ROAD TEST: ALBIN 30 CRUISER

I grew up around sailboats. My father didn't like to run the engine unless it meant escaping mosquitoes in a dead calm on Long Island Sound. So my DNA recoiled a bit at the notion of trying out Albin Marine's new, 30-foot Family Cruiser--a vessel that can ignore the whims of the wind and roam the seas with only a tankful of fuel. It's a powerboat, after all. Sorry, Dad: the family and I loved it. The Albin 30 combines creature comforts with intelligent design. Albins were first designed decades ago for use in the rough North Sea. While their trawler-like properties render speed and sportiness impossible, the boats are sturdy and forgiving. And with a big, modern diesel, the Albin 30 can reach 24 knots or more--three times as fast as the dawdling trawlers of a prior generation. The 30's most distinctive feature is a separate aft cabin that can sleep two; along with the main cabin's three berths (the head and shower are there, too), that means comfortable cruising for a family. I wasn't wild about the visibility from the wheelhouse--the windshield frame gets in the way. And the aft cabin takes up cockpit room where a back bench might go. But these are small flaws, especially for us persnickety sailors.

Tip: Even with all the electronic and entertainment trimmings, it costs less than the typical vacation home. And there's always a place to swim nearby.