Sabre 30 Mk II vs S2 9.2 A vs Catalina vs Pearson - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 03-04-2010
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Sabre 30 Mk II vs S2 9.2 A vs Catalina vs Pearson

Hello folks,

Me and a friend are shopping for cruising boats around 30' and we came across a few that we like. We know they are all considered good boats, but we would like to know if one of them is clearly a better one in terms of quality, speed, sail handling, etc. These things you can't see and it is only known through experience. Our goal is to do weekend cruises with friends in Long Island Sound.
The boats are: Sabre 30 Mk III (1987), S2 9,2 A (1979), Catalina 30 (1992) and Pearson 31 (1987).
Any comments are greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-04-2010
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I'm not too familiar with the S2's but I think the Sabre would be the best built and best sailing boat in that bunch. It will likely also be the oldest and perhaps need the most maintenance/upgrades. I believe the S2's are pretty good sailors but I don't know about their construction. Catalina 30's are the Chevy's of sailing, moderately built, with few vices and long production run so there are tons of them available. There will always be demand for good examples, so they can be a great starter boat that you'll get most of your money out of when you move up. Pearsons are another one of those boats I don't know that much about except that they were one of the production builders that didn't make it through the downturn in the 80's. From what I understand their boats are probably on par with other production boats of their day, or perhaps 1/2 notch better. The Sabre and S2 are more at the performance end of the spectrum with the Pearson and Catalina are more cruising oriented and offer more space and comfort while on the hook.

Any of these boats are capable of weekending with one or two couples in semi-protected water or with proper preparation near-coastal cruising. That said, they are very different boats and the C30 will seem to have almost twice the space as a Sabre 30. The Sabre will be faster, but is that more important to you? For some, absolutely, others would rather have the space. Only you can weigh the equation for your personal preferences.

Try to spend some time on each one of these boats and think about being on the boat, both sailing and at anchor and try to relate that to your desires. That will help you identify which factors carry more weight for you. Which ever boat you decide you might want, find the best example of that boat you can afford and get a survey by a competent surveyor. After identifying the attributes you desire in a boat, getting one in the best condition is key to a satisfying experience.

Good Luck.
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Old 03-04-2010
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the sabre may have a huge offset on the prop shaft if that bothers you[i dont know how anybody could make them go astern in a strait line] i have a79 pearson 32 and my jaded opinion they are way better build than any of the others built during that time frame .the 1987 pearson may have to much core material for my taste...i duel with a sabre32 quite a few times and it seems iam always a tad faster
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Old 03-04-2010
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My $.02

Hello,

You really can't go wrong with any of those boats.

S2 9.2A - similar in size to the Catalina. S2 has a reputation of being well made. However, I looked at about 5 of them, and they all had leaking ports. On some of the boats, the leaks were so bad that the bulkheads were rotted. On all the boats I looked at, the leaks resulted in a lot of mold and mildew below. Note that the 9.2A model is a cruiser and is not performance oriented at all. S2 made a 9.1 model that was a racer.

Catalina 30 - you have received plenty of good advice about this one.

Sabre - these are premium boats. A 1987 model should be much more expensive than the others. If the one you are interested in is comparably priced be very careful because there is probably something wrong with it.

Pearson 31 - sorry but I don't know too much about the 31. A friend has a P30 from the late 70's. It's a great sailing boat but small down below.

Of the boats you listed, the Sabre has the best reputation. The Catalina is the most common. You might as well consider similar boats like C&C, O'day 30 / 31, Islander 30, Ericson, Newport, etc.

IMHO, most 30' cruiser / racer sloops are basically the same. Some are better built, some are faster, but unless you have some particular needs or likes, you should look at lots of boats until you find something you really like.

For example, if you like to swim off the boat, or will be keeping the boat on a mooring, the O'day 31 and 302 have swim platforms. That makes it much easier to get on / off the boat. If you want a center cockpit model, there is an S2 9.2C model. Do you want a wheel or tiller, deep draft or shoal draft, are you interested in racing?
Catalina has the biggest user groups, etc.

Good luck,
Barry
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I agree with all the comments made so far. We purchased our 1988 Sabre 30 last year after looking at Pearson, Sabre and Catalina as well as a Yankee 30.
In the end the Sabre won out because of the quality of build, condition of the boat and to the wife, it just felt like home; which is important, because we spend every weekend on it. I also was interested in having a deck stepped mast. With the boats you are looking at, I think that condition of the boat, condition of equipment and sails, is very important. Your boat will demand alot of time and money from you, and replacing and upgrading equipment will be very costly.One broker told us that the boat you end up buying has to bite you in the ankle, and I think there is truth to that. You should really love your boat and always want to turn around and take one more look at her before you leave her. Get a good surveyor above all else! Good Luck! (If you're looking at the Sabre 30 in Essex, Ct. she does look to be in very good condition.)
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Wow, great feedback guys, thank you very much! We will take a look at the boats again this weekend and see if one of them "bite" our ankle. :-)
You've nailed it MysticSailor, the Sabre is the one in Essex.
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Old 03-04-2010
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My choice would be either the Sabre or Pearson.

Some comments on the Pearson 31 since you haven't got many yet. It's a much more modern boat compared to the P30. Roomy and decent construction. Worth a look.
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Old 03-04-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norsearayder View Post
the sabre may have a huge offset on the prop shaft if that bothers you[i dont know how anybody could make them go astern in a strait line] i have a79 pearson 32 and my jaded opinion they are way better build than any of the others built during that time frame .the 1987 pearson may have to much core material for my taste...i duel with a sabre32 quite a few times and it seems iam always a tad faster
Hey, I always back down the fairway and into my slip. I've even backed from the pumpout three fairways away into my slip. Sabres can back well if you keep your wits and you can even use the prop walk to advantage with experience.

Of the boats you named, I'd favor the Sabre...but then I'm not impartial. Any of the boats should serve for what you've described. Just make sure, whatever boat you choose, that you have it surveyed.

Happy hunting...MGM
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Old 03-04-2010
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I have experience with 3 of the boats, the S2 being the odd one out. We chartered a Pearson 31 for a week a few years ago, and liked it very much. The downside was the V-berth was too short for me, and I'm only 5' 10". Literally, my toes were jammed up at the end. Otherwise that boat would have been on our "list". We did put the Pearson 33-2 on our list though because we liked the 31.

The Catalina 30 is a great buy. It's the largest of the 3 (not sure about the S2). There are many around, and parts/sails/etc are all easy to find. You can still get help from Catalina. The quality is not as nice as the Sabre or the Pearson, and I don't think they sail as nicely either, but you can't argue with the bang for the buck. We didn't add this boat to our list. It's not a bad boat, just not what my wife and I wanted.

The Sabre 30 Mk III was on our list. As was the Sabre 32 and the Sabre 34 Mk I. They are all very similar in size and layout (with some variations for the 32). We decided we'd buy the first boat on our list that we could find in great condition (which was most important to us). We ended up with the S34-I. Coincidentally, we bought it in Essex, CT. The Sabres sail very well, are nicely balanced and look pretty to my eye. The build quality is very good for a production builder, and Sabre still will help you out with some support. Obviously, I'm biased as a Sabre owner.

If it were me, I'd focus on the Sabre or the Pearson (if the V-berth is OK for you). But condition should still always win out over a particular model, in my opinion. A Sabre in poor condition is not as good as a top condition Catalina.

Hope this helps!
-J
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Old 03-04-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norsearayder View Post
the sabre may have a huge offset on the prop shaft if that bothers you[i dont know how anybody could make them go astern in a strait line]
I had the same concern before we bought our Sabre. It has the offset prop with folding 2-blade, so it's a double whammy. In addition, I knew we'd be backing into our slip...and with a difficult approach. And I'm no genius boat-driver.

But for what it's worth, my concerns were unfounded. Just like any boat, after a couple times in reverse, I got the feel of the helm, and I find I can back to port or starboard once I have a little way on.

It just wasn't a big deal.
-J
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