The Chesapeake bay is a gloriously beautiful body of water, but it can also be nasty. Some 15 knots of wind and a soaking rain nearly canceled my sea trial of the Sabre 45 Salon Express, given the bay’s shallow contours and an opposing tide and wind. Five minutes after we cleared the breakwater and opened up the throttles on the pair of 435 hp Volvo Penta D6 diesels coupled to IPS600 drives, the weather was an afterthought. The yacht’s modified-V hull form—with a 23-degree deadrise amidships and a 16-degree transom deadrise—flattened the bumps in a head sea and held steady in a beam sea, even when cranked to a wide-open throttle speed of 30.9 knots. Cruising at 23.5 knots (at 3,000 rpm while getting around 0.8 mpg), the ride was sip-your-coffee smooth. No doubt the Seakeeper gyro spinning belowdecks helped stabilize her, but the 45 Salon Express scored an A+ for seakeeping regardless.
That Sabre’s Downeast design and 45 feet of resin-infused biaxial E-glass can handle a bit of snotty sea doesn’t exactly come as a shock. The real stunner is cruise-speed sound levels that are more Bentley than boat. Thanks to Corecell SAN foam coring, engine-room insulation, biaxial E-glass foam-cored stringers, and sound-deadening headliner panels, the cabin of the 45 Salon Express is surprisingly quiet. Sabre reports 73 decibels — about as loud as being in a car — at a 3,250 rpm cruise. There’s very little water noise (I could barely detect the whistle of the turbos), and helm conversations didn’t require raising my voice. As the makers of high-end cars learned long ago, this kind of quiet adds substantially to the occupant’s feeling of luxury.
Speaking of feelings of luxury: The 45 has Ultraleather Stidd helm seats, a pair of settees (one L-shaped and the other straight), an electronically opening aft bulkhead window, a varnished cherry interior, and teak-and-holly soles. A hardtop power sunroof is optional.
The galley is two steps down from the salon’s deck level and two steps up from the lower cabin, an arrangement Sabre accurately terms “half-up.” The positioning gives the galley a bit of separation from the main entertaining area without removing the chef from the conversations. The design also minimizes the amount of salon space sacrificed to the galley while providing enough room for a two-burner cooktop, a microwave oven, three refrigerator/freezer drawers and a sink.
Below, a guest stateroom is to starboard with a double berth that can slide apart to become twins, and the master forward has an island berth and bureau. Both staterooms are en suite with stall showers.
Cherry battens are on the interior hull sides in the staterooms, a design touch that’s a big step up from fiberglass liners. The head and shower soles have custom tile. Drawers are dovetailed maple. There’s even wood trim in the utility room, which Sabre had space to include thanks to the compact IPS drives. And if you appreciate the gleam and heft of polished stainless steel, check out the frame of the Italian-built, mirror-polished door leading to the cockpit.
The cockpit holds true to the rest of the boat’s Downeast attitude. There’s a U-shaped settee and an aft-facing seat. Gates to the swim platform are on both sides of the transom, and steps lead up to side decks with teak underfoot. The hardtop overhang shades most of the cockpit; for complete coverage, an electrically extending shade is an option.
Traditional looks, modern building techniques and seakeeping abilities come together in the Sabre 45 Salon Express. She’s built for owners who like to feel as good as they look, in any weather.
Sabre places a pair of inboard cleats on the transom, close to centerline, in addition to the cleats on the transom corners. In crisscross mooring situations, using the inboard cleats means owners can step from the dock onto the swim platform and back without the risk of tripping on a line.
The utility room (not shown) is below the dinette. It can hold a washer/dryer and stowage, and is finished to the level of the main cabin. There are gelcoated surfaces, a light that clicks on when the hatch raises, and air conditioning.
At the bow, the 45’s polished stainless-steel pulpit has dual anchor rollers, and the windlass feeds the rode into a locker that has a washdown as well as a lifting hatch for access to the line and chain. Also sturdy are the bow and side-deck stainless-steel rails, which are 1¾ inches.