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October 25, 2001

Albemarle 410 Express

Albermarle builds boats that you can pass on to your children. They'll take great care of you offshore for as many years as you care to go there.

The azaleas added splashes of color to virtually every yard while wild dogwoods and wisteria lined the roadsides at the height of spring in lovely Edenton, in eastern North Carolina. Our test day proved to be glassy calm, not exactly an Albemarle's most challenging milieu.
Having run every model of Albemarle ever built, I can vouch for their sea-keeping ability, despite how tough testing that ability turned out to be this time. Nonetheless, I was able to set up some 4-foot wakes to run through and drift in to assess the 410's abilities.
Performance
Over the years, I've come to expect certain performance characteristics from every Albemarle. The sharp entry cuts into head seas, the deep V lands softly and the heavy construction makes for a gentle ride. The 410 exhibited all these traits. Though it scribes a fairly substantial arc when rolling in a beam-to drift, the 410 generates gentle and predictable transitions, keeping passengers comfortable.
Twin Cat 3196 turbo diesels putting out 660 hp each provide more than enough giddyap, pushing this heavier-than-average 41-footer to a top speed of almost 39 mph with no tab. But I found that she runs faster with just a touch of tab, 40.2 mph at 2,400 rpm. A testament to adequate power, the Don Blount-designed bottom jumps onto plane in a mere 10 seconds - quicker than most diesel-powered sport-fishermen. Cruising at 34.5 mph, a 180-degree turn took about 10 boat lengths (an unusually large arc for an Albemarle) and surprisingly without the normally dramatic Albemarle lean into the turn.
And the 410 answers one of the major complaints about express boats by providing better-than-average visibility from the helm. It took a full two seconds for the standard-issue ZF gear box to come out of gear and at least a second to go into gear, making docking in tight quarters untenable. Fortunately, your dealership's mechanic can adjust this delay, making it shorter or nonexistent before you take delivery.
Eastern Carolina had experienced record-setting high temperatures for the week preceding our test. Technically, it was still early for rockfish (striped bass) in the area, but the water temperature rose 9 degrees in a week, and the fish started biting. I certainly didn't need to employ big-game tactics to fish for striped bass, but just to be sure the boat could, I backed it down at 7 1/2 mph with perfect control. Water did come in around the tuna door, but drained very quickly. And if you want it to, this boat will spin fast enough to make you dizzy.
Fishing
For sure, the Albemarle 410 qualifies as overkill for stripers. With but two of us aboard, the large cockpit seemed as wide open as fishing from shore. It provides more than enough room for a fighting chair to swivel even with the transom-mounted kill box.
Modules on the leading edge of the cockpit offer storage below and contain an insulated livewell to port, along with stainless sink and rigging station to starboard. Indentations on Albemarle's modules allow you to close the tops without smashing your fingers - unlike on many comparable boats. I appreciate the accommodation, but would prefer to see the indents run all the way across the front rather than occupy just a narrow space at the center of the facing.
Design/Construction
Don Blount must be the busiest sport-fishing-boat designer alive today. Of course so many builders choose him because he is so good at what he does. The Albemarle 410 performs as well as and in some ways much better than any Albemarle before it - and that's saying something.
The bridge deck lifts on electric rams to reveal a compact engine room with wiring and plumbing all carefully run and easily traced. Atop the bridge deck, at least eight people can enjoy the seating two J-shaped settees offer. Of course, you'll find the obligatory tackle storage beneath both and tackle drawers in the starboard settee. The large foredeck has nonskid around only the perimeter. Personally, I prefer the entire deck to be nonskid.
Descend on portside five steps to the galley, and you'll appreciate Corian counters, convection oven, cooktop, icemaker and copious cabinetry. A salon/dinette to starboard faces what you might expect to be a Pullman berth to port, but when opened it actually reveals excellent rod storage for big tackle. The salon could comfortably seat four to five, though not facing each other as at a normal table. Its crescent shape reminds me of a cabaret. The accommodations round out with an exceptionally handsome stand-up head with shower and a private forward stateroom with large island berth.
Superb craftsmanship shows up everywhere aboard the Albemarle 410, but nowhere more than the joiner work. Seams meet perfectly, grains match, joints fit tightly and the wood throughout is solid, not veneer.
In fact, "solid" describes most every aspect of the Albemarle 410 - solid fiberglass, solid stringers, solid teak cabinetry. Even the hull consists of 24-ounce woven fiberglass combined with chopped glass as a print-through barrier. No composite is used anywhere in the boat, just solid fiberglass.
Albemarle builds boats that you can pass on to your children. They'll take great care of you offshore for as many years as you care to go there.