Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Jarrett Bay’s cold-molded, custom-designed boats are constructed with a hands-on approach.

By Elizabeth A. Ginns


Photo: Brownie Harris
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Maybe I’ve been living in New York City for too long, but these days it seems like the quicker you can get something done, the better. Take, for example, McDonalds—a number of them now guarantee your food in 90 seconds or less. Or how about online access? Instant access, through the likes of DSL and cable connections, has become the preferred method for surfing the Web. Even this article that I’m writing is wanted sooner, as opposed to later. But at Jarrett Bay Boatworks in Beaufort, North Carolina, the old saying of “good things come to those who wait” seems to be alive and well.

It is true that all boats—even production boats—are handmade to a certain extent. There are no machines that just produce these magnificent machines without human input. But Jarrett Bays, cold-molded, custom boats that possess the Carolina flare that’s a trademark of vessels built in this part of the country, are hands-on handmade.

They’re entirely hand-sanded (I didn’t see one power sander the several hours I spent touring the facility), largely hand-painted, and designed from the ground up—even down to the doorknobs—as per customer specifications. And customers don’t simply dictate whether they’d like cherry or burlwood for their cabinetry or whether they’d like Caterpillars or MTUs; rather he/she is involved in the entire process—from the boat’s conception, straight through to the color of the interior fabrics and even the interior set up. Entire staterooms can be relocated or even eliminated, closets can be removed for rod stowage, towers can be re-angled, and more. Gary Davis, head of new construction, and others involved in the construction of a Jarrett Bay concede that their customers become “like family” by the time construction is complete.

Though there are different approaches to cold-molded construction and certain builders prefer one material to another, Jarrett Bay builds on a wooden-framed jig, not on a mold, and the structural portion of its boats are built upside down, directly on the jig. Three layers of thinly laminated okume plywood (thin enough to bend by hand, which is a key reason Jarrett Bay uses this medium) of varied thickness are stacked one on top of the other in alternating directions. Each layer gets, as Davis says, “glued, screwed, and tattooed,” under the guidance of Vince Russell, who oversees most of the hull construction. It’s then fiberglassed on both the inside and, once the hull is removed from the jig and flipped, outside as well.

Next page > Part 2: I noticed the complete absence of fumes at the Jarrett Bay plant. > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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