December 3, 2023

Hardcore Game Fishing

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First Build: Jarrett Bay’s Sensation

The Sensation on the water.
By Nichole Osinski

“If you’d asked me when I was 16 years old if I was going to build a boat, I would have told you you’re crazy,” says Jarrett Bay Founder and President Randy Ramsey when recalling his 30-plus year career in the boat building industry. But to understand how the company has risen to where it is today, you have to go back to the root of it all—hull #1, which stemmed from a simple and pure love of fishing.

“I started charter fishing when I was 18. I got my license, and I had kind of an older boat that wasn’t really very serviceable. I’d fished with Capt. Omie Tillet in Wanchese and was always struck by how much better his boat was in the ocean than anything that I had.”

This coupled with a few winters spent working with Myron Harris, another captain whose boat building accomplishments were setting new standards, began to fuel a desire of Ramsey’s to build his own boat. Ramsey and his business partner at the time, Jim Luxto, made a trip to visit Omie who shared his knowledge with the men before sending them on their way to pursue this new dream. “I probably had as much business building a boat as I had flying a space shuttle,” Ramsey chuckles. “It really was so far out of our expertise.”

The Sensation at the docks.

Jarret Bay is Born

December of 1986 rolled around, and Ramsey, along with a small team, went to work on hull #1. They rented a dirt floor pole barn for $250 a month along a North Carolina waterway in Williston. For two years the group fell into a pattern of charter fishing and boat building. Ramsey ran trips around 130 days a year and spent the rest of his time working on that first boat. Many nights when they’d come in from offshore, he’d go straight to the shop. The work also brought challenges, from the design—the profile would be low while keeping a sheer break—to cutting out the stem for a clean look.

“Doing something completely different than what I had done previously and trying to bring new methods to our area that people around me had never used… it was a bit of a challenge trying to convince yourself you’re doing the right thing,” Ramsey says. “We all wanted a better ride and wanted to go faster and wanted to be more efficient with the fuel, and it drove all of us to use new methods and ask, how can we lighten the boat up and what can we learn from one another?”

The men, however, were not without guidance. From legendary captains Omie and Harris to other builders like Ray Davis who gave their knowledge freely. “The really neat thing about it was nobody held back secrets. If you called somebody up, they would come in and tell us the way they did things.”

Naming Names: Jarret Bay and the Sensation

During this period, there is a story that many know but is worth retelling. The boat was being built with West System epoxy resin, but when Ramsey called to place an order, he was asked the name of his company. “I said, well, it’s Randy, I don’t know. And the operator said we only sell to companies,” Ramsey recalls. “Then, I looked out the back doors, and I said we’re Jarrett Bay Boatworks.”

As for hull #1, the naming process came just as easily when the team was talking in the shop and agreed the boat needed to have a one-word name and end in “tion.” “We literally were trying to find a one-word name that emulated some of the boats that we’d been so taken by, and someone said, well just name it Sensation because this thing’s going to sit everybody on its ear. We laughed at it, but that’s where it came from, a bunch of fellows sitting around having a Coke at break time.”

A vintage photo of the Sensation.

The Sensation Hits the Waves

And in January of 1988, the 52-foot Sensation was ready for a life on the water. “I think probably the biggest lesson we learned was not giving up. And it would have been pretty easy to throw the towel in several times because you’d get frustrated when something didn’t come out like you’d expected or not as good as you hoped. But getting up every day and saying we can do this, that’s allowed us to build boats like Jaruco, which had different techniques and different materials than any other sportfishing boat ever built. And I think going back to the very first one is why.”

Despite the many boats that have come after Sensation, she has continued to be a force on the water. With Ramsey as her first skipper, the boat became a common sight along the East Coast corridor. Since then, she has only changed captains and owners a handful of times. Capt. Adam Price has now taken over the helm after her previous owner, Capt. Dale Britt, retired from charter fishing. “The boat meant a lot to me,” Britt says. “It was an iconic boat built by an iconic Randy Ramsey, and it was just an honor to sit in the same chair he did. I knew she was a fish-catching boat.”

As for Price, his team and their new boat, the path ahead is clear: continue the tradition. There’s the Big Rock, Pirate’s Cove, plus a few others they’re gearing up for. As Sensation continues her legacy along the North Carolina coast, Capt. Britt sums up her capabilities with a few words: “If you take her to the right place out in the ocean, good things will happen.”

The post First Build: Jarrett Bay’s Sensation appeared first on InTheBite.

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