Comparing the new Albermarle 268 with the original Albemarle265, developed in the early 1990s, is like comparing your family'sminivan to an old Series II Land Rover without a synchronizedgearbox. Sure, with some training and practice, you could drivethat Land Rover. But you can put your teenage daughter in theminivan with her learner's permit, and all you'll need to teach isjudgment.
Don't get me wrong; the 265 was an excellent sea boat, but verytrim-sensitive. Consequently, Albemarle totally redesigned theboat, dropping the deadrise at the transom from 24 degrees to 21degrees for much-improved stability while running and when sittingat the dock.
It seems the Miami boat show always offers great opportunities totest boats. Not only are there loads of hulls to choose from, butalso the drama of the weather always leaves you breathless. On thisday, blustery winds from the east hit the outgoing tide inGovernment Cut, setting up 6-foot speed bumps in the harbor.
Our 268 sported a Volvo OSXi 5.7-liter, 320-hp gas inboardcoupled to Volvo's new composite outdrive. What a great powerpackage! You can also choose a 260-hp turbo diesel with outdrive. Irarely get to run a big-block, V-8 gas engine anymore. I'dforgotten what a kick in the pants it is to shove those throttlesforward, especially at midspeeds. The 268 reminded me. The onlydrawback to this power package is its mechanical controls. Volvodoesn't make electronic controls, so personally, I'd go theaftermarket route with Teleflex or Glendinning.
Albemarle mounts the engine under the bridge deck with ajackshaft running back to the outdrive, which keeps the weightnicely centered in the hull. Speaking of outdrives, Volvo's newcomposite drive answers every complaint saltwater anglers have everhad about sterndrive fishing boats. It's indestructible, doesn'tcorrode and performs great. For close-quarters maneuvering orbacking down on a fish, the DuoProp works perfectly. There'svirtually nothing the boat won't do when you ask it to.
After taking five seconds to plant, the 320 horses moved usalong at a 38.1-mph top speed in the calm waters of theIntracoastal Waterway. I found a 25-mph cruising speed at 4,000 rpmvery comfortable.
The 268's very sharp entry carries about a third of the way backfrom the bow, making this one of the most incredible head-sea boatsyou'll find anywhere. Though a much more stable platform than itspredecessor, the 268 still seemed a bit sensitive to weightdistribution. Make sure you draw from both saddle fuel tanks at thesame time, or balance becomes skewed.
Once you get used to the dramatic performance of this boat,you're bound to love its handling characteristics. For example,when you turn the wheel hard oveat cruising speed, the boat leansway over into the turn. Consequently, it turns quite sharply withthe centrifugal force directed straight toward the keel, keepingall your passengers in place. In a heavy sea, the ability to turnso sharply can be a real safety feature, too.
In a beam-sea drift in 4-footers, the 268 didn't roll very far,but the transitions seemed quite rapid, and it likes to sit sternquarter into the seas.
Perhaps the best fishing feature Albemarle offers in the 268 is itsability to get you offshore and back safe and secure. However,everyone in the company loves to fish, so those features neversuffer from lack of attention or knowledge. The 268 has both alarge in-deck fish box on centerline aft as well as another in thetransom. You can hang a full enclosure on the optional hardtop,which also sprouts spreader lights and rocket launchers on toplegs. You'll discover more lockable rod storage below in thecabin.
At a 7 1/2-knot trolling speed, the 268 offers a classic,twin-clear-alley wake until you reach a scant 5 feet beyond thetransom. From there on, the wake is crystal clear. Ordering theoptional double-wide companion seat gets you a rigging station withadditional tackle storage. Four flush-mounted rod holders, atransom fish box, freshwater and saltwater washdowns, paddedcockpit coamings and removable tackle-storage lockers round out thefishing features.
Design and Construction
No one has ever accused Albemarle of underbuilding its boats. The268 boasts the same traditional construction as all itspredecessors, using three layers of 24-ounce woven roving in thesides and four in the bottom.
The comfortable and functional cabin has a large V-berth and anenclosed head compartment with a vanity and shower. Equip thegalley with the optional microwave oven and refrigerator, andyou'll have an unbeatable overnighter.
Another advantage of Volvo power is thatcompany's new SeaKey service - very much like OnStar for boats.SeaKey's satellite-based communications network connects the boatand its crew to a 24/7 Volvo operator. From home, family memberscan track the boat's movements via the Internet. The U.S. CoastGuard can also quickly track down stolen craft, and boat owners canremotely monitor the security (high bilge water, theft, power loss,etc.) of their boat. SeaKey even provides concierge services toarrange dockage, fuel, weather reports and repair service forSeaKey owners through cell or satellite phone contact.
No, Albemarle will never be the most advanced,lightest, fastest or most chic. But a damn solid offshore fishingboat? Yes, it will be that in spades.
Notable Standard Equipment
- Jackshaft propulsion
- Electric head
- Lockable rod storage
- Volvo Ocean Series engine
- Composite outdrive
Albemarle builds one of the most popular boats in an area with theroughest weather and water - North Carolina's Outer Banks. Thecompany's extraordinary success there speaks volumes about itsboats.
LOA: 25 ft. 10 in.
BEAM: 8 ft. 6 in.
DEADRISE: 21 deg.
DRAFT: 3 ft.
WEIGHT: 7,500 lb.
FUEL: 175 gal.
MAX POWER: 375-hp gas I/O
MSRP: $83,900(w/5.7-liter gas I/O)
Volvo OSXi 320-hp Gas Ocean Series Inboard
TYPE: GM V-8
DISPL.: 350 cid
HP/LB RATIO: 0.32
FUEL SYSTEM: EFI
GEAR RATIO: 1.75-1.95:1
WEIGHT: 991 lb.
ALT. OUTPUT: 65 amps
MSRP: price on request
Volvo's new Ocean Series also boasts asalt-neutralizing system. Simply press a button prior to shuttingdown the engine, and a neutralizing chemical injects into theraw-water cooling system. When the chemical reaches the exhaust,the engine shuts down. Cool!