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Sabre 38, 386, 40, 402, 425, 426


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This is my fourth year going on daysails and weekend trips on a trailer sailor.  I continue to plan for an eventual switch to a larger boat for Great Lakes, coastal, and Caribbean cruising.  I am effectively single-handed though my wife enjoys being aboard.  I have no interest in racing.  I have no interest in catamarans.

I have more or less decided that I want some sort of transom stern for easy access to the water, and a sloop (or solent) rig simplicity and greater clear space on deck.  Sailing ability, particularly upwind sailing ability, is important to me.  Seakindliness is important.  I am trying to avoid anything with a saildrive because of the long-term maintenance costs.

I'm interested primarily in the 1990-2010 era though that isn't absolute.  I am looking at roughly 40 feet (assuming average beam and useful space for overall length). 

Catalina's various offerings are the obvious mainstream choice.  I've also thought about the Caliber 40 LRC, but they are a little slow and I don't like the interior layout.  Have thought about Tartan 4100.  Much has been written on these boats and I think I understand the tradeoffs.

Sabre's boats caught my eye also.  I can find little information about them, beyond that they are said to sail well, have particular attention to fit and finish, and had a problem with gelcoat crazing in some years (with most of the affected boats having been Awlgripped by now).

I would appreciate any insights, particularly on any known weak areas (other than the gelcoat).

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I have a 1996 402. They’re great boats for coastal cruising and day sailing in my estimation - roomy, seakindly, pretty, with just a bit of weather helm that trims out well, and faster than a lot of contemporary cruisers - but a bit light on tankage for longer-term cruising, and the shoal draft versions (like mine) don’t point as well as I wished. Engine access under the galley counter is great for routine maintenance but a pain for more serious lifting out.

Crazing was definitely an issue from the early 90s up until the early 2000s, and there are plenty of hulls still showing it; it’s an expensive fix, but Sabre paid for it themselves in a few egregious cases. Build quality is a good cut above Catalinas, roughly on par with Tartans but prettier trim bits and more teak to take care of.

I’m happy to answer any questions, and there’s a very active online community at io forums. Plus, the manufacturer is still around (albeit not making sailboats anymore) and a helpful resource to owners.

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Friends off mine had a 386 built. It was a really nice boat.

They raced it double-handed to Bermuda, so a capable offshore boat, and cruised it throughout New England.

No issues with gelcoat or anything else. It was a 2005.

They are as big inside as most 40-footers. Since it is a Jim Taylor design, they sail extremely well.

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I've been looking at Tartans and Sabres too. For what my wife and I plan to do for the next 10+ years after retirement (daysailing, coastal cruising, with maybe a longer trip or two to Mexico (from San Diego), both tick a lot of boxes for us (although we are leaning more towards the Tartans right now). John Kretschmer has fairly detailed (and favorable) reviews on several Sabres (Sabre 362Sabre 402). We are probably a year away from getting serious about buying something, but I've been tracking Tartans and Sabres in the 34-40' range on Yacht World just to get a feel for things (recognizing that the used boat market is crazy right now...). One thing that is kind of curious--I've been seeing Tartans (3400, 3700) that look to be sort of reasonably priced sell pretty quickly, but the Sabres, especially the 402s (including those priced below the average Tartan 3700), have just been sitting there. Don't know if this related to size (are 40' and larger boats moving more slowly?) or some other reason.

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7 hours ago, PHM said:

I've been looking at Tartans and Sabres too. For what my wife and I plan to do for the next 10+ years after retirement (daysailing, coastal cruising, with maybe a longer trip or two to Mexico (from San Diego), both tick a lot of boxes for us (although we are leaning more towards the Tartans right now). John Kretschmer has fairly detailed (and favorable) reviews on several Sabres (Sabre 362Sabre 402). We are probably a year away from getting serious about buying something, but I've been tracking Tartans and Sabres in the 34-40' range on Yacht World just to get a feel for things (recognizing that the used boat market is crazy right now...). One thing that is kind of curious--I've been seeing Tartans (3400, 3700) that look to be sort of reasonably priced sell pretty quickly, but the Sabres, especially the 402s (including those priced below the average Tartan 3700), have just been sitting there. Don't know if this related to size (are 40' and larger boats moving more slowly?) or some other reason.

Recent (post 2000 or so) Tartans and Sabres seem comparable in construction, design quality, and capabilities. You pretty much need to determine which works best for you in terms of interior layout, deck layout, keel configuration, and equipment to figure out which particular boat is right for you.

Then it comes down to the condition of the individual boat.

When I was in the business of advising people about boats, I would say make a list of weighted priorities, and stick with it when looking at boats. Equipment can be updated or upgraded but it isn't cheap. Basic characteristics of design, construction, and general condition are what they are.

 

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9 hours ago, PHM said:

One thing that is kind of curious--I've been seeing Tartans (3400, 3700) that look to be sort of reasonably priced sell pretty quickly, but the Sabres, especially the 402s (including those priced below the average Tartan 3700), have just been sitting there. Don't know if this related to size (are 40' and larger boats moving more slowly?) or some other reason.

My guess is it's more due to the 3400 and 3700 being newer while the Sabre 402s date from the 1990s.  The Sabre 386 is probably more comparable to the Tartan 3700 in age and size and they tend to sell pretty quickly.

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Sounds reasonable. Some of the 402s on YW look pretty tempting. One of them has had the aforementioned crazed deck replaced by Sabre under warranty. Clearly Sabre is a quality company that stands behind their products. My wife and I decided a smaller (34-38’) boat is probably better for us, but if we were interested in a 40-er, the 402s would be at the top of our list. 

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I've always thought Sabres were pretty good boats. Wasn't there a Tartan whose hull split while sailing a few years ago? 

I would think Tartans would be much more available around the Great Lakes, Sabres more available in the northeast. 

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Agree that the Catalina 42 looks like a good deal—a lot of boat for the low  $100s, and typically quite a few are available at any time. With respect to the OP’s requirements, Catalinas along with Sabres are one of the few modern production boats without a sail drive. Tartans have sail drives, which are desirable for my wife, who is particularly sensitive to engine noise, although I don’t know if they really are that much quieter. Another thing to research.

We are also intrigued by the Tartan Solent rigs. However,  with the newest cruising code zeros now available, which supposedly furl well without a torsion cable, I’m not sure if Solent is still the best way to go, especially for coastal cruising. Maybe a 100-110% jib and a zero is now the better approach? More research to do...

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13 hours ago, Cruisin Loser said:

I've always thought Sabres were pretty good boats. Wasn't there a Tartan whose hull split while sailing a few years ago?

Yes. I believe this was attributed to the owner way, way over tightening the rig. That said, not exactly encouraging.

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It seems like one can find a horror story for just about any boat. Some are one-off problems on a single hull number, and some represent true systematic issues with a design or a manufacturer. Some represent the end of the brand (Oyster, anyone?). Some systematic problems get fixed with later hull numbers, at least by the better manufacturers, but buyer beware (and be ready to address the problem when purchasing a used boat if it doesn't already have the fix). Keel sump problems on J-boats, and various issues on both Tartans and Sabres over the years. I almost hate to mention it, but a 402 (Stella Blue) had to be abandoned off the West coast and is presumed sunk after rudder problems (described in one of the 2020 Latitude 38 issues). A design/build problem, or just a maintenance problem (or unlucky) on this particular boat? Who knows, but it's a good idea to pay particular attention to rudders (among the many other areas) when buying any used boat. 

All that said, Tartans and Sabres are both at the top of our list. And Catalinas (such as a 385) haven't been ruled out, not by a long shot. But we are still early in the process and not yet in a huge hurry. With respect to the OP, only the Sabres and Catalinas in this trio have the desired standard (non-sail drive) motor. From what I have seen, I would be taking a serious look at some of the 402s available on YW if I was immediately ready to buy a 40 footer in that price range. 

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I used to cruise/race on a Sabre 38 in Maine and think highly of that design.  Good for cruising and seemed to have been well built.

Came close to putting in an offer on one last summer...may regret not doing that.

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Seems to me, if one isn't looking for a specific model or manufacturer, it would be better to put the question "which boats shouldn't I consider" and then find the best available of the ones not on that list when you are finally ready to pull the trigger.

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1 hour ago, kinardly said:

Seems to me, if one isn't looking for a specific model or manufacturer, it would be better to put the question "which boats shouldn't I consider" and then find the best available of the ones not on that list when you are finally ready to pull the trigger.

 

I don't get it.  There's an exceptionally long list of boats that aren't suitable and quite a number that are a poor value at offered prices (e.g. Valiant).  I take your point that availability and condition are important too, but I'm trying to focus my search and avoid wasting time and money looking at the wrong boats.  And it's a regional search.  I'm not going to buy a $200,000 boat based solely on what looks good at the local marina or yard.

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  • 3 months later...

Bought a 1987 Tartan 34-2 Yankee, September 2020, sailed her 350 NM from Lake Sinclair to Traverse City, MI. Tested seaworthiness at Presque Isle in a surprise October NorEaster out of the Great Georgian Bay, 6' seas, 30k breeze, rising bottomland, everything stayed together, except for maybe our heads... Is the rudder going to fall off? Is the motor going to quit? Is the mast going to stay up? We tightened up the rig. Is the keel going to fall off? Just your usual "Shakedown cruise".  Yankee performed beautifully, much happier with a bit of sail in a blow, or generally under sail - happier. I've day-sailed with 4-5 comfortably, and weekend cruised with 2 almost every weekend of June & July 2021. Storage is premium space on this SV. While the only lazarette can engulf a great many things if stowed right, it's also home to the CNG tank & regulator. Lazzarette storage order; Main & Jib sleeves fit on the shelf, back up anchor & rhode, Weber gas grill, bucket & brushes, shore power cord, boat hook, throw cushions, spin sheets & a couple spare lines, 2 dock lines, 3 fenders and she's pretty full. There are 2 smaller lazarettes on both sides of the transom seat, Stbd is good for water hose & filter, 1 bottle of deck cleaner and the expandable hose for deck cleaning. While the Port side gets the gas for the weber, and the various covers, from pedestal to winches. (Nothing from deck that might house spiders goes below decks on Yankee!). I'm telling you all this to point out that other than the anchor locker that is it on storage for this boat. Galley has plenty of storage for a couple people for a couple weeks. Usually overstocked, but don't stress about provisioning since we're in the Great Lakes and there are groceries in most of the villages near to our anchorages. Clothing storage is limited but sufficient. It's a comfortable boat for the short term use we've been doing, not sure about longer term. We'll try 2 weeks at end of August, with luck Canada & the USA will have , sailing internationally figured out. Though there are more creature comforts in a >40'er getting a slip is easier with <35' they just make more of those around here. Comfort Quotient: Sails with 6, Dinner for 4 and Sleeps 2-3. Beware of 5 foot-itis.IMG_20210725_163534585_HDR.thumb.jpg.614634a66f387081adacbcc960e02fa8.jpg

IMG_20210717_163410365_HDR.jpg

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