This post is for sailboat geeks – you know who you are.
I was just doing some tidying up to my old posts – it’s amazing how many typos I find even after proof-reading before publishing – and was struck by a fairly obvious omission to the topics I’ve written about. I got to the “Selling Palomita” post and noted that it mentioned a list of desirable attributes that our next boat would have without mentioning what any of them were.
I love this topic, so it’s a bit strange that there is pretty much nothing in any of our posts that spell any of our ideas out. This post is a list of things we looked for when we were searching for our boat, along with a look at how we did when we bought the Sabre. Our base search was for a sloop or cutter rigged boat in the 40′ – 45′ range for less than $100000 CAD all in. The list will focus on items that are not easily changed.
Of course, these are just opinions and are based on my reading along with our roughly 22000nm of coastal cruising experience (and 0 nm of true bluewater experience) , cruising style, and intended use. I will freely admit to being heavily influenced by John Kretschmer, so if you’re looking for rationale for any of these decisions, he’s a good place to start.
Long fin keel with moderate draft (max 6′).
This requirement was the one of the hardest ones on our list to meet in a 40′ – 45′ boat. We ended up a centerboard boat with minimum draft of 5′ and a maximum draft of 8’6″. The centerboard is complexity we didn’t really want, but the windward performance is excellent. The centerboard does make a clunking noise when sailing downwind if it is partially down, but is quiet if it’s all the way up. Overall, based on 4500nm of sailing so far, we currently think of our keel arrangement as a great compromise.
A lead keel with a swept back leading edge and a ballast ratio between 40% and 50%
These requirements are easy to rationalize, but also hard to find. The Sabre is has a ballast ratio of 41.5%, meaning 41.5% of her displacement is in her keel when she is dry. This number will go down marginally as we add stores because the displacement will go up, but the amount of ballast in the keel won’t. We wanted a swept back of lead keel rather than an iron keel or one with a plumb leading edge because characteristics create a keel that will take the ground better if (when?) we touch the bottom.
A skeg hung rudder
We wanted both the protection and the tracking a skeg can provide. The Sabre is a total miss here. She has a huge, powerful balanced spade rudder She is very easy to steer and tracks well. Hopefully, we never see the day when we wish it was protected by a skeg.
A SA/D ratio higher than 16
This one is basically a power to weight ratio. Too low, and the boat won’t move in light air, too high, and she’s tough to handle short handed. The Sabre is just about perfect for a cruising boat at 17.15. She is easy for the two of us to handle and is fun to sail in lighter winds.
This one is hard to quantify, but basically, we wanted something that wasn’t optimized for dockside living nor designed as a slave to a rating rule. There are a bunch of details that fall under this topic such as the bow and stern overhangs, the shape of the transom, but the easiest quantifier that I can think of is length to beam ratio. Palomita is about 3.25, which means she isn’t overly beamy. Given our budget and the necessity that we’d by default be looking at older boats, we were also looking to avoid the worst excesses of the IOR era.
We didn’t want the performance sacrifice and increase in complexity that comes with in-mast furling. This item was non-negotiable, and surprisingly hard to satisfy; when we were looking for a boat, I went so far as to price out a new mast for one boat that otherwise fit the bill.
Sabre 42’s have a keel stepped, robust mast section supported by twin, inline spreaders and rod rigging. I’d have preferred wire rigging, but like that the boom can be let out when running because the spreaders aren’t swept back.
Mid boom sheeting
Not the best for sailing, but so much nicer for living with. Check.
Small companionway suitable for offshore work
The Sabre 42 has a great companionway from a safety at sea perspective, but there is one more stair than I’d like…we’ve both fallen down the last stair and will have to take care. The bridge deck is super handy as an extra seat or buffet during happy hour.
Wide sidedecks to make access forward safer
You could land a plane on them. Check
New or dead engine
It was dead, now it’s new. Check.
Deep anchor locker
I’ve seen better, larger anchor lockers, but ours is adequate. We currently have 275′ of chain plus a spare rode with 50′ of chain and 200′ of 5/8″ rope, so there is room. We’ll probably take some of this out in an effort to lighten up the pointy end of the boat.
This is our boat’s Achilles heel. Our water and holding tank volumes are good – 120 gal. of water and 40 gal. of black water – but she only carries 44 gal of fuel. We are constantly thinking of solutions and haven’t figured this one out yet.
Comfortable cockpit with good storage
Our Sabre’s cockpit is a little large with drains that are a little small, but it is also one of our favourite features. The drains can be modified.
U or G shaped galley suitable for cooking while underway
The Sabre’s G shaped galley is huge, but it is the right shape and there are spots to wedge yourself into. Hopefully the large galley isn’t a liability at sea – it hasn’t been yet and we’ve used it underway regularly in all conditions including a multi-day ocean passage. It should go without saying that it is fantastic at anchor.
Good sea berths
There are two 7′ settees with square corners. No complaints here.
Two heads and an aft cabin
We wish that the saloon was a little smaller with a little more storage behind the settees, but overall, we really like our layout. Aside form maintenance, we like having two heads, especially when there is company on board.
With 10 opening ports, 4 dorades, and 6 hatches, it’s easy to keep air moving through the cabin.
Yeah right…it’s a boat. We weren’t even close to our target price, and the spending never ends.