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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've started my search for an inexpensive first boat. The requirements are it has to have a galley and a head as we would like to spend weekends aboard. I realize there's nothing more expensive than a cheap boat and I'm not looking to sail the horn just yet. After pouring through pages of yachtworld I'm going to look at three boats next weekend. I'll preface this with a surveyor will definitely be hired.

All three boats were produced in 1981 with fin keels. From what I've read the Catalina 30 is the "Toyota Camry" of the boating world as far as production numbers (okay, Chevy, but I don't know of a model as popular as the Camry). The Sabre is said the be the better built boat and it's unfortunate they're still not in [the sailboat] business. Here are the choices:

Catalina 30, Standard Rig - Probably my least favorite. The boat is on the hard and seems to need a lot of TLC with a host of fixes from bimini stitching to a non-operating VHF. She leaks but the broker wasn't sure if it was from the portlets but advised all the deck hardware needed re-bedding. If I wanted a project boat this would be it.

Catalina 30, Tall Rig - This boat looks the most attractive at this point. It seems to be cared for quite well with a reinforced deck at the step mast, bimini, dodger and a host of other equipment. The tall rig is said to be a better in light air. I think that's called July and August on the Chesapeake.

Sabre 30 Mk II - Seems a good boat but is the prop walk as bad on all boats? I don't plan on motoring astern for too far but that just means more of a challenge when I do and honestly it's the only minus I can find. Sails are fair to good and I'd need to spend some money on equipment just to bring her up to that of the tall rig.

Does the Sabre offer anything I'm missing? Other than the mast compression and the Catalina smile is there anything else to be wary of on a Catalina?
 

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Sabre is definitely still in business...they just make powerboats and no more sailboats. The Catalina 30 is out of production too...and has been for over a decade now.
 

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Random thoughts. Take them for what they are worth.

I may have misunderstood you, but Sabre is still in business and their customer support is excellent (although they are currently not producing sailboats).

My opinion is prop walk is a useful tool. Once you know your boat, you will use it to your advantage maneuvering in tight spaces.

Sabres of that era are notorious for problems with rot in the mast step.
 

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Are you going to day sail and cruise...or race?

If you are mostly doing the first, then the Catalina Tall Rig should suit you well. Anything that is over 30 years old will have issues, it just depends on how well they were maintained by the previous owners (most likely plural with a 30 year old boat.

Catalina made over 10,000 30's so they must have done something right. If well maintained they are pretty much bullet proof. Sail fairly well, will handle weather, and one of the roomiest boats in that range down below.

There is a Catalina 30 owners group that is very active and you can find advise on most anything from fixes to refinements. Catalina is still in business and you can actually talk to people that will answer your questions. Between the factory and Catalina Direct you can find most anything.

Lots of nice boats out there, but as in dating....you will have to kiss a few frogs along the way.

Good Luck
 

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Look at the hidden parts of the boat for quality differences. In 1981 Catalina was taking serious shortcuts with through hulls (they will be pieces of pipe glassed into the hull, it looks like a little volcano) and the finish on hidden areas of fiberglass was terrible. The mast wiring was glassed directly into the cabin top, making replacement difficult.

I had a 1984 Catalina 25 and it sailed pretty nicely, but my 1986 Pearson is much more nicely made.

I've not looked closely at a Sabre, but they have excellent reputation. The user manual on the Sabre 30 is a beautiful thing, it includes helpful details that other manufacturers never list, like the locations and types of core materials found in the deck and hull.

Quickly looking at PHRF shows that the Sabre should be a hair faster than the Catalina 30 tall.
 

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I would go with the tall rig Catalina. Sabers are very good boats, but for a family cruising the Catalina has more room. And for a new boat owner there is a lot more information available to help guide repairs, and of course Catalina is still in business and still supports their older boats.

The Saber is a little more performance oriented, and has a very good build quality reputation, so I wouldn't exclude it.

At the end of the day certainly have a good look at them both, and go with whichever makes you feel better. Assuming they are both in decent shape both would be very good boats.
 

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I really don't know anything about Sabre's other than the reputation of being one of the better quality boats. I used to have a C30 some years ago and now have the C34. The help and advice I have received from the C 34 owners website has been incredible. I'm sure the C30 website is just as helpful.
Your best bet...look hard at both and decide which suits your needs best.
 

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Personally I'm partial to Sabre's for the obvious reasons but as Mr F has noted, be sure to check the compression post step. Also check the bulkheads for rot where the chainplates bolt up. Nice thing about these boats, they were stick built instead of a pan being tabbed to a hull.
 
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About 10-years ago I faced a similar decision and chose to go with a 1977 Sabre 34 over a newer Catalina 30 and never regretted that decision. Today I own a Catalina 387 and love it. The Sabre is a 'sweet sailing boat' and the Catalina is very comfortable sailing. Both boats have owners groups and receive support from the respective manufacturers.

Visit the boats and buy the one that 'speaks' to you. You'll make the right choice.
 

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IMO, Apples to Oranges comparison.
The Sabre is in the quality of design and engineering group of makes like CS Yachts, Tartan, Valiant, and Ericson.
The Catalina is in a lesser group, especially back in those years.

The Cat 30 can sail adequately, but not well. The attempt of the keel to escape its enslavement to the hull on the old Catalina's is not a good thing, either.

Like airplanes, boats all have their 'performance envelope' and the better ones are engineered and built to last longer, go further and be more fun to sail -- i.e. have a bigger envelope.

So buy the craft that fits your Real Needs, and more importantly quite often, is available to your local waters where you can avoid a large trucking fee. Just understand what your needs... are.

Fair winds,
Loren
 
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To me they are both decent boats, it will be condition more than anything. The Saber was several steps higher in construction quality initially, but you are 30+ years on so many deficiencies will likely have been taken care of by now. One other thing to think about is the Saber is stick built for the most part, this creates a much more sturdy and likely less creaky structure but will make things like bulkhead replacement difficult because you will likely have to un-assemble more to get to things. don't discount looks, and the Saber is definitely a beautiful boat.

Just as a reference PHRF on Catalina reg/tall is 180/174 and Saber is 180 so end speed is likely not too different.

Both should be well supported by owners groups and manufacturer. The Saber is almost a foot narrower, so it will not have as much space below ans be a bit more tender. But both look to have useable layouts. If they survey well I don't think you could go wrong with either. I would lean more towards the Saber, but I like antique furniture over new even if it has to be taken apart to refinish before use but that is me. Not a bad position to be in!
 

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... Other than the mast compression and the Catalina smile is there anything else to be wary of on a Catalina?
That "smile" is not limited to Catalinas. Regardless, it was an inexpensive fix for our marina to do.

A fellow club member has a Saber 30. I love the interior layout with the exception of part of the galley being under the companionway steps. It allows for more cabin space but not a configuration that I like on any boat.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Great feedback and I appreciate it. I'm not necessarily looking for the "right" boat, just the "right now" boat... something intermediate for my wife and I to learn on, big enough to sleep on and strong enough to enjoy on the water (not repairing constantly) until we're ready to move to a bigger boat (if that should happen). Sailing will be mostly daysailing and weekend trips on the bay.

Honestly, I was surprised to see a Sabre in the same price category as the Cat which prompted this thread. I guess I need to be conscious of farkle envy. The Tall Rig has more extras but if the Sabre is in comparable shape it seems conventional wisdom may sway me that way....

My new mantra: Prop walk is my friend.. Prop walk is my friend..
 

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Great feedback and I appreciate it. I'm not necessarily looking for the "right" boat, just the "right now" boat... something intermediate for my wife and I to learn on, big enough to sleep on and strong enough to enjoy on the water (not repairing constantly) until we're ready to move to a bigger boat (if that should happen). Sailing will be mostly daysailing and weekend trips on the bay.

Honestly, I was surprised to see a Sabre in the same price category as the Cat which prompted this thread. I guess I need to be conscious of farkle envy. The Tall Rig has more extras but if the Sabre is in comparable shape it seems conventional wisdom may sway me that way....

My new mantra: Prop walk is my friend.. Prop walk is my friend..
\I am a believer that prop walk is your friend. However, if you find it isn't, for a couple thousand you buy a folding/feathering prop and it goes away.
 

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Just as a reference PHRF on Catalina reg/tall is 180/174 and Saber is 180 so end speed is likely not too different.
US Sailing's national database disagrees. For the Catalina 30:
CATALINA 30 180 180 201 186 189
CATALINA 30 TM 168 168 186 174 177
SABRE 30-1 186 174 186 180 192
SABRE 30-3 168 162 170 165 171

Numbers are: base, lowest base, highest base, avg base, median base

I haven't done the research to see if the Sabre 30-1 and 30-2 are more similar, or the 30-2 and 30-3 are more closely related. US Sailing doesn't have a base for the 30-2.

All of these are close enough that the slowest boat on this list well sailed and with good sails, clean bottom, and low drag prop is going to sail quite a bit faster than the fastest boat on the list without those things. I finished a race on my Pearson 28-2 last night crossing the line at essentially the same time as a Dufour 34. My base handicap is 189 and his is 168. Boats with higher handicaps beat both of us, and we both beat boats with lower handicaps.

I know of multiple minutes worth of mistakes that slowed me down and could have made me even faster. None of them had anything to do with boat problems.
 

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Just a quick FYI - Sabre still makes sailboats. Not sure why there is a misconception. I don't think they want to be making sailboats anymore, but they do.

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
 

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Just a quick FYI - Sabre still makes sailboats. Not sure why there is a misconception. I don't think they want to be making sailboats anymore, but they do.

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Sabre's website disagrees with you.

At the current time, Sabre Yachts is not building any of it’s sailing models.

While demand for sailboats has remained weak throughout the market, and is still well below recession levels, the demand for our power boats has never been stronger. Sabre’s motor yacht business, along with our sister company Back Cove Yachts’s models, have made substantial market share gains over the last five years. Our staffing levels have returned to 2010 levels, and our volume of shipments is nearing pre-recession levels.

The following pages offer information about our sailing yachts, which we may resume building in the future. In the meantime, we will continue to support our existing owners through our after sales services group.

Please contact us or any of our dealers with any questions or service requirements that you may have.

The Management and Associates of Sabre Yachts
http://sabreyachts.com/sailing-yachts
 

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Just a quick FYI - Sabre still makes sailboats. Not sure why there is a misconception. I don't think they want to be making sailboats anymore, but they do.

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When I spoke to a dealer this spring, he told me they only make power boats currently. This may not be permanent, but I guess they have been selling so well that they wanted to concentrate on them, or so I was told. And this is from there web page:
At the current time, Sabre Yachts is not building any of it’s sailing models.

While demand for sailboats has remained weak throughout the market, and is still well below recession levels, the demand for our power boats has never been stronger. Sabre’s motor yacht business, along with our sister company Back Cove Yachts’s models, have made substantial market share gains over the last five years. Our staffing levels have returned to 2010 levels, and our volume of shipments is nearing pre-recession levels.

The following pages offer information about our sailing yachts, which we may resume building in the future. In the meantime, we will continue to support our existing owners through our after sales services group.

Please contact us or any of our dealers with any questions or service requirements that you may have.

The Management and Associates of Sabre Yachts
So they are out of it for now.
 

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I was told you could still get 45 42 and day sailor. I looked at the website for that quote and did not see it. At least on their mobile version.

It would be a shame but I'm sure if you offered them the cash they would build it. They have been building like 8 boats a year for a while so I can't imagine it much if a stretch to make 1. It's not like they shut down a 30 boat a year plant.



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