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July 14, 2005

Albemarle 410 Convertible

I have to say this represents the best-running hull that Albemarle has ever built, even better than the 41 express - and that's really saying something!

Until recently, the Harrell family owned Albemarle Boats. Now the Albemarle brand comes under the umbrella of the Brunswick Boat Group. The first time I ran an Albemarle factory boat many years ago, I stayed at the Harrells' summer home, right on Hatteras Inlet. I mention this to help you understand how serious about fishing these people are. They have a building on the dock to house the tackle and rigging shop. Each Albemarle boat inherits that fishing focus, as well as the ability to get you safely out and back in Hatteras Inlet - one of the most dangerous pieces of water on the East Coast.

The 20-mph southeast wind on the back side of a Norther confronted the outgoing tide in Miami's Government Cut, and the two just rubbed each other the wrong way. Once we slogged our way through the cut and out to "normal" water, we found the seas in the midst of shifting back to the southeast and running 4 to 6 feet at a period of three seconds. The twin C-12 Cats putting out 710 horses per side lifted the 410 onto plane in 10 seconds. Running beam-to it all, this 41-footer cruised very comfortably at 1,900 rpm running at 29 knots and burning 47 gph total. Back in sheltered waters, the tachs pinned at 2,250 as the GPS read 33.5 knots, and we used 75.4 gph.

I found this convertible to have better roll stability than some of its predecessors, probably because of its cored hull sides and attendant lower center of gravity. It exhibited a moderate roll moment with modest transitions. Coming back into the inlet (a real test in those seas), the 410 tracked beautifully. All in all, it runs equally superbly up-sea and down, thanks to a very sharp entry and a moderate deadrise.

Every Albemarle strikes you as though the company has a list of obligatory fishing features around which it then builds a boat. In fact, that doesn't stray far from the truth. The cockpit contains a freezer in the portside module with a storage box under it, a deep fish box in the transom to augment the deep lift-out box in the deck, and a baitwell in the starboard module with another storage box underneath.
   The factory installs two rod holders in each gunwale, along with six more across the back of the flybridge rail and more rod storage under flybridge seats. The flybridge also has storage in the brow as well as under the port and starboard straight settees.
And of course with the size of many of the fish off Hatteras, every boat has a transom door through which you can drag your big 'un.Fighting and wiring that fish should be easier since the helm commands an unobstructed view of the back half of the cockpit and most of the portside gunwale once you take off the back of the helm seat.

If you spend any time slow-trolling or drifting, you'll particularly like the gentle motion of the 410's hull. Despite its excellent head-sea ability, the 15-degree deadrise at the transom translates into a stable platform at rest. A 7.5-knot trolling speed produced a fair bit of turbulence near the transom, but it dissipates by about the second wave back with only surface foam remaining.

The gunwales hit my leg just above the knee, and my fingertips skimmed the water's surface when I rested my chest on the covering board. I regret not having hooked a billfish to test this carefully thought-out freeboard height during an actual release.