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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Jarrett Bay 63

She first appeared as a dot on the radar. But in an instant, 63 feet of sparkling, metallic orange streaked up behind my tournament team's boat like a rapidly rising sun. This sun was hot, too, with more than 3,650 hp at her core. And just as quickly as she had risen from the horizon behind me, the blazingly fast battlewagon blew by me and disappeared into the horizon. I knew I had to get this boat on my test list.

It took me several months, but I eventually caught up with the sleekster dubbed Southern Exposure, a custom-built Jarrett Bay, at the builder's yard in Beaufort, North Carolina. She looked just as hot dockside. Her glittering hull was lit up by the equally orange late-afternoon fall sun, and the trademark Jarrett Bay bow flare, massive cambered foredeck, and tapering lines aft blended together, forming curvaceous yet muscular lines.

Her exterior lines are supported by a tank-tested hull shape that carries a slightly more convex form in the forward two-thirds than past Jarrett Bays typically have. The design was modified to offer a softer ride overall, while maintaining Jarrett Bay's traditional knifelike, head-sea-splitting entry.

Supporting the hull is Jarrett Bay's cold-molded construction, which starts with fir frames and three layers of marine-grade fir plywood for the bottom. Three layers of diagonally planked okume plywood is used for the hull sides, and fiberglass, in the form of 34-ounce and 18-ounce cloth, is added to the bottom and sides, respectively, along with WEST SYSTEM epoxy. The resin-saturated glass helps provide a lightweight yet solid structure. The 63 still comes in at a healthy 80,000 pounds, but several similar-size and -powered fiberglass sportfishermen I've been on have averaged about 5,000 to 10,000 pounds more. That weight savings directly translates into performance.

Even with a dirty bottom, which prevented her engines from turning their full-rated 2300 rpm, the 63 managed to effortlessly cruise along the lake-flat ICW at 42.2 mph at 2000 rpm and top out at 48.2 mph at 2236 rpm (see specifications for complete test numbers). I would expect another half knot or so with a clean bottom under similar test conditions. With this kind of speed, it's no wonder she passed my team's boat like we were sitting still.

Speed is nice, but I was curious to see how she ran in open water. So Jarrett Bay's Capt. Joey Johnston pointed the 63 towards the Atlantic, where the calm ICW gave way to a steep three-foot chop driven by winds in the 20-mph-plus range. The quick chop gave me an opportunity to see how well her entry (with trim tabs fully engaged at first) dismissed the sea state and enabled the 63 to maintain a 40-mph cruise speed without a bang or slap.

I took over wheel duty at the centerline helm and ran her at cruise speed cross-sea, upsea, quartering, and downsea, and the 63 was as easy to drive as a center console. Credit here goes to power-assisted SeaStar hydraulic steering. I did notice that when she was tabbed all the way down into the chop, some spray got past the umbrella effect offered by the boat's flare. If I dialed the tabs back to half, however, my test boat provided a bone-dry ride. U-turns at cruise speeds took a couple of boat lengths; her moderate heel to inboard was confidence-inspiring.

Some of the cool custom features of this flying-bridge helm layout include the pop-out plotter and the five barrel chairs for guests. The chairs offer a different aesthetic from the standard benchseat. They're angled so when the 63 is running, most people face forward. There's one to starboard that favors the cockpit view, which offers an extra set of eyes on trolled teasers and baits. And even though they're barrel chairs, there's an abundance of stowage beneath for the owner's numerous (and wickedly large) flying gaffs.

The 63 is first and foremost a fishing boat, and that gaff stowage just hints at how hardcore this owner is about his sportfishing. There's also the autopilot in the teaser-reel compartment over the helmsman's head that allows the owner to back down on a fish while he's facing aft and use the autopilot to maneuver.

The helmsman also has a great view of the all-business cockpit from here. This fish-fighting space benefits from the vessel's 18'6" beam and has room below the optional teak sole for no fewer than eight in-deck tuna tubes (essential tools of the big-game, live-bait angler), plus two more tubes in the in-transom fishbox compartment. The area was completed by a Release offset chair that can handle the owner's massive 130-pound-class, grander-marlin-catching tackle. Those baseball-bat-like rods and winch-like reels need to be cleared quickly in the event of a hookup, so the builder created custom rod holders under the mezzanine seating. You simply move the gear from the gunwale rod holders to the ones here, which keeps the deck clear and extra lines out of the way. Everything was measured so the rods clear the flying-bridge overhead when placed in the holders.

The 63's fierce speed, fishing-friendly cockpit, and flying-bridge layout are balanced by an interior arrangement that is upscale, warm, and spacious.

The owner wanted the interior to flow, so Jarrett Bay started with contouring every countertop, piece of trim, and cabinetry. Radiused curves rule onboard this vessel, and the cherrywood that adorns the cabinetry all came from one log to provide a uniform look. The rich, high-gloss finish is sharp and helps set off the centerline island galley, which sports a pattern of green-hued granite. A kidney-shape island has deep, form-fitting drawers under the counter. And even though the island takes up a good piece of real estate, the saloon's 6'10" headroom, the vessel's 18'6" beam, and house-length side windows keep the space feeling wide open.

One of the coolest parts of the 63's interior is the continued emphasis on fishing. Down the companionway steps to port is custom-fit stowage for every rod onboard, while immediately across in the guest stateroom are 17 drawers for lure and hook stowage right beneath the bunks.

"We build our boats around our owner," Jarrett Bay president Randy Ramsey told me at last year's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and this boat sure illustrates that philosophy. From the backlit onyx countertops in the forepeak master and heads to the clever touch of placing the diesel fuel fills by the steps leading down into the engine room, she's truly the vision of an experienced owner.

If your dream is to own a one-of-kind blazing blur that rips by the competition, catches fish all day, is first back at the weigh-in, and looks good the whole time, then this builder will be expecting your call.

For more information on Jarrett Bay Boatworks, including contact information, click here.

This owner loves to fish and does a lot of adventure angling, which means the fishing gear has to go somewhere for those over-the-road runs. To be sure all of the gear travels safely yet is at the ready, Jarrett Bay built this stowage area that is to port as you come down the companionway from the saloon/galley area. The rod room is built to handle the owner's seven 130-pound-class rods and reels, four 80-pound outfits, 11 dink rods, and several 25- and 50-pound rods and reels as well. In total more than two dozen rods and reels call this space home.—P.S.

This article originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.