Festooned with rod holders, the hardtop legs appeared ready for a marlin tower. But, surprisingly, a change of perspective revealed a bow seating area forward of the walk-through windshield.
The popularity of bowrider boats has been tracking steadily upward with the growth of fishing as a more family-oriented sport. Recognizing the trend, Keith Privott, Albemarle’s director of product development, was nonetheless hesitant to stray too far from the brand’s fishing heritage. The resulting 31-foot dual console is a smartly equipped fishing boat disguised as a bowrider that’s sure to satisfy anglers and the rest of the family.
The 31 DC’s hand-laid hull shares Albemarle’s signature 24-degree deadrise, matched with a pair of lifting strakes. Combined with an aggressive reverse chine that works in harmony with the Armstrong bracket and outboards, it provides a soft, dry ride, plenty of speed, and solid fuel economy for a boat that tips the scales at over 12,000 pounds.
The deck is pitched at 3 degrees from bow to stern, so any water entering the boat is quickly routed to the scuppers. All hatches are gasket-sealed and finished top and bottom, coaming pads are removable for storage, and the transom door and livewell hatch sport friction hinges to prevent slamming.
The anchor locker at the bow includes a windlass and a stem roller system to deploy the stainless-steel anchor. The forward-facing seating includes armrests, USB charging stations, stereo speakers and a removable table. The port seat has stowage beneath.
The dual consoles are separated by a wide passageway leading to the forward seating area, accessed by lifting the center windshield panel, which locks magnetically when opened and closed, and then opening the lower door.
The port console houses a spacious head compartment with an electric toilet, composite counter, sink, storage cabinets, and a hatch to access the optional Seakeeper and air-conditioning unit beneath the deck. The starboard console provides access to the A-berth, an air-conditioned, low-ceiling bunk area under the starboard bow seat and deck, with horizontal rod racks, storage cabinets, a microwave and BlueSea M2 breaker panel.
The helm station handles up to a 22-inch display, along with radios, autopilot, engine LCD gauge package, switch panel and controls. A pedestal Llebroc helm chair is matched by a twin-size version to port, which rests on a large storage compartment with access amidships and a large, forward-facing drawer. The cabinet behind the helm seat can be ordered with a sink, grill and Vitrifrigo fridge, or a rigging station with tackle storage.
The substantial hardtop incorporates tulip-style rod holders on the legs, plus an optional sunshade that, at the touch of a button, covers the ample cockpit showcasing the boat’s balance between fishing and entertainment. There is mezzanine seating for anglers to keep an eye on trolled baits, with a cold box beneath for drinks, and a dry side for food.
Moving aft, there are two fish boxes with a macerator pump-out in the deck and, in the transom, a large livewell, and a door for access to the engines that also allows you to lift a big tuna onto the Armstrong bracket and into the fish box in one easy motion. A large hatch provides access to the lazarette, where the 4 kW generator, pumps, and various key serviceable systems reside. And a pair of fold-down bench seats, one on the transom and another under the port gunwale, completes seating for seven crew.
Out in Albemarle Sound, the hull of the 31 DC provided a silky ride. The chine and center of gravity work beautifully with the V-bottom of the Armstrong bracket, which acts like a hull extension to enhance performance. The lifting strakes reduce the wetted surface and increase responsiveness to the standard-issue Optimus electronic steering (which can be ordered with the optional joystick controls), enabling tight turns at speed without cavitation.
The test boat came with 600 Yamaha horses that quickly pushed it up on plane out of the hole and topped out at 49 mph, but owners who desire more speed can upgrade to twin F350s. Best fuel economy was achieved at 4,000 rpm, running at a comfortable 30 mph, getting 1.24 mpg. And fuel efficiency decreased marginally at 35 mph (1.15 mpg) and 40 mph (1.09 mpg).
If balancing your fishing needs and your loved ones’ interests is making boat shopping difficult, consider the Albemarle 31 DC, a boat sure to please the entire family.
Deadrise: 24 degrees
Fuel: 275 gal.
Weight: 12,500 lb. w/ power
Max HP: 700
Price: Upon request
Weather: Partly cloudy
Location: Albemarle Sound, North Carolina
Wind: East 5 to 10 knots
Sea State: Calm
Test Load: Two adults, 180 gallons of fuel