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A Cut Above

The Sabre 38 is an All-American-looking Down Easter with style and amenities to spare. What’s more, her hull cuts threw the water like a warm knife through butter, and she’s quiet as a kitten, too. Here’s how she breaks down.

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The Sabre 38 Salon Express has a hull and deck made of resin-infused laminate, with CoreCell coring in the hull bottom and hullsides, knitted biaxial structural E-glass reinforcements, and a foam- and plywood-cored fiberglass stringer system.

Inside, the Sabre has an unusually open interior, so that the whole crew can be part of the action. The boat also boasts some innovative design elements that simply make life onboard more enjoyable. Finally, the base price of $525,000 seems quite reasonable, I’d say.


One thing I liked right away about the Sabre 38 was the three-person aft bench seat in the cockpit. It can slide back 14 inches, opening up the area for maximum sociability. If you slide it forward, the table moves closer to the two-person, aft-facing seat at the forward edge of the cockpit, so that it becomes a more intimate area for dining or cocktails.

The engine room is immediately under the cockpit. Almost the entire cockpit sole raises for excellent, standing-room access to the two Volvos; there’s plenty of space for daily checks or more serious work on the engines, including outboard areas. The engine compartment was gleaming with white gelcoat finish; if there were any oil or liquid spills (there weren’t) they would be highly visible. A 6 kW Kohler genset was aft of the engines as, of course, were the tops of the pods. For balance, all the ship’s tanks were forward.

Inside the saloon, there’s an L-shaped settee and high-low cherry table to port. Forward of that is the passenger seat, which is arranged so the person sitting there could sit forward, acting as a navigator, or sideways, facing the captain, to starboard in a single Stidd helm chair. The back of the passenger seat can flip forward to open up the saloon settee; in this configuration, three couples could sit around the table for a comfortable dinner.


But the Sabre 38’s real appeal is in her performance. She has an easy-riding, soft-landing hull (with a 24-degree deadrise amidships flowing back to 17 degrees at the transom), which was designed for Volvo Penta’s IPS pod drives. With Volvo’s twin D4 300-horsepower diesels, the 38 cruised easily (and quietly) at 25 knots and topped out at just over 30. Then there’s the smile-inducing fun of maneuvering the boat with the contrarotating props on the pod drives, slaloming around lobster pot buoys out in the bay or docking with the joystick in a tight space.

She has very little bow rise coming up on plane, and the ride is so soft and comfortable that I had to double-check the GPS as I settled in at the helm. I thought we were going perhaps 15 or 16 knots; in fact, we were moving through the water at 24. And turning at speed is simply fun; the IPS props dig in and the boat carves through a turn without missing a beat.

  • : 38’0"
  • : 13’4"
  • : 3’4"
  • : 21,500 lb.
  • : 300 gal.
  • : 100 gal.
  • : 2/300-hp Volvo Penta D4 diesels linked to IPS400 pod drives
  • : $525,000
  • : $600,000
  • : 6 kW Kohler

Volvo Penta active corrosion protection system, $4,675; molded fiberglass electronics mast, $3,125; blind and curtain package for saloon, $5,875.

Air temperature: 83°F; seas: calm; load: 300 gal. fuel, 100 gal. water; 4 persons; 200 lb. gear. Speeds are two-way averages on Casco Bay off Portland, Maine, measured by Volvo Penta GPS engine data display. GPH also measured by Volvo display. Range is 90% of advertised fuel capacity.Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.

RPM Knots GPH Range db(A)
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