29 Albemarle Boat Test and Review by PCS Columnist and Sales Professional Zach Zorn

March 8, 2019


With treacherous seas, howling winds and strong currents, the waters surrounding North Carolina have always been proving grounds for East Coast boat builders. While builders have come and gone, a select few have stood the test of time, keeping the legendary Carolina style flourishing. Albemarle Boats was founded in 1978 in Edenton, North Carolina perched on the banks of the Albemarle Sound. As Albemarle Boats started to become an iconic name on the docks, a competitor from the same town came to market, Carolina Classic. Over the course of four decades, both builders created reputable brands that were known for keeping anglers safe and on the fishing grounds in foul weather. With over 3,600 boats built and 60 years of proven building experience, Albemarle Boats and Carolina Classic merged in 2015, creating Albemarle Boats, The Carolina Classic…they haven’t looked back since.

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Currently, Albemarle offers six express style hull designs. The hulls range from 25 feet to 41 feet, providing a platform that will meet nearly any angler or family needs. As a sales professional for Kusler Yachts in San Diego, I had the opportunity to review the 2019 29’ Express. Kusler Yachts became the exclusive Albemarle dealer for the West Coast and Mexico in July of this year. Michael Kusler shared his thoughts on the new partnership, stating “Kusler Yachts is extremely selective in the boat brands we represent; the entire line of Albemarle Expresses provide a soft, dry ride and superior protection from the elements, allowing boating and fishing even when the weather keeps others at the dock. We are confident Albemarle will be a great fit with our other brands and meet the growing demand for Express style boats here on the West Coast.”

I spoke with Burch Perry, the Albemarle General Manager, to get his input on the 29 Express. He said, “The 29 Express was designed to offer the ultimate in hardcore fishing amenities in a compact outboard express package. We labored over the smallest details in an effort to build a best-in-class express boat.” Stepping onboard proves Perry’s statement to be correct, all elements have been thought out and carefully constructed. The 64 sq. ft. cockpit feels spacious, offering plenty of fishability for several anglers. In deck are two sizable fishboxes, each 56 gallons, and access to a large lazarette which houses pumps, bilges, and plumbing. Molded into the transom is a 30 gallon livewell with a folding transom bench seat. The most prominent feature of the stern would have to be the twin Yamaha 300 outboards that are mounted to a large Armstrong bracket for increased performance. With this engine option, the 29 Express cruises at 30 knots and tops out at 40 knots. Our test boat has the white Yamaha outboards which creates a consistent sleek look, an option I would recommend. To starboard is the transom door which is large enough to pull a 200lb bluefin through when on the backside of San Clemente. The 29 Express weighs in at 13,000 pounds dry, and with a 24 degree deadrise solid fiberglass hull she parts seas with ease.

Typically mezzanine style seating is reserved for large sportfishers, however Albemarle does not conform to formalities. The 29 Express has an integrated mezzanine style aft-facing bench seat which is ideal for watching the jigs or lounging while underway. To starboard, after exiting the cockpit, is a freshwater sink hidden under a flip-up lid with four pull out drawers below. This area would make for a perfect bait prep station while fishing. As we move forward through the helm deck, it’s evident that storage space was a priority for Albemarle. Under seating and integrated into the structure are various cavernous storage spaces, a feature any owner will appreciate. In the helm deck floor, just aft of the cabin entrance is a huge storage compartment which a full grown adult can comfortably fit inside. Our boat has the optional Fischer Panda 4.2 KW diesel generator which is nestled to the port of this storage space. Even with the generator, the area is ample. I see this being an optimal space to store kill bags, fenders, dive gear, bbq and other boating necessities.

The 29 Express has forward facing seating for three, a Llebroc two person bench seat is located to port with glove box and drink storage, and a single Llebroc helm chair is located to starboard. Albemarle’s attention to detail especially shines with the one-piece curved glass window. There are no support pieces for the window, giving the operator and passengers a panoramic view. The helm station has plenty of space to install any needed electronics system, and all of the factory switches are easy to access and well labeled. Our boat is fully equipped with Raymarine electronics, with a 16” Axiom Pro HybridTouch unit being the most distinguished feature. The unit is connected to a CP570 3kw CHIRP sounder and a B265 transducer which gives an unprecedented view below the water. The Axiom Pro is also integrated with a 24” HD radome to ensure everyone’s safety while underway in low visibility conditions. Mounted in the dash is a Yamaha digital display that shows all vital engine information and an Optimus EPS Sea Star unit. The Raymarine Evolution autopilot is hooked directly to the Optimus steering system giving smooth steering inputs. Rounding out the electronics package is a Fusion stereo system because who doesn’t like to rock out while on the way home from a successful fishing trip?

Stepping down into the cabin reveals an elegant cherry wood interior with teak floor. The galley is located to port which includes a microwave, Isotherm refrigerator and freezer, single basin stainless steel sink and optional electric cooktop. There is plenty of counter space to prepare lunch while trolling or to cook dinner while on a mooring. Up forward is a dinette table that drops down to complete the birth when needed. The 29 Express can comfortably sleep four since the v-berth backrests fold up into port and starboard bunks. Completing the cabin is a separate head compartment with countertop, sink and electric head with holding tank. The head can also be used to shower in as there is drainage in the floor. The breaker panel is simple and well laid out, located in the cabin away from the elements. The cabin offers plenty of storage space within cabinets, under seats, and in steps. The boat is equipped with an air conditioning unit that not only keeps the cabin cool but also keeps the helm deck cool. Since the helm deck can be sealed off with a full enclosure, you and your guests can stay cool and dry whether in the cabin or behind the wheel. On optional stainless tower with full controls can be added to the hardtop to aid in locating fish.

After speaking to a long time Albemarle customer, it was clear that Albemarle is focused on the customer experience in every aspect – from the fishability to customer service. When you call Albemarle you get an answer, the customer service is second to none and hassle-free. If you are looking for a boat that can handle big water safety and keep your crew or family comfortable at the same time, then look no further. The 29 Express lives up to the Albemarle world renown reputation – Always Dry. Always Comfortable.

Article Credit: Zach Zorn, Sales Professional at Kusler Yachts – Original copy from Pacific Coast Sportfishing magazine.

As a native San Diegan, Zach found his passion for boating and fishing at an early age. With a BA degree from Point Loma Nazarene University, Zach has years of web development, product design and management experience. His unique and progressive approach, combined with his enthusiasm and desire to perfectly match sellers and buyers, is impeccable. His international travels add to his diverse knowledge of fishing and boats, while his attention to detail is key to the success of both.

Kusler Yachts

Kusler Yachts has been in business since 2010 and is one of the most successful yacht brokerage’s in Southern California. Kusler Yachts is the West Coast premier yacht brokerage specializing in yachts for sale, fishing boats for sale, Regulator center console boats, Hatteras Yachts, Albemarle Fishing boats and used boat sales. Kusler Yachts San Diego Yacht Brokers have over 50 years of on-the-water experienceContact us today.