The 77-foot Blank Check, Jarrett Bay’s latest and largest custom convertible to date, successfully balances boat building technology with aesthetics.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
Let’s cut to the chase on this one shipmates. Michelangelo had his Pieta, Leonardo—DaVinci, not DiCaprio—his Mona Lisa, and now the owner of Jarrett Bay’s latest convertible, the 77-foot Blank Check, has his own masterpiece. And while the comparison between the pinnacle of creativity these great classics represent and that of a no-nonsense, horizon-chasing fishing machine might seem a bit of a stretch, upon closer examination of this stunningly beautiful boat, and what it took to design and construct it, will have you convinced of the special level of ingenuity it takes to bring this kind of boat building art to realization.
The empty canvas for Blank Check began back in 2010 when her future owner, on the look for a new boat, invited Jarrett Bay’s president Randy Ramsey, along with two of his engineers, to Florida for a couple of days of fishing. “He wanted us to see how he used his boat; what his style of fishing was all about as well as what he required aboard in terms of his family’s needs, something as important to this particular owner as having a very serious, tournament-capable boat,” said Ramsey. “Once we had that experience, one that really helped us to understand our customer, we knew just what the right direction to take would be.”
For Ramsey and his veteran crew at the sprawling, all-inclusive Beaufort, North Carolina based Jarrett Bay Marine Park, comprising some 175 acres right on the ICW, the Blank Check project took on a very special meaning. “I started out as a charter boat captain and built my first boat in a tin shed back in 1986. And to see how far we’ve come in our endeavors to give our owners exactly what they need and want, and for our family here to work with the Doyle’s on this project, is a source of great pride for us,” said Ramsey.
That sense of pride runs deep at Jarrett Bay and is reflected in the uniqueness of all its boats. As I approached Blank Check tied up on the outside T of the Beaufort Town Docks, it was quite evident that the builder had once again, been successful in achieving that elusive balance between the art of boat construction and technology.
She was here, and just shortly after her launch as well, to participate in the Big Rock Marlin Tournament, her lofty ‘riggers defining a new skyline at the edge of the historic town, her noticeably Carolina flared bow jutting out with just the perfect balance of form and function.
I couldn’t help but glance up at her custom Bausch American Tower soaring above those of the other sportfishing boats along the water’s edge and the exacting way the symmetry between her bridge, foredeck, sweeping sheer, and cockpit area all contributed to her perfectly balanced profile.
Like all Jarrett Bay cold molded builds, soon after Gary Davis, a third generation boat builder and the company’s visionary designer, has completed her hull drawings, Blank Check started taking form on the floor of her construction building by having her lofted out to full size. This technique, used by the builder for years now, gives the team a chance to have a look at the lines of the boat. Once Ramsey, Davis, and the rest of the design team approves, the wood jig stations are constructed along with the male mold. The Douglas fir stringers are placed in that mold along with the stem after which comes three layers of Okume planking for the bottom and sides. These layers are carefully cut, fit, placed and then glued in alternating directions resulting in a very strong product. “The outcome is certainly lighter than traditional fiberglass construction allowing for increased speeds and efficiency,” Ramsey said.
The entire hull structure is then glassed over after which, and since it was built keel up, upside down, it is flipped over and put on its cradle, ready for wiring, plumbing, engines and equipment along with the interior, bridge, deck, superstructure, and the rest of the boat. “As a cold molded builder, we start with a blank sheet of paper and have no preconceived notions as to how someone needs to use their boat. We don’t have that much invested in any one hull design or build and in that way, we can be very flexible in making those adjustments, whether big or small, and deliver a truly custom built boat,” he added. For Blank Check, it would mean three years until she could splash and strut her stuff with that super glossy finish courtesy of Alexseal’s Cloud White paint.
Of the many successes that went into the build, one of the most satisfying was Jarrett Bay’s ability to provide the Doyle Family with the kind of living accommodations that were so important to them. And with Blank Check sporting a 21’6” beam, this afforded plenty of room to create the spacious layout and well-appointed amenities aboard this competitive fishing platform.
To that end the oversized salon, whose couches were designed to be wide enough to sleep on,and galley, with an overabundance of storage space—an important theme repeated throughout Blank Check including the bridge deck, cockpit, mezzanine, and engine room as well—including an ample pantry/washer and dryer room to port and a day head to starboard, is about as good as it gets. And because the Doyle’s needed the room, Blank Check is outfitted with a five stateroom, six head layout, including master, VIP, a pair of guest quarters, and captain/crew.
As one would expect, the engine room is another place on board where the art of boat building took precedence. There is a separate pump room that also houses the two 32-kW Onan gensets and I found the work space in all areas to be superior for not only daily maintenance, but afforded the ability to get both hands on anything that might need servicing without any knuckle busting, elbow bashing, or knee crunching. And of course, both are fully air-conditioned.
FISHABILITY AND PERFORMANCE
“I’m the son of a son of a son of a sailor and my dad was a sportfishing captain as well,” said Capt. Danny Hearn as we sat on the massive bridge deck, overlooking the 225 square foot cockpit, the custom Release Marine chair below us, as Blank Check’s two mates began readying baits and rigging the rods for tomorrow’s Big Rock outing. The only reason I was able to get on the boat at all was that my day was a lay day.
Hearn is an integral part of this boat’s life, having worked for the Doyle Family since 1993 and was as involved in her build as were Ramsey and his team. “It’s a rarity in this business to find this kind of relationship and is just one more facet of what makes Blank Check so special,” Hearn said.
With her international travel schedule, Hearn made sure Blank Check would have all she needed to be a competitive threat anywhere she fished. Besides the extra fuel capacity of 3,200 gallons, this formidable boat has all the requisite equipment one would expect and lots more.
The bridge overhead has a double-hinged opening that accommodates up to 16 rigged and ready-to-go rods. Each of the couches forward of the helm has ample storage space as does the table. There is a double freezer compartment that can easily hold several weeks of frozen foodstuffs and the centerline helm, with its vast array of electronics, allows Capt. Danny to always know what is going on, especially during the heat of battle. Down in the cockpit, there are plenty of in-sole boxes and extra storage and freezers as well beneath the mezzanine couches. The pair of pressurized live-wells, large enough to hold up to 125 gallons, will keep the bait ready to go. And for her time in skinny waters, her prop tunnels and low shaft angle, combined with her 5’6” draft, will take the pucker factor out of the equation.
“I’m very pleased with her performance She’s very quick out of the hole, turns on fish just fine, and with the underwater exhausts and those submarine doors in the engine room, is very quiet for those wishing to hang in the salon while we are underway,” he said.
Given the windy conditions in the area, getting her off the dock on this particular day was something to look forward to. With no glass calm water outside, she hit the chop easily and as the seas built, was able to muscle her way with all the assurance and ease her Carolina-built heritage promises. She gracefully leaned into all her turns and answered the helm with speed and efficiency. We were able to get her moving at 41 knots at WOT and flirted with 30 knots at 2000 rpm.
The Doyle Family have their boating version of a magnum opus and according to all reports from Capt. Danny, are enjoying their new acquisition to the fullest with trips planned far and wide wherever big fish tournaments are being held. And just to set things right from the start, Blank Check delivered a triple header white marlin release on her very first day in the offshore waters during the Big Rock Lady Angler Tournament that took place in early June, 2013. On July 4th, at The World Cup Blue Marlin Championship, an international event that took place on that day in 18 countries and territories with 130 teams participating, Blank Check saw the winning 668-pound fish slide across its decks with prize money totaling over $300,000. An auspicious beginning for this major statement of boat building art? The Doyle’s think so and, I suppose, many who will not only see her at the dock but also fish the same waters will agree as well. Jarrett Bay Boatworks. 252.728.2690. www.jarrettbay.com
RPM SPEED (kn) GPH
1000 12 30
1250 15 60
1500 22 100
1750 29 140
2000 35 180
2250 39 215
2400 41 250
DISPLACEMENT: 128,000 lbs. (dry)
FUEL: 3,200 gal.
WATER: 350 gal.
ENGINES: 2 x 2,600-hp MTU 16V 2000 Series
GENERATORS: 2 x 32-kW Onan
Fuel consumption is based on (2) engines at any given RPM. Speed and ranges are estimates based on engineering calculations. Range is based on 90% fuel capacity. Actual performance will vary and be affected by water and weather conditions, load and conditions of boat, engines, and propellers. Speed will increase as fuel is consumed. All data is illustrative and not warranted.
There’s a special postscript to this story as the Doyle family and Capt. Danny have already commissioned Randy Ramsey, Jarrett Bay’s president, to build them Hull #60, a new 84-foot Blank Check, to be delivered by mid 2016. We’ll be following her build progress right up to launch time.