Bill Richey (original owner of Albula) and naval architect Glenn Haught (still full time liveaboard on his) were friends that shared thoughts of similar boats. The concept was one of live-aboard comfort and operating efficiency with shallow draft in a seaworthy boat for the East Coast waters and the Bahamas.
The concept was to build vessels to serve as the mothership for fishing primarily in the backwaters and on the flats. Bill and Glenn drew up the plans and agreed upon them in September 1995. Construction began with the full size loft and jig built in October 1995. Two identical boats were to be built simultaneously, the theory being that they could be built more efficiently in that manor.
The hulls were built by Blackwell Boatworks at their yard in Mann's Harbor, NC. Using cold molded construction with West System epoxy the hull was built with laminated fir keel and longitudinal stringers. The bottom is 2 layers of ¾" marine plywood and the sides are 2 layers of ½" marine plywood. The hull was glassed inside and out using the same lamination schedule Blackwell was using for his 35+ knot 60 foot custom sport fishing boats. The fuel tank was welded aluminum, tested, and installed and a fiberglass epoxy water tank installed. A 1" marine plywood deck was installed from aft to the bulkhead for the forward stateroom. The hull was sealed, epoxy faired and finished with epoxy primer and all interior decking sealed with epoxy by Blackwell Boatworks.
The hulls were then transported the 10 miles, through downtown Manteo, to Haught and Associates yard in Wanchese, NC for completion. Three shipwrights were hired full time for the project and additional skilled craftsmen were hired if they were out of work and between jobs. Wanchese is well known for its wooden sportfishing boatbuilding industry. Glenn Haught worked nearly full time supervising and building the boats during construction.
The cabin was built of ½" Marine Plywood and 2x4 fir sides which was glasses with 2 layers of 2408 bidirectional fiberglass, all bonded with West System epoxy. Deck beams were laminated Atlantic White Ceder with a finishing laminate of 1" mahogany to be exposed in the interior.The upper deck was ½ " marine plywood again covered with 2 layers of 2408 fiberglass bonded with epoxy. The two boats progressed nicely over the following months. All electrical design and installation was performed by certified marine electrician Alan Fagley, now (2017) head electrician for Spencer Yachts. The boat was faired and painted with Awlgrip. The interior salon and interior trim was built and installed by master craftsman Jeff Doyle, now retired.
The boats were basically completed and were christened and launched September 1997. After the celebration, both boats were taken to the dock that Glen and Bill owned together for final fitting out.
After a trip to the Florida Keys in 1998, Albula returned to Wanchese to be fitted with a Vetus bow thruster, a great improvement.
Over the years, improvements have been made. She had the rear cockpit modified and swim platform added in 2015 by the original builder Blackwell Boat Works, she was also totally repainted, with a stainless bow protector added.
Overall, Albula is a fabulous liveaboard cruiser and has cruised waters from the Chesapeake Bay to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas as well as making 5 round trips from Seattle to Juneau Alaska through the Inside Passage. She has handled all those environments without difficulty averaging 7.5 – 8.0 knots burning 1.5 – 2.0 gallons per hour; all the efficiency as they had hoped for.
She is Great Loop friendly with the VHF antenna lowered easily clears 21' bridge height
Link below to more detailed article on how these Cold Molded boats are made.