Albemarle 53 / Spencer Edition Boat Review

Two legendary builders partner up to create a semicustom tournament contender
A sport-fishing boat cruising across the open water.
The Albemarle 53 / Spencer Edition has design inputs from both brands. courtesy Albemarle Boats / Harry Hindmarsh

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When the Albemarle leadership team contacted Spencer Yachts’ Paul Spencer, they were seeking to build a new flagship, albeit something a little different for Albemarle. According to Spencer, “Albemarle’s mold, fiberglass and production capability—combined with Spencer’s styling and sport-fish knowledge—made the collaboration a perfect match.” And after spending a few hours on board and putting Hull No. 1 through her paces, I could not agree more.

Cockpit and Mezzanine

Stepping aboard, the size of the teak cockpit for a 53-footer was impressive. At 160 square feet, the covering boards hit at midthigh, and with a massive transom fish box, my mind was telling me I was in a much larger boat. A Release Marine Trillion fighting chair with a six-rod rocket launcher stands as a beautiful centerpiece. Under each gunwale are L-shaped radiused doors that hide the shore power and washdown spigots. I noticed there were no deck hatches because this owner desired a watertight cockpit; however, in-deck boxes and hatches can be easily added to accommodate any owner’s desires.

Turning to the mezzanine, engine-room access is centered under a flip-up seat that blends seamlessly with the starboard sofa, which seats up to three anglers. The lounge and deck beneath create a four-lid system of one upper and lower ice dump, while the remaining two are refrigerated boxes. Albemarle’s director of sales and product development, Keith Privott, says, “The lid system has a variety of configurations that will allow Albemarle to customize the mezzanine to each owner’s specifications.” A rigging station sits to port and can be customized for an ice dump, a grill or additional storage. Overall, this setup provides for the efficient space needed for either a hardcore tournament or a leisurely dinner cruise.

The helm of the Albemarle 53.
The boat’s helm is spacious and well-equipped. courtesy Albemarle Boats / Harry Hindmarsh


Albemarle utilizes a ­center helm with a roomy chaise attached to provide the perfect spot for a quick nap. A pair of Release helm chairs offer an unobstructed view of the foredeck and cockpit. The black acrylic helm features two 22-inch Garmin multifunction displays for the chart plotter, radar and Furuno Omni sonar. Compartments on each side of the authentic teak helm pod house the VHFs and the MTU ignition controls. Overhead, you can easily view the engine displays and a Garmin 9-inch repeater screen. Accessed through a sliding hatch are the Miya Epoch US-9 teaser reels within easy reach.

Spacious storage is found under the chaise, both bridge wing seats and the brow. The seating on the bridge allows the entire crew to socialize or hold a morning meeting before fishing.

The interior salon of the Albemarle 53
The interior is laid out in elegant grey tones. courtesy Albemarle Boats / Harry Hindmarsh

Interior Accommodations

The spacious salon is inviting, with contrasting features, which include a white Whisper Wall headliner, off-white seating and walnut veneers throughout. As you enter, a drink cabinet and an ice maker are to port. Also to port and forward is an L-shaped dinette that will easily seat four or five people. On the starboard side is a massive L-shaped sofa with customizable storage below as well as an ottoman containing additional storage space. The step-down galley is also situated to starboard, allowing a more spacious overhead and for the cabinets to be pushed farther forward.

Features include a pair of Vitrifrigo refrigerator/freezer drawer units, a microwave and abundant cabinet storage. The aft bi-level countertop overlooks the salon, with two bar stools providing an intimate atmosphere, and the dark-tinted windows highlight the amazing views found throughout the salon, enhancing the spaciousness. Albemarle places the HVAC vents in the window valances for a clean look and an efficient use of space.

Down the companionway steps, the Albemarle 53 is arranged in a three-stateroom, two-head layout. To port and starboard are bunk rooms with ample clothing storage with drawers and hanging lockers. The port stateroom also provides over-bunk rod storage. Just forward is a shared head, highlighted by a full-size shower and vanity.

The master stateroom of the Albemarle 53.
The master stateroom. courtesy Albemarle Boats / Harry Hindmarsh

All the way forward, the master stateroom has a raised queen-size bed, an en suite head and ample storage. Flanking the bed are two large overhead cabinets that can be customized for clothing, rods or crew gear.

Engine Room and Pump Room

Climbing down the engine-room access places you between the sight tubes for the fuel tanks. Moving aft through a tunnel, you find the Seakeeper 9 and Optimus steering components, with enough space to service both units. Making your way forward, the main engine room houses two MTU V10 1600s and a single 17 kilowatt Onan generator. Each side contains all fuel, electrical and safety components for the engines. The batteries are located outboard of the engines and are hidden by hatched compartments, enhancing the overall clean, neat appearance of the space.

“So, where are all the water-supply components and the Omni transducer tube?” you ask. Albemarle had a dual-purpose plan for the step-down galley. Under the galley, accessed through a secret wall panel in the starboard stateroom, is the pump room. Genius.

The raw-water system is run through an ElectroSea unit before it travels to the HVAC units, Seakeeper and watermaker. The Omni transducer, water heater and Arid dry bilge system are also contained in the pump room. This allows for easy maintenance and diagnosis of any potential problems.

The only water-related component in the engine room is the watermaker, due to the amount of real estate required for the membranes.

Read Next: Meet Paul Spencer of Spencer Yachts in our exclusive interview.


On my visit, Hull No. 1 was receiving her finishing touches at the Albemarle plant before making the short trip to her home in Morehead City, North Carolina. It was a breezy day on the Albemarle Sound, yet it was hardly noticeable on the 53. Privott pointed us east and brought her up on plane. The CJR props pushed us to 30 knots at 1,750 rpm burning 80 gallons per hour. Providing a little more throttle to 1,950 rpm, we hit 35 knots with a fuel burn of 112 gph. The boat’s top speed is 43 knots at 2,450 rpm burning 164 gph. I was able to put the boat through tight turns effortlessly as we cruised through the sound. Just in gear, the big props move the boat at 8 knots, but with the trolling valves engaged, you can drop that to
2 knots on one engine while still maintaining steerage. The boat’s proven agility to back up and spin quickly is also very impressive.

Albemarle is certainly targeting a market that is primarily vacant with most custom builders. Its ability to provide a six-month build time for a molded Carolina sport-fisher—compared with 20 to 24 months for a custom model of a similar size—is also a great benefit. The response has already been what the company had hoped for, with Hull Nos. 2 through 4 already in various stages of production. Overall, the Albemarle 53/Spencer Edition will provide a great option for owners looking to move into what we now call a midsize Carolina boat without the long wait.

Be on the lookout for Hull No. 1, Big Hunter, on the water. I am sure you will be as impressed as I was with this classic collaboration between two legendary North Carolina builders.

Albemarle 53 / Spencer Edition Specs

  • LOA: 53’
  • Beam: 16’6”
  • Draft: 5’
  • Displ.: 48,000 lb.
  • Fuel: 1,100 gal.
  • Water: 150 gal.
  • Power: MTU 10V 1600 hp
  • Gears/Ratio: Twin Disc 2:1
  • Propellers: CJR, 5-Blade
  • Paint: Awlcraft 2000, Cabo White
  • Climate Control: Dometic

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