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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Sabreline 42 Express

Maine boatbuilders are by and large not flashy types, so it was no great surprise to lay eyes on the Sabreline 42 Express. I was prepared for the visual delight of the yacht’s ruggedly handsome profile and no-nonsense lines. But what really caught my attention was the host of standard features, great and small, that enhanced comfort, safety, performance, and reliability.

The yacht’s most notable feature is the commanding presence of her raised helm deck, a tad higher than one might expect on a yacht this size and crowned by an all-business hardtop enclosure that would do a Maine lobster boat proud. Even dockside, the yacht conveys the stature of a serious express cruiser, not a mere daytripper.

Once aboard, I began to appreciate the qualities of her raised helm deck. For starters, Stidd helm and companion seats are standard, and both swivel to ease conversation with guests in an L-shape, glove-soft Ultraleather (standard) settee just aft. Oversize front and side windows let guests enjoy 360-degree visibility even when lounging on the comfortable settee. Opposite, even the wet bar is standard, although a U-Line ice maker or refrigerator-freezer is optional.

While the 42 is offered with either a hardtop or an open configuration, all owners to date have opted for the former, and I can understand why. Combining the hardtop with the standard soft-back or optional hard-back enclosure turns the helm deck into the focal point of indoor and outdoor activity. To ensure all-weather comfort, air conditioning is available here.

Complementing the open helm deck is a roomy cockpit (7’L x12’W) with aft-facing seating for three or more and space for sunning, lounging, or light fishing. My tally of standard features continued to mount as I took note of the hot-and-cold cockpit shower, the transom door, and a full-width swim platform. The last is standard in fiberglass, but our test boat sported the classier optional teak.

To keep things shipshape, there are stowage bins beneath the cockpit seats, and three hatches in the sole afford access to the steering gear and a cavernous stowage area. Hatch covers are double-side compression-molded so both sides are smooth, making them more attractive while preventing the hatch cover from chafing lines or gear. Also beneath the aft deck is a 450-gallon steel fuel tank with a T-shape cross section that drops between the inboard stringers to form a low spot, so virtually all the tank capacity is usable.

Molded steps lead from the cockpit up to wide side decks, and I was pleased to see a double set of handholds alongside the steps: one low to grasp while in the cockpit, and another higher up for when you’re standing on the side deck. Also in the safety vein, oversize stainless steel rails extend the full length of the side decks and come up above knee height (I’m 6’2”), giving me a secure feeling when moving fore and aft. Thanks to the slightly higher profile of the deckhouse, the hardtop side overhang is slightly above shoulder height (even for me), so I could walk upright beneath it.

As I made my way forward, I took note of the stainless steel ports alongside the deckhouse, handsomely set off by teak toerails and by teak eyebrows along the house. Teak accents can be varnished (as on our test boat), left natural, or eliminated altogether. On the foredeck, notable standard features include a Muir windlass with local and remote controls plus a bowsprit with room for two anchors, like the 45-pound plow and the large Fortress on our test boat.

Complementing the handsome exterior, her lower deck is impeccably finished in cherry joinery, with teak-and-holly soles throughout. A focal point in the saloon is the flawlessly varnished dinette table that boasts a beautiful bird’s-eye maple inlay. Softening the tone of the wood, the settee is upholstered with Ultrasuede fabric, standard.

Fine craftsmanship abounds, as evidenced by the dovetail joints in the maple drawer boxes, the concealed hinges in all cabinets, and the teak lip that rims each Corian countertop. Standard appliances are equally first-rate, including a Sub-Zero refrigerator with freezer, a ceramic cooktop, and a built-in microwave.

In the bow, the master stateroom is generously proportioned, punctuated by a pedestal berth accessible from three sides and rimmed by a warren of drawers, cabinets, and lockers. Headroom of 6’5” enhances the sense of spaciousness, while a large overhead hatch and opening port make the space feel airy.

For guests, the second stateroom provides a quiet sitting area by day with a comfortable L-shape settee. Fitted with slide-out bottom and filler cushions, the settee converts to a double berth. An optional fold-up table lets the space double (or triple?) as an office.

Having been duly impressed thus far by the imposing scope of the 42’s standard features, I was eager to check out her engine room, which revealed another advantage of her raised helm deck. There’s a good 5’7” of headroom; not quite full standing room, but more than on most boats in this size range. Owners can choose among any of three gensets (with hushbox) in the 12.5- to 13.5-kW range, enough to run all three air-conditioning units, plus all other A.C. appliances, at the same time. Our test boat was fitted with an inverter and an additional 900-amp battery capacity that would allow her owner more than two days of cruising without having to run the genset. However, I was disappointed that the engine-mounted oil filters were on the starboard side of both engines, necessitating a tight squeeze to get to the outboard side of the starboard engine.

I was not disappointed in the 42’s construction. Her hull is cored with PVC foam below the waterline and end-grain balsa above. All core materials are vacuum-bagged to ensure uniform bonding, and the hull is laminated with a high-heat resin to resist post-cure distortion. Her bottom is molded to the same proven form as that of the Sabreline 42 Sedan Flybridge.

Running the 42 Express along the scenic Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, I was pleased by her nimble handling and spirited performance. Cruising at 2000 rpm, she ran an easy 20 knots, averaging 0.74 nmpg. Tracking and maneuvering were steady and predictable, and she exhibited no significant bow rise throughout the rpm range.

The 42 Express offers a lot of options, but the breadth of her standard features impressed me most. Crafted by artisans who have a respect for the sea that’s been forged on the rugged coast of Maine, her “standards” are truly exceptional.

Sabre Yachts
(207) 655-3831

This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.