Albin 36 express
FEBRUARY 2003
   
Length overall  37'5"
Beam  12'9"
Draft  3'3"
Fuel Capacity  280 gals
Water Capacity 120 gals
Freeboard forward 6'6"
Headroom 6'8"
Standard power 420 hp Caterpillar diesel

I was looking forward to going for a ride on the Albin 36 trawler, after having had such a fun time on the Albin 28 Express. We met with Rob Begor at the Oxford Yacht Agency on Maryland's Eastern Shore on one of those pristine autumn days, with the geese flying, the leaves rustling and the breeze making the sunlight sparkle on the water. The trawler was sitting in the end slip, looking salty with its reverse-raked windshield and that characteristic Albin flared bow. We hopped onboard, cranked up the single Caterpillar 420 hp diesel, slipped across the creek to fill up on diesel at Bates Marina, and then headed out to the mouth of the Tred Avon River to give her a go.

While Rob topped off both tanks, I took myself on a tour of the boat. The 36 is thoughtfully laid out, with a large integral swim platform that's actually an extension of the hull at the waterline. When you step through the sturdy transom door onto the large aft deck, you find a bench seat across the transom and a removable table at one end. This area is covered by a hard top extension of the flybridge, which provides a useful space for storing the dinghy overhead. Large hatches in the deck open up into the cavernous engine compartment while broad steps lead up to the flybridge.

A glass paneled door leads into the saloon, while the side decks are wide and protected with bulwarks and high stainless-steel rails all the way up to the foredeck. Despite the wide side decks, the saloon is fairly spacious, with large, opening windows on the sides and windshields raked forward just like on the big traditional trawlers. The port side is occupied by a large settee curving around a long adjustable table that lowers to turn the settee into a double berth for occasional guests. The starboard side is devoted to a galley station, with a good expanse of countertop and a refrigerator and drawers underneath. There's a four-burner propane stove and oven, all gimbaled in Bristol fashion, with a microwave mounted in the cabinet above.

The steering station is great for stand-up driving, though the sit-down position is just a simple cushion wrapped across the edge of the galley counter, Albin is known for its Spartan, no-nonsense styling.

It's three deep steps down into the accommodations deck, where you'll find a mid-cabin tucked behind a door to port. Unlike many such designs, this has good sit-up headroom along a really spacious queen-sized berth, stand-up room to change clothes, and a built-in bureau with drawers and a hanging locker. There's really nothing claustrophobic about this space, so you won't need to apologize to guests for locking them up in there. In fact, they'll appreciate the privacy.

The master stateroom in this model has the optional island berth with molded in steps to get up to it. There's a hanging locker on one side. The enclosed head to starboard has plenty of elbowroom and a shower stall separated by a curtain. There's a good amount of counter space and a large, deep stainless-steel sink as well.

Up in the flybridge, there's plenty of seating, with a bench across the aft, a lounge along the starboard side and bench seats bracing a refrigerator. The helm up here is centered, with the controls behind flip-up Plexiglas panels.

The ride we had out onto the Tred Avon River was enlightening. Once out of the mouth of Town Creek, we opened up the single 420 hp Caterpillar diesel and the boat came right up onto plane. We headed downwind, against the current, which kicked up a two-to-three-foot chop, and the trawler tracked keenly, took the waves squarely and turned sharply. We spun around a few times, kicking up a wake, then settled into neutral to feel the stability, and it passed quite well, with no bobbing and not too much heeling either way. The boat had a spry, lively feel to it, quite responsive and easy to maneuver.

The following week, I went out again with Paul Mikulski, president of the Chesapeake Boat Club, and his partner, Kevin Ryman, on their new Albin 36 equipped with an optional 465 hp Yanmar diesel. We slipped out of Back Creek and tooled around the mouth of the Severn River. The Yanmar provided a comfortable cruising speed of about 14 and a half knots, with a top speed of just under 20 knots. The 36 is also available with twin engines for a speed range of about 15 to 26 knots.

Mikulski and Ryman started the Chesapeake Boat Club in the fall of 2001 to provide 'no hassle' access to easy-to-operate powerboats, a program modeled after their own popular and highly successful J/Port Sailing Club, which manages a fleet of 26-foot to 34-foot J/Boat sloops.

They recently bought the trawler as a charter boat to augment its fleet of 'picnic-ized' Albin 28 Express cruisers that they make available to members on a point basis. This is not a time-share operation. Members don't own a portion of the boat and they're not liable for maintenance or other fees. But they do have access to a trawler at a flat annual rate, about the same amount it would cost for slip fees and insurance alone if they were to buy it.

Members reserve boat time by checking a calendar on the club website. Each day has a morning, afternoon and evening session, and each session has a point value. Each member has 100 points to spend. 'Theoretically, you could spend as many as 32 days on the water in the course of a year,' Ryman explains, 'and that's more than most boatowners get to use their own boats.'

Mikulski adds, 'The Albin 28 is great for picnicking or short-term cruising, but if you want a bigger boat with comfortable accommodations, you can charter this for a week or three days.' For more information, check out the Chesapeake Bay Boat Club website at www.jportannapolis.com.