I hate to have back to back negative posts but my readers know I love 1980s Sabres and I have a particular affinity for Sabre 42 since I owned and loved one for several years. These are beautiful, well made boats that will easily live 50, 60, 70 years with a minimum level of care. In my estimation they are halfway between products and works of art.
After this week’s test sail of a deep-draft Sabre 36, I thought it would be fun to take a moment to pause and reflect on the Sabres I have sailed so far and how they compare! And I thought I’d rank them based on how enjoyable I found them overall.
Editor’s note: the author has no affiliations with the sellers of the boat in this article and was not compensated in any way for writing it.
Regular readers of my blog know that I am a huge fan of the second-generation Sabre sailboats designed by Roger Hewson, and that I plan to buy another one in the future. As such, I follow the market for these boats pretty closely, and last week I saw a post on the Sabre Sailboats Facebook Group about a 36 that was coming on the market. As luck would have it, the owners were cruising to Newport that weekend so I was able to reach out to them and convince them to let me dinghy over to see her, and even to come along for a test sail later in the week.
There are two fascinating difference between our prior boat, the Sabre 42 (and most similar coastal cruisers) and our current Hylas 54 from the standpoint of automatic bilge pumps. The first big difference: on our Sabre, a variety of sources would cause the (single) automatic bilge pump to run regularly quite apart from any leaks that would be alarming to the crew or a threat to the vessel. For example, rainwater would run down the center of the mast into the bilge which could cause the bilge pump to run periodically during rainy periods. Also, the Sabre’s air conditioning and refrigeration drained condensate directly to the bilge (neither of which were particularly desirable) which would trigger automated draining of the bilge by the pump. Whatever the cause, while aboard we regularly would hear the bilge pump run and therefore had an awareness that that the bilge pump worked.
I had a new owner reach out to me with the following question regarding inspection of the centerboard pendant sheave boxes on his Sabre 42:
Is it possible to check condition of sheave box pendants with the boat in the water?
I thought it might be helpful to post my answer here, and also to post a link to my prior article on the vulnerability these sheave boxes pose and why they should be carefully inspected. Here is my answer to the new Sabre 42 owner in case it might be helpful to others:
All of the sheave boxes can be examined while you are in the water. You’re looking for corrosion at the welds in these boxes and any signs that pin hole leaks have developed. But far more vital will be the very short lengths of coupler hoses that connect each box to the metal conduit through which the cable travels – look for signs of cracking or delamination (which you can usually see at the edge of the hose). Be sure the hose clamps are secure and not corroded. My hoses and clamps were in very poor condition. The first sheave box is under the engine – be careful to degrease it so you get a good look. There’s another one under the cabin sole in the aft head, and of course the one in the lazarette under the winch itself. Unless you have documentation that the coupler hoses and clamps have been replaced, on your next haul out I would recommend you replace them all as a precaution.
I just stumbled across a terrific blog article in a Facebook thread explaining how and why buyers should carefully inspect the mast steps of the Roger Hewson generation of Sabres. This is article serves as a great companion to the Sabre Sailboat Buyer’s Guide I published some time ago. Check it out here.
Here are two side by side videos that show why Rover needs a whisker pole, stat! Here’s a video from our 2015 ocean passage from Annapolis to Newport on the Sabre 42. With the jib poled out wing-on-wing we are able to point straight down the rhumb line with an ideal angle to the waves for surfing. Note also how limited the roll is. Even with the centerboard fully retracted, the square angle to the waves dramatically reduces roll, as do the higher speeds resulting from surfing:
Now here is a video from Rover this weekend with no whisker pole. Note that most of the jib has to be rolled up, because it’s blanketed by the main and was otherwise collapsing and re filling with a shuddering bang, while drawing only part of the time. Note that we had to steer higher angles to try to keep the scrap of jib drawing at all, and apart from taking us high of the rhumb line this higher angle means a less favorable angle to the waves for surfing. Worse still, it means a quartering sea that produces lots of roll. Not what we want!
Editor’s Note: when we sold Le Saberage, we set up a full website to market her. As part of that site, we created a page detailing the Sabre 42 design elements. I enjoyed creating the content so much that I thought it would be fun to adapt and reprint it here on svrover.com. The timing was also appropriate given that Sabre’s founder, Roger Hewson, was recently interviewed for Sabre Yachts’ upcoming 50 year anniversary celebration. As part of that interview he said in no uncertain terms that the Sabre 42 was the best sailboat the company designed during his tenure:
Given our experiences with the Sabre 42, we’re not at all surprised this design was Hewson’s favorite! So we thought it would be fun to reprint our reflections on the design here. Continue reading Sabre 42 Design Elements→