410 — By George L. Petrie
|Opportunity comes knocking on Albemarle's door.|
Boatbuilding is big business along the Carolina coast. Albemarle Boats is one of three large boatyards in the little town of Edenton, North Carolina (population just over 5,000), and there are dozens of other builders, large and small, within a 200-mile radius. That concentration, along with strong demand generated by a decade of prosperity, has created challenges and opportunities for Albemarle as it takes its newest and largest model, a 41-footer, to market.
Albemarle Boats was founded in 1978 by Scott Harrell, in a warehouse his family owned alongside a marina in Edenton, where the Chowan River flows into Albemarle Sound. The first model was a 24-foot fishing boat that still anchors the line. Over the years production facilities expanded as 26- and 28-foot models were introduced and again when a line of 30- and 32-foot express cruisers went into production. Even before the introduction of the brand-new 410 Express Fisherman late last year, Albermarle's site was bursting at the seams, with additions to the original warehouse putting 45,000 square feet under roof.
To set up production for the new model, Harrell acquired a larger waterfront site just east of Edenton and renovated what will become a sprawling 100,000-square-foot complex to house production for Albemarle's entire line. And to make sure the yard has an adequate pool of skilled labor, Albemarle is working with a local college to develop an academic program in boatbuilding technology. With these expansions the builder will bring in-house many functions that were formerly done by contractors, like upholstery and welding services.
One process on the 410 Albemarle still contracts out is fabrication of molds for the hull, decks, and cockpit liner. The contractor used a large five-axis, computer-controlled milling machine to cut full-size mold surfaces, eliminating the need for full-scale lofting and streamlining the labor-intensive task of fabricating hull molds. Albemarle engaged Donald L. Blount and Associates to develop the hull form and refine the running surfaces and to produce the computer files used to drive the machine that builds the molds.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.