Sabre, based in South Casco, Maine, has long been known for their beautiful semi-custom sail boats and over the past couple decades they've established a similar reputation with power boats. Their 34' Hardtop Express in particular has proven to be a very popular design, and even a quick inspection will explain why.
This Flag Blue-hulled beauty is a true downeast classic, powered with upgraded twin 370 hp Volvo-Penta diesels and boasting beautifully hand crafted and finished solid cherry joinery and first-class accommodations. With the versatile hardtop-enclosed pilothouse and exemplary handling and rough weather ride provided by the modified-V hull, she's a fast, safe and comfortable place to be. IF you can find one, that is: at the time of listing, there are only a handful of them on the market and one only three Sabrelines of ANY size available on the west coast.
Note that this particular low time, professionally maintained example is still owned by the same wealthy, knowledgeable yachtsman since new and today looks literally BRAND NEW inside and out.
Also note she's also lying in a potentially transferable very nice corner Sausalito Yacht Harbor slip with unobstructed Mt. Tam views; there's a long wait to get a slip in the marina here so this is a material benefit if you're able to take advantage...
Below is one huge contiguous open owner's suite with centerline walk-around innerspring queen pedestal berth forward with full head with Corian counters and stall shower next aft port side, centerline companionway up to pilothouse, then L-shaped "salon" sitting area starboard.
Up the five steps to hardtop pilothouse with opening windshield, adjustable Stidd chairs either side with helm to staboard. Aft part of pilothouse port side is raised L-shaped seating area, across to starboard is a fully functioning little galley also with Corian countertops.
From pilothouse, down aft two steps to cockpit with more built in seating as well as ice maker hot/cold shower and step-thru transom door to oversize swim platform.
Note interior looks brand new, like it's never been slept in. 6'4 headroom stunning solid American cherry joinery, perfect teak & holly sole, cedar-lined closets, buttery Ultrasuede leather fabrics, etc etc etc.
This boat really must be seen to be appreciated--it's hard to believe that she's only a 34 footer because everything all works so well together!
Cleverly located bridge deck galley (right between the pilothouse and cockpit) equipped with a single polished stainless steel sink with one-touch designer faucet, hot/cold pressure water (11 gal. hot water heater, engine and AC fired), two burner glass cooktop with built in Dometic microwave underneath, a Dometic AC/DC refrigerator is located under dinette across from galley with a second one down below.
Note the galley is small but totally functional, Corian counter tops and dovetailed drawers are an additional touch.
Jabsco electric macerating toilet with holding tank.
110V AC / 12V DC. Dual 30 amp legs of shorepower with galvanic isolator, Onan 7.5 kW genset in sound shield, Pro Mariner 50 amp smart battery charger, 80 amp (DC) alternators on both of the main engines. Two 4D AGM house batteries, two Group 31 dedicated engine start batteries.
Raymarine E120 12" color chartplotter with radar overlay (4 kW dome antenna), Raymarine ST6002 autopilot, Icom VHF, Ritchie PowerDamp magnetic compass.
Clarion AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers and remote. Flat screen color tv with DVD player.
Twin fresh water-cooled Volvo-Penta D6-370 diesels (upgrade from the standard 310 hp Yanmar) with ZF 85-A transmission, 1 3/4" stainless steel shafts (Aquamett 22 or equivalent) thru PSS dripless shaft seals and manganese bronze struts to four bladed NiBrAl propellers (ISO Class S). Groco raw water intake strainers, engine room blower with engine room vent ducts on deck side with stainless steel grill, white gelcoated engine room floor with anti-skid rubber and white Mylar faced foam noise barrier.
Teleflex hydraulic steering, twin bronze rudders with adjustable tie-rod, twin Lectrotab stainless steel trim tabs.
Modified "V" planing hull design built of ISO NPG gel coat with vinylester resin and knitted Biaxial Structural E-Glass reinforcements, vacuum Bagged Divinycell foam core in hull bottom and topsides, foam/plywood cored fiberglass stringer system and balsa-cored decks with molded in anti-skid surfaces, wide sidedecks with varnished tow rail.
Step-thru transom door with latch system to swim platform with under-mounted telescoping ladder, hull side rubbing strakes, carbon fiber reinforced fiberglass anchor platform with stainless steel pulpit. Lewmar low profile electric winch with remote, CQR-type anchor with chain and line rode, fresh water washdown at anchor locker (and hot/cold shower in cockpit).
And be SURE to note the Imron dark red double boot strip and gold leaf cove strip!
I'm hesitant to deride a builder for added bells and whistles, but I get disturbed if a vessel's functionality is compromised by them. The trick is to strike a balance among functionality, safety, and creature comforts while maintaining aesthetics. During the time I spent aboard the Sabre 34 Hard Top Express, it was apparent that the South Casco, Maine-based builder understands this concept in spades.
I met Scott Shane, the sales manager for DiMillo's New York Yacht Sales, in Freeport on the Long Island town's famed Nautical Mile, a stretch of waterfront jam-packed with boat dealers, seafood restaurants, and salty types. Shane escorted me to the 34, tied stern-to among a number of other Sabre models. She cut a handsome profile: Her optional blue hull, set off with gold striping, gleamed with morning dew and contrasted nicely with the teak toerail and the creamy white pilothouse, hardtop, and coach roof.
Walking alongside her, I noted the cast stainless steel fairleads midship in the teak toerails, another nice detail. As I stepped aboard via her fiberglass (teak is optional) swim platform, through a 30-inch-wide transom door, and into her cockpit, she barely moved under the weight of my 175 pounds plus the 35 pounds of equipment I was carrying.
From the 50-square-foot cockpit, it's one step up to the 34's seriously windowed pilothouse, where her owners will likely spend the bulk of their time. I unzipped the optional three-side isinglass enclosure to enter (a hard-back enclosure with an aluminum door is a $17,500 option) and passed the galley, all the way aft to starboard. While it's a simple setup—with a bullnosed Corian countertop, a two-burner cooktop, a stainless steel sink, and microwave, with a refrigerator/ freezer to port—there's enough stowage for a weekend of sundries for two. The galley-up also frees space below decks and is convenient for dining, as the standard inlaid cherry table at the L-shape settee is just to port.
The entire pilothouse is bathed in light from three forward and four side windows that offer panoramic views in all directions. For days when it's not warm enough to run the optional 18,000-Btu air conditioning here, ventilation is available from a number of sources: 2'2"x3'4" sliding windows to port and starboard, two 1'8" square Lewmar sliding hatches in her hardtop, and a slick, electrically actuated center windshield. Both the helmsman and first mate are ensured all-day comfort at a pair of standard Stidd helm seats finished in the same beige Ultraleather as the settee, which looks great against the cherry accents and optional teak sole in the pilothouse.
The handsome appearance extends below decks, where simplicity dominates: Accessed via a centerline companionway and down four steps, her saloon is homage to what Sabre calls "crafted in the Maine tradition." The cherry interior is artisan-grade, with flawless grain matching and first-rate joinery. Stowage areas are also well crafted, with dovetail joints in all drawers. In addition, many of the stowage spaces have louvered doors, a great look that also allows for air circulation, which prevents mold. A cozy, starboard-side, L-shape settee and a cherry table with gorgeous bird's-eye maple inlay set off the saloon, providing a great reading spot or premium viewing for the standard, swing-arm-mounted, 15-inch LCD TV.
Although the saloon settee can convert to a double berth for guests, the 34 is an ideal boat for a couple, with a forepeak queen-size berth separated from the saloon by a privacy curtain. Opting for a curtain instead of a bulkhead frees up space, allowing for a convenient fridge-freezer to port and a 2'8"Lx 2'Wx3'4"D cedar-lined hanging locker to starboard. It also gives the port-side head a larger footprint, which the 34's designers used for an enclosed shower, a nice surprise on a boat of this size.
Another welcome surprise was her combination of superlative performance and fuel efficiency. During the sea trial on the flat backwaters off of Freeport, the 34 achieved 1 mpg or better throughout her engines' entire rpm range, except at WOT, where she registered a still-respectable 0.93 mpg while topping 38 mph. In the confused, crowded waters of the Jones Beach Inlet, the 34 busted through the two- and three-foot wakes with ease, weaving her way effortlessly around groups of anglers that were gunning for stripers just outside the inlet. Integral spray rails kept the windshield dry, and sightlines were excellent in all directions from the starboard-side helm.
However, I noted that her optional twin 370-hp Volvo D6 diesel inboards were running about 120 rpm above rated maximum rpm. After discussing this with the builder, I learned that Sabre specs the ZF props assuming that four people and their related gear are aboard.
The 34's craftsmanship, performance, and all-day cruising comfort impressed me, but what I liked best was her practicality: nothing felt superfluous. Yet she's no plain Jane, turning more than a few heads along the wharves of Freeport. And for a lot of owners, that will be this boat's main attraction.
Article by Jeffrey Moser