Sabre 38 Hardtop Express

POWER-Sabre38250One glance tells you this is a traditional looking, down-east yacht; the kind you see around Cape Cod or Annapolis. The bow cuts gracefully through the water and it looks smooth and comfortable…but probably not fast. Wrong. We maxed out at 38 mph which is really cooking along for a 38-footer.

The Sabre cruises at 10% under maximum throttle or about 31 mph and yet it can do the serene low speed thing too. What really surprised us was the flat ride with virtually no “hump” to get over when accelerating. In fact, at almost any speed, the Sabre just jumps to the throttle. Passengers need to be ready. This boat just feels like it is on wheels!

The test boat had twin Volvo Penta D6 inboard diesels with 435 hp each. They are straight drive inboards with large 4-blade NiBrAl  propellersNiBrAl propellers in prop pockets molded into the running surface. That reduces the draft and the gentle shaft angle is at least partly responsible for the running attitude and great performance. There’s 16 degrees of deadrise at the transom. It doesn’t sound like magic but it runs like magic. Straight drive inboards may seem old-fashioned these days but the Sabre also has Said power thrusters. Ryan Crate was able to maneuver with precision through the tight quarters of the harbour as we headed out, even when we met another boat coming in at the corner.

Out in open water, the huge Ritchie compass is positioned perfectly to stay on heading and directly ahead of the companion seat is a real chart table! Again, that may seem old-fashioned but we still recommend you have the latest paper charts, especially in unfamiliar waters. This boat makes it easy to spread charts out and read them.

It is a really easy boat to drive too.

Sabre has included a pair of Stidd seats. These are very expensive, but well worth it. They have a huge range of adjustments including overall height, reach, tilt, adjustable armrests, a flip-down footrest along with attractive ultra leather padding. The seats were adjusted to be fairly high in our test boat. With the huge side glass and open aft bulkhead, we had a full 360° of vision with practically no obstructions. We felt like we were up high, looking easily out over the forward deck and able to see the aft corners as well. Perfect.

The hardtop is fixed but has sliding side windows, the center section of the windshield opens and there are two glass sunroofs to bring in sun and plenty of fresh air. An aft bulkhead including curved glass is optional but you can achieve the same effect by keeping the canvas on. The benefit to enclosing the bridge,bridge is for the reverse cycle heating and air-conditioning.

The wood rimmed wheel tilts for comfort and all of the instruments are mounted on flat surfaces that make them easy to read. The test boat had a Raymarine E120, autopilot and radio as well as the Volvo Penta multifunction, digital readout for the engines, including fuel consumption in GPH, so you can fine-tune your economy or range.

The Sabre is meant to go places and the exterior is highly functional. From the bow, there is a large bow pulpit, electric windlass with foot controls and an enormous anchor locker with space for plenty of chain. Welded stainless steel rails run from the pulpit to the cabin trunk for excellent security. The wide side decks allowed us to walk normally, not in a sideways shuffle. Plus, there is plenty of room on the deck to lie out but no cumbersome sun pads to store.

An elegant touch are is the bright finished teak cabin eye-brows and toe rails. These include built-in stainless steel chocks. Very classy! Large stainless steel grills on the cabin sides maximize engine room ventilation while minimizing seawater intrusion. Other equipment includes three windshield wipers and scuppers on the side decks as well as in the cockpit to get rid of water quickly.

We liked the flat cockpit floor finished in non-skid gray finish to reduce the glare and there are steps molded in on the port and starboard sides. Massive inboard mounted cleats pass through hawes to leave the decks clear of lines. This is a very seaman-like cockpit that includes a flip-down transom seat, cleverly designed to stay out of the way until it’s needed. The padded inwale serves as the seatback. Another feature we really like is the inward swinging transom door. This is the real thing…not a little gate across an opening.

There is also a shower by the substantial fiberglass swim platform. The cockpit sole lifts for access to the lazarette where you access the rudders and steering gear. It’s useful for storing boat hooks, brushes and can manage a BBQ easily. There is also a rope locker and an access door to the tank hardware.

A built-in tackle box is a thoughtful feature and there are four drink holders in the cockpit as well.

It is two steps up to the bridge. The solid teak floor is an elegant touch. A starboard side refreshment unit has Starboard doors for long life, a U-line refrigerator and icemaker, counter with stainless steel sink and running water. With a BBQ mounted on the swim platform, it’s like a second galley. The courtesy footlights are a great safety and convenience feature. You get a beautiful cocktail table and an L-shaped companion side seat. Guests can see water on all sides. It has a great feeling!

Through the smoked door and down five steps is the saloon. The A/C D/C panel is handy to the companionway behind louvered cherry wood doors. The sole is low in this boat to minimize rolling motions when moored.

Standard is a lovely Birdseye maple inlaid table in the L-shaped dinette. There is storage under the seats and it makes down into a double berth for guests. Nearby is a bottle rack and storage  and, and the test boat had the optional high-definition flatscreenflat screen television.

For a boat this size, the galley has lots of counter space and a useful range of equipment. A convection microwave, coffee maker, two burner ceramic flattop stove and a big ground stainless steel sink plus a generously sized refrigerator/freezer make up the basics. A great feature are is the beautiful louvered doors on the provisions locker. There are also four drawers and laminate counter top.

We felt that the head was large and had an effective layout with mirrors over the sink, perfectly positioned for shaving, a tank watch system to monitor your tank levels and a deck hatch overhead for important ventilation. A neat feature is the separate shower stall with a semicircular door and a fold-down seat. We especially liked the towel locker in the shower stall.

The forward vee is the master stateroom with a full 60 x 80 inch queen mattress. You get two drawers under the bed, two more in the side and a hanging locker. Cabin headroom was good throughout, more courtesy footlights and the test boat had the optional flat screen TV. The Sabre also has two, screened portholes, a large deck hatch and of course, it’s air-conditioned.

Overall, we simply can’t fault this boat on any details. It’s a very livable boat with attractive and classic lines that should stand the test of time. The interior joinery work was especially nice but we would buy this for the smooth blue-water performance!


Test boat engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6 Common rail, electronic, four stroke diesel engines, 435 hp each, 336 ci displacement with 4-blade NiBrAl props.

ENGINE RPM                         SPEED MPH

Idle                                                             4.7

1,000                                                          8.0

1,250                                                          9.6

1,500                                                        10.7

1,750                                                        12.8

2,000                                                        16.2

2,250                                                        19.6

2,500                                                        23.3

2,750                                                        27.3

3,000                                                      30.8*

3,250                                                        33.8

3,500 38.0 MAX

*Cruising Speed

Speed Testing by Raymarine


Length                                      38’6”/11.73 m

Beam                                          13’8”/4.20 m

Weight                             21,500 lbs./9773 kg

Fuel Capacity                         350 gal./1325 L

Water Capacity                         100 gal./380 L

Holding Capacity                       40 gal./150 L

Test boat provided by and price quoted by

Crate Marine Sales Keswick

To see if this boat is available, go to to check listings.

By Andy Adams



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