Albin 31 Tournament Express

By Andy Adams

"I like a purpose-built boat," says Charlie Tatham, the owner of this month's test boat, an Albin 31' Tournament Express. We couldn't have put it any better ourselves.

In the case of this boat, that term translates as "form follows function." Or, as the Albin builders themselves put it: "Fishing Machines for the Cruising Family".

The 31' Tournament Express was designed as a saltwater sport fishing boat by a company with over a century of North Sea and Atlantic experience. That makes for a seaworthy boat that 'I’ll go out in when no one else goes," says Tatham. "That really opens up your options when you're cruising."

"I live in the heart of one of the world's great cruising grounds but we have wonderful fishing here as well," says Tatham. "You can head out and go as little as ten minutes into the bay, set the lines and catch big Chinook salmon. It's a special treat for me to take my clients out on a fishing trip in the Albin."

Given National Marine Manufacturers Association [NMMA] research indicating that nearly 80% of boaters do occasionally fish, what could make more sense than a fishing machine for the cruising family?

The Albin's blue-water heritage is immediately apparent: a very high bow to buck big waves, a high, welded stainless-steel bow rail, nonskid surfacing and side decks wide enough to let you stand straight up holding both the side rail and the handrail on the cabin roof. A light gray color on deck helps reduce reflective glare on sunny days.

Albin 31 - WheelhouseThe Albin sports an impressive cockpit for a boat of this size. A fiberglass swim platform runs right across the transom and includes a door that slides and latches securely with heavy stainless-steel fittings. The door disappears completely to facilitate landing a big fish or transporting a load aboard.

An enormous covered live well and bait well combination is fitted into the transom top.  Under the sole are more wells with removable bins, two systems­ inspection hatches and excellent rod storage; open storage in the cockpit sides lets you keep rods handy or you can stow them overnight behind a hatch cover. Topside includes a seawater wash-down as well as a transom­ mounted shower, overhead and foot lighting for night use and convenient drained rope lockers port and starboard.

Great cockpit features include the large padded gunwhales and stainless toe rails so you can brace yourself while leaning out. Double cabin doors swing and latch out of the way, giving easy access to the wheelhouse - in effect transforming it to a protected extension of the cockpit.

Just inside the doors to starboard is (your choice of) a bait preparation area or beverage center, featuring fridge, sink, cutting board and storage for tackle or loose items. An adjustable swivel helm seat is located forward with a drop-down floor section that lets you steer standing or sitting.

Charlie ordered the helm without instruments so he could install what he wanted.  His wish-list includes a Ritchie compass, while VDO gauges for volts, temperature, oil pressure, tachometer and hours were accompanied by Gaffrig instruments for fuel, boost and exhaust temperature. Charlie felt that was the best way to monitor the health of his single Cummins 450-C.

Raymarine equipment handles communication and navigation and the Cummins includes a multi-function warning panel. The Ultra Flex single-lever control was accompanied by a trolling valve to slow the boat down to proper trolling speeds.

Albin 31 - HelmThree substantial wipers on the windshield sections hinted at the builder's confidence that these boats might see rough waters. The wheelhouse glass is 360 degrees, with sliding sections and screens and there is a companion seat against the port cabin side that can accommodate three or four passengers.

Three steps down take you into a cabin featuring a starboard roomy head with curtained shower, Jabsco pump MSD, mirror and sink built into a vanity.

The port galley includes six drawers and a locker, stainless sink, another Isotherm refrigerator, two-burner Princess propane stove, coffee maker, toaster oven and microwave.

The layout gets more creative from there. A large dinette rather than a conventional V-berth dominates the forward section of the cabin, featuring abundant storage under the sears. It turns into a queen berth if guests are aboard. The cabin is one main room except for the head - a double berth, also open, stretches across the aft bulkhead. We found storage in or under just about everything, a nod to its incarnation as a cruising boat as much as a fishing one.

Albin offers single or twin engines and Charlie opted  for the single Cummins 450-C,  an 8.2 litre six cylinder that makes 450 hp. Acceleration is more than adequate and the boat seemed happiest when cruising at about 2,200 rpm doing about 20 mph. That's where the very deep-vee hull was up on plane and making good headway. She seemed to track with little correction at lower speeds while she leveled out further at higher speeds, hitting 25 mph on our GPS at 2,600 rpm. Even then a little tab brought the bow down further and added a little more speed.

We were carrying a full load of fuel and four people as well as all normal equipment. It was a unique chance to experience a fully-rigged "owned" boat as opposed to the usual, nearly empty test vessel.

Albin 31 - DinetteEven with the gear, we discovered the Albin stayed remarkably flat in turns though she was sensitive to tabs and loads in the straights. That's probably a good feature for battling your way back to port in rough weather off Cape Cod!

Charlie Tatham calls the Albin a "purpose-built boat" and we couldn't agree more.

But our purpose might be different than Charlie's:  for cruising Georgian Bay, elsewhere on the Great Lakes, or anywhere on Canadian waters, she provides a whole lot of fun.

Whatever your purpose - fishing or fun - make no doubt about it. The Albin 31 Tournament Express is definitely purpose-built. 

 

Originally published in Canadian Yachting's July 2005 issue.

 

Specifications

Engine: Cummins 450-C, six cylinder turbo diesel. 8.3 litres / 504.5 ci, mechanical fuel injection, 450 hp, 1.769 transmission

Propeller: 24 x 24 four blade

Specs: Length OA 33', 10 m Length 31'8", 9.6 m Maximum Beam 12'4", 3.73 m

Dry Weight 14,000, 6,350 kg Hull deadrise in degrees at transom, 14 degrees Fuel 300 US gal, 1136 I Water 73 US gal, 276 I, Holding tank 18 US gal,68 I

 

Speeds

RPM         Speed GPS

Idle 700 rpm 6.0 mph 

1000 rpm         8.3

1250         9.5

1500         11.0

1750         12.1 

2000         16.0 

2250         20.0 

2500         24.0 

2600 rpm max. 24.8

 

Test boat provided by:

Owner and Jack Pady Marine Inc. 527 Bay Street Unit "D", Midland, Ontario, Canada L4R 1L2

Tel (705) 526-6224 

Fax (705) 527-4429 

E-Mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Price as tested quoted by:

Jack Pady Marine - $295,000 Cdn dollars (2005), incl., bow thrusters. 

Speed testing by: Garmin GPS

 

Photo Captions:

Photo 1 - The Purpose-Built Albin 31 Tournament Express; A Fishing Machine for the Cruising Family.

Photo 2 - The "wheelhouse" design makes a lot of sense with shade and comfort for a whole gang or nearby open access to the sun and fresh air of the cockpit. There is little or no canvas to struggle with either!

Photo 3 - The owner has equipped the helm with exactly the instrumentation he wanted, including a set of Raymarine communication and navigation systems - and for fishing, the readout for the temperature probes that run off the downriggers.

Photo 4 - The spacious dinette replaces the conventional V-berth and delivers storage under the seats, in the peak and starboard side where we found a hanging locker and three drawers. The dinette makes into a queen berth. The TV cabinetry is optional.

 

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