Beaufort boat builders carry on North Carolina’s aquatic legacy  ::

Beaufort boat builders carry on North Carolina’s aquatic legacy  ::

This article was written for our sponsor, Innovation Road Trip.

From the coast of the Atlantic to the winding banks of the Neuse River, North Carolina has a storied past with water and the crafts that come along with it. In fact, the two are so intimately tied that the state even has its own designated historical boat, the shad boat, which was first assembled on Roanoke Island in the 1880s.

Today, boats are a little more advanced than the wooden-hulled shad boats of the late 19th century, but just as important to the way of life in North Carolina — especially in coastal communities like Beaufort.

In 1986, 200 years after that first shad boat was built, Randy Ramsey and Jim Luxton opened their own boat-building shop in Beaufort: Jarrett Bay Boatworks.

“We decided we could build a boat to replace our decrepit charter boat, and we basically rented a $250 shed and started building. The rest is history — we’ve been building boats ever since,” said Ramsey. “We built the first charter boat, but we found that we didn’t really know how to build boats. A lot of different boatbuilders up and down the coast lent their talents and their time to us to show us how to do some things we frankly did not know how to do. “

After that first boat, business kept coming for Ramsey and Luxton. Now, Jarrett Bay Boatworks has made over a hundred custom boats, including the Jarrett Bay 90, a finalist in the 2019 Boat International Design & Innovation Awards.

“People saw that we could build something besides just a plain boat, and in the last 35 years, our boats have really evolved. They’ve evolved in the way they look, the complexity of the systems — the last boat we launched had 5,200 horsepower, held 3,500 gallons of fuel and is capable of being completely self-sustaining for weeks and weeks on end,” said Ramsey. “That first charter we built had 300 gallons of fuel and a 750 horsepower engine and was only capable of sustaining herself for a few hours.”

Starting a boat-building business without much experience is a risky move, but over the past few decades, it’s paid off. Ramsey credits the unique environment in North Carolina as a key factor in the success of their business.

“When we talk about entrepreneurs and innovation and opportunities, I don’t think there’s a better place than North Carolina,” said Ramsey. “The leadership of our state over its entire history has supported entrepreneurs, supported businesses and supported growth. As a whole, North Carolinians also try to support each other and try to bring each other along through hard times.”

Moving forward, Ramsey is excited to see how new technologies will continue to influence their builds, including changes in electronics, building materials, propulsion systems, energy and more.

For North Carolina entrepreneurs who are inspired by Ramsey’s story, he offers a small piece of personal wisdom.

“My advice to people who are chasing their dreams, people who want to be entrepreneurs and innovative in our state, is simply to be passionate. It’s not going to be a nine-to-five job — you’ve got to come to work every day, wanting it, loving it and not giving up,” he said. “Keep pushing, because if you do that, good things do eventually come to those who work.”

This article was written for our sponsor, Innovation Road Trip.

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Kassie Hoffman
Kassie pens down all the news from the world of politics on ANH.