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Old 04-04-2012, 11:04   #1
JRM
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Sabre Build Quality?

I'm a bit confused by the way folks judge "build quality." I just went and looked at my first Sabre, a 38 Mk II. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I did very much like it, even though the listing broker is a tad optimistic (described as well maintained and bristol, turns out to be a bit of a project and looks like no-one has touched it in over a year) on condition and price .

However, here's what I don't get. I've done a bunch of research, including a lot here, and everyone here just raves about the "build quality" of the Sabre as opposed to the "production" boats. But I must be missing something.

They used cheesy plastic ports that look cheap and flimsy and are secured into the interior with big flat head screws. They must work well, but they look like junk. And while we're on the subject of plastic, the latches in all the cabinets are cheap plastic crap, half of these had no spring left and you had to poke them with a finger to get them to latch. If Sabre is so high end, why not spend a few extra dollars on little metal latches?

Access seems very poor. Every other step is a lid that opens to the engine, which requires major surgery to get the companionway steps out of the way enough to do any real maintenance. I could tell by the way the screws were all catywampus that the first owner had done this several times. The floor has only two small access ports into the bilge. It looks like it would take a sawzall and major damage to get access to the hull, which would be a shame because it's a really nice floor. As a plus, the access to the steering quadrant was the easiest I've seen, but the bilge access concerns me. The head liner looks an absolute nightmare to remove where you can, and is fiberglass liner in other places with small accesses drilled. How is this any better than a liner in a modern "production" boat?

The hull to deck joint is glued and screwed. Folks point out this exact same procedure as a weakness in "production" boats, yet here she is with the exact same setup. Why is it OK when Sabre does it, but not anyone else?

I want to learn more about boat evaluation, so I can avoid a few of the mistakes I made last time. What am I missing? Why is this boat considered so much better than her production counterparts?

JRM

-- And while I'm typing, a bit of a rant about "optimistic descriptions" of listing brokers. "This vessel must be seen to be appreciated" and "she has been cared for her entire life" seem, to me at least, to indicate a boat in bristol to very good condition. If I drive three hours through traffic each way to see a boat thusly described, I'm expecting good things. Not a neglected, water filled bilge, rusting keel bolts, dog hair and dirt filled project. Why not be honest, and skip the massive initial dissapointment and anger?
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Old 04-04-2012, 14:53   #2
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Re: Sabre build quality?

I crewed on a Sabre 42. It was a nicely laid out boat with decent quality hardware. It required completely dismantling the galley cabinentry to change out the starter. Not well thought out.

Getting a straight description from broker is tough. Basically they just can't be believed. When I pushed one so I could decide if I should travel to see the boat he finally said "Let's just say the owner was not a slave to the boat"
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Old 04-04-2012, 15:27   #3
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Re: Sabre build quality?

I checked into a Sabre a few years ago when looking for my first boat. In the process I found out the deck was deliminating and when I told the broker the price was high for a boat with deliminating deck he responded "but its' a Sabre". Far as I was concerned there was no way to stand on "Sabre quality" for a boat that was deliminating!
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Old 04-04-2012, 15:59   #4
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Re: Sabre build quality?

Sabre broke new ground when they introduced the 405 maybe 15 (?) years ago. ( i think that's what it was called) They got a lot of good press etc. at that time. Prior to that I hadnt heard anything different for them as opposed to other production boats. I inspected the 405 when it first came out thinking of buying. It seemed nicely done as far as glass work, tabbing etc... nicely wetted out glass etc. I found very poor thought was given to storage, but the boat seemed huge inside due to that. Also, many of the storage places had nicely wetted and finished fiberglass, but non-gelcoated (or painted) surfaces. I came away liking the boat, but definitely not convinced it was worth more than many others..... The 38 mkIi was prior to the 405 right? If I remember right the borker also said the 405 was cored below the water... I'm not sure if he knew what he was talking about or not.
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Old 06-04-2012, 15:33   #5
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Re: Sabre build quality?

Good discussion and it brings me back to the days when my wife and I were looking for a 28-30 footer (25 years ago). I remember feeling the same way about some of the finishing details on Sabres that we perused - We ended up with a C&C and could not have been happier. Although, I understand that newer Sabres have better quality today (prices are higher as well, however!).
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Old 06-04-2012, 17:00   #6
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Re: Sabre build quality?

You use the term "production" boat is derogatory fashion similar to some of the internet experts here. You would do well to speak with a marine architect and design company and/or do some research on various design and construction techniques before dismissing them as such. Having seen some of the shoddy construction practices on the high cost boats being made throughout the world, I wouldn't be so quick to be as dismissive as some of the denizens here like to do.
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Old 06-04-2012, 17:23   #7
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Re: Sabre build quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRM View Post
I'm a bit confused by the way folks judge "build quality." I just went and looked at my first Sabre, a 38 Mk II. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I did very much like it, even though the listing broker is a tad optimistic (described as well maintained and bristol, turns out to be a bit of a project and looks like no-one has touched it in over a year) on condition and price .

However, here's what I don't get. I've done a bunch of research, including a lot here, and everyone here just raves about the "build quality" of the Sabre as opposed to the "production" boats. But I must be missing something.

They used cheesy plastic ports that look cheap and flimsy and are secured into the interior with big flat head screws. They must work well, but they look like junk. And while we're on the subject of plastic, the latches in all the cabinets are cheap plastic crap, half of these had no spring left and you had to poke them with a finger to get them to latch. If Sabre is so high end, why not spend a few extra dollars on little metal latches?

Access seems very poor. Every other step is a lid that opens to the engine, which requires major surgery to get the companionway steps out of the way enough to do any real maintenance. I could tell by the way the screws were all catywampus that the first owner had done this several times. The floor has only two small access ports into the bilge. It looks like it would take a sawzall and major damage to get access to the hull, which would be a shame because it's a really nice floor. As a plus, the access to the steering quadrant was the easiest I've seen, but the bilge access concerns me. The head liner looks an absolute nightmare to remove where you can, and is fiberglass liner in other places with small accesses drilled. How is this any better than a liner in a modern "production" boat?

The hull to deck joint is glued and screwed. Folks point out this exact same procedure as a weakness in "production" boats, yet here she is with the exact same setup. Why is it OK when Sabre does it, but not anyone else?

I want to learn more about boat evaluation, so I can avoid a few of the mistakes I made last time. What am I missing? Why is this boat considered so much better than her production counterparts?

JRM

-- And while I'm typing, a bit of a rant about "optimistic descriptions" of listing brokers. "This vessel must be seen to be appreciated" and "she has been cared for her entire life" seem, to me at least, to indicate a boat in bristol to very good condition. If I drive three hours through traffic each way to see a boat thusly described, I'm expecting good things. Not a neglected, water filled bilge, rusting keel bolts, dog hair and dirt filled project. Why not be honest, and skip the massive initial dissapointment and anger?
I have uploaded a series of photos of a new 426 MKII under construction. The factory looks more like a furniture factory than a boat factory. I'm not an expert on boat building but the current components on this build are very high quality. There are problems with engine access but the rest of the vessel is well designed. Everything is cherry and the laminated marine plywood is very high quality. The current hulls are infused glass. I am very familiar with european production boats akin to Beneteau, Jenneau, Hanse, and american equivalents - Hunter, Catalina. There is no comparison in quality of worksmanship with the Sabre which is more similar to a Tartan but not the quality of Morris or Hinkley.
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Old 06-04-2012, 18:07   #8
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Re: Sabre build quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
You use the term "production" boat is derogatory fashion similar to some of the internet experts here. You would do well to speak with a marine architect and design company and/or do some research on various design and construction techniques before dismissing them as such. Having seen some of the shoddy construction practices on the high cost boats being made throughout the world, I wouldn't be so quick to be as dismissive as some of the denizens here like to do.
No, I used the term "production" to mean just that, produced in large quantities. I happen to own a Catalina currently, and I'm decently well versed in her construction. But that's only a single data point (and a 30 year old one at that). Having replumbed, rewired, and repowered her, I've spent more than a fair amount of time with my head in places most boat owners don't go (which is a refreshing change from where I'm told my head usually is...). However, I'm really rather new at this whole boat evaluation thing, so I'm trying to learn.

I've read a lot, but reading only gets you so far. As far as construction techniques go, I'm still waiting to hear why glue and screw deck to hull joints are bad when Catalina does it, but fine when Sabre does? Or are you saying that it's OK to do so? Back it up with tape? I looked at a Mason 44, and the hull to deck joint on that thing will be around when the cockroaches rule the earth...

Since you say you've seen some shoddy workmanship on high end boats, would you care to elaborate or site some examples? I'm curious as to what I should be looking for as I'm evaluating my next boat. How about some good and bad practices with examples? I'm not here to slag anyone's boat (I prefer to whine about their broker's behavior) but to learn.

This next boat is going to be a significant investment for us (as if the last one wasn't), so I can't really afford to get it wrong.

JRM
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Old 06-04-2012, 18:25   #9
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Re: Sabre build quality?

Nothing wrong with "production" as long as the end goal is right. Compare a late 70's GM product with a Toyota. Both were high production... but Toyota's focus was on high quality and longevity. GM's was on...hmmm.... hard to put that one in words! A lot of engineering assumptions are placed on the specifications given for materials. The real world is a harsh teacher. Maybe a chemical rep comes in and tells the engineering dept they have a new urethane structural adhesive that will save hundreds of hours. The engineering dept looks at the specs, the bean counters go nuts saying "we have to do this!" pretty soon there are a 100 boats out there with no real world testing. I had one of these salesmen try to get me to stop welding much of the aluminum on a line of aluminum boats and use their new glue.... I'm a bit of a skeptic.... I told them come to me when it's been in use for 10 years.... just sayin' ..... is anyone sure that structural interior pan is really bonded to the boat that well? We lifted our test hull up with the crane and then let it fall on the concrete floor. The immediately launched it! BTW: the floors in that Sabre look wonderful! Not a a molded pan I see!
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Old 06-04-2012, 19:29   #10
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Re: Sabre build quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
We lifted our test hull up with the crane and then let it fall on the concrete floor. The immediately launched it!
Are you referring to the SeaHunter in this clip?

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Old 07-04-2012, 06:18   #11
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Re: Sabre build quality?

My understanding is that for hull-deck joints, an inward-turning flange that has been through-bolted and 'glassed over is the best technique. I was under the impression that most Sabres were built this way. It is more expensive because you need one guy outside inserting and tightening the bolt, and another one inside holding the backing plate (!) and nut. An outward-turning flange is cheaper because the same guy can hold the nut and tighten the bolt at the same time. The outward-turning flange is also more easily damaged when things hit it. Screwing the hull and deck together does not add much strength to the joint - it essentially serves to hold the pieces in place until they can be glued or 'glassed. With no backing plate, the screws only have perhaps a quarter-inch of fiberglass to keep them from pulling out if they get stressed. Bolts with backing plates spread the loads out and can hold things together even if there are cracks in the joint. Perhaps some of the 'glassing has covered over the bolts on this Sabre? Other things, like toerails, may be screwed to or through the deck, and make it appear to be screwed. Do you have a picture? Is there someone with another Sabre38 MkII who can confirm how it's put together? Learning what the original ports are supposed to be might also help to show whether a previous owner has messed this boat up.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:42   #12
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Re: Sabre build quality?

Excerpted from an earlier discussion ➥ Selecting the Ideal Liveaboard Monohull Sailboat

A NOTE ON SELF-SURVEYING:

I recommend a professional survey, prior to purchase. You will, of course, vet the boat yourself, prior to swallowing that expense. There are a number of “small things” that can indicate much about the boat’s design, construction, and maintenance. Some of these will relate to MY particular design & construction biases, and apply to boats advertised in good or better shape (‘project’ boats will differ).
In no particular order:

GENERAL PRINCIPLES:

There should be no inexplicable impairment. You should satisfy yourself that you understand the cause of any observed deficiencies, and can evaluate the necessity, difficulty & cost of remediation. ie: Stress cracks in gellcoat? Maybe a big problem, maybe not.
Do not accept any “mysteries” - they’ll always come back to bite you!

Double the estimated cost of repairs, when valuing the boat, or negotiating it’s purchase price. Everything is (at least) twice as difficult or expensive as it first appears.

The general condition of a boat speaks volumes about it’s past treatment. The fit & finish of owner improvements (very often they are not) is another good indicator. An abundance of poorly conceived and/or executed details,. Each of which may be insignificant, could be a “deal breaker”. If I don’t like what I can see, what does it tell me about what I cannot see? Lots of small clues (circumstantial?) make for convincing evidence.

Take written notes about everything you observe. Give your surveyor a copy of your complete notes, indicating any particular concerns (especially those that require further investigation and/or explanation).

Hull-Deck joints:

An outward bent flange connection is subject to all sorts of damage, and indicates a builder focused on cheap construction - look for other “shortcuts”. The same holds true for a screwed & bonded connection.

Look for an inside shoebox connection, with accessible fastenings - bolted & backed (@about 4" centres). Check inside at the upper section of hull & nuts etc., seeking signs of water intrusion. If so - go it’s (almost always) impracticable to repair or upgrade the hull-deck joint.

RIGGING & MAST-STEP ETC:

Check the chainplates for signs of leakage, corrosion, movement or other deficiency.

Inside chainplates that penetrate the deck are best located on a raised pad, or penetrate the deck at a sloped (canted) location - so that there is NEVER standing water at this location. Standing water will always penetrate a chainplate at some point.
Check for a VERY robust connection - the chainplates must be solidly connected to the structure.

I don’t like outside, hull mounted chainplates. Notwithstanding, the hull must be reinforced at this location, and there should be a clear loading path (someone help me here, I’ve forgotten the terminology) from rig to structure. If you are uncertain (or unhappy with) of how the rig loads are transferred and accepted, there may be a big problem.

Any distress at a deck penetration (ie: keel-stepped mast) could indicate serious problems.

Check all fastenings for corrosion and gesticulation. Dissimilar metals, such as stainless bolts in aluminum masts/booms etc are best isolated, and migh show aluminum oxide. Any “ovalling” of bolt-holes, or surface abrasion (base material) will evidence movement. Why was it moving? These type of deficiencies are often easy to fix, but may indicate the P.O.’s competence or thoroughness, and even the original build-quality.

This is getting much longer than I anticipated [remember, double your estimate ], so I’ll just close for now, with a few quick little tell-tales:

Are rigging pins locked, shackles wired, batteries secured, bilges clean, etc. If the owner doesn’t take care of the little things ...?
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:47   #13
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Re: Sabre build quality?

I looked at quite a few Sabres before buying my Bristol, mostly MK II's and 365's. I also had a walkthrough of a new 426, since one of the showing brokers was also a Sabre dealer.

My impressions of the MK II were similar to JRM's. The cheesy cabin headliner was a non-starter for the admiral. The galley has limited storage.

I thought the new 426 looked fabulous, although I didn't spend enough time on that boat to look for minor flaws. I can also say that I called Sabre customer service to discuss an engine issue on a 365 and I received a prompt, courteous and accurate response.

I would certainly consider a new Sabre if I could afford one, but if I had $500K to spend on a new 426 I'd also be looking at a late model Morris or Hallberg Rassey.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:50   #14
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Re: Sabre build quality?

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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
I looked at quite a few Sabres before buying my Bristol, mostly MK II's and 365's. I also had a walkthrough of a new 426, since one of the showing brokers was also a Sabre dealer.

My impressions of the MK II were similar to JRM's. The cheesy cabin headliner was a non-starter for the admiral. The galley has limited storage.

I thought the new 426 looked fabulous, although I didn't spend enough time on that boat to look for minor flaws. I can also say that I called Sabre customer service to discuss an engine issue on a 365 and I received a prompt, courteous and accurate response.

I would certainly consider a new Sabre if I could afford one, but if I had $500K to spend on a new 426 I'd also be looking at a late model Morris or Hallberg Rassey.
I uploaded a frame from the web showing the finished cabin headliner as well as what it looks like during construction. Our old boat had a nicer looking head liner composed of soft material and wood but it was very difficult to keep clean. Except for the lights in the liner, the wiring is run along the side of the deck - hull joint but they do not use a conduit which can have good and less good attributes in terms of pulling new wires.Click image for larger version

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Old 07-04-2012, 10:31   #15
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Re: Sabre Build Quality?

I prefer no cabin headliner at all.
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