A DAY SPENT FISHING THE JARRETT BAY 90 PROVIDED A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE OF SPORTFISHING BOATS
A platform for technology, the Jarrett Bay 90 Jaruco pushes the envelope in nearly every way, from her carbon fiber construction to the hydrofoil beneath the hull.
By DANIEL HARDING JR.
The sun is just rising over the horizon. The air is damp and heavy. I walk down the bustling dock of the Abaco Beach Resort with my colleagues Bill Sisson and digital director John Turner. Crews are busy prepping baits and boats for day one of the Custom Boat Shootout, an invitation-only tournament staged this past May. A 30-knot breeze has been building for days, kicking up 6- to 8-foot seas with some 10-footers thrown into the mix.
“It’s good to be going out on the biggest boat in the fleet,” Sisson says, to which I mumble in agreement. We meet the owner of the new Jarrett Bay 90 Jaruco (pronounced ha-roo-ko) in the cockpit. “What’s the plan for this morning?” I ask.
“Survive,” is his not-so-comforting reply. As the young crew hustles about the boat, I take a moment to admire the craftsmanship. Jaruco is stunning. Her broken sheer slopes up to a flared bow; like a southern drawl, it instantly speaks to her Carolina heritage. The woodwork is a signature Jarrett Bay feature. Randy Ramsey, the founder and president of
the company, which employs nearly 150 craftsmen at its boatbuilding division in Beaufort, North Carolina, is on board for the day.
Jaruco’s owner walks through the boat with an air of confidence. A former heart surgeon with degrees in medicine and engineering, he’s now a driven entrepreneur. He has a calm demeanor but speaks with excitement about Jaruco (named for the town in Cuba where his father was born).
“The goal was to make Jaruco totally state of the art from an engineering perspective,” he says. “It’s fast, but it’s also strong and sturdy. A lot of people build fast boats, but they accomplish that by cutting down on the construction.”
To ensure his boat would be as strong as his resolve, he had Jaruco built to ABS specifications, rated to withstand 8-foot seas at 50 knots. Think about the forces at play when an 84-ton boat hits a boisterous ocean at that speed.
Jarrett Bay used materials such as titanium and carbon fiber to achieve that level of strength while keeping weight down. Jaruco is filled with carbon fiber, from the bulkheads and rudders to the heads and the hydrofoil (more on that in a bit).
The hull is one place the yard incorporated traditional Carolina boatbuilding techniques and materials. It consists of three layers: a middle layer of cold-molded wood sandwiched between an outer layer of Kevlar and fiberglass and an inner layer of carbon fiber. There’s more carbon in the stringers and foredeck, which is strengthened for touch-and-go helicopter landings.
We see Jaruco hit close to 44 knots in rough seas with her twin 2,600-hp MTU 16V2000 M96L diesels running at wide-open throttle. It’s impressive that a boat this big can run this fast in these conditions. Ramsey estimates that they reduced her weight by 40,000 pounds using carbon fiber and Kevlar, but she’s not a 50-knot boat. Yet.
Jaruco was designed to be easily (relatively speaking) repowered with bigger engines
at some point, so Jarrett Bay and the owner researched foiling technology to boost her speed. “It’s a little bit intimidating bolting a foil to the bottom of a boat you put this much work into,” Ramsey says, “but I will tell you the technology works. We put a ton of sensors all over the prototype foil and ran it through the rpm range. We could see how much lift it was producing and how much force was being pushed down on the blades.”
Ramsey wasn’t the only one who was anxious for the foiling test. “It was nerve-racking because no one has ever done it. You can do all the tank-testing in the world,” says John Riggs, the owner’s agent and project manager. “It makes a couple of knots difference, but it’s amazing to feel the engine load drop and speed pick up. You can feel the whole boat lift up. Twenty years ago if someone said we’d build a boat with a hydrofoil, I’d say they were crazy.”
The first foil was a 14-foot fixed unit made from aerospace aluminum and carbon fiber and attached to the hull under the master stateroom. A new foil is being tested this summer. The goal is to be able to deploy and retract it at the push of a button, which the builder says will only be a matter of time. For the Custom Boat Shootout, Jaruco is running without a foil.
Like a protective older brother, Ramsey sits atop the mezzanine watching baits and overlooking the 310-square-foot cockpit. Beneath
his feet is perhaps the most technologically sophisticated sportfisherman ever built. It’s been an impressive journey for the man who 31 years ago set out with a small team to see if they “could build a better mousetrap.” They accomplished that and a whole lot more. “We’re the American dream,” he says. But Ramsey isn’t one to sit on his laurels.
“It’s critically important that we challenge ourselves every day and try to build something better,” he says, eyes still trained on the baits. “The owner of this boat really pushed us to our limits. He challenged us to really challenge ourselves every single day.”
The fishing features on the owner’s musthave list for Jaruco were inspired by a Weaver he had owned. “I wanted a fishing machine. You’ll see that in the cockpit,” the owner says, from the 250-gallon fishboxes, which can hold fuel bladders for added range, to the winch for hauling large fish on board to the bait trays. “We wanted it to be a total fishing machine.”
The owner was also inspired by a Garlington he owned and had rebuilt. He says it taught him what he wanted out of Jaruco in terms of livability. “It had to have an interior that would make Feadship jealous,” he says without a hint of sarcasm. “I think we accomplished this. If you’re going to do something, do it right.”
Day one of the tournament turns out to be slow. After eight hours we only have a few dolphin in the cooler. At 4:30 p.m. we hear the call for lines in. Racing back to the Abaco Beach Resort, I watch from the flybridge as dozens of other custom boats fall in behind Jaruco.
I think about all of her technology, the $20-plus million price tag, the hydrofoil, the carbon fiber heads. Is it too much, or is Jaruco ahead of her time?
I remember another Carolina-built boat people thought was over the top. A white and turquoise 40-foot Hatteras sportfisherman built in 1960 named Knit Wits. It was the first production boat to be made with a revolutionary new material called fiberglass. Its owner was a driven individual who wanted a boat that was fast and strong, that could fish hard and cruise easy. That boat, which was considered ahead of its time, would go on to become one of the most recognizable sportfishermen in the world, one that ushered in a new era of design and construction.
Might Jaruco do the same? Time will tell, but as her owner and the Jarrett Bay folks know well, fortune favors the bold.
The new Jarrett Bay 90 is technologically advanced — it’s designed to run on a hydrofoil.
Jaruco was conceived to fish far-flung locations around the world. It was built to ABS specifications, using weight-saving techniques and materials, such as carbon fiber, Kevlar and titanium.
Jaruco’s owner turned to Jarrett Bay Boatworks to build his vision of the most advanced fishing machine in the world.
The goal was to make Jaruco cutting-edge from an engineering perspective — fast and very strong. LOA: 90 feet Beam: 22 feet, 6 inches Draft: 5 feet, 8 inches Displacement: 167,000 pounds Tankage: 4,400 gallons fuel, 400 gallons water Power: twin 2,600-hp MTU 16V2000 M96L diesels