be appreciated by our local anglers, and even the non fishers in any family will appreciate the comfort and quality of the cabin. After taking an in-depth look at the 310XF, itfs not surprising at all that Albemarle is built by the same division of Brunswick that builds Hatteras. Manufacturer's suggested retail price for the Albemarle 310XF, loaded with all of the options mentioned in this article and some other to boot, is $316,835. Edmonds Yacht Sales will be offering a Boat Show Special at the Seattle Boat Show, discounting the boat substantially. (We think prospects will be very pleased with the price, considering the value.) For additional information, please contact Edmonds Yacht Sales at 425-774-8878, or visit the website at yachtworld.com/edmondsyachtsales.
LOA (with pulpit): 32'2"
Weight: 15,500 lb
Fuel: 325 g
Water: 30 g
Edmonds Yacht Sales
400 Admiral Way|
Edmonds, WA 98020, United States