Sabre 38 Mk2 vs J-40 or others
The ' next boat gyrocompass' is currently pointing towards either a J-40, or a Sabre 38 MK2. Both fit the criteria of 20ish year old boats that offer the necessary criteria of spirited sailing, quality build, decent headroom, and of course - good looks. This boat will be used primarily on the middle Chesapeake, with expectations to do some PHRF racing on occasion, and a weekly summer cruise plus several long weekends. Given that, I'd welcome informed thoughts on the following questions:
Short handed sailing: This is important, and the J puts the main sheet by the helm. The Sabre has it on coach top. Has anyone spent time with both, and if so what thoughts do you have on how it worked with a two person crew (when not racing)?
Keel types: I strongly prefer a fixed keel over a centerboard, however several of the Sabres are k/cb. Accepting the fact that one is as likely to run aground in a boat that draws 3' vs 6' (albeit one does it in different water depths), how much of a hassle is the Sabre centerboard arrangement?
Maintenance issues: What issues should I be watching for during the survey? What maintenance issues do owners wish they had considered in advance. For example, the J seems to have minimal brightwork, but has two heads... , whereas the Sabre has a single head (to clog) but more brightwork.
Docking: Thoughts on how the boats compare docking and handling in close quarters, again considering it will often be used with a crew of 2.
Other vessels to consider? In this range, has anyone come across other interesting boat models to consider? Tartan has a good following in the area
Cheers in advance,
I am sure some will beg to differ with my thoughts, but a Sabre 38-2 and J40 are not even in the same genre of boats. Build wise, probably equal etc. BUT,the J 40 has a PHRF in the 70-90 range, the Sabre 110-130. At least locally for my, 2 class's slower on the Sabre.
The Sabre I would call a fast cruiser to slow Cruise/racer, the J a fast cruiser/racer into the slower end of the race/cruise arena.
So which do you want? Boats equal to the Sabre to me anyway, would be the Tartan 37 of that vintage, Jeanneau has a Sun Odssey 37 and 40 and maybe the sunshine 36/38. Oday used a Jeanneau design, IIRC the 39 or 40 from the 80's relm. Beneteau or Catalina to name a few other brands, but a bit lower in quality, but on par speed wise. You could get a newer version of the Jeanneau/beneteau/catalina over the sabre or tartan.
I you want more racer, look at the J 37 or 40/120 ie newer version of the 40. I have seen some 40's on par price wise with 120's. Jeanneau Sunfast 37 or 40 are race versions, taller mast, more sail deeper keeps, upgraded hardware over the SO versions. Beneteaus First series, the 40.7 comes to mind here. Possibly the C&C 120 in the older models may or may not fit your budget too. More than likely not. The C&C 110 in fiberglass back to 98 and up to 03 can be had for the low 100-120 range, PHRF in the mid 80 range.
Frankly, you need to decide which style of boat you want, as I said before, you are asking about 2 boats with equal builds, but WAY different sailing characteristics. I personally would be looking at the J's, first 40.7's etal before a sabre. Those are my style of boats vs the sabres. Interior wise, I have yet to see a J keep up with the Sabres. Speed wise, racing etc. no comparison. You might also look at the Farr 11.8? or some such design that JeffH on here has too. Fits the J40 race/cruise relm of boats too. The 40.7 is also Farr designed and has done well in ocean style races.
Comments in bold... best of luck in your search!
The mainsheet? When not racing, if you have two people, can't one adjust the main on the coachtop? Can you turn on the autopilot for a sec? Won't the boat balance out so you can leave the helm? A traveler in the cockpit is necessary for racing, but makes it a pain to walk around the cockpit, makes a good, folding cockpit table difficult, and the mainsheet swinging through the cockpit in a gybe can be dangerous. When cruising, we use the cockpit table daily, often while underway for lunch. Yeah, an aft traveler is nice for tweaking sails, but there are reasons most cruising boats don't have it there. decide what your primary use will be, if racing, go the J.
When sailing shorthanded, a good autopilot is more important than traveler position.
In the survey, pay a lot of attention to potential wet deck core on the J boat. I'm not accusing, just saying......
I can't believe anyone would waste the space in a 40' boat to put in 2 heads, but that's just me, opinions differ. To me, 40' is a small boat, one head is plenty. If you have another couple aboard, you should know them well.
Both these boats will handle well, and I wouldn't be concerned about docking either, but the J will steer like a race car. No question it will drive very precisely.
The Sabre will have more water tankage. 30-40% more, which is significant in determining cruising range and comfort. This may eventually encourage you to make longer voyages, but so may the additional speed of the J.
Go look at both boats, take your wife. Sit in the cockpit, move from the wheel to the companionway. Lay back on a cockpit seat to read a book. Which boat is more comfortable? Take your time, crawl around in all of the unfinished spaces, look at the seacocks. Which boat has soft wood plugs tied to each seacock? Find a place where you can inspect the hull to deck joint. Unfinished spaces tell a lot about a boat and it's maintenance.
Check the passive ventilation. All other things being equal, I prefer boats with big Dorade vents.
Look in the bilge. Check the extra equipment lists. Stuff costs money. It's nice when it comes with the boat.
You're lucky. You've put yourself in a position where you really can't make a bad decision, because these are both high quality, good sailing, strong and good looking boats. Ultimately, the Sabre is a cruising boat which can be raced, and the J is a racing boat which can be cruised. Whichever you choose, you'll be very happy.
You've already received some great guidance with regard to your question(s). While I cannot speak for the J, I can tell you I love my Sabre 34. My traveler and main sheet are on the coach roof and while sailing with a crew of two it is absolutely no problem. If the Admiral is below and I want to make a change it is easily accomplished using the autopilot. My S34 has a fixed keel (5'6") but a friends Sabre 36 is a centerboard, suprisingly he seldom drops the board. We also sail the Chesapeake and while I must be mindful of shoals and sandbars he pretty much ignores them.
Probably the best advice you've received was to "try on" the boats. Sit in them, consider what is comfortable and consider additional equipment that comes with the purchase.
Consider your purpose as well. If you're all about getting there as quickly as possible then go for the speed, but if like me you think that when you're sailing you're already there...go for comfort and tankage.
Can't imagine a good reason for having two heads, unless you've got a bunch of messy kids that are untrainable. :laugher
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