Albemarle 325 Convertible Review

Albemarle has stood the test of time and still commands the respect of people who fish in some of the roughest waters America has to offer.

If you’re going to build a boat anywhere near the Outer Banks of North Carolina and expect it to sell, it damn well better be a good offshore hull. Otherwise, not only won’t anyone buy it, they’ll laugh you out of town. If you cruise the harbors of the mid-Atlantic area, you can’t help but notice that Albemarle has sold an awful lot of boats. Well into its second generation of ownership, Albemarle has stood the test of time and still commands the respect of people who fish in some of the roughest waters America has to offer.

PERFORMANCE It can be nerve-wracking to take the helm of a boat you’ve never run before and leave the dock in a big boat show surrounded by millions of dollars of extra-shiny yachts. Add a stiff wind and formidable current, and the possibility of a disaster never leaves your mind. Fortunately, this Albemarle handles close-quarter maneuvering with precision, staying where you put it and moving in a very controlled fashion rather than lurching at the slightest clutch adjustment.
It may seem strange, but Albemarle owners just love a head sea. Their boats cut cleanly into waves, throw spray down and out to the sides and keep on moving forward unfazed, in flawless deep-V fashion. The 325 reacts like a deep-V in a head sea as well as in a beam-sea drift. Working the cockpit in beam seas presents no problem at all, but you’ll notice the seas up on the flybridge. However, put the throttles forward and the boat once again becomes as stable as a dock. In a following sea, feel free to take your hands off the wheel. I actually ran for a full six minutes on course before needing the slightest wheel adjustment. Top speed with the twin Cummins 330B turbo diesels proved to be 36 mph at 2,900 rpm.
Albemarle boats lean dramatically into turns, and the 325 proved no exception. However, I’ve now been on a great number of Albemarles over the years and can promise that it’s not a problem. You’ll get used to it quickly, then simply appreciate how sharply the boat turns and how smoothly it rides.

FISHING The Albemarle offers up a surprisingly large cockpit for a 32-footer. A large in-transom fish box combines with an even larger in-deck box to assure you’ll have plenty of room to ice down your catch. The latter box lifts out for access to the bilge, pumps, rudder shafts and so on. The forward bulkhead contains a live baitwell, tackle drawers and a full rigging station. You’ll especially appreciate the rocket launchers along the flybridge rail since, like virtually all convertible designs, there’s no under-gunwale rod storage. Not counting storage below, the Albemarle 325 accommodates 10 rods around the cockpit.
Fitting a fighting chair poses no problem, and with coamings that connect at mid-thigh height, cockpit crew will feel secure leaning over the side.


DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION The salon houses an entertainment unit on the forward bulkhead, a small dinette table where two can dine, and a pull-out double berth in the settee. It’s very bright and airy. This Albemarle has three levels: the galley-down configuration a few steps below the salon and the stateroom level an additional few steps below. The galley comes equipped well enough to cook a several-course meal (and clean up), and the head faces the galley on the same intermediate level.
To augment the salon’s sleeping arrangement, a V-berth makes into a huge double with the addition of an insert down in the forward stateroom. Secure rod storage overhead allows you to keep your rods aboard without resting wet tackle on the berth.
A 32-footer doesn’t have a lot of room for guest seating. This one makes the best of the situation by placing aft-facing seats on either side of the helm console. Several improvements have been made here over earlier Albemarle convertibles. The dash console provides considerably more room for mounting instrumentation, and the electronics box that seemingly only allowed the vertically challenged to stand up and steer has been shortened up so anyone can drive without squatting for unobstructed vision.
New features incorporated into the 325 include greater headroom belowdecks, a new lift-out fish box in the cockpit, a new standard live baitwell and full rigging station as well as a transom door. The company has recessed the trim tabs, consolidated the numerous fuel tanks into one holding 300 gallons, and moved the generator from under the salon to the lazarette under the cockpit sole.
Albemarle builds its boats tough. It overlaps the 24-ounce woven roving by 12 inches at all stress points, chines and the keel. Marine-grade plywood stringers encapsulated in glass, combined with engine beds covered with two additional layers of fiberglass composite mat, give superior structural stiffness.

For more information, contact Albemarle Boats, PO Box 349, Edenton, NC 27932; 252-482-7423 or fax 252-482-8289.