• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

How are Sabres higher quality?

Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
I'm not a Sabre owner, but I really like the look of them so hope to one day be:) Have trailer sailor now, but as my family grows I'll likely be looking to upgrade, so of course I'm already looking at 30-34 ft boats. I always read that Sabres are "higher quality/better built" that e.g. a Catalina 30 (your standard family cruising boat..). But in what way? They certainly cost more, but I'm somewhat trying to convince myself they're worth it. Can anyone here give me some specifics build quality reasons (i.e. not looks or feel) why I should choose a sabre over a catalina, beneteau, hunter or similar?

For example if I look at the sailboat calculator the specs for Catalina 30 and sabre 30-3 are almost identical:
http://www.tomdove.com/sailcalc/sailcalc.html
If the sabre was stronger built shouldn't it be heavier? In both displacement and lb/inch the catalina is actually higher than the sabre! If they use solid wood vs plywood, stronger fiberglass, better fasteners, shouldn't all this lead to a heavier boat? What am I missing?
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,240
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
You would also find the 'specs' of a BMW M5 and a Ford Mustang GT similar. But one for sure is a 'better' car. Because it's built to a different (higher) price point. Same thing in boats. Sabres are 'better' mostly in the detail of their construction, and to a certain degree their materials. Some of this makes them better boats, some of it personal taste. Mind you none of this makes them inherently more seaworthy, or fast. Design and construction technique, and economies of scale can make a production boat of similar performance and capability.

PS - often heavier construction is simply the cheapest.
 
May 25, 2012
3,038
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
both are nice boats. both will get you from A to B safely. it will come down to how well the boat you buy was looked after.
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,144
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
What I’ve noticed generally is that the yachts at the low end of the price range for their length (e.g. 40 ft) have more quality variance in the details, or “trim” level. That is, the lower-priced ones will have more examples of “cheap” components than the higher-priced ones. To produce yachts at or below a certain market-based price point, high or highest quality cannot be maintained for every component. For example, whether SS deck cleats or aluminum, chocks or no chocks, SS chafe guards or none, cabin liner or none, lead keel or steel, high-quality SS lifelines w/high-quality pelican hooks versus lower quality lines with “cheap” snap shackles, SS port light frames or plastic, fully bronze thru-hulls and valves or other; it goes on and on right down to the placements (e.g., functional or just plain idiotic) of cabin lights & their quality. Also, importantly, the quality and beauty of interior joinery. It is warm with wood and wood tones, or comparatively stark and “uninviting” with synthetic paneling or similar, etc.

In terms of hull/deck construction, you might see decks thru-bolted to the hull versus glued & screwed. Bulkheads tabbed to the hull or not. Masts keel-stepped or deck-stepped, etc.
 
Last edited:
Apr 1, 2019
19
Freedom 38 Boston, MA
One difference: the interior of the Sabre 30 is "stick built," whereas the Catalina 30 is "pan built." That means that all of the furniture inside was constructed from wood, and any attachment points were tabbed to the hull. A boat that's pan built has a molded fiberglass liner on the interior, which holds all the furniture and often makes up the cabin sole. A liner is nice because it's waterproof, easy to clean, and doesn't have to be refinished. It's also much easier to make for production boatbuilders, as you don't need to employ as many carpenters. However, it's a nightmare if you need to gain access to anything underneath it that the builders didn't think about. If there's not an existing access hole, such as for the bilge or thru-hulls, you gotta cut one yourself. On a stick built boat, you could just take apart the cabinet or settee and there's your hull.

I grew up sailing a Pearson 30 (pan built), and the first boat I owned myself was a Sabre 30 mk2 (stick built). After experiencing the limitations of an interior liner, I decided I would never own a boat that had one.
 

JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,840
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
I love the classic Sabre looks for sure and I did similar analysis as we looked at moving up. In the end for our bigger family boat I did not focus on a single manufacture or model I instead focused on what we needed. In this case the newer designed interiors was favored by my wife and condition was my driver. I had to come to the realization that I just don't have time for a major project and want to sail right away. Have fun looking, but if your family is growing up like mine I bet your time is not exactly what you think it will be:)
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Feb 6, 1998
11,294
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Having owned multiple Catalina's a 30, 310 and a 36, and having approx 40+ customers with Sabre's, I can say without a doubt there is little comparison in terms of construction quality between a Sabre and Catalina. Catalina's are fine boats but they are not in the same league as a Sabre overall build quality wise.

Things such as screwed in bulkheads on a Catalina vs. tabbed & stick built (fiber glassed) bulkheads on the Sabre to teak and holly soles vs. bare fiberglass on the C-30 to a shoe box deck/hull joint on the C-30 vs. an overlapping joint on the Sabre. Balsa vs plywood coring. Lack of wood in the keel stub of the Sabre, Catalina smile very common vs. extremely rare on the Sabre. The list goes on. Nothing wrong with either boat, but there is no doubt the Sabre is built to a higher level. I know this because I crawl around the inner-workings of boats for a living....

All that said what matters when buying a used boat is maintenance history & condition, condition, condition....
 
Oct 22, 2014
13,397
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Looking at pictures of a 36, there are some interesting features of the Sabre that attract the eye.
The deck space appears to be generous. Easy to move from cockpit to bow.
I was curious about the shaft on the boat. It appeared to be coming out and an angle on the port side of the boat. Is this usual for this boat make. I would guess that gives the boat a decidedly strong prop walk.

It would also suggest the need for a folding prop so to minimize drag when sailing.
Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 9.16.43 AM.png
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,428
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
This is an impressive scroll of valid reasons which I think support Sabre's quality, and some I hadn't thought of.

I'll only add that a portion of the perceived value of some boat designer/builders, is mystical.

Experienced buyers will seek these popular (like Sabre) used boats out and likely keep them in good nick. That in turn adds $ value as buyers (like OP), will pay a little more to own one.

Hinckley is a classic example of out of date boats that have increased in value over decades. The high quality accounts for the bulk of this increase (especially high quality components that last), but some has to be attributed to the Hinckley mystique. The Sabre name has a little of that mystique.
 
Jul 1, 1998
3,046
Hunter Legend 35 Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
Here's a different tack for ya.
You're looking at quality vs cost, your wife is looking at amenities, and the clock is ticking. Believe it or not, the clock ticks faster as time goes on and if you don't believe that, ask your parents.
If you have a family now, just wait a few minutes and you'll have grandkids! If you don't believe that, ask your grandparents!
Okay, here's what you do: Bypass that little 34 'cuz in ten years it'll be too small anyway. Teenagers happen before you know it and they need "their space". Start looking now in the 40-ft range with two heads and more room to handle everybody.
Going from one boat to another costs time and money. The money you can earn but time you can't, once it's gone, its gone forever. The time it takes to fix up the current boat and sell it isn't so much but on the bigger boat it is. The expense and hassle of changing boats is a lot (unless, maybe, you're in sales). Save your time and you wife's, start looking at the 40 footers before its too late!
 
  • Like
Likes: Scandium
Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
Having owned multiple Catalina's a 30, 310 and a 36, and having approx 40+ customers with Sabre's, I can say without a doubt there is little comparison in terms of construction quality between a Sabre and Catalina. Catalina's are fine boats but they are not in the same league as a Sabre overall build quality wise.

Things such as screwed in bulkheads on a Catalina vs. tabbed & stick built (fiber glassed) bulkheads on the Sabre to teak and holly soles vs. bare fiberglass on the C-30 to a shoe box deck/hull joint on the C-30 vs. an overlapping joint on the Sabre. Balsa vs plywood coring. Lack of wood in the keel stub of the Sabre, Catalina smile very common vs. extremely rare on the Sabre. The list goes on. Nothing wrong with either boat, but there is no doubt the Sabre is built to a higher level. I know this because I crawl around the inner-workings of boats for a living....

All that said what matters when buying a used boat is maintenance history & condition, condition, condition....
Appreciate this, and all the other responses! All those little details definitely sounds like give a "better feel" in the boat, the mystique as someone said. I'm just a little surprised it doesn't show up in the specs, but I suppose it's not heavy enough to have an impact. Glad to hear it from people with experience. I've been in a few catalinas, but not yet had a chance to visit a sabre. Those details are the kind of things I really appreciate, so I'll have to be careful..

My current boat is a seaward, which from what I can tell is also a bit "above average" built. A trailor sailor with six SS opening portlights? Ludicrous! So now I'm afraid I'll get accustomed to a certain build.. It might be hard to go to a catalina or bene. They're fine, but I don't always love the style.
 

JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,840
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
Good luck for sure, we also considered just jumping to a brand new Jeanneau 440 at just under $400k, and the payments to go with it! Found the C310 and it was the right boat for the right time for us.
 
Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
Here's a different tack for ya.
You're looking at quality vs cost, your wife is looking at amenities, and the clock is ticking. Believe it or not, the clock ticks faster as time goes on and if you don't believe that, ask your parents.
If you have a family now, just wait a few minutes and you'll have grandkids! If you don't believe that, ask your grandparents!
Okay, here's what you do: Bypass that little 34 'cuz in ten years it'll be too small anyway. Teenagers happen before you know it and they need "their space". Start looking now in the 40-ft range with two heads and more room to handle everybody.
Going from one boat to another costs time and money. The money you can earn but time you can't, once it's gone, its gone forever. The time it takes to fix up the current boat and sell it isn't so much but on the bigger boat it is. The expense and hassle of changing boats is a lot (unless, maybe, you're in sales). Save your time and you wife's, start looking at the 40 footers before its too late!
Well certainly interesting point:) To be clear I'm happy with our little boat for now, upgrade would probably be at least 3-4 years away, or more (say when kids 7/9 yo). And will obviously depend on what kind of sailing we do then. But as you know it's hard to stop looking.. I was thinking bypass the 30 ft level, and look for one of the 34 ft sabres. Already though that might be a bit crazy:) They look great, and plenty out there for not too-too much money. Beyond that the sabre 38 or 362, 42 of course look lovely, but then we're talking some serious money!

This is far-fetched, but I hope to one day sail a little offshore, say Chesapeake to Newport, or bermuda, if not all the way to carribean. Would Sabre build quality be up to this task? I understand it's not a full on bluewater boat, but from what I gather these shorter passages should be doable?
 
Last edited:
Feb 26, 2004
21,313
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
But as you know it's hard to stop looking..
No it isn't.
i bought my boat in 1998, when it was 12 years old. I bought Nigel Calder's Cruisers Handbook, which includes useful features of offshore boats, but I do not intend to ever use my boat offshore. A few years after I bought the boat, and read the book and checked off a lot of those good features that were already on my boat, I stopped going to boat shows and stopped looking because what I have is what I want, need and like.
For all my boat purchases (3) I have determined what I wanted and looked only for those boats. Worked well because I could focus on condition having already gone thru the amenities, systems and layout crap.
 
  • Like
Likes: jon hansen
Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
any opinions on sabres for "light offshore" sailing? Like I said for example Chesapeake to RI, Maine, bermuda or carribean? Are they strong enough? Is storage too limited below a certain lenght, say 38 ft?
 
Oct 22, 2014
13,397
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
You are talking about a boat that could be from the 70's and 80's. Most certainly they were built strong enough to sail those waters.

The question really is can you sail those waters. Are you a competent skipper. Will you select a weather window to accomplish the cruise safely? Will you select crew that can stand watch and allow you to catch some sleep safely or wake you if conditions warrant it?
Will you select a boat that is in a condition to go in water you choose? Will you spend the time and money to refit a boat that could be 30 plus years old to prepare it for such a journey?

From the sailboat data site. "As of 2012, Sabre ended production of sailing yachts though they have said it could be restored should the market improve".
A 7 year old boat could be immaculate or was scrapped in last years hurricane and it is on the market for "very good price".

SO it is less the boat and more the skipper. As the Skipper controls all the variables.
 
Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
This is a nebulas term. Not clear of the meaning. Can you please clarify what you mean?
Sorry, I tried to clarify with examples. I mean not ocean crossing, i.e. 20+ days across atlantic. Rather say 2-5 days. Chesapeake to rhode island. Or bermuda and back. This reduces the storage and tankerage requirements quite a bit. Weather forecast also more accurate up to those time frames so getting hit by surprise storm less likely. So I would think as long as the boat is decently strong, to deal with (likely) heavier wind and waves etc offshore then this should be doable. You seem to say an 80s sabre is capable of this, so that was what I was wondering. I know they're no Westsail, but people imply they are plenty sturdy.

Yes I understand this is in large part up to planning and skipper skills. But getting a sturdy boat (but not a tank) is one variable that one can control relatively easily. Everything else you mention I'd have to deal with no matter the boat.