Many of us in the Cape Fear simply admire passing boats from afar, and some are fortunate enough to have one to call their own. A select few, however, are skilled enough to be part of the Jarrett Bay Boatworks team that constructs these beautiful, uniquely-designed vessels for leisure and sport.
Written by Liz Wiles / Photography by Luke Peterson, Scott Taylor, Marc Montocchio, and Debra Todd
Jarrett Bay Boatworks was founded in 1986 in Williston, NC on Jarrett Bay, a body of water in Eastern Carteret County. The name of the company came naturally to founder and president Randy Ramsey.
“When I tried to order some materials for the first boat, the supplier told me we had to give them the name of the company,” says Ramsey. “Jarrett Bay was the first name that came to mind.”
Ramsey was born in Kinston, NC but moved to Harkers Island in his early teens. He has and will always consider Harkers Island “home.” His parents were avid boaters, and he had an uncle who was a charter Captain in South Carolina. From an early age, he was passionate about boating and fishing and made it a goal of his to someday start a charter fishing business.
He was licensed by the USCG (United States Coast Guard) on his 18th birthday, which was the minimum age for licensing at the time. He ran his first charter the following day. In the colder months when fishing charters could not be run, he guided duck hunters and worked in local boat shops to help make ends meet.
“When we started, our intention was to build one boat to replace an aging charter boat we were running. Our goal was to build a fast, efficient boat that would be able to compete with any boat along our coast. We never really intended to go into the business, but the first boat exceeded our expectations; she looked good and performed well,” says Ramsey. “Soon after we launched her, another charter captain asked if we would build one for him. We agreed to do that when we weren’t taking fishing charters, and that led to selling several others. In reality, our goals today are similar to our original ones: build high quality sportfishing boats that exceed the owners expectations and can compete across the globe.”
Every boat that has even been constructed under Jarrett Bay’s flag holds a place near Ramsey’s heart. He delights in keeping up with each one and loves to hear back from the owners regularly.
“The ‘Sensation’, hull #1, will always be special, but the recent launches of ‘Jaruco’ and ‘Privateer’ challenged us to deliver new designs, explore new methods and push our comfort zones,” says Ramsey.
While his vision for the company hasn’t strayed much over the years, his construction of these massive crafts has evolved over time. When they started work on their first boat in December of 1986, the typical construction method for custom sportfishing boats was a “plank-on-frame.” In other words, the boat was framed with “ribs,” then planked by nailing juniper boards and strips along the hull sides. The cabin and structure was built of plywood and coated with a very thin layer of fiberglass. Most of the engineering was done as the boat was being built.
“The evolution we have seen over the years has been amazing,” says Ramsey. “In the early 1990’s we started building the hulls with a method referred to as cold molding, which eliminated the ribs. The strength is derived from longitudinal stringers and diagonal planking.”
With a sophisticated engineering process and a team that works to continually improve their methods, his boats continue to stand out among his competitors. The materials used now include closed cell foam (a substitution for the use of plywood, which makes the boat lighter as a whole), carbon fiber and titanium. They employ methods like resin infusion (which is used on the glass to give strength to the structure) and vacuum bagging (a method of distributing the resin throughout the glass) allowing for lighter weight construction and eliminating mechanical fasteners in the hull or topsides.
“I think my greatest achievement at Jarrett Bay has to be the opportunity to build relationships with the craftsmen who work here and with the customers that have become part of our family,” says Ramsey. “Together we have delivered some of the finest sportfishing boats in the world, built a marine industrial park and had the service capabilities to take on any job large or small.”
He also considers it an honor to work with all of the people on the Jarrett Bay team.
“They are passionate, take ownership and know that exceeding expectations is our goal every day,” says Ramsey. “While I would like to take credit for the boats we repair and build, in reality they are the reason for our success.”
Outside of Jarrett Bay and the boats themselves, he takes pride in his business’s ability to give back to the community in an effort to help give future generations the opportunity to be successful in their personal ventures.
Randy lives in Carteret County, North Carolina, and is a very active member of numerous local and regional boards. Most notably, Randy has served on the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Board since 1983, serving as president for two terms. If you listen in on the tournament via its live feed—which can be found on the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament website—it’s his voice you will hear.
He also serves on the boards of the North Carolina Manufacturer’s Association and the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association, is President of The North Carolina State University Student Aid Association and is a member of the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees, just to name a few. His wife, Tiffany, is also a boat enthusiast, and they enjoy participating in billfish tournaments together.
Aside from their boats, Jarrett Bay also holds Jarrett Bay Clothing Company and Jarrett Bay Home under its flag. ¶