Albemarle 330 XFBy Jeffrey Moser
Singer Island, Florida's Sailfish Marina restaurant was in aprs-fish mode when I arrived around 6 p.m. At its outdoor tables and bar, salty types—mixed among snowbirds and coeds—sported Guy Harvey T-shirts and deep tans as they unwound after a day of chasing a reported hot sailfish bite. From a dock hard by the restaurant's entrance, a father and son tossed bread to a school of jacks and gleefully watched as the fish fought over the scraps. And overlooking the whole scene from the terra firma end of the finger pier, just a stone's throw from all the action, was the Albemarle 330 XF.
I've long admired the profile of the Edenton, North Carolina builder's Express Fisherman (XF) line—to me the boats have a tough, barebones appeal, and the 33 has those qualities in spades. Her sparkling-white gelcoat was set off by Albemarle's distinctive hull-side vents, designed to feed plenty of fresh air to her standard twin 425-hp Cummins QSB5.9s. Pompanette's Pro Series ladderback helm and companion chairs graced the bridge deck, and she was topped off with an optional PipeWelders package that includes a tuna tower, double-spreader outriggers, and a center rigger. I left the marina excited about the possibility of hooking up on a sailfish, as we planned to fish her the next day.
At 8:15 the next morning, I was standing in the cockpit of the 330 as the captain piloted her through Lake Worth Inlet and into the Atlantic. As Albermarle's dealer development manager Ted Haigler and Jamie Brandon of Tuppen Marine (Albemarle's Palm Beach dealer) worked the bait-prep station—which included a sink, cutting board, and on our boat an optional stainless steel bait cooler/freezer—I got acquainted with the cockpit's other features.
Big-game angling is priority one at Albemarle, and the standard equipment in the 108-square-foot cockpit reflects this. I counted seven tackle drawers, 12 rod holders (eight in the PipeWelders rocket-launcher and four Lee flush-mounted), and stowage below the prep station for reels and lures. Between the 56-gallon, transom-mounted fishbox and 57-gallon, in-sole fishbox, you can accommodate a good-size catch. (The in-sole box has a removable liner for easy cleaning, but gas-assist struts are needed to keep the lid open during loading and removal.) Optional padding on the 2'2"-high inwales should provide comfort to stand-up anglers, but a backing plate is also laminated into the deck if you plan on installing a fighting chair. Whatever your catch, you'll appreciate the standard 1'10"-wide transom door.
We were having no luck fishing, nor was anyone else according to the chatter on Brandon's handheld VHF (the 330 comes without electronics). So after watching our spread for a few hours and checking on the liveliness of the goggle-eyes in the 25-gallon livewell, I retreated below decks. I noticed my boat had a forepeak V-berth and L-shape Ultraleather settee aft to port, which doesn't convert to a berth. When I asked Haigler about this, he said that on future models the settee would convert into a double berth and that there would also be a pilot berth above it (note the cherry table in the deck plan as well). Since headroom is 6'3", I reckoned the angler on top would have to be careful not to bump his head. But I suspect that in reality no one is going to spend too much time there.
We couldn't buy a strike, and with my flight back to New York approaching, I gave Haigler a defeated nod and it was lines in. After helping straighten up in the cockpit, I stood next to the captain as the 330 hit her average top speed of 32.7 mph at 2890 rpm, 110 rpm less than the Cummins' rated power. I took the wheel and found sightlines excellent in all directions, although bow rise was high (61/2 degrees) in the midrange, which I controlled with the standard Bennett trim tabs.
The ride was solid, thanks to the 330's beefy construction. As with all Albemarles, her hull is solid fiberglass below the waterline, reinforced by fiberglass encapsulated, marine-grade fir stringers. With a sharp entry, 24 degrees of deadrise amidships and 12 degrees at the transom, and Carolina-style flare, the hull's designed to bust through head seas, land softly in the troughs, and keep her windshield dry.
Despite being skunked, I found a lot to like during my time aboard the 330. She has excellent fishability—Albemarle clearly understands what anglers want and knows how to deliver it in an appealing, no-nonsense package. Combine that with a tough build, a good standard equipment list, and plenty of options, and you've got a boat with a knockout punch.
For more information on Albemarle Sportfishing Boats, including contact information, click here.
This article originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.