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Used Boat: sabreline 36


Putting together a competitive charter fleet is a little like assembling a team of all-stars. You might want both sail- and powerboats, sporty boats and conservative ones, harbor-hopping dayboats and longer-distance cruisers.

And because chartering is a competitive business, you’re always looking out for that one boat that might “put you over the top,” as the saying goes.

So when Rick Nissen recently had the opportunity to add a vintage Sabreline 36 trawler to his fleet, he leapt at the chance. The vessel has been sought-after since its debut around 15 years ago as one of the new generation of “fast” trawlers. These cruisers combined the looks and comforts of a semidisplacement trawler with a modified-vee hull shape that could give them double the speed.

Nissen’s charter outfit, C&C Charters, serves the Chesapeake Bay area out of Grasonville, Md., providing both power- and sailboats to local and long-distance cruisers. Among his powerboats were two traditional trawlers, three express-style cruisers, and a pair of large cabin boats. The Sabreline fast trawler, with its salty profile, twin helm stations and aft-cabin floor plan, fit right into the lineup.

“It’s a real quality vessel with a very popular layout,” says Nissen, 47, who also runs the brokerage firm Atlantic Yacht Works. “We’d been getting a lot of charter requests for this size and style of boat. There are a lot of trawler fans out there, and people thinking of buying a boat like this often charter one for a while to try it out.”

Nissen’s Sabreline 36 is a 1989 — the design’s inaugural year — and it cost around $180,000. It came into his fleet through a former customer who traded it in for a larger boat. “I had a friend who’d been looking for the Sabreline 36,” says Nissen. “So when I heard about this one, I got in touch with him immediately. They made the deal, and when the new owner offered it to me as a charter boat, I jumped at the chance.”

Since then, it’s been one of C&C Charters’ most popular vessels. People like the two-stateroom layout, the combined galley/saloon, and the large side windows. The aft cabin is very private and has its own companionway to the aft deck. “We always have positive feedback from the people who charter it,” says Nissen. “It’s a very comfortable boat, and very spacious down below with that aft cabin and the big galley.” The upper- and lower helm stations also are popular features of the Sabreline 36.

Power comes from a pair of 8.2-liter Detroit diesels, which give the boat a top speed of around 18.5 mph, says Nissen. Ideal cruising speed is around 14 to 16 mph, and fuel burn is about 10 to 12 gallons an hour.

“It handles well, the systems are well thought out and well laid-out, so it’s an easy boat to use,” says Nissen. “That’s important in the charter business, but it applies to any boat, really. People come back from a cruise on this boat and they’ve fallen in love with it.”


The Sabreline 36 has the upright profile reminiscent of early West Coast recreational trawlers. First based on offshore fishing vessels, the current design retains the high bow and ample freeboard of a commercial trawler but in a more refined manner. The flybridge helm station gives good sightlines all around and serves as a social area as well, with lounge seating in addition to the helm seating. It’s reached by molded stairs from the aft cabin top. There’s safe access all around the boat, thanks to the broad side decks and stainless steel rail that circles the boat.

The lower helm station (with an accompanying wing door) is to starboard in the saloon and comes with a pedestal helm seat and a wood dash with space for electronics and charts adjacent. The L-shaped dinette is to port, with pedestal table and lounge seating. The L-shaped galley-up is to starboard, against the aft bulwark, and there’s room for the cruising galley requisites — sink, stove top, oven, microwave and refrigerator — as well as cabinets and below-counter storage.

A companionway leads down three steps to the aft cabin, which has seen a couple of different layouts over the years, including an island double berth. This cabin includes an adjacent head and separate companionway to the aft deck. There’s another enclosed stateroom forward, laid out with a V-berth and adjacent head.

Engine access is through cabin sole hatches, as well as through the steps to the forward cabin. There’s ample space in the engine room for the auxiliary systems normally found on a trawler, from generators to watermakers. Original power was from twin 250-hp GM diesels that delivered a 16- to 18-mph cruise speed and a top end of just more than 20 mph, which made the “fast” trawlers stand out from their slower ancestors.


It took a while to track down used Sabreline 36s, as they’re often coveted by their owners. But they can be found, mostly east of the Mississippi River, although a few turned up in the Pacific Northwest. Usually well-maintained and equipped with the latest in cruising, nav and galley gear, these fast trawlers are priced anywhere from around $180,000 up to $250,000 or more. Most come with twin 250-hp diesels, but some have been upgraded to 300-hp and 325-hp power plants to give cruising speeds of around 20 mph. Here’s a sampling of used Sabreline 36 trawlers found on the Internet:

A 1990 model in Florida with a dark blue Awlgrip hull and twin 250-hp diesels, davits, new canvas, dual-station GPS, 48-mile radar and integrated plotter for around $220,000. A 1995 model in Washington state, “boathouse stored” and with twin 300-hp Cat diesels, full galley with three-burner stove, full refrigerator/freezer, microwave and an array of electronics (tri-data with repeater, GPS and autopilot, 24-mile radar, VHF) for around $250,000. A 1998 model in Florida with 800 hours on a pair of twin Caterpillar 350s had a bow thruster, up-to-date electronics (twin radar, forward-looking sonar, autopilot, chart plotter and IBM laptop), built-in microwave, stove, refrigerator and freezer combination for around $280,000. The least-expensive boat found was a 1990 model in Florida with twin 250-hp diesels, all new electronics (radar, autohelm, satellite TV, dual VHF, electronic charting, land phone connection), and a full galley priced at $185,000.


LOA: 40 feet, 1 inch

BEAM: 12 feet, 6 inches

DRAFT: 4 feet, 3 inches

Hull Type: modified-vee

original propulsion: twin 250-hp diesels

WEIGHT: 20,000 pounds

TANKAGE: 300 gallons fuel, 225 gallons water

BUILDER: Sabre Corp., South Casco, Maine. Phone: (207) 655-3831.


Sabre Corp. has been building boats in South Casco, Maine, for more than 30 years, producing some 2,300 sailboat and powerboat hulls in that time. Designer/builder Roger Hewson founded the company in 1970 and introduced his first boat, the Sabre 28 sailboat, at the 1971 Newport (R.I.) Boat Show. The capable little fiberglass cruiser was an instant hit and a long-lasting one. In all, some 600 Sabre 28s were delivered in a 15-year production run.

In 1989 Sabre entered the powerboat market with the Sabreline 36, a traditional-looking trawler with modern performance. The success of the 36 inspired the creation of the 34 Flybridge Sedan in 1990, and the Sabreline 43 and 47 Aft Cabin Motoryachts in 1994. Another successful 36-foot design, the Sabreline 36 Express, which debuted in 1996, helped popularize the so-called Down East look that featured lobster boat-inspired lines. “[Sabre is] well-regarded in the industry for its quality construction and good resale values,” according to The Powerboat Guide by Ed McKnew and Mark Parker.

Sabre currently builds four sailboat models from 36 to 45 feet under the Sabre name, and six powerboat models from 34 to 47 feet under the Sabreline name.