[CAT® MARINE] Custom Boats & Cat Engines: A Winning Combination for Jarrett Bay
Sergio Tigera: Welcome to the Cat Power Podcast, where we deliver powerful insights into the world of Cat Marine, showcasing the latest in technological advancements and highlighting the stories of the industry's most dynamic leaders. I'm your host, Sergio Tigera. Now let's get ready to power up with the Cat Power Podcast.
Sergio Tigera: My name is Sergio Tigera, your host, and we come to you each and every episode with some amazing, amazing guests. Today is no exception. I have today for you, Randy Ramsey. He's the founder and president of Jarrett Bay Boatworks, and is a principle at Blue Water Yacht Sales. He's been involved in almost every aspect of the boating and fishing industries; from running a successful charter fishing operation, to co- founding the Harkers Island Sport Fishing School, and serving as a Marine surveyor and consultant. Randy earned his USCG Captain's license at 18, and today is proud to be at the helm of the world's leading custom boat construction and service facility, Jarrett Bay Boatworks. Welcome, my friend.
Randy Ramsey: Wow, Sergio, it's going to be hard to follow up on that. Everything is inaudible. Thank you very much. It's my pleasure to be with you today.
Sergio Tigera: Hey, it's so great to talk to people like yourself; leaders in the industry who have had so much experience, and so many stories to share. This is going to be a great episode that I'm sure the listeners... Many already know you, but if you don't know him, we're going to get to know him here soon. First off, give me a little background before we get into to Jarrett Bay and so forth, give me a little background on yourself, what's your story? How did you get into the Marine industry? Is this something that you've been passionate about your entire life?
Randy Ramsey: I've been preparing for this since the first day I was born. My dad was a real avid boat, a real avid fisherman, and I had an uncle who ran a charter boat out of South Carolina, and had an opportunity to go with him while I was fairly young. It occurred to me that day, I said," Well, wait a minute, wait, I can get paid and go fishing?" crosstalk
Sergio Tigera: It's too good to be true.
Randy Ramsey: A lot of kids want to grow up and be firemen, or doctors, or lawyers, we all will have professions we're chasing as kids. Well, I was chasing being a charter boat captain. As you stated a minute ago, I got my license on my 18th birthday, and ran a charter the next day. I didn't quite understand the fact it was going to be really hard to make a living doing that.
Sergio Tigera: So sounds good. Right? It sounds easy.
Randy Ramsey: It sounded really good, but it wasn't quite as rosey as I had hoped. crosstalk helped some folks. We got a couple different boats and it was a very successful run. We did really well. I did a little bit of everything; carrying the duck hunters out in the wintertime, and helping build boats in our community, and eventually that led to us building the first boat, which was one for ourselves. We couldn't afford one, we couldn't afford to hire anybody else to build one for us. We just said," Well, heck, we can do this." I tell people often that... I had a conversation with this guy named George Dickel, and he helped me figure out we could do this. Unfortunately, we found out just how hard it would be. Things worked out pretty well.
Sergio Tigera: Wait a minute, hold on, there's a lot to unpack there. Let's get to this first, what is it about fishing that has just been a magnetic attraction in your life? What is it about that marine industry that called you?
Randy Ramsey: It's the fishing industry specifically, and I think that's... We all have a love. Some of us love being on the water, some of us love the ocean, whether it's commercial shipping. There's some allure that brings everyone to want to be part of the oceans around the world. For me, it was the great fishing off North Carolina, which we're very fortunate to have here. It's the ever- changing environment we see here because of the coastal topography and geography. It was the opportunity to go and see something every day that's different. I've been real involved in a tournament up here called the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, which Caterpillar's also involved in. We say a morning prayer, I do, every morning for the fleet as they go out. One of the things I talk about is giving thanks that we get to see the great wonders that have been created for us. That, plus the competition. Anybody that's successful at fishing, they need to be pretty competitive. It never hurt my feelings to make sure I was catching a little more than the next guy, even if I always have.
Sergio Tigera: Yeah, it's absolutely a blessing to have that opportunity to see something different, experience something different every day, and be around people who really admire nature and its beauty, and everything that it provides for us as a society; all the fishing and that opportunity to be out there. You had a boat, you were out there, but you wanted something bigger, something better, and you didn't have the money to afford a new boat or even a used boat, so you decide to build one. Who came up with that idea?
Randy Ramsey: I had a partner at that time, a guy named Jim Loxton, and I guess we fed off each other. Maybe I was the hard- headed one, and he was probably the smarter one of the two of us. We had both worked in some boat shops, had a little bit of experience, and we decided we felt like we could do it. We rented an old pole barn, which has since blown down. We started 35 years ago coming up in December, and we started building a boat. We paid$ 250 a month rent for the building, which...
Sergio Tigera: Wow.
Randy Ramsey: ...When you think about it today, that's not much, well, it wasn't much of a building then, to be honest with you, but we started building that boat. It came with a lot of challenges, Sergio. I think that what we learned is the community of fishermen then, and today, are still very close knit and they care about one another. As we were going through that process, I'll never forget, we got to the transom of the boat, and I said," Do you know how to do this?" Neither one of us did. Another local boat builder came and helped us frame the transom up in the boat, and spent time, and answered questions, and helped us. If it hadn't been for that camaraderie, those people that were helping pull us ahead, then we probably would not have delivered as nice boat as we did. that particular boat is still running charters right here in Morehead City every day.
Sergio Tigera: No kidding.
Randy Ramsey: Yep, still running charter.
Sergio Tigera: Wow. How has the sport fishing market changed over the years? Obviously, you've been involved in it so many years since you started the company, how has it changed? What have you seen?
Randy Ramsey: It's pretty interesting. When we first started building boats, we were building boats for local charter guys. Even when we started building them for the private boat market, they were what I considered day boats, Sergio; you fish out of the same port every day, you do the same type fishing every day. What we've seen is, we've seen the globe get much smaller in the last 35 years. We found that with companies like Caterpillar, which is obviously a global company that can support these customers no matter where they are, that has given people confidence to travel to all the corners of earth. We see people now, people who fish the West Coast, or in Costa Rica, or even the Galapagos. That's not a real stretch anymore. Neither is a boat going to the Windward Islands or Azores. When you're seeing that sort of a movement, that has changed what the demands for the boats are. Crews are staying aboard as more redundant systems, and obviously everybody wants to go faster. I mean, I've never met a boat...
Sergio Tigera: Yeah, nobody wants to go slower, for sure.
Randy Ramsey: Yeah. I've never met a race car driver or a airplane pilot that didn't want to go faster. That's where we've seen just huge changes in our boats. The fifth boat we built, we put Caterpillar engines in it, and they were 375 horsepower. crosstalk Marine engines that are over 2, 400 horsepower, is pretty incredible.
Sergio Tigera: Yeah. Just when you think that it can't get any more powerful than this, there's just no way you can go faster, you figure out a way to go faster. Is there going to be a point where the engines are going to out power the physical ability of the boat to withstand the speed, or is it vice versa?
Randy Ramsey: I'm sure it could, sure, but what it's done as more horsepower's come out, it's helped us evolve our methods. It's critically important that we provide a safe platform for what will be aboard, whether it's the person that built it, or the fifth owner. We're always working with our engineering teams to make sure that the speed's not going to compromise the boat, even in difficult conditions. The engineering has changed dramatically over the years. When we built that first boat, it had a 700- horsepower engine. Now, we talk about putting nearly 5, 000 in one of these boats, it's not so much" Let's try this and see if it works." It's a whole lot about" Let's make sure it works before we try it."
Sergio Tigera: Exactly. Yeah. One of the great things about innovation is that, as one component increases or improves, it forces you to really think outside the box and push the needle in terms of getting creative, and finding innovative ways to improve to the next level. Like you said, keeping it safe at all times.
Randy Ramsey: Absolutely. What we've seen is Caterpillar has done a good job of rising to the market. Our customers are going to want larger and larger boats with more range, more fuel, more everything. Well, they also want to achieve a certain speed. While trying to achieve those speeds so that they can be competitive and efficient, as we've seen this horsepower climb throughout the spectrum, whether it's for smaller size boats or very large boats, they've allowed us to really meet the demand of our customers.
Sergio Tigera: How long have you been using Caterpillar engines in your boats?
Randy Ramsey: The first boat we actually put a set of new engines in was a Caterpillar. The first few boats built were for charter guys that were buying used engines. The first brand new boat, the first nice boat we built, would've been delivered about 1990. The local salesperson here with Gregory Poole Marine that came and called on us then, is still the group leader for Marine engines in our area. So to say we've got a long relationship would be an understatement.
Sergio Tigera: Oh my goodness. Wow. Over 30 years.
Randy Ramsey: Yeah.
Sergio Tigera: That's fantastic. You're part of the Caterpillar family for sure.
Randy Ramsey: Well, Sergio, I'll tell you, it starts with our dealer here. We've got a terrific dealer in Gregory Poole, I mentioned them. We work with many others. We work with Marine Power and Pantropic, and quite a few others. Obviously, since we manufacture here, we buy from our local dealer. I don't know of anybody that could have been more supportive of our needs, and that's just not the dealer doing that. That's the corporate listening to both looking forward and how to do things. I tell people regularly when they come to buy boats from us, and there are other brands out there certainly, of engines. Just like there are other brands of boats, but what really sets Caterpillar apart more than anything is first, the fact that they're going to listen. They'll listen to the customer and try to understand how they can deliver a better product. Secondarily, it's the service. I mentioned that earlier. We've seen Caterpillar, the Marine group, go above and beyond on countless occasions to ensure a customer was fishing when they wanted to fish, or supporting them somewhere that may have been remote, or just doing the right thing. When you have a company that's got values, we talked about that just before we came on the air, about corporate value. When you've got a company that's got values that they want to do the right thing, they can't help but be successful. I fully believe that. I'll give you just a very quick example. When the C32B was under development, the engineering team for those engines came and met with myself and several other boat builders, and they said," Tell us what we can do better." We talked about maybe raw water pickups being changed, and we talked about the ability to service the engine because maybe the oil filters are on a side that would be difficult to access, or maybe the secondary and primary fuel filters weren't quite as easy to access. They listened and they came back with a product that I believe is going to take over the marketplace.
Sergio Tigera: Mm, interesting. So, yeah, let's talk about that a little bit, that C32B; over 2, 400 horsepower, these things are beasts in the water. How has that experience been? if you haven't seen Jarrett Bay's videos, you need to check those out; the amount of work and technical ability that goes into repowering. You guys do that quite a bit, you're experts in that space. Tell me about that experience of putting in the C32B. What were some of the first impressions that you guys have had?
Randy Ramsey: We've got the first set. I guess you could call us guinea pigs, or you could call us the luckiest company on the planet.
Sergio Tigera: Yeah.
Randy Ramsey: I'll take the latter. I'll take the lucky part. When the engines arrived, they were everything we expected to be on the crates. Things were in places we could service and access. This is a completely new engine. Something I want to make sure your listeners know is, the C32B, it may share the C32 model number, but they listened to the customer here. This engine's not only got a lot of power, it's very quiet. It is remarkably quiet...
Sergio Tigera: Interesting.
Randy Ramsey: ...In comparison to some of the other engines of high horsepower like that we've seen. We repowered, it's underway now, we repowered a 70-footer that we built, I believe, in 2008.
Sergio Tigera: The Iron Leader, right?
Randy Ramsey: The Iron Leader. Interestingly enough, when that boat was built, she had the first pair of MTU 2, 400 horsepower engines ever put in a boat.
Sergio Tigera: Wow.
Randy Ramsey: It's really ironic that we've got the exact same platform acting as basically the test boat for the first set of engines. We've had a great experience with the engineers here, trying to maximize performance, trying to understand how they can tune the engine to the optimum place. It has already resulted in some very positive things, even though this boat is just finishing up her initial testing, we have two more boats here we're taking engines out of, and are replacing them with C32Bs.
Sergio Tigera: Wow.
Randy Ramsey: I guess you could say we have three active projects currently, and that's a very exciting thing. The second boat we started is yet another boat that we built, that the customer's very enthusiastic about.
Sergio Tigera: Sure, sure, sure.
Randy Ramsey: The third is a Hataras. It's a 68- foot Hataras that I think it's going to be an ideal power plant for that boat.
Sergio Tigera: What are the things that you think set that engine apart versus others that you've seen? You said quiet, that's one of them, that's an important factor for customers. They want to have a nice experience out there. What else do you...
Randy Ramsey: It's very quiet. It's very well- designed, for the amount of horsepower, it's very compact. I'm glad Caterpillar chose to do it like they did. We're all learning together a little bit, whether it's the people that are helping us make the risers and the exhaust, or folks who are helping support other aspects of it, it's very clean. It appears that it's going to be extremely easy to work on. The new control system that they have with these engines, just seems to be working perfectly. It's pretty interesting to me that you get that close to hitting the market a hundred percent when you just put the first set in. That's when you go back and somebody should get a lot of accolades for paying attention along the way of making sure this motor was going to be just right when it came out.
Sergio Tigera: Absolutely. When customers are looking to repower, especially if they go up in horsepower, it requires a lot of detailed thinking; it's not just drop in a new engine. There's a lot of other components and things you have to worry about and look into.
Randy Ramsey: It's very seldom that a customer's not going up in power for repower.
Sergio Tigera: Right.
Randy Ramsey: What I was talking about earlier, everybody wants to go faster. It's shaft size and it's making sure to size properly, and exhaust size, and making sure it's sized properly. A lot of people don't think about things as small as fuel lines. We have to be able to provide the right amount of fuel flow to these engines so it's unrestricted, so that they can perform at their best; it's air flow from the ventilators in the boat. Our engineering team, working with the Caterpillar engineers, go through in a process to ensure all those things are going to take place. If we have to go up in shaft size, that sometimes means struts have to come out, and the whole running gear has to be replaced.
Sergio Tigera: Wow.
Randy Ramsey: We're up to that challenge, too.
Sergio Tigera: Absolutely. Yeah. You guys have done this. It's not your first rodeo, that's for sure. You've been in this business for 30- plus years, what's the future? What does the next 20 years look like for Jarrett Bay Boatworks? What's your vision?
Randy Ramsey: Sergio, we do a couple things here. We do lot of things. We do build and manufacture custom sport fishing boats, which is something I've been very passionate about since we started. To your point, with repowers, we do a tremendous amount of service work here. Our boat yard now services boats up to 150 feet in length. My vision... When we came to the location we're in is, we have vendors and we have companies that complement what we do all around us. We have Gregory Poole Caterpillar. I'm sitting within a quarter mile of their Marine distribution center here. We have them on site. We have electronics companies on site. So we have canvas people on site, so we can support basically anything you want to do to your boat with one stop. What you asked me was where do I see the Marine industry going? We're going to continue to see our customers want to explore more on their own bottoms. We're going to continue to see people looking for speed, size, range, comfort. When I think about the first boat and the level of comfort, the air condition on that boat was you slid the windows open on the side cabin. We haven't built a boat like that in a while.
Sergio Tigera: Yeah, yeah.
Randy Ramsey: The last boat just left for Puerto Rico and we're thrilled to have those customers. Our business is very much like the luxury automobile industry, I guess I could compare us to, is seeking perfection and seeking peak performance. As long as we've got forward thinking companies, like Caterpillar, working with us, we'll continue to chase that.
Sergio Tigera: You guys are not only scientists in your craft, but you're artists as well, because I've seen some of the videos and some of the detailed work with the teak and the maple inlays and all. There's no detail that's not left thought of there. It's incredibly beautiful. You guys are producing some amazing boats. With that partnership with Caterpillar, an engine that's second to none. I think you guys have a tremendous future ahead of you, and I would love to get on one of those boats with you guys one day, if you're ever down in south Florida.
Randy Ramsey: We're going to have the Iron Leader at the Fort Lauderdale boat show here in just about...
Sergio Tigera: Oh, there you go. I might have to drive up and see you guys.
Randy Ramsey: If you're going to make a trip, you've got to come out of the deep south and come up to Florida.
Sergio Tigera: It's not too deep. It's not too deep down here.
Randy Ramsey: Not too far, you're right.
Sergio Tigera: Yeah. Yeah. Well, Randy, fantastic having you on the show, my friend. Where else can people learn about the boats and some of the great stuff that you're doing?
Randy Ramsey: They can always go to our website, which is jarrettbay. com. Certainly we have social media and we'd love for them to find us that way, but they can also find us through all Caterpillar social media when it comes to the Iron Leader. The Iron Leader now has its own Instagram site, and we're all having a little bit of fun with that, given...
Sergio Tigera: It has its own Instagram page?
Randy Ramsey: Yeah. Yes.
Sergio Tigera: Oh my gosh. The Iron Leader is an influencer now.
Randy Ramsey: Our lead influencer now, right? Going to have to make sure she's washed off just right before she goes on onto the film.
Sergio Tigera: I'm going to be waiting...
Randy Ramsey: We welcome tours. We always welcome people to come and see us and visit us. Just like I talked about a moment ago, we'll be at the Lauderdale Boat Show on the Iron Leader, and Caterpillar will be taking people on sea trials to see just what these engines are all about. We're pretty excited about that.
Sergio Tigera: Fantastic. All right, my friend, have a great one. Best of luck to you and your family and your team there. I think you guys are doing amazing things, and we'll see you down at Fort Lauderdale. Thanks guys!
Sergio Tigera: Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow and rate us, and be sure to share it with a friend so that you can power up their life and their career.
Randy Ramsey’s had his captain’s license since the age of 18, but he’ll tell you he started preparing for a life on the water the day he was born. Tune in to this episode of the Cat® Power Podcast to hear from the Jarrett Bay Boatworks president — why building custom sportfishing boats is his passion, the story behind his first vessel and what’s changed in the industry since Jarrett Bay got its start three decades ago. You’ll also learn why Ramsey has relied on Cat marine power since 1990 and get his first impressions of the new 2433 mhp Cat C32B engine (spoiler: extremely powerful and remarkably quiet).