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How are Sabres higher quality?

Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
To many or most of the posters, "quality" is kind of subjective. And that's normal.
To clarify on my view, I have owned my boat since 1994, and done a lot of upgrades and additions. Every time I get into the "hidden" parts of it I am presented with construction methods that are mean't for the long haul. Like removing parts of the headliner or bulkhead teak trims and verifying that all (!) of the interior bulkheads and ancillary frp moldings are tabbed in. Nothing loose and nothing has ever come loose. The whole structure is one engineered piece. Our hull/deck joint is an inside overlap, thru-bolted thru an aluminum toe rail. Without fail, every deck fitting I have occasion to remove, that was installed by Ericson reveals a dry core. i.e. well bedded with the right material.
Other boats are built just as well, but not a lower price point.
We specifically avoided boats with a "shoe box" hull/deck joint. Prone to weakness and leaks.
Of course my opinions and experiences are going to different than yours.... but having been offshore in a gale on on memorable delivery of a Cascade 36 down to SF, I will opt for basic strength and speed over lesser construction and low price.
And for the other 99% of sailing days, there are a number of folks posting on this thread that could give me sailing lessons!
:)
Thanks for the perspective. I keep coming back to Sabre and Ericson as the best combination of quality, price and design/layout/looks for my needs, coastal cruising or otherwise. Whenever I plan to upgrade I'll look at those first, but who knows where it'll take me.
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,144
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
So, vestiges of this conversation have been covered at length in this forum. IMHO, generally most Catalinas, Hunters, Bavarias, and several other models were not built to cross oceans, requiring long periods at sea, etc. Some do, nevertheless, and so they can. Fine. There are other models specifically designed to make such crossing. These are often cutter rigs with ample tankage and storage capacity, good seakeeping ability with high stability against capsizing, etc. They may on average have higher displacement which allows them to carry greater loading, etc. “One size” does not fit all. If I decided one day to go ocean sailing for some indefinite period, I’d probably trade in me Bavaria 38E for an ocean cruiser, etc. That day may never arrive. In the meantime, it would be pointless for me to attempt to argue down the risks of high-seas cruising so the boat I own metamorphoses into a blue water yacht, in case I might wish to go there some day.
 
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Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
So, vestiges of this conversation have been covered at length in this forum. IMHO, generally most Catalinas, Hunters, Bavarias, and several other models were not built to cross oceans, requiring long periods at sea, etc. Some do, nevertheless, and so they can. Fine. There are other models specifically designed to make such crossing. These are often cutter rigs with ample tankage and storage capacity, good seakeeping ability with high stability against capsizing, etc. They may on average have higher displacement which allows them to carry greater loading, etc. “One size” does not fit all. If I decided one day to go ocean sailing for some indefinite period, I’d probably trade in me Bavaria 38E for an ocean cruiser, etc.
Understood. My goal was simply to try to get a sense of where Sabres fit into this. It seems general consensus is somewhere in the middle.. It's an overbuilt coastal cruiser, or and underbuilt bluewater boat.
 
Apr 8, 2010
1,460
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 Portland OR
Understood. My goal was simply to try to get a sense of where Sabres fit into this. It seems general consensus is somewhere in the middle.. It's an overbuilt coastal cruiser, or and underbuilt bluewater boat.
Another perspective: the "build" may be eclipsed by the equipping any given boat for the purpose. Example: my O-34 has a basic displacement of 10600#, and loaded down for a Pacific crossing would be more.
And probably be a little slower. Further, for continuous time at sea you have to factor in storage of not only food and water, but adequate spares and tools. This may not require a large boat, but certainly there are compromises to consider.
(Sister ships have made repeated trips, racing, to Hawaii and back, for whatever it's worth.)
When you look at the designed-in tankage and storage of something like a Valiant, you see this more clearly.

And then, after all of the talk of proper boats and preparation quiets down, I still recall the picture and story in a sailing magazine in the late 70's of a young guy, sipping a beer, at the dock in Papeete, with his National Geographic "chart" in hand... having sailed rom California.... in his Catalina 27.
:)
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,240
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
Here’s another way to look at this. The cost of any new boat is made up very simply of: the number of hours it takes to construct it times the labor rate, plus the cost of materials (BOM) . Then you add in a percentage of the overhead, the so-called NRE (Non Reoccurring Expense) design, , engineering, tooling etc, based on the expected sales volume. Then you add a mark-up that allows you stay in business. Bigger volume builders will always focus much more on the design, engineering and tooling upfront costs, because they can amortized over a larger number. It’s a game that smaller volume builders always lose. If you make $1 billion worth of boats every year, investing in a factory that cuts your woodworking costs in half is a no brainer.
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,144
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
We had some friends who moved to FL from PNW and had shipped to there their Cascade 36. Sailed around SW FL for a few years saving up for a planned world cruise. Eventually took off go to the Galapagos to initiate. By the time they arrived in Panama, about 1000 n.mi. from St. Pete, FL, they had decided “we more fiberglass under us.” Came back to FL, sold the Cascade and bought a Moody 40, then took off again a year or so later making it to the Galapagos, and beyond. In any event, the point being, one needs the correct tool for the job, etc.
 
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Nov 18, 2010
2,426
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
We have a little over 25k nm under the keel of our Catalina last time I added it up. I probably have that combined on other boats like Hinkleys, Sabres, Brewers, Hunters, Production Catamarans, pro-built racing trimaran and other boats. We know people who have sailed a Sabre 34 across the Atlantic twice in one season and people who won't do harbor hopping in a production boat with a bolt on keel because the internet told them they would die. We have another friend who successfully completed in the Newport Bermuda 1-2 in his Catalina several times but had to give up and sail back to harbor in his better built offshore racing boat due to gear failure and broken ribs from a knockdown. Our own personal boat has seen winds over 185 knots with no damage. The one thing I know for sure:

A well maintained boat can take more abuse than the crew and a poorly maintained boat of any make can sink with an idiot at the helm.

Now trying to compare the build quality between a Catalina and a Sabre starts to get a little foolish. Catalinas are built fine; I trust my life to one daily. But you step on a Sabre or Hinkley and you can immediately see and feel the difference. Production boats are great, I will sail almost any of them as long as it is well maintained. They are perfectly fine to cross oceans and sail around the world on the milk runs.

But you can really tell the difference when you go to maintain the boat. Access to bolts, chain plates, systems, etc. is much easier on the higher priced boats. This doesn't mean you can't do proper maintenance on a production boat. Just that it takes more time and effort. Here is an example, the shaft on our Catalina 310 can't slide out past the rudder. So you either need to drop the rudder, lift the engine or use a special designed tool to press in and out the Cutlass bearing. Not an issue on our friends Sabre (they don't have it any more, they are now in Norway on their aluminum hull sailboat).

Maintenance is so important to the seaworthiness of a boat I won't even bid on deliveries that aren't local or have a recent survey. And I get really picky about the survey and how travel costs are paid (travel cost paid upfront and non-refundable, if I arrive and the condition of the boat is not as represented in the survey I am free to leave and not do the delivery). I turn down more deliveries than I bid on due to poorly maintained boats. So I could absolutely see a situation where I would buy a Catalina over Sabre based on condition. Condition is everything for that final decision of go no-go on a purchase to me.

As to the weather discussions, you can get hit with unexpected squalls anytime. Recently we were sailing off Martinique on a day with a forecast for 10-15 knots of wind. We got two squalls, one with 35 knot gusts and one with 45 knot gusts. No storms were forecasted for that day and both passed in less than 30 minutes. But it was white knuckle when it happened and because we kept a watch on the conditions we were able to take actions to deal with them. And look at what I would happened on Cape Cod this week, sunny skies to 85 mph winds in less than 30 minutes with nothing in the forecast. But I much prefer to be hit by those squalls 300 nm from shore than in the Chessie. Way more options when you are offshore. When you are close to land then your biggest concern is not getting blown onto it. So you might not be able to heave to or forerun because that will put you on shore. My experience is that big systems and general conditions can be forecast with reasonable accuracy. But weather can always change on you and those changes happen more frequently near land.

This was a fun thread to read.

Fair winds,

Jesse
 
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Feb 6, 1998
11,294
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
I turn down more deliveries than I bid on due to poorly maintained boats.
Jesse
I stopped doing deliveries all together as most boats out there, regardless of the survey, are just not up to what I believe is safe off-shore standards. The list and horror stories I have of delivering boats is a mile long. For those that remember Jon Eisberg he and I went on and on one day, on the phone, about nightmare deliveries. He continued to do them, I opted out.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,597
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Here’s another way to look at this. The cost of any new boat is made up very simply of: the number of hours it takes to construct it times the labor rate, plus the cost of materials (BOM) . Then you add in a percentage of the overhead, the so-called NRE (Non Reoccurring Expense) design, , engineering, tooling etc, based on the expected sales volume. Then you add a mark-up that allows you stay in business. Bigger volume builders will always focus much more on the design, engineering and tooling upfront costs, because they can amortized over a larger number. It’s a game that smaller volume builders always lose. If you make $1 billion worth of boats every year, investing in a factory that cuts your woodworking costs in half is a no brainer.
I agree with that analysis for boats at the commodity end; but at the higher end, there's value, translated into price, associated with the name: prestige, exclusivity, history, etc. Think Hinkley, Morris, Little Harbor (all under the Hinkley umbrella now, I think). Next tier, not as much, but still some: Tartan, Sabre, and the like. Sure, there is some real labor and materials on these you won't find on the commodity boats, like stainless or chrome plated opening ports, polished stainless details and plates at the anchor locker, teak toerails; grid construction, high-end pumps, through-hulls, upholstery, and so on. Not a lot of it contributes to seaworthiness or utility, at least not the cosmetic bits. Infrastructure can, like wiring, plumbing, hatch hold-downs, battery hold-downs.
 
Nov 18, 2010
2,426
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
Thanks! Really appreciate the perspective!
Also; wow! typo..? If not yikes..
In 2015 we relocated via our boat from Boston to the Caribbean. We now live in the USVI when not out cruising. I am writing this from Rodney Bay on St. Lucia on a rainy day. So, 2017 was a big year for us.

We ran from Irma but got bad fuel from the marina in STT when we left. It turns out the manager of the fuel dock doesn't believe in a reserve to avoid pumping the crap in the bottom of the tank. So he essentially filled us up with straight tank bottoms. The air was light and we had to power between Culebra and the southeast coast of PR. Our goal was to get the mountains of PR between us and Irma's path. We went through 6 filters in that 10 hour trip. We actually stalled out about a half mile out of the marina. I was able to reprime and run at a lower RPM to get in on that last filter.

Irma did damage to the north side of PR but we never saw over 50 knots. However all of the marina stores of any size are located on the north and had no power for 4 days. When power came back we went to the stores and got the pieces I needed to make a fuel polishing system, including all the filters I could get. We polished the fuel, put the sails and everything back on and started to amass supplies to bring back to our friends in the USVI and BVI. Then we looked at the weather and here comes Maria.

We could have ran to the north east BVI, like North Gorda Sound. But that area was destroyed by Irma and had lots of debris in the water. Or we could run way south, like Bonaire. Or west to the Dominican Republic. But we hadn't been able to test the engine yet and I wasn't confident in my polishing job as we don't have inspection ports so I was limited to the sender unit opening.

So we decided to prep the boat as best we could and get a rental unit on land for the storm. We had 28 lines going to every possible place possible to tie to on our boat. Everything stripped from the deck. We sacrificed anchor chain and Rhode to have extra lines.

We got the northeast eye wall of windsMaria. The top winds recorded where 185 mph (sorry, knots was incorrect). The rental unit we were in with 2 other boats lost its roof and many of the doors and windows. But we had chosen this place because it had hurricane shutters on the large sliders for the living room and master bedroom. Thankfully those held. Down at the water, there were around 200 boats. All but 3 came away without damage. We were one of them along with Todd who was also in the condo with us.

We lost some electronics post storm. Wind of that force penetrates everything. Even nav pods and below decks. We should have washed down all circuit boards with fresh water and alcohol. Next time.
 
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Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
We know people who have sailed a Sabre 34 across the Atlantic twice in one season
I'd be curious to read some accounts of people doing offshore/passages in sabres, especially 30-34s, but haven't found much unfortunately. An old sabre ad I saw did have a testimonials of someone doing a transatlantic (North, to Ireland) in a 34, and a sail to bermuda in a 30. Interesting.
 
Oct 22, 2014
13,397
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
@Scandium You could buy a Sabre, go out and write your own history. With nothing available you might be able to sell it to help pay for your boat.
 
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Jan 13, 2009
319
J Boat 92 78 Sandusky
Having owned a Sabre, C&C, and currently a J boat I can say that the Sabre was the best built of the bunch. It was a true cruiser racer. All boats have faults, some are correctable some not. I don't want to get into the blue water boat argument because there is no easy answer. I have been offshore in 55knots and 25 foot breaking waves and wouldn't want to be any production boat in those conditions especially 300 miles out. Sabres are an acquired taste. Not a race boat but an easily driven hull with a nice motion. The little things on a Sabre contribute to the cost. Others have mentioned stick built which has its advantages. Look at the deck hardware, stem fittings, skene chocks on a Sabre and you will notice they are robust. The glass work is excellent as is the gel coat. My fiberglass guy loved the quality of the Sabre. Other little things like there are no square corners on the deck house of a Sabre they are faceted. That gives it the Sabre look. Neither traditional, old looking, or Euro looking. Things like the cabin top height, angles of seat backs are just ergonomically right on the Sabre. Doesn't seem like much but quite the difference when you are sailing all day. At the end of the day sailing a Sabre is just damn more enjoyable. From the way it handles waves to the minimal wake it is more fun to sail. Sure, purpose built cruisers and all out racers do certain things better but for all around enjoyment the Sabre excels. Comparing it to a Catalina 30 based on the numbers is an insult. Sort of like comparing a S550 to a Buick. One is a work of art and engineering, the other is transportation.
 
Nov 18, 2010
2,426
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
I'd be curious to read some accounts of people doing offshore/passages in sabres, especially 30-34s, but haven't found much unfortunately. An old sabre ad I saw did have a testimonials of someone doing a transatlantic (North, to Ireland) in a 34, and a sail to bermuda in a 30. Interesting.
Look up MNJ Sailing. Matt and Jessica started with their Saba 34 in Michigan, took her down the east coast, through the Caribbean, over to the Azores and back. They had a blog for that whole trip. They now have a YouTube channel that documented their refit on an aluminum hull. They launched that boat and are now in cruising on her. They have done parts of the Caribbean again, crossed back to the Azores, up to Ireland and are now in Norway. Great people.
 
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Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
@Scandium You could buy a Sabre, go out and write your own history. With nothing available you might be able to sell it to help pay for your boat.
Sure, I'll get right on it! :D (anyone wanna buy a 23 footer..?)

For those types of crossing in a "not dedicated bluewater" boat (I think that's fair?) like a sabre 34 for example, I'd be most curious about tankage and storage. Now to be fair, I saw the mk 1 sabre 34 does actually have 144 L water tank from the factory, which is ~24 days for two people from what I could tell. So not as terrible as I would think, based on the typical complaints about coastal cruisers and their unsuitability for passages.. ("If you go more than 10 miles from the coast your boat will instantly break and you'll run out of food, water and beer" (in that order)...:rolleyes:)
 
Nov 18, 2010
2,426
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
Sure, I'll get right on it! :D (anyone wanna buy a 23 footer..?)

For those types of crossing in a "not dedicated bluewater" boat (I think that's fair?) like a sabre 34 for example, I'd be most curious about tankage and storage. Now to be fair, I saw the mk 1 sabre 34 does actually have 144 L water tank from the factory, which is ~24 days for two people from what I could tell. So not as terrible as I would think, based on the typical complaints about coastal cruisers and their unsuitability for passages.. ("If you go more than 10 miles from the coast your boat will instantly break and you'll run out of food, water and beer" (in that order)...:rolleyes:)
Water tankage can be compensated with a watermaker. I prefer DC systems for this. Our tank is 35 gallons (120 liters). We have a 12 volt watermaker that makes 7.5 gallons (28 liters) per hour at 18 amps. With sufficient solar (we have 495 watts) and good batteries (we have lithium) you can run that for 1-2 hours per day and still be topped up on your batteries.

Fuel, it's a sailboat. So we sail more and have a slower speed for when we turn on the motor than some. We are traveling with a Brewer 44 now. He has two 100 gallon (375 liter) fuel tanks where we have one 26 gallon tank. He carries more in diesel cans than we do in our tank. On passage two nights ago we kept sailing even though we were only doing 3.5 knots. He turned on the engine and got in to harbor first thing in the morning. We didn't make it I until noon.

The bigger issue with cruising a small boat is food storage. That Brewer has a deep freeze and stores lots of meat and produce. We have something that is about the size of a dorm fridge and the freezer is about the size of a toaster oven. So we eat more canned food, much easier in the French islands because their canned food is higher quality and has more variety. We also go shopping more when in Port. But we almost always have enough food for 3 months without reprovisioning on board.

The key to long term living on a small boat is being a minimalist and prioritizing your storage. Right off the bat we set aside 1/3 of our space for tools and spare parts. 1/3 for clothes, bedding, personal electronics, snorkeling and fishing gear (spear fishin and line fishing) and 1/3 for food and drinks (including dog food). The space was divided up post safety equipment. So we carry life jackets, 4 anchors with rhodes, extra lines for hurricanes, a droug for heavy weather and emergency steering, harnesses, tethers, jacklines, fully packed ditch bag with handheld VHF, flares, horn, signal Lazer, etc.

To me the ideal cruising boat is somewhere over 30 but under 40 feet. Under 30 and storage is difficult and over 40 the cost and the systems are higher and more complex.
 
Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
To me the ideal cruising boat is somewhere over 30 but under 40 feet. Under 30 and storage is difficult and over 40 the cost and the systems are higher and more complex.
I obviously don't have any experience compared to you, but I've starting thinking this too. I love how simple my current boat is. We just hop on and sail. While others in my marina do endless fixing. Other day one guy was complaining that one of the two AC units in his boat was broken..:what: My dad has a 40 ft fancy powerboat, and the endless systems and complexities is a massive headache. So much that he had to buy another small boat that was quicker and easier to take out! Spending time on his boat recently actually made me appreciate my spartan setup more, despite the shower stall, massive galley, seating for 12 and bow/aft thrusters..

Especially when upgrading to something larger I definitely think it's important to try to keep it simple, so it's manageable, don't take too much (sailing) time, and cost. A 42 ft money-sink that you can steer with an ipad and needs 5 crew to take out would not improve my sailing enjoyment.. ;)
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,597
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
the mk 1 sabre 34 does actually have 144 L water tank from the factory
I had to do the math: 38 gallons. That's not nearly enough tankage for a 34' coastal cruiser. We found 42 on the Catalina 36 to be inadequate. We now luxuriate with 80+ on our Tartan.
 
Aug 16, 2018
75
Seaward 23 Annapolis
I had to do the math: 37.44 gallons. That's not nearly enough tankage for a 34' coastal cruiser. We found 42 on the Catalina 36 to be inadequate. We now luxuriate with 80+ on our Tartan.
I was thinking in liters since the recommendation I saw was for 3 L/per/day. I believe it's actually 44 gallon, I may have messed up the numbers.

In what way did you find 42gal to be "not enough"? For how long? What kind of sailing? Did you use it up drinking, washing, showering? Just curious. To your point it appears sabre agreed since the mk2 has 75 gallons. Might be possible to add a tank to the mk1 too. Since the mk2 isn't that much bigger there must be space somewhere.

A watermaker is a possibility to reduce water storage needs (just emergency rations only). But from what I see they start at $4,000! yikes..