I wouldn't necessarily write her off as underpowered with that engine. It depends on your planned use. If you're using the engine to get in and out of your slip and to avoid occasional danger, then you would probably be fine with the Beta. Beta's are solid engines and most all parts can be had relatively cheap from Kubota tractor parts dealers. James Baldwin powered an A35 with a 10hp outboard and reported that it performed adequately: Atom Voyages - Saga - Alberg 35 Refit Projects
Interesting read. I like the extra power of the "26 hp" because I keep my boat on the Hudson River near NYC. I frequently have to motor again some nasty currents while dodging ferries, barges, tankers, jetskis etc etc.
Backing? With the far forward rudder these boats just don't like to back but with some practice, actually a lot of practice, it is doable. Especially if you can use prop walk to your advantage. I stay on a mooring and rarely dock so it's never been a big issue for me.
Wow! They went all out to rid Saga of that nasty "Bio Hazard" inboard! Most of us know of cruisers that have circumnavigated with no motor at all. A dock mate of mine is very proud of operating a 5 Ton boat with a 6hp outboard. However I've seen him bounce the bow of the dock so many times I don't even want to think about it. Hearing that little motor scream in reverse as he attempts to slow the boat down under a tailwind, makes me cringe! I've also seen him perform heroic feats of athleticism (i.e., sprinting from bow to stern, or vise versa) that have me convinced one day he will do a face plant onto the deck or dock, as the boat continues to back out of the slip! Though he claims it works for him, he can't afford to refit the boat with an inboard, and the use of the term Bio Hazard (as if a outboard is Bio Friendly!) in the case of Saga may explain their motive. However, I'm skeptical the outboard works much better for them.
I'm not worried about dealing with the strong SF tides slightly underpowered. However, maneuvering in a marina, with a full keel, limited rudder, and where the strong winds are no longer my friend, is another issue. Way On and more importantly, backing thrust makes a big difference. I know about midship cleats, but bringing the boat to a jarring halt doesn't work for me either. Being on the hook or at a mooring changes everything. In addition, every time I looked at the motor, I'd think about how it had been done on the cheap (not my style). I'll get off my soap box now! In any case, a sea trial would tell me if motor might work.
That hatch does look a little odd being that it opens to the side. I would prefer that it opened forward to catch some wind.
Yet, another excellent point!
As far as deck delamination is concerned, if it's localized around fittings or chainplates, I wouldn't worry much about it. You can re core those spots as you go (or not). If the deck is totally saturated, it's gonna be a big job and reason enough to walk...at least knowing what I know now. The skins are extremely thick on these boats as mentioned above. You could practically walk around on the bottom skin alone with little deflection.
Brings up something I forgot to mention. I noticed a fine pattern on the deck that looked like glass cloth, not a non skid pattern. I wondered if the deck had been redone. If so, I would think that enough epoxy would have been laid over the glass to conceal the pattern. I asked the owner about it and he said he had painted the deck with All Grip, but had done nothing else. What does the factory deck look like? Is their a non skid pattern, or a fine pattern as I describe? In either case, the fore deck definitely has issues, but nothing I'm not willing to deal with.
For the right price and assuming no major structural issues (deck, rudder etc), it still sounds like a viable deal to me. They are solid beautiful boats. As the previous poster said, you will smile every time you walk up and turn back as you walk away. I get lots of compliments and questions. She certainly stands out in a yard full of bleach bottles.
Don't I know it! It was the allure of the A/E35 that even made me consider these boats. I look at that boat every time I leave/return to my marina.
I may make an offer subject to sea trial and survey, but I will basically be taking her off his hands. Who knows, she's been on the market a long time, and I'll bet he is tired of looking at her. She's docked in back of his house!