The name Scarborough is synonymous with North Carolina boatbuilding dating back to 1975 when, out of -necessity, Ricky Scarborough Sr. built a juniper-plank-hulled crab boat for his own use as a local waterman. While under construction, another -crabber offered to buy it, and Scarborough Boatworks was born. Ricky Sr. shifted from work boats to sport-fishers in 1976/77 with the debut of a 41-foot cold-molded creation that turned a lot of heads. Orders started rolling in, and he built five more of them by 1980.
Bigger boats would follow as engine manufacturers ramped up horsepower and Scarborough prospered. Ricky Jr. grew up in the family business, splitting his interests between boatbuilding and his love of baseball. He played college ball for awhile, then earned a degree in business from East Carolina University before coming home to work with his dad. The elder -Scarborough retired in 2010 after the completion of the 74-foot Eye Roller but still stops in to check out the new technology his son has incorporated into the design and building process — and that brings us to Saga.
“This is our first ‘jig-built’ boat over 36 feet,” Ricky Jr. explained. It was computer-designed with the help of noted designer Steve French, utilizing the latest in 3-D software. The stringers are built of laminated Douglas fir, and the bulkheads come from sandwiched plywood and Nidacore panels cut on an in-house CNC machine for a precise fit. Three layers of ¼-inch plywood make up the sides of the hull, with three layers of ½-inch plywood forming the running surface. The bulkheads, stringers and decks get glassed with carbon fiber for strength without added weight, with flawless fairing of the finished hull.
“The computer really shines during the interior-layout phase of the design,” Scarborough said. “Custom interiors with total space utilization can be designed, tested and displayed in three dimensions, so the customer gets exactly what he wants, and we know it all fits before we begin the build.” The finished product provides proof, as Saga‘s amazing interior shows.
Saga combines a traditional Carolina look with an altered rake, softer sheer, narrower flare, and classic touches like the extravagant use of teak on the transom, cockpit sole, covering boards, toe rail and a tasteful eyebrow rail that sets off the flybridge. Airbrush artist Josh Everett created the beautiful gold-leaf legend and blue marlin artwork on the transom. Saga appears smaller than its actual size, possibly because it sits low on the water and exhibits the trademark Scarborough posture, always level with no significant bow rise, even when coming on plane. The boat exudes class, with great appeal.
Teak on teak centered by a Release fighting chair with a rocket-launcher backrest accentuates the cockpit. The uninterrupted deck has no hatches, and unique scuppers cut into the aft corners of the gunwales at deck level. Access to the bilge requires a trip down a crawlway from the engine room to get to the rudder posts, steering ram and bilge pumps. However, with no water and dirt through the cockpit hatch, it’s a very clean bilge. A large fish box rests in the transom. A comfortable settee sits on the mezzanine just a step up from the deck. A freezer for bait storage, two ice chests (one plumbed for the ice maker), and a large storage compartment are under the step, all lined with stainless steel. An electric grill can be found under the top of the tackle station on the starboard side of the salon door.
The trade-off for the low-slung look of Saga manifests itself as low headroom in the engine room; don’t expect to stand while doing routine engine maintenance. That said, easy access for service remains, and if required, removable panels and braces in the salon floor provide the extra room needed for major service work. The white, black and chrome Cat C18 diesels look dignified under the mirrored ceiling surrounded by a gleaming white engine room. Forward of the engines, twin doors lift to reveal a small pump room that also houses the 21 kW Cat g-enerator. A sea chest forward of each engine provides easy access to water pickups and shutoff valves. The crawlway to the bilge lies aft, and is beautifully finished as well.
The salon, galley, staterooms, and heads come finished in a combination of solid teak and teak veneers with clothing drawers constructed of dove-tailed cedar. Cedar also lines all the hanging closets. The airy and comfortable salon and galley layout features saddle-colored upholstery on an L-shaped settee to port and the stools surrounding the centered galley table. The top surface consists of a single, massive green-hued piece of polished granite, while the galley work surfaces feature black granite. Neat drop-down seats come built into the sides of the island for additional guests. The heart of the galley includes a double-burner electric range, a large convection oven, a U-Line four-drawer refrigerator/freezer, a glass-front beverage cooler, ice maker, and plenty of storage cabinets and drawers. The cabinet below the flat-screen TV opens to reveal storage for the owner’s favorite beverages and serving glasses.
The companionway forward starts four steps down from the galley. On the starboard side, a large alcove holds a full complement of rods and reels. Next, cabinet doors open to reveal a stacked washer/dryer, and farther forward lies the guest head with shower. You enter the master suite on the port side, and it includes a double bed positioned at an angle, surrounded by cabinets and drawers for all the owner’s possessions. It features a private head and shower with the same light-granite countertops as the guest head. Both have mirrored ceilings. The guest stateroom in the bow features a high/low, double/single bed arrangement.
A starboard-side bridge ladder leads from the cockpit to the bridge through a closeable hatch. The port-side helm sits between a walk-through to the seating area forward and a rear-facing jump seat on the opposite side. The top of the helm opens on automated rams to reveal a massive electronics panel with black carbon-fiber backing for easy viewing from the captain’s chair behind a teak helm pod. Caterpillar engine controls combine with bow-thruster actuator buttons built into the grips at the top of each lever for easy control, whether docking or fighting a fish. The helm chairs also come from Release Marine, and four Miya Epoch electric reels allow effortless control of teasers with the lines run through 39-foot Rupp triple-spreader outriggers. Everything is within easy reach.
Saga is owner Randy Abbitt’s second Scarborough. He captains the boat -himself and loves every minute of it because the 60 handles so well. The C18s push the hull easily, and it comes on plane with little bow rise for an almost imperceptible transition. At a 1,900 rpm cruise, the boat makes 30 knots burning only 74 gph. Wide-open, we hit 38 knots with the engines at 90 percent load. Scarborough said the props needed a little more pitch, and Saga should pick up another knot or three, but they are waiting for the water to warm up before fiddling with it. Response to the helm is fast, sure-footed and predictable.
We ran Oregon Inlet into breaking 6- to 8-footers, which settled down to G3- to 5-foot swells outside, and the ride was soft and completely dry, with the flare doing just what one would expect. Switching the Cat engine controls to Slow Vessel Mode and reducing speed to a 7-knot troll, the wake was super clean, and I could just imagine white marlin coming right to the transom to snatch a tight flat-line bait. “I like to let my guests steer while we’re trolling,” Abbitt told me. “Sitting in the jump seat watching the spread is one of my favorite things to do.” When I saw the look on Abbitt’s face while running Saga, I can assure you he likes being at the helm just as much.
Under the direction of Ricky Jr., Scarborough Boatworks continues the family legacy of crafting beautiful, highly functional fishing machines in the Carolina style, which his father helped create. Saga represents another step in the evolution of great boats from one of North Carolina’s most notable builders.