Boats We Like: The Saga 43

We have come across a couple of Saga 43s in the last two years. I can’t say we have made a close evaluation, but they do seem like nice boats with good and moderate lines, that avoid the problems caused by excessive beam, particularly aft. The designer, Bob Perry, has a history of wholesome offshore boats under his belt going back to the classic Valiant 40.

Based on a brief tour of one Saga, the deck layout and fittings appeared seamanlike and the interior well thought out. The boat we were on had two heads, which is just a waste of space in a 43’ boat. Having said that, the forward head could easily be converted to a work shop and storage area, and the boat can also be bought in a single head configuration.

Both of the two owners we met said to stay away from some of the early Saga 43s with the very shallow draft option (no longer offered) and opt for a deeper keel.

This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a cheap boat, but the prices they command on the second hand market do indicate that the boats are good value.

We sailed offshore next to this Saga 43 for several hours last fall and were impressed by her speed. On a close reach, when the wind was light, she actually pulled away from Morgan’s Cloud. As the wind filled in we had the legs of her, but not by a lot. There is a lot to be said for these modern long water line boats, although, on the flip side, they do not have the reserve buoyancy in the ends that longer overhangs confer

This photo shows the Saga 43’s fine lines (somewhat exaggerated by the wide angle lens) and the workmanlike combined bow platform and anchor roller

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

3 comments… add one
  • Dick Stevenson Apr 30, 2018, 8:32 am

    Hi John,
    I just came across this evaluation and agree with your conclusions.
    I had followed the design development of the Saga 43 for a year or so and went to the 1998 (9?) Annapolis boat show with the intention of seeing in depth the then new Saga 43 and perhaps moving to buy one for our live-aboard plans. The manufacturer was very accommodating and informative and I spent hours poking around the boat seeing most everything that did not need a tool to get to.
    My conclusion: good design with some significant execution issues. I shared this with the manufacturer as he was so gracious and he wrote back saying they had made and were making improvements. At the show, we then went to a Valiant 42 and found the answers we were looking for in this more mature design and long run of construction. Our main concern in buying a used V-42 was speed and sailing ability and it has proved more than adequate for our needs though, as you correctly point out, a Saga 43 sails fast.
    A few years later we dined on a new Saga 43 (in the Bahamas) whose owners had worked hand-in-hand with the manufacturer to get the boat they wanted: most or all of the concerns I had were well addressed and the owners indicated that the changes made were being incorporated in all the boats. Years later met up again in Turkey, and they continued to be very pleased with their boat. They reported impressive passage times.
    I do not know how many were eventually made or how they have held up over the years, but I would suspect that a Saga 43 made after the bugs were exposed, would make an excellent used boat to buy and take its crew safely and fast most anywhere.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • John Apr 30, 2018, 5:22 pm

      Hi Dick,

      Thanks for the confirmation and added information on the boat. I got interested and took a look at the listings. The later models seem to be running around $200K which seems to indicate that they have held their value well.

      The other thought I had is I wonder how many people who buy a 30-40 year old boat for a sub $100K price and then refit it, spend even more, when all is said and done, than for one of these Sagas. I know that was Poor Stupid Bob’s experience, when we adjust for inflation:

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