Open ocean, self-reliance, weeks at sea, and the ever-beckoning horizon set yachtsmen dreaming of life without tethers. The lifestyle, known among devoted fans as passagemaking, is a passionate version of going from point A to B, and it comes in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and flavors. Its purest form requires a commodious long-range cruiser that will hold one’s entire lifetime of stuff and provide most of the amenities found in shoreside living. In its most primitive form, however, passagemaking requires little more than a seaworthy kayak. Between these two extremes, you’ll find a host of options to suit your idea of a proper passagemaker. The new Sabre 45 Salon Express is one of those.
Stoutly built, intelligently designed, and handsome, the 45 will take you to more destinations than your lifetime allows. Sabre’s design team, true to its Casco, Maine, roots, has relied once again on the traditional New England style—outside and inside—that’s made the company successful from the beginning. Call it conservative if you must, but think of it as forever friendly. These boats share many of the captivating design motifs found on working lobster boats and New England bass boats of the past and present. These elements of style, combined with the type’s legendary seakeeping ability, encourage shoppers to trust the pleasure-boat interpretation of the working craft. They are not misguided.
Sabre designs its motoryachts from the outside in. The team decides which performance characteristics it wants, and then pens the naval architecture to suit.
“The hull form drives everything else, not the size of the forward berth at the shoulders,” said Kevin Burns, vice president of design and product development. “So, we don’t have to change the shape of the hull to accommodate the interior.
“At Sabre, we don’t have a formulaic, scalable, default hull,” Burns said. “We really take every single project as a white sheet of paper.” Burns and his team gave the 45 a warped deadrise—the degree of V changes gradually from bow to transom—which ends in a deadrise of 16°. Their goal is comfort in a seaway, speed, and fuel economy. Sabre has been heading away from the traditional method of developing designs—looking at deadrise angles, quarter-beam buttock lines, etc.—and toward full computational fluid dynamics (CFD). CFD analysis gives the team a better understanding of which architectural elements affect those three goals.
“A deadrise distribution that might work at 66 feet is not going to work at 45 feet,” Burns said. A lot of the design criteria in the after sections comes from Volvo Penta, as it does for every boatbuilder that uses the company’s IPS drives.
Boats often make the same type of first impression we attribute to humans. The ones that feel right, do so within a handful of minutes after we meet them. The Sabre 45 Salon Express feels right. We met at the Newport Marina, Lee’s Wharf, Newport, Rhode Island, early in the afternoon of June 21. Like a handshake, the cockpit welcomed me. A U-shape settee hard against the transom seemed like a perfect spot for breakfast just after sunrise in a favorite anchorage, or a nightcap under a full moon. A two-place bench set against the after bulkhead on the starboard side is the best perch from which to let the 45’s wake mesmerize you.
A polished stainless steel and glass door opens onto the saloon/pilothouse. An abundance of natural light streaming through acres of glass sets the cherry joinery aglow. Settees, a straight bench on the port side and an L-shape one opposite, form a cozy space for conversation, dining, and entertainment. The high-definition TV lives in a cabinet at the forward end of the portside settee and emerges and retreats at the touch of a button. High-gloss varnish, which seemed deep enough to drown in, covers the table at the starboard settee. The high-low pedestal lets it also serve as a coffee table.
Two Stidd seats face the elegant cherry dashboard and teak-rim steering wheel. The two Volvo/Garmin 17-inch glass-bridge displays blended with the varnished woodwork. Outboard of the helm, a swing door gives access to the starboard side deck, giving the helmsman an easy way to help with lines, or single-hand the ship, while the IPS holds the boat on station.
Although the galley is two steps below the bridge deck, it basks in the light from the windshield and side windows. Solid-surface counter tops surround a stainless steel sink and two-burner induction cook top. The galley also has a two-drawer refrigerator, single-drawer freezer, convection microwave, and stowage lockers for dry goods, flatware, dishes, and glassware.
Belowdecks, the master stateroom fills a large area in the forepeak with a big berth on centerline, a cedar-lined hanging locker, four-drawer bureau, and cabinets outboard of the berth and the head. On the starboard side amidships, the cozy double-berth stateroom welcomes overnight guests. The berths push together to form a single large berth. This stateroom shares a head with the rest of the boat.
Sabre’s traditional stick-built interior rests on a molded composite sub-structure. This method adds stiffness to the hull and permits the joinery that gives the interior its ambience.
Underway in Narragansett Bay, the wind blew an average of about six knots out of the south/southwest, and the temperature flirted with the middle 70s. The land masses along the East Passage between Newport and Portsmouth torture the wind in unexpected changes in direction and velocity. We encountered a light chop in one area, and three-foot seas in another. Nothing disturbed the Sabre’s composure. Steering remained light and positive, and the Volvo’s integrated automatic trim system kept the boat on an even keel. Sabre has programmed the system to limit the degree of heel during tight high-speed turns to allow the helmsman to see the horizon and other boats nearby from a standing position. The joystick rests at the end of the helm seat’s right-hand arm within comfortable reach for everyone.
Our test boat had the optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer. The boat’s dynamic stability masks the Seakeeper’s benefits a little, but when we disengaged it in beam seas, rolling noticeably increased. At low speeds or at rest in beam seas, the gyro kept us basically free of roll.
Intelligently designed and carefully built, the Sabre 45 Salon Express may not cross oceans, but for every other adventure, it won’t disappoint.
Sabre Yachts, sabreyachts.com