The Ablemarle 25
I recently visited my old friend and very good good fishing buddy George Fearons who is running the Southcoast facility for Oyster Harbors Marine, located at Barden’s Boatyard in Marion, Massachusetts.
George and I have been fishing together for over 20 years when we met on the charter boats we were both working on at the time. We pretty have fished pretty much every on the Southside of Cape Cod together, both inshore and offshore. In a conversation over the phone, George mentioned to me that this boat he had in stock reminded him of the old school half-day charter boats that were en vogue at the time when we were younger (Fortier 26) but offer all of the modern design elements, comfort upgrades and speed.
George knows my my soft spot for “POCKET SPORTFISHERMAN” and invited me here to check out the Albemarle 25 they have in stock here and suggested we do a walk-through of the boat like we have done for some of the other boats we have filmed with for Salty Cape and Hogy Lures.
Long story short, I fell in love with this boat that truly defines a “pocket sportfisherman” – a curiously rare breed these days. To me, a pocket sportfisherman is defined by its ability to run in heavy seas while keeping passengers dry and has the range and fish-ability to go offshore all while being “just small-enough” for easy slippage, inshore fishing and trailer-ability.
A pocket sporty serves a very practical purpose. After filming for Hogy this spring, I was very grateful for my enclosure in my Fortier (similar layout but with slower inboards) when running to and from the fishing grounds in May and June from a sheer temperature perspective. Also, having grown up boating in the sounds and buzzards bay, I know all too well that having an enclosure when running home in the prevailing afternoon SW winds is a huge bonus to hide from unwanted spray.
Here are some things you need to know (from my perspective) about this boat: (see specs below)
1. The Ride: This boat is a machine in heavy seas. With a 24-degree dead-rise, this boat feels like a soft slicer. (A boat’s dead-rise defines the sharpness of the boat’s V-shaped hull at the transom. The sharper the V, often the smoother the ride). Years ago I had a Carolina Classic, a cousin to this boat, and everyone commented on the ride as the boat parted waves and pushed spray far away. This boat feels the EXACT same way. SMOOTH, and dry. Even though dry is less of an issue when riding in an enclosure, it cuts way down on cleaning time. The boat is 25’ x 8.5’ which is a very traditional length to width ratio for ideal Cape Cod boating. The boat is 75,00lbs dry, which is heavy, too. The boat, with it’s lower center of gravity and heavy fiberglass, is stable at drift.
2. Cabin: Cabins on boats in this size class are hard to find these days, and that’s unfortunate. In a search online I was very surprised to sea that Grady, Pursuit, Edgewater and Everglades did not offer a cuddy/express between 22′ and 30′. Parker and Stieger Craft are the only options that can compare to the Albemarle 25, that I can think of quickly. While I understand the benefits of a center or dual console, I think the boat industry (with the exception of the aforementioned) is missing a key spot in the market place. Here are the benefits to a cabin on a boat this size:
- Kiddos: I have two little kiddos and it didn’t take me long to figure out that I needed a head. Doing what I do, owning Hogy Lures, my personal “private” dream boat is a go fast center console for me and one other hard core buddy, both of us focused on peak fishing, no seats, no nothing in the way. Basically a casting platform with engines 🙂 That said, I have no greater joy than boating with my whole family and I know 100,000% I would have 75-percent fewer trips without a cabin, especially with kids under 10. They need a place to get out of the sun, rest, eat chips out of the wind. (Battery powered shop vac review coming soon (: )
- Simple Storage: A cabin like this one can store a lot of gear beyond just rods. If you slip the boat, this is huge, especially if you’re boat is way out on a far deck.
- A Civilized Head: Granted most modern center or dual consoles have heads inside a console, but head, forward gives far more space, significantly more privacy and is more comfortable.
3. Fish-ability: The cockpit on this boat is GINORMOUS for a boat this size. The bracketed outboards give you the boat’s true length to use, unlike an integrated transom, which cuts into your usable space. The bracket also gives you a quieter ride and more running space under the water. You would be hard pressed to find this much cockpit space on a 25’ boat. This boat is an amazing ground fishing platform with enough space for a full size crew of 4 to fish at once. I’m picturing fast and comfortable runs to the Southside of Nantucket for the monster fluke bite that has increased in popularity in recent years. With all this open space, two guys can easily cast in the cockpit at the same time. This boat is ideal for stemming the tide in front of a rip casting squid lures to stripers. This boat also has a cult following with offshore day trippers tired if getting soaked on the way in. Ride is smooth and buttery and has the range to hit spots like the claw, dump, fingers and the star. Here’s some more specific examples on where this boat shines:
- Stemming Tide: This boat has a huge cockpit but in a 25’ boat, you are still very accessible to the captain who is basically running the boat in the midst of all the action, as opposed to a larger 30+ footer where the Capt. might feel a little removed.
- Troll Scanning: This boat has a soft enclosure where the curtains can roll up, greatly enhancing the communication between captain and crew. This is particularly important when troll scanning, a highly effective trolling technique where the captain takes the boat out of gear to drop lures on fish that are marked in deeper water on the fish finder. One tip here is to have a top of the line fish finder like the Simrad unit on the boat we test drove.
- Ground Fishing: Not much to say here, other than it’s massive cockpit which could facilitate 4 grown-ups fishing at the same time.
- Offshore Trolling: I love the seating on this boat, two anglers can sit out of the sun, facing the spread. I know from experience that spread vigilance can wane as crew tire from lack of sleep and sun. This seat will greatly compensate for “Spread Vigilance Fatigue”.
4. Size: I love big little : little big boats! This boat totally falls into this category. For starters, you can easily trailer this boat with a half-ton pick up or full size SUV with half-ton rating. It’s just big enough to cruise comfortably but just small enough to easily find a slip in a cramped marina. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been a guest on a lrger boat where we had difficulty finding a spot because we were too long for any of the options that were available. Speaking of cruising, my two favorite boating stops running out of our neck of the woods are Coop de Ville in Oak Bluffs and Kingman’s for lobster salad and maybe a mudslide on a hot day. Slip costs are reasonable and the boat is totally at home in any sea conditions you would want to be out in.
5. Re-Sale Value: Albemarle has been in business for over 40 years and has specialized in sporties continuously in this time. They have ride, lay out and fit and finish dialed in and premier boat dealerships representing the models. The 25 Albemarle Express in it’s various iterations has been one of their most iconic models. If you get the chance to crawl over-in-and around this boat you will quickly discover how solid and refined the fit and finish is. It’s charter grade but will yacht-like refinement.
Long-story short, this boat is legit. If you are looking for a pocket sporty that fishes hard and keeps crew dry and kiddos happy, this boat should be on your short list.
Contact George Fearons
- Hull Length 25’2″
- Beam: 8’6″
- Draft of Hull: 22”
- Draft Engines Down: 30″
- Dry Weight: 7,500 lbs
- Deadrise: 24 degrees
- Fuel Capacity: 193 gal.
- Transom Fishbox: 40 Gal.
- Transom Livewell: 12 Gal.
- Ice/Cooler Box: 16 Gal.
- Cockpit Size: 44 sq. ft.
- Water Capacity: 23 gal.
- Berths: 2
- Height from waterline: 6′-0″
- Power: Twin Yamaha 250