Sunday, April 12, 2020


I know all their models and had already been impressed by Saare overall quality, but this new version of the 38, the 38.2, that they showed at Dusseldorf, is something special. For cruising extensively a 38ft boat, by today's standards is small, but I, that cruise on a  41ft boat, found that this boat is so well designed and detailed that it would suit me fine.

It has very good interior storage, a big head with a separate shower, a large galley with a big refrigerator (water-cooled) and an optional small one on the saloon table for the beer and white wine (what a great idea!) and also a very good exterior storage with a small sail locker at the bow (but enough to keep the gennaker), and four cockpit lockers, one of them suited to have the liferaft and other communicating with a large storage space inside the boat that can be subdivided for the installation of a small generator.

The engine compartment is big and with enough space for the boiler and other technical equipment.

A diesel heating from EberspÀcher is standard as well as the stainless steel windshield. They use Harken sail hardware and the boat comes standard with 6 winches, one of them electric, that would be considered oversized on mass production boats (40 and 40.2).

It comes also with spectra halyards, over the cabin genoa traveler, mainsheet traveler and with many things that are options on other boats like 4 gilthead aerators and one permanent aerator for good ventilation in all areas, 4 padeyes on Deck for life-lines, 6 additional padeyes inside the cockpit for life-belts, teak cockpit table mountable on the steering console, 30 l water boiler with 220 V heating powered by mainland electricity connection and heating via engine cooling circle and a  foot-pump for seawater or switchable to freshwater in the pantry.

It is really a boat thought for extended cruising and that foot-pump switchable to freshwater, when the water electric pump stops working, makes me envious. The 10 old-styled lateral cabin "windows" will not give so much light as a continuous plexiglass panel but while those normally only provide two small openings, all the "windows" on the Saare open and that will provide better ventilation especially if we consider that the boat has already 5 top hatches and four gilthead aerators.

Hallberg Rassy 372
The interior quality is one of the best in the industry and probably only possible on a small yard that still produces boats as if they were one-offs, with meticulous care, finish and attention to detail. 

Sometimes a good finish is not necessarily the same as a well-designed interior but in this case the interior design, even if a bit on the traditional side, is very agreeable and nice.

Saare is a relatively recent and not well-known brand so one should ask: who designs and builds these boats, what experience do they have? Saare is an Estonian shipyard and before building their own boat they built for Finngulf their boats. Finngulf, for the ones that don't remember, where excellent Finnish cruiser racers with not only great performance but ones with a very good finish and quality.

Saare 38.2. below, HR 372
Finngulf went bankrupt in 2011 and it was at that time that this shipyard decided to make its own boat, curiously founded by the same man that had founded Finngulf, Stig Nordblad.

The chosen designer was the same that designed the Finngulf, Karl-Johan StrÄhlmann. So, even if recent, their competence in what regards building and the quality of the designs are well established.

However there are several things that I would like to be different on this boat, like a slightly more modern hull (10 years old) with the beam pulled aft and a plumb bow, but as it is, it is just a bit outdated, but not really in a way that compromises sailing cruising performance because the hull design was a very good one and that classic trend does not extend itself to the building methods and materials.

Like on the Hallberg Rassy, the Saare has a sandwich hull, using Divinicell as core, but while on HR they still use a hand-laid method, here they use vacuum infusion. HR use vynilester resins on the outer layers and good quality polyester on the others.

Saare uses only vynilester resin and they say that it is a top vynilester, close to epoxy, about 300 times more resistant to hydrolysis than normal polyester resin. This will allows the Saare to be lighter than the HR, for the same strength.

Both boats are built in two halves and joined together with a strong lamination, a well-proven technique, even if I prefer the hull infused all together, preferably incorporating hull structure and reinforcements like they do on Solaris, for instance. On the HR and Saare the boat structure is post laminated to the hull. I have no doubts about the work to be well dimensioned and well done on both companies but the method used by Solaris allows lighter boats for the same strength.

Saare 38.2 two layouts, below HR 372
The Saare 38.2 and the Hallberg Rassy 372 have similar dimensions: Hull length - 11.40m, 11.35; LWL - 10.16m, 10.25: Beam - 3.66m, 3.60; Displacement - 8 100kg, 7500; Ballast - 3100kg, 2900kg; Draft - 1.95m, 1.99; Water -  360L ,471; Diesel - 360L, 270; Engine - 51hp, 60hp; B/D - 38.3%, 38.7%: D/L- 216.2, 194.7: SA/D - 18.7, 19.4.

So, no cruiser-racers here, not really performance boats, but middleweight boats with good sailing potential, being the one of the HR slightly better than the one of the Saare that, however, has the option of a code 0 that seems to be a cross between a light nylon big code 0 and a big genoa (you can see it on the photos) mounted on a fixed bowsprit on a roller.

They call this a Cutter configuration and even if I would not use that denomination, it is a very interesting one that will allow upwind a 27.7 SA/D, certainly not usable close upwind but somewhere between close-hauled and close-reach. With this configuration, I am sure the Saare will sail very well in all wind conditions.

The Hallberg Rassy 372 is an excellent boat, the first of the modern HR, with a better sailing performance than the older ones, it has also a 10-year-old hull, very similar to the one of the Saare, just a bit beamier but both different from the approach modern HR hulls have now.

 Newer middle-sized HRs models have joined the modern tendency to have beamier hulls, maximized for beam reaching and downwind sailing while those two, especially the Saare, are more old school, with a more overall optimization and a better upwind performance.

Running rigging, above Saare, below HR
Another type of hulls, as for instance the one of the new HR 40C, are more maximized for beam reaching and downwind sailing, having beamier hulls that allow the extra advantage of more voluminous interior.

If one sails out of the trade winds, on the Baltic, Med or Caribbean and if one does not motor upwind, a boat with a better performance upwind can be a better choice because with varied winds one ends up sailing more upwind than in any other point of sail, due to apparent wind.

But as many just motor upwind, and certainly these boats can do it because with a 60hp engine they have a motorsailor potential, the advantage in what regards better upwind potential is reduced to only a more comfortable ride upwind and it will not justify the option for a hull of this type, versus the advantages a maximized beam reaching/downwind offers, including a larger interior.

However, there is another advantage of these hulls versus beamier ones, the superior performance in light winds, but again, if one does not sail with light winds, doing between 3 and 5.5kt speed, and if in those circumstances one just turns on the engine to go at 6 or 6.5kt, then the light wind performance will be of little relevance, something like 0.5kt between 6 and 7 kt speed with winds between 7 and 9 kts.

It is up to you to know what type of hull is more suited to you, depending on the wind (trade winds or not) and what is the percentage of engine use and in what circumstances. As a guide you should know those ocean racers that race predominantly on the trade winds are beamier than IRC or ORC offshore racing boats that race with a more balanced set of winds.

Sometimes it is not easy to notice the difference on the hulls because nowadays they all have the beam pulled back, but if you look at the beam dimension on boats with the same length the difference will be obvious as well as the shape of the transom, not in what regards a bird's view (where they seem similar) but on the way the waterline varies with heeling.

Looking at the polar speeds of the Hallberg Rassy and Saare they look very similar, the interior arrangement is designed for a couple providing good storage, but the Saare goes a step further on that maximization and offers a boat with a very big forward cabin, a bigger galley and more technical and interior space at the cost of having only a double cabin and another one that can be a single one (for two children) or another storage space.

If one really needs two full-sized cabins, not for hosting friends or sons then there is another layout that can have almost the same storage, with a bit less of space for technical equipment at the cost of a slightly smaller head (even so a good one) and a smaller front cabin ( a "normal" sized one) but having the advantage of offering, like the HR, a dedicated and more comfortable seat for the chart table.

Both interiors, the HR and the Saare, are well finished and of good quality but the one of the Saare truly gives the impression of being something special, on the detail of the storage space, on the way everything is thought out for extensive cruising and even in what regards finish.

Another important difference regards running rigging: both have the mainsheet at the end of the boom, going to a traveler forward of the steering wheel, using a german sheet system that needs the use of two winches, but while on the HR all the rest of the work, from the jib, genoa, code 0, control of the mainsail shape and reefing is done using only two other winches, on the Saare you will have 4 to do that.

That will allow making sail adjustments without having the need to block the forward sail sheet and will allow an easier and quicker sail trim. Due to the position of the blocks and the way the boat is rigged it would be impossible or very difficult to put two more winches on the HR. 

The Saare also has the option to mount the traveler for the main over the cabin, forward the windshield. Thay will give a lesser control over the main but can allow a bigger bimini.

The HR has the genoa tracks on the side deck while the Saare has bigger ones over the cabin and that will allow a better regulation upwind, going closer to the wind.

Maybe I am getting old but the Saare seems to me very close to the perfect boat for someone who wants to have a relatively fast, comfortable, easy, well-built boat to sail as long as one can in old age. 

The small size, the great seaworthiness, the middleweight, the relatively small sail area, the solent rig, the low freeboard are all characteristics that make its use easier and less expensive in the long term.

And if you think that I am exaggerating you should read what Fridtjof Gunkel, one of the oldest and more experienced test sailors from the German Yacht magazine said about the Saare 38.2, that he tested not long ago. You can download the full review from their site. Translated from the German:
"Saare 38.2 , a clear concept and a yacht at its finest...Why bother with dedicated guest cabins that are hardly or not inhabited and only serve as storage space and one that is difficult to use anyway? Why worry about storing on the deck fenders, life rafts and bicycles, when they can be stored in the interior?...

A consistent boat program created something new: a boat designed specifically for a small crew that meets the wishes of older cruising sailors. The boat not only sails very well as it is also extremely easy to operate: difficult to make it easier for a small crew. Consistently designed for a couple, well divided and equipped with plenty of storage space, stiff and fast, Saare 38.2 is an ideal boat for couples who cruise extensively and like to sail...

The price is high but quite reasonable for what is offered. It is worth mentioning the very extensive standard equipment, the high level of customization, timeless lines and the feeling of sailing something special.


Also, years ago the Saare 38 was tested by David Harding, for the British Yachting Monthly, and he said : 

"The breeze started at 20-25 knots, gusting to 30 by the time we were heading home. It's always good to see how a boat copes with a litde pressure so we set out under full canvas, ready to drop in a slab if necessary. The Saare took it in her stride: she's a powerful offshore yacht and clearly relished the opportunity to show what she's made of..

The Saare will look after the shorthanded sailor and family crew alike, getting you where you want to go comfortably and efficiently....A boat on test can only be assessed in the conditions on the day, but it’s not often you come away struggling to find anything to criticize. 

This was one of those very rare occasions….The hull shape changes little when heeled; one reason she’s so balanced. The Saare 38 proves that a modern cruiser doesn’t have to have chines, an ultra-wide transom and twin rudders. Moderate, tasteful and well-designed can do just as well, or perhaps even better."

One more particularity of this shipyard and one that shows how close they like to be to customers is that if you like the boat delivered by sea they have their own delivery skipper, that will be glad to sail with you to teach you all about the boat particularities and boat handling, something that is only possible on a small shipyard like this one.

The price at Dusseldorf boat show was 290 538€, without taxes at the shipyard, for a standard boat that includes many items that are always necessary, but are never standard on other boats, including some electronic, diesel heating on all cabins, synthetic deck on the coachroof and side decks, anchor and rode, fixed windshield in stainless steel and safety glass, sprayhood to mount on top of it, 330 Ah AGM house batteries plus 66Ah starter battery, fly screens and integrated roller blinds on deck hatches, curtains in all windows, removable teak cockpit table, shore power with charger and inverter, 2 epoxy coats and antifouling.

On the list of extras you will find some items that are unusually offered directly by the manufacturer and that shows clearly for what type of customers this boat is addressed to, reflecting particular needs, like a cockpit tent, starboard storage compartment converted into a workshop (with shelves, boxes, workbench), deck washing pump mounted in the anchor locker, water maker, washing machine, solar panel, generator, hydro generator, wind generator, heating (from the diesel heater) on the cockpit and so on.

Quality is expensive but I would say that if one buys this boat, at retirement time, instead of a similarly priced bigger sailboat, not only will recover a  big amount of money on the next ten years (maintenance costs, shipyard costs, marina costs, touristic taxes) as one will be able to sail and cruise for more time, with less stress and probably enjoy more sailing on a boat where everything is simple, practical and well thought for cruisng. This is a boat where everything seems perfect and one where if you find something that you don't like, the chances are that they can change it to your liking.


  1. I, once again, find your notes to be excellent and fair. Saare are beautiful boats and my idea of ideal cruiser (apart from maybe Boreal and such..) It also came as a nice surprise that Saare has updated their hull construction. The earlier ones were resin infused end grain balsa cored.

    I'm in my mid thirties and these are exactly what I see as dream cruising boats. SO I guess I'm old too. Granted, I'm still in my fast 34 footer phase, but I'd actually change to Rassy 372 or this in a heartbeat if I had the chance. And then get a 49er on the side..

    One thing I find highly interesting about the HR and Saare comparison: Saare 38.2 is damn heavy for her size and HR 372 isn't exactly light weight either. But go one size up to Saare 41 ac and HR 412 and it gets flipped to no small degree. Both are still heavy, but Saare 41 ac comes in at 9.3 tons with 3.9 tons of ballast, where as HR 412 is 11.1 tons and 4 tons of ballast. Thats closing in on 1.8 ton difference for practically the same ballast. Pretty much identical sail area. HR carries a bit more beam, but I'm not convinced it's worth 1.8 tons.. Then again, the HR 372 seems like a way more succesfull design than the 412.

    One note though, if I'm not mistaken, Saare yards only built some of the last Finngulfs and just the smallest model 331 in mass. The late FG 37 was Finnish built. The difference in quality was neglible.

    1. Hi,

      Probably you know more than me about the Finngulfs that were made in the Saare shipyard.

      I have seen the 41 (several times) and I find it an interesting boat but what I find extraordinary on the 38.2 is that it really does not make a big difference in what regards cruising amenities and storage space, if compared with the 41.

      The HR 372 was an extraordinary boat when it appeared on the market and it marked the change in HR regarding faster boats, but in what regards cruising potential, if compared with the Saare 38.2, it looks and feels like a considerably smaller boat.

      Regarding the HR 412 and the HR 372 probably the 412 is a better boat if we take into account what the typical HR boat owner wants from a sailing boat.

      Proportionally the 372 is faster, better upwind, but that is not really what HR is about and I bet the boat that is going to replace it will have a very beamy hull, like the one of the new 40c.

      Maybe the next Arcona 38 fits better what you want, even if it all depends on who is going to design the new boats, or the X4-0 from X-yachts, that is really a 38ft boat.

  2. Love this boat. Finally a nice cruiser for solo or couple sailing under 40 feet. I don't need all the extra sleeping cabins. This layout is great with the head and wet locker by the companionway. Nice galley with center line sinks. Posh forward cabin for in port.

    I would want the port aft cabin as a workshop (with bench, parts, tools, yay!) and not a bed. That along with bin storage on shelves in starboard aft section would be amazing for me. Now if they could add a hardtop it would be perfect.

  3. If you had not been inside the boat I would say that you are going to like it even more when you visit. It is really a perfect offshore boat for a cruiser that don't want to spend more in maintenance and marina prices.

    I would have liked a bit more draft (2.20) and a L shaped more modern keel with a steel foil and a lead torpedo to make it lighter.

    The displacement is the only thing I don't like on this boat. With less 1000kg it would be perfect, but that would imply also to use epoxy resin instead of vinylester and probably a carbon mast and boom.

  4. what is the headroom.? i am 1.91m

  5. Iam not sure. I am 1,88m and it was alright for me.