What's the Mission?
Downeasters, at least those like the Sabre 38 Express, are designed more for dayboating than long-term cruising, with large cockpits and deckhouses for al fresco activities, but limited accommodations. The Sabre 38, which is typical, has just a single stateroom; extra folks can sleep on the converted settee. A genset provides juice to run the A/C and power the appliances while underway, and the cockpit is set up for swimming, with a wide platform and transom door, socializing or just taking it easy. Even with standard power, the 38 Express will run over 30 knots, according to the builder, giving it an ample daylight cruising radius.
Design and Construction
Traditional lobsterboats were sharp forward to cut the chop, flat aft for speed; their modern descendants usually ride on V hulls. Sabre designers gave the 38 Express a moderate V-hull with 16-degree deadrise aft and shallow propeller pockets to reduce draft and improve the shaft angle for more efficiency. (Twin Volvo Penta IPS 450s are available in place of conventional shafts.) In rough water, the V-hull keeps the ride comfortable (or at least bearable); chines and spray rails deflect chilly Maine water away from the hull. But when exploring isolated coves or negotiating tricky waters, folks tend to run slowly, so Sabre shaped the 38's bottom to improve efficiency at displacement speeds, too.
Construction is Airex foam-cored fiberglass in the hull, balsa coring in the deck. The Airex is vacuum-bagged to ensure 100% bonding. Stringers are fiberglass over foam, replaced by plywood in high-stress areas. Sabre isn't an acolyte of the No-Wood school, but they are careful to fully encapsulate all plywood coring, and seal any perforations thoroughly to prevent water ingress. The basic fabric is knitted bi-axial E-glass in conventional resin, with a layer of vinylester behind the Iso-NPG gelcoat to prevent osmosis. This is basic, high-quality boatbuilding; Sabre has been around since 1970, and the company's boats, both sail and power, are highly regarded.
The 38 Express' arrangement is straightforward: a single stateroom forward, galley and dinette below rather than on deck. The stateroom has a double island berth with a 5" cushion and lots of stowage underneath; there are also the usual hanging locker, drawers and shelves. In a nod to modern times, Sabre installs a recessed shelf sized for a 15" flat-screen TV; the TV itself is optional, but comes wired to the DVD player in the saloon, where a 20" TV is standard. Each buyer can choose from a variety of fabrics for upholstery, or upgrade to Ultrasuede or even Ultraleather.
Appliances include a two-burner cooktop, convection microwave oven and a dual-voltage refrigerator/freezer. More important to many of us, there is a coffee maker in a Space Saver overhead mount. The head is a Jabsco Quiet Flush fresh-water model; flushing with fresh water promotes less growth in the holding tank, keeping things sweeter. With 100 gals. of fresh water, there shouldn't be a shortage.
Standard power is twin Yanmar 6LY3A-UTP electronic diesels, 380-hp each, spinning conventional shafts and props through ZF 220-A transmissions. We haven't tested this boat ourselves, but Sabre claims top speed just under 30 knots with these engines, just over 30 with similar horsepower Cummins QSB5.9s, one of several optional power packages. Don't hold us to these numbers, because they are not ours. Base price with the Yanmars is $475,000.The boat can also be powered with twin Volvo Penta IPS 450s, 440-hp Yanmar 6LY3-STPs, 425- or 480-hp Cummins QSBs or 435-hp Volvo Penta D6s. Contact the company for options prices. In each case the boat comes with a 9.0kW Onan genset, trim tabs and power-assisted hydraulic steering. A bow thruster is optional, another item we've come to expect in boats like this one – although as more people opt for the IPS option, as we expect they will, the thruster isn't as important.
We've already mentioned most of the options we think you'll want – almost. In most areas folks will want the hard enclosure with its aluminum door to secure the deckhouse; a canvas enclosure is standard. There are a couple of seating options in the deckhouse, but we like it as it is. Teak decks are optional, too; we'll get them if you'll keep them clean and bright. We'll want an inverter so we won't have to start the genset to make coffee, and an oil-change system to facilitate engine maintenance. Add electronics, and that's about it.
Downeast boats aren't for everyone: Lots of people spending almost $500,000 on a 38-footer will want at least two staterooms, and maybe two heads as well. (For some reason Downeast-style boats tend to be expensive; maybe it's because the top builder in this genre, Hinckley, has prices in the stratosphere, setting the bar for others.) We like the Downeast style, don't need to sleep more than two people and can rough it with only one head for a day on the water. We like the 38 Express' speed, we like its all-weather hull design and we like the company that builds it. If we were in the market, it would be one of the boats we'd check out more carefully. We think you should too – but keep in mind, there are a lot of nice boats out there similar to this one, so do your homework.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!