During many years spent aboard traditionally styled and built boats, I accepted (often unwillingly) that comfort and function would be sacrificed in the name of aesthetic appeal and that dated building techniques would limit performance. Yes, it was a joy to leave a mooring and watch the yacht gracefully tug on her lines, adding a touch of beauty to the anchorage. But good luck trying to set down a cup of coffee at the helm, find a place to properly arrange electronics or get comfortable in seating that resembles a church pew.
There is a middle ground between the aesthetic appeal of classic yachts and modern comfort, and Sabre-reaching out to those of us who prematurely surrendered to compromise-has found it. The builder has been perfecting the formula since introducing its first powerboat, a 36-foot double cabin model, in 1989. Today's models include a 34-foot sedan, a 36-foot express and 43- and 47-foot trawler-style models, as well as the latest launch: the Sabreline 42 Flybridge Sedan.
This yacht has a 14-foot, 4-inch beam that allows for a 100-square-foot cockpit, rivaling the space on many convertibles the same size and larger. Yet the added interior volume does not hinder the 42's lines. Her subtle sheer and unobtrusive house create a classic, purposeful appeal. Though the optional hardtop is a little harsh on the eyes from some angles, I would opt for it, the shelter it provides and the extra overhead space to stow a dinghy. The varnished teak caprail and eyebrow accents provide enough classic styling to keep the Sabreline true to her Maine roots.
Powering out of Government Cut in Miami, the modified deep-V hull with 16 degrees of deadrise aft planed effortlessly. The prop pockets reduce the angle of the drive gear, giving the 42 a shallow 3-foot, 9-inch draft. Put simply, this yacht's handling characteristics are superb. She tracks well, backs like a car, is dry, turns within her own wake and meets any chop with a gentle motion.
Long after the sea trial, I found myself telling friends about the great ride we'd had. Several months after the test, I discussed the ride with Pat Clark of Boatworks Yacht Sales (a Sabreline dealer). Pat had sold hull number two, which left after only a few days of commissioning for her maiden voyage from Rowayton, Connecticut, to Key West. The captain, like me, was excited after his first days on board.
"He had no problems with the boat, zero, and averaged 23 knots," Pat said. "The captain was raving."
Our test boat had the optional 420 hp Yanmar 6CX diesels, which are slim and allow for a workable engineroom. Accessing the outboard side of the engines for service won't result in handstands or bruised knuckles. Sabre's engineers properly laid out all the mechanical components for easy access. A 12kW Westerbeke generator is standard, and a Northern Lights is optional. Some similar-size boats offer only an 8kW generator, which may not be sufficient for cruising with air conditioning in southern latitudes.
While piloting the 42, I peered over the horizon and wished we could keep going to the Bahamas. It was obvious a lot of thought went into the helm and flying bridge design. "We mocked the helm up several times before we went into production," said Bentley Collins, Sabre's marketing manager.
A foot recess allows a more natural, comfortable seating position than you'll find on many other yachts. With the transom door open, the line of sight aft from the upper helm chair is unobstructed. You can easily judge the swim platform's distance from the dock. The line of sight over the bow is also excellent. The molded-in electronics locker will easily house a chart plotter, radar, VHF, autopilot, depth/speed gauge, GPS and a few other gadgets. A settee with table is abaft the helm, but the area could benefit from a few extra handholds to grab onto in a seaway.
The hull is laid up with balsa-core on the sides and bottom, followed by knitted, biaxial fiberglass laminates. Sabre vacuum-bags the balsa-core to the hull to ensure a tight, void-free bond. Our test boat's navy blue hull showed no signs of print-through, and the glass- work on the deck was well executed.
The 42's beam is carried well forward and affords an honest two-stateroom, galley-down layout. The master stateroom with island berth has a large hanging locker, a bureau, good ventilation and direct access to the head. The head is spacious and includes a 25-by-47-inch shower stall with a seat and locker, Corian counters and an electric freshwater toilet.
Opposite, the guest cabin has two single berths, a good-size hanging locker and two hinged doors. The wide passageway gives the stateroom an open feel during the day, although I would choose sliding pocket doors to prevent crowding others in the passageway.
The down galley has plenty of counter space, a double stainless-steel sink, a built-in wastebasket, a Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer, a two-burner electric cooktop and a microwave/convection oven. The saloon is nicely finished with an L-shape settee, a dining counter (great for chart work), an entertainment center and a lower helm.
Like others who dock short-handed, I often prefer operating the boat from the lower station. Sabre makes doing so easy. The sliding door adjacent to the helm station allows for quick deck access to tend lines, and a beefy rub rail lets you use pilings to pivot and turn into a tight slip. There is a good 360-degree line of sight, even aft through the flying bridge ladder. Gauges are arranged for easy reference, and electronics space is good.
Sabre and its Sabreline series have successfully carved a niche, teaching even a die-hard traditionalist like myself that classic styling doesn't necessarily mean antiquated design and techniques. It's no wonder the builder continues to carry a significant order backlog. Some things are worth the wait.
Contact: Sabre Corp. (207) 655-3831; fax (207) 655-5050; www.sabreyachts.com.