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Cruising with Sabre

DATE POSTED:June 29, 2020
True East on the hook in Kosterhavet National Park in Fjällbacka, Sweden.
True East on the hook in Kosterhavet National Park in Fjällbacka, Sweden. (Courtesy Dan Prigmore/)

When dan prigmore and Marcia Hayes pulled their Sabre 48 True East up to a hand-operated lock in Norway’s Telemark Canal this past July, they received an extremely enthusiastic greeting from the senior lockmaster.

“He asked: ‘Can I come on the boat and get a picture with your flag? I’ve been at this job 16 years, and this is the first American boat I’ve ever seen,’” Prigmore says.

Since launching True East in 2012, the veteran cruising couple from Coconut Grove, Florida, has taken great pride in voyaging beyond the beaten cruising waypoints. They’ve logged more than 35,000 miles on True East, exploring nautical nooks and crannies from Alaska to the Canadian Maritimes, Sardinia to Sweden, with Hayes’ Chihuahua-terrier rescue dog, Lola, along for the ride and the frequent company of friends and family.

“When we first met and Dan asked me how I felt about boats, I said, ‘Let’s put it this way: My absolute favorite thing is to be either in the water, on the water, next to the water, or coming and going to the water,’” Hayes says.

These adventurous cruisers have traveled more than 35,000 nautical miles to locations such as Lourdes, France.The “Men at Sea” in Esbjerg, Denmark.Marcia and Lola exploring in Canillo, Andorra.The yacht’s shallow air draft comes in handy while exploring the French canals.Stopping by a glassblowing shop in Copenhagen, Denmark.Going ashore to stretch their legs, the couple gets a chance to take in views like this one in Ordino, Andorra.Visiting the Natural History Museum Basel in Switzerland.Slow cruising through Nordhouse, France.It’s a tight fit as True East exits a tunnel while cruising French canals.A quiet morning on the canal.Exploring museums in Luxembourg.A waterfront view in Smögen, Sweden.

A lifetime boater, Prigmore commuted for a while from his summer home in Hull, Massachusetts, to his office in Boston aboard Johanna, a 30-foot twin-engine Hacker-Craft christened with his mother’s middle name. He also logged 30,000 miles on Canim, a 1930 Ted Geary-designed 96-foot motoryacht he had restored. After Prigmore met Hayes, the couple cruised along the Maine coast and elsewhere aboard Prigmore’s 32-foot Legacy, True South.

“We spent two summers up in New England, where Dan is from and has lots of friends who have boats,” Hayes says. “Everyone kept asking us, ‘When are you going to buy a place up here?’ But Dan and I both agreed we couldn’t decide on one place. What we really wanted was to be able to cruise on a boat but have company join us. That was the inspiration for buying a two-cabin boat.”

They made the rounds of boat shows in the United States and Europe, checklist in hand. “We wanted a boat with two equal cabins with en suite heads and a separate shower,” Prigmore says. “It had to be under 50 feet, run-and-hide capable, American-made with classic lines. The Sabre 48 was exactly what we wanted.”

The clincher was the lower stateroom, whose head serves as a day-head for guests and whose sleeping area becomes stowage during long voyages. That stateroom also holds a washer and dryer. They converted the queen berth to a twin and fitted the extra space with a wire-rack stowage unit. Foldable bikes and an inflatable kayak stay down there, as do a refrigerator for food stowage—second to the one in the galley—and an average of 10 cases of wine.

Their favorite scenery, by far, has been during their Alaska voyages, where they’ve even scooped up some ice to mix glacial martinis while watching the wildlife.

“If you get up into Tracy Arm at the right time of year, the seals give birth on the ice floes to keep their pups away from the orcas,” Prigmore says. “You have a ton of eagles overhead and whales nudging around the edges. You’re floating in ice. It’s unbelievable.”

While True East’s 550 hp Cummins diesels provide the power Prigmore needs in rough crossings—such as from Newfoundland to Cape Breton in Canada, and from Italy’s Sardinia to Spain’s Mallorca in the Mediterranean—the couple prefers to keep things in a lower gear.

“We like to nudge our way through tight passages where you have to pay attention, but it’s more interesting than going 50 miles per hour 24/7 offshore,” Prigmore says.

They were charmed by the Mediterranean’s Rhone-Rhine Canal, where they just barely squeezed under the bridges and through as many as 25 locks in one day.

“I’d swear Marcia walked halfway across France,” Prigmore says. “There was usually a beautiful path next to the canal, so she’d walk with the dog, Lola, while I drove the boat.” As she strolled past abandoned lockmasters’ houses, Hayes picked sun-ripened pears, peaches and plums.

True East’s next plum itinerary, starting in May, will depart from Sweden and head east to the Baltics, then explore the coast of Poland and the Mecklenburg Lakes region of Germany. Prigmore, Hayes and Lola expect to be together at the helm, keeping True East on course, for their next great adventure.