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Sabre 38 Hard Top Express

There was nothing wrong with the 29-foot Everglades center console. It was undeniably a good fishing boat, and it had served the family well over the years.

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But with their three children — Chloe, 13, Owen, 11, and Luke, 10 — growing up, Brian Harris and his wife, Danielle, thought about a bigger boat, a boat with real accommodations. They wanted something they could stay out overnight on, go farther in — a boat that would broaden the family’s horizons.

They found it in a 2006 Sabre 38 Hard Top Express. With its well-planned interior, twin diesels and exceptional joinery, along with the Down East styling, it caught Harris’ eye.

“I was looking at [models from] Sabre and Back Cove,” says Harris, 42, a native Long Islander from Massapequa, New York. “I saw this boat, and it was reduced in price. The owner was moving to California and really wanted to sell.”

Working with Diana McCabe at Petzold’s Marine Center ( in Portland, Connecticut, Harris closed on the deal last October. The price was between $250,000 and $300,000, Harris says. McCabe and Petzold’s were great to work with, he says. “They took care of everything.”

The shakedown cruise was a lengthy passage down the Connecticut River to Long Island Sound, through the East River and around Brooklyn to the Unqua Corinthian Yacht Club on Great South Bay in Amityville, New York. The boat performed flawlessly, cruising comfortably at about 24 knots.

From their summer home in Cutchogue, the whole of eastern Long Island is open to them: Shelter Island, Greenport, Sag Harbor, Montauk Point. They’re familiar waters for Harris, seen from a new perspective — the deck of a Sabre express boat. “I was born and raised on Long Island, and I’ve been boating since I was a kid,” he says. “My father always had a boat, starting with an old Burns Craft, a Chris-Craft and then a 42 Ocean.”

His first boat was a 17-foot Mako he got when he was 15. “Being out on the water is the ultimate breath of fresh air,” he says. “There’s no better place to be with your family and friends than out on the water.”

The Sabre 38 Hard Top Express supports the mission. The boat sleeps all five Harrises with its island berth forward, a drop-down table converting to a bunk for two and a similar setup in the wheelhouse — equipped with window shades, heat and A/C, Harris points out. “The kids like this boat a lot,” he says. “They hang out in the cockpit and the helm dining area, and they like the TV.”

The galley is useful, especially with children on board. “Most of the time we use the microwave,” he says. “We tend to eat outside in the helm area seating.”

The head, which includes a stall shower, “is very big, and that’s a very nice feature on a family boat,” Harris says.

The helm station is well equipped, with a swivel seat and instrument console, and the big windows make for good visibility. “It’s one of the best features,” Harris says. “There are no blind spots that I have met yet. I like the wide side decks and the railing, too. It’s nice to be able to walk around the boat.”

Danielle and Brian Harris

Then there’s the look and feel of the Sabre. “The woodwork is beautiful. There’s no Formica, nothing cheap — everything catches your eye,” he says. “I love the way the boat looks. The Down East look is timeless. In the past, I would see these boats and they have always caught my eye.”

Power comes from twin 440-hp Yanmar turbo diesels. The boat cruises at about 24 knots, running at 2,700 to 2,800 rpm, Harris says. Top end is about 30 knots. “This boat gives us the ability to stay overnight occasionally and take longer cruises,” he says. “I won’t do as much fishing now, but I have the chance to go fishing on friends’ boats, so that’s OK.”


The PowerBoat Guide describes the Sabre 38 as a “compelling hardtop express” combining “exceptional beauty with yacht-class accommodations.” It was a popular model for the Maine builder, enjoying a production run from 2005 to 2010. She rides a modified-vee hull (18 degrees of deadrise) and is powered by twin 440-hp diesels. Cruising speed is in the mid-20s, with a listed top end of 30 knots.

The look is Down East, with clean lines giving just a hint of swept-back modernity. The wide side decks and a rail make for easy access all around the boat and the safe working of lines and fenders. The semienclosed wheelhouse, with its full helm station and companion seat, features a large windshield and side windows for good visibility.

There’s lounge seating and a folding table for dining and a wet bar for entertaining. The single stateroom is designed with an island berth, seating and shelf and locker space. The adjacent head compartment has a sink and stall shower.


Sabre Yachts began as a sailboat builder in 1970, when the company’s founder, Roger Hewson, debuted the Sabre 28. The pace-setting racer/cruiser combined performance with exceptional comfort and quality. In 1989, the builder introduced its first powerboat: the Sabre 36, a Down East-style tricabin “fast trawler.” Current Sabre powerboat models run from 38 to 54 feet in Salon Express and Fly Bridge Sedan styles. The 38 Hard Top Express goes for about $300,000 on the used market.


LOA: 36 feet, 8 inches

BEAM: 13 feet, 8 inches

DRAFT: 3 feet, 4 inches

WEIGHT: 21,500 pounds

HULL TYPE: modified-vee

PROPULSION: twin 440-hp diesels

TANKAGE: 350 gallons fuel, 100 gallons water

BUILDER: Sabre Yachts, South Casco, Maine

PHONE: (207) 655-3831.


September 2014 issue