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Sail durability is on the minds of most cruisers and club racers. They use their boats 3-4 times a month and their sails last 6-10 years and UK Sailmakers more than satisfies their needs. But, UK Sailmakers also meets the more extreme durability needs of commercial customers like Scarano Boat Building and Classic Harbor Lines. They build and manage a fleet of schooners built purposefully for sightseers in major sailing ports. These working boats sail every day and take 2-3 excursions per day. If they have sail problems, they are losing money.
Since 2011, UK Sailmakers has built sails for many of these schooners and continues to enjoy this ongoing business-to-business relationship. Their business model is interesting. Since the 1970s, Scarano Boat Building has been making boats on the Hudson River just south of Albany, New York. They are one of the few companies that also design and build boats for their own use. The actual yacht design work is done by John Scarano and the construction is overseen by his brother, Rick.
A Scarano related company, Classic Harbor Line, operates a small fleet of passenger boats. John’s focus is on the design and construction while Rick is more focused on the excursion fleet. One of the Classic Harbor Line’s schooners is AMERICA 2.0, a day excursion boat that operates in New York Harbor in the summer and out of Key West in the winter. She was designed and built specifically to resemble the famous AMERICA, but like her sister ships has a modern underbody beneath her classic topsides and sailplan. Designed specifically for carrying sightseers, AMERICA 2.0 takes out 2-3 charter groups every day.
Recently, UK Sailmakers NY delivered the third gaff-rigged main and jib for AMERICA 2.0. UK’s Emmett Dickheiser delivered the sails to Key West personally to make sure they fit properly. Again, these were heavy Dacron sails like the ones UK Sailmakers made for two other Classic Harbor Lines schooners.
“We haven’t had any problems with the UK Sailmakers’ sails,” said Rick Scarano. “I can say that after every conversation with UK we better understood the sail design. I can’t remember any sail ever being recut and no concerns. None have ever had to go back. We’re big UK Sailmakers fans.”
In 2011, UK Sailmakers received a call from the Scaranos asking for a quote on a set of sails for their latest harbor excursion boat, the 87-foot schooner AMERICA 2.0. UK’s Butch Ulmer took the call and, while only being asked for a spec quote, he offered to visit the yacht. “I grew up sailing gaff-rigged schooners and I’d love to see her,” he said to Rick Scarano. These first discussions indicated that the Scaranos were interested in making the sails as big as possible to help make the boat fast, and that was the beginning of a longstanding relationship.
Once there, Butch became an encyclopedia of schooner trivia and soon was sharing insights and recommendations. Convinced that UK could provide the sails they needed, the Scaranos bought a full inventory for America 2.0. Now UK Sailmakers sails are on three of the Classic Harbor Lines schooners.
In 1992, Scarano’s built their first Coast Guard certified sailboat, MADELINE, designed to function as a commercial day-tour boat for an operator in Newport, RI. A second sailboat, WOODWIND, followed shortly for a different commercial operator in Annapolis, MD. Then, the Newport operator wanted a schooner, so ADIRONDACK was designed and built.
In 1994, a Newport marina and marketing company wanted a schooner to complement its operations. An arrangement was made for a Scarano company to own the vessel and the marina to perform all marketing and promotions. Then, in 1999, Classic Harbor Line built a schooner to operate at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.