The Albemarle 29 Express is built for hard-core fishing, yet also offers a gentler, family-oriented side.
Ten rocket launchers—the sporty angling term for rod holders—are poised for action on the gleaming pipework of the new Albemarle 29 Express. The round cylinders are angled at 45 degrees and ready to accept the butt end of a fishing rod. Having so many places to store fishing rods instantly brands the latest Albemarle as a hard-core fishingmachine—yet a closer look reveals a softer side.
For example, inside the forward cabin, a 4kW generator powered an air conditioning system that kept things a cool 68 degrees in the afternoon swelter of the 2016 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The 29 Express was introduced at the show after more than a year of design work, as the Albemarle team collaborated with renowned designer Lou Codega and Marine Concepts.
“Marine Concepts offers the ability to design and show you in 3D on a computer what it’s all going to look like,” explained Keith Privott, director of sales and product development for Albemarle. “That saves a lot of our time out in the shop doing the tooling by hand. Lou Codega designed the deck and the hull, and together the finishing touches were put on in the last four months.”
Weighing more than 14,000 pounds, the 29 Express is heavier than most boats in her class. “There’s an old saying that ‘there’s no replacement for displacement’ and that’s certainly true with this boat,” Privott said. “The hull has a 24-degree deadrise, reverse chine and the keel is a little wider. So, in big water the 29 Express never slams. It always goes in easy.”
Much of what makes the Albemarle 29 Express a serious Sportfishing machine also makes it a great family boat. For example, powered by twin Yamaha F350 outboard engines, the 29 Express can be equipped with Optimus 360 joystick control, so it is far easier to operate in low-speed conditions for the family member who doesn’t have a lot of time behind the helm, explained Privott. “Experienced captains will like it when backing down on fish and around the docks.”
The 29 Express comes standard with twin 300-hp Yamahas, but Privott said most customers opt for the 350s, which power the boat to a top speed of 47 knots, with a 300-nautical-mile range at 34 knots. “Our target buyer is someone who wants to go offshore on a regular basis in the worst possible conditions, but still have tthe protectionof the cabin,” Privott said.
The boat’s fishing features, however, are front and center, starting with those 10 rocket launchers on the tower. “When there’s a strike you need somewhere for those other rods to go, and the place is not in the gunwale rod holders. They will just be in the way,” Privott said. “Rocket launchers make it really easy for clearing rods or for holding other types of rigs that you want ready to go if the conditions are right.”
A second helm station sits atop the tower, built near the Albemarle factory by local company Ashley Welding. “We have been working with them for 35 years,” Privott said, adding that their T-top and tower design sets them apart. “Instead of taking two pipes and cutting the ends square and welding them together, they mill the pipes, so the weld gap is shorter and it’s a tighter fi t, making the tower stronger.”
The tower location offers the captain excellent visibility of the huge 64-square-foot cockpit on the 29 Express, which is large enough for a fighting chair or smaller battle station.The cockpit sole features two 56-gallon fish boxes that are glassed to be leak-proof and equipped with macerators for easy drainage. The transom offers a 30-gallon livewell with starboard-side door and a flip-down bench seat. The shore power connection comes standard. “We built a dedicated pump room in the center of the cockpit,” Privott explained. He demonstrated that everything is accessible, and there is room for a Seakeeper 3 stabilizer.
The 29 Express features a rigging station to starboard amidships, while a mezzanine aft-facing bench seat is to port. The center walkway leads to the single helm station to starboard, with a two-person co-pilot setup opposite. A signature attribute of the 29 Express is the front windshield, which offers a unique design for the captain and crew to enjoy unobstructed views courtesy of the molded fiberglass structure with a single laminated front glass panel. In addition, the huge dash has room for two 12-inch multifunction displays (MFDs) or one large 22-inch MFD. The throttle and shifter are to the right of the steering wheel in a comfortable location, while a mechanical compass sits atop the dash. Privott said the entire helm area can be closed off with isinglass and air conditioned.
The cabin below features a head with shower to starboard, and galley with freshwater sink and microwave to port. Two Pullman bunks provide overnight accommodations for up to four people. The joinery is satin-finished cherry, complemented by Ultraleather upholstery for softness and durability. A deck hatch in the center offers natural light and ventilation.
“We’re always thinking about comfort and safety, so up on the bow we have a lot of comfortable handholds and nonskid surfaces for traction,” Privott said. “About half of our customers go for the power windlass, so they can do a quick anchor set and release and never leave the helm. This is a boat with features we know customers want through 39 years of experience. It combines the amenities of a fishing boat with the comforts of a family cruiser.”
Doug Thompson Southern Boating Magazine June 2017
Beam: 10′ 6″
Draft: 2′ 10″ (engines down)
Displacement: 14,000 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 310/30 U.S. gals.
Power: 2x Yamaha F300 outboard engines (standard); 2x Yamaha F350 (optional)
Cruise/Top Speed with F350s: 34/47 knots
Range: 300 nm @ cruise
MSRP: Call for price
Contact: Albemarle Boats
140 Midway Drive
Edenton, NC 27932