The Albin 25 Story
Of the 2,000 Albin 25s built, many are still doing sterling service. The Albin 25 was built in Kristinehamn, a small town on the shores of Lake Vänern in south-eastern Sweden. Between 1968 and about 1981 Albin Marine built over 2,000 of the 25s. For most of those years there was a wholly British-owned subsidiary, Albin UK, based on the Hamble and as a result some 200-300 25s were brought into the UK, making it one of the most popular imported motor cruisers. A number were bought by the Highlands and Islands Development Board for hire operations.
The boat was available in both motor cruiser and motor sailer (see picture inset above) versions, and was also sold as mouldings for home completion. Brian Etheridge, who was then the managing director of Albin UK, owned one of the motor sailers and cruised on the Solent. "We had enormous fun," he says, "and it proved completely reliable in very varied conditions."
The boat's reliability wasn't the only factor that made the 25 so popular. In the 1960s the dominant Scandinavian motor boat type was the snekke, a double-ended displacement craft, which usually had an open-backed wheelhouse, centre cockpit and small aft cabin. This design evolved into a robust form of displacement or semi-displacement cruiser, particularly suited to northern climes. Its hull was characteristically seaworthy, while the centre cockpit allowed the crew to enjoy the brief summer sun before retreating under the canopy as the mercury fell.
The 25 was one of the most successful of these second-generation cruisers. Designed by Per Brohäll, a Swedish naval architect with more than 20,000 boats to his credit, it boasted a surprising amount of accommodation for a boat of its size.
The main cabin takes up half the length of the boat and is of conventional layout, with vee-berths forward, a galley aft on the port side and a toilet compartment to starboard. The remaining two berths are in the aft cabin, but extend forward under the bench seats in the cockpit, so the raised part of the cabin below the coachroof is barely 3ft (0.9m) long. You don't get standing headroom in the aft cabin, but it's an economical solution that sacrifices little precious cockpit space.
The wheelhouse is prominent, with high windows and narrow pillars providing good all-round visibility from the bench seat at the helm. It has a roll-back roof, so the helmsman is not condemned to crouch in the shade while his passengers are enjoying the sun in the cockpit. Interestingly, the wheelhouse is secured to the deck moulding by screws, which suggests that it could be removed in its entirety, if required.
The decks and coachroofs are of a sandwich construction, which on some boats gives rise to delamination as the core deteriorates. However, in the Albin 25 this does not seem to be a problem. Fortunately osmosis is also rare, which can be attributed to the fact that most Scandinavians are temperature control freaks, so even in the 1970s Swedish builders were less likely than their southern counterparts to push mouldings out into the cold before the glassfibre had had a chance to cure fully.
Early 25s had a 20hp diesel built by Albin themselves (the company originally manufactured some of the smaller models in the Volvo range). This engine was a touch underpowered, giving a top speed of just over eight knots, so in 1971 the builders switched to the 36hp Volvo MD3B, which lifted the speed to around ten knots, depending on load. In 1975 the MD3B was replaced by the similarly rated MD17C, which became the standard engine for the rest of the boat's production life. The Albin 25 might not win any races, but she won't bankrupt the owner either: at nine knots, with an average load, she will use about 1 1Ž2 gph.
Although designing a hull to suit both power and sail can sometimes result in an unhappy compromise, on displacement motor boats it can have its advantages. To improve the sailing performance of the motor sailer version, Brohäll carried the hull down to a deepish keel. The same keel, in the motor cruiser provides good directional stability whilst also protecting the propeller.
For a family with young children, the Albin is also one of the safest boats around, thanks to its fully enclosed cockpit and high coaming.
Albin 25s range from 17 to 30 years old. But even the oldest models should not require major renovation because the factory-finished ones were of high build quality. Consequently, you can expect to pay £8,000-£8,500 for an average mid-1970s example. Home-completed craft and ex-hire boats are likely to be cheaper.
1969 Hull number 1-142
1970 Hull number 143-664
1971 Hull number 665-1126
1972 Hull number 1127-1363
1973 Hull number 1364-1854
1974 Hull number 1855-2025
1975 Hull number 2026-2489
1976 Hull number 2490-2624
1977 Hull number 2625-2795
Year Manufactured to Serial Number Ranges