Reproduced with permission from Bluewater Yacht Sales’ OnBoard Magazine, Issue XVI
Anybody that knows Randy, knows he’s a born leader. He’s one of those guys everyone wants to be around, or be part of what he’s doing,” explains fellow Bluewater executive Jud Black. “He’s a man of faith but doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. His faith shows up in actions and what he does.” Whether that’s going out his way to wish even the faintest of acquaintances a Happy Birthday, or coordinating trucks full of hurricane relief supplies, there is no shortage of examples regarding his generosity.

Randy’s demeanor and character have attracted followers of many kinds, from fellow craftsmen to aspiring anglers and boat builders to life-long business partners and suppliers. He’s a charismatic figure that is quick to warm a room and make friends, while likely spotting some valuable character traits along the way.

Challenges & Faith

By all accounts, building the first Jarrett Bay, Sensation, back in 1986 to ‘88 was a huge challenge—an evolutionary construction leap that had not been undertaken in Carteret County, North Carolina before—let alone by a bunch of young men with limited building experience or any formal business training.

“There’s an old saying, ‘Just before you don’t, you do. Just before you do, you don’t.’ There are so many times when you think you can’t get through something, but then someone in your life does something small that makes a huge difference. I’m extremely fortunate to have had that happen multiple times in my life,” Randy explains.

Jack Huddle
One of the most transformational relationships of Randy’s journey was becoming dock mates with a man named Jack Huddle. “Jack had a Phoenix boat and I was running commercial charters at the time,” Randy reminisces. “We were both fishing offshore one day when I radio-ed him about the tuna bite I had found.”

The generous things Jack Huddle did for me are the types of things only a father would do.

As they say, the rest was history. Jack’s company, Trader Construction, went on to be a critical partner in improving Jarrett Bay’s facilities, and three generations of his family have now built five custom Jarrett Bays over the years. Throughout that time, the boats evolved from sparsely appointed charter boats to impeccably crafted performance sportfish yachts.

“Hull five was the first nicer interior of any kind for us. I had never even considered a teak and holly sole in a boat before, but Jack had firm ideas on what he wanted. “It had a teak cockpit and pecan interior. I didn’t know how to do all the finish carpentry at the time, but a couple guys that came along could. God puts people in your path,” Randy says. “Some said Builder’s Choice was the nicest boat to be built in our county, which I found to be an unbelievable compliment.”

Randy also cites the move from their first shop in Williston over to Marshallberg as another big risk, “because at the time we leased it out, we only had one boat to build.” They didn’t have any other commissions lined up after. “We’d be out of business soon and were contemplating closing the company. We moved on faith,” he adds.

Jarrett Bay started in Williston before moving to Marshallberg and then to Beaufort, North Carolina on it’s incredible growth trajectory.
Williston Location
Williston Location
Marshallberg Location

God moved too when local captain Ben Green came through and committed to build the Bill Collector (hull 11) with them. Getting to know Ben over the build process also sparked Jarrett Bay’s foray into brokerage sales, with Ben becoming the first salesperson and an essential cog in the company’s growth—despite the sales office’s humble beginnings. “In Marshallberg, we took a bathroom and cut it in half, put in a wall, set up a desk and had just enough room for a chair on each side. That’s how Jarrett Bay Yacht Sales was formed.”


The Marshallberg property also allowed them to start servicing additional boats, which provided a steadier stream of work and income alongside the new construction projects. Both the sales and service operations eventually thrived, successfully demonstrating the salesmanship and teamwork Randy and his growing team were capable of.

The company’s next move, in 1998, was another big leap. “The parcel we’re on now had been for sale for many years, and I had always thought it was out of reach. When I visited, I thought, ‘Holy cow, this could be the mother of all boat yards,’” Randy recalls. Jack Huddle was instrumental in encouraging the idea, plus they had the blessing of the local economic development bureau, a formal business plan, and banking partners that believed in them. “But it was still huge on faith,” Randy admits. Two of the three buildings had collapsed roofs and had been vandalized terribly—to the point there was no copper plumbing or wiring left. He was dreading the on-site visit with the bankers, “but this was one of the many times God intervened for me. It was raining so hard we never even got out of the truck!” The inspection passed and the loan went through. Developing the property was still a daunting task, with Jack and his construction company doing all the work. “All on a handshake, same way as all the boats we built with him,” adds Randy.

Jarrett Bay at Beaufort Location
Beaufort Location
Around the same time, Randy was expanding the yacht sales company by opening offices in Wilmington, North Carolina and Fort Lauderdale. A few years later, he was blessed with another big risk and opportunity, when Bill Naumann of Hatteras Yachts paid him an unexpected visit. “I was positive he wanted to buy us out. But instead, he comes in and says, ‘How’d you feel about being a Hatteras dealer?’ I went from the dread that he wanted to purchase Jarrett Bay to the news he wanted us to carry this storied boat line. I didn’t know Bill personally yet, but I was instantly excited about the opportunity!”

Years later, after growing into Maryland and surviving the great recession, the opportunity presented itself (on the docks of Hatteras Marlin Club) to merge with another sales company: Bluewater Yacht Sales of Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, owned by industry veterans Chris Hall, Earle Hall and Jud Black. “Earle and I came up with that idea together because everywhere we went, we were together: tied up at same docks, same cookouts, same boat shows, all the same events,” recalls Randy. “So we decided to join forces. As Chris put it, ‘maybe one plus one will equal three.’” The merger greatly expanded the company’s territory, boat brands, service yards and partner networks—Bluewater was now the largest sales and service outfit along the mid-Atlantic and working with a host of elite boat brands, including Hatteras, Viking, Sabre and Princess Yachts, to name a few.


Giving Back

By many accounts, Randy has been gracious and eager to pay forward the many favors that he’s received in his lifetime. “I’ve tried to be an open book. I think that by continuing to help others, it makes our industry better, stronger and moving forward. The way I see it, however I can provide a courtesy to someone, it is nothing but a positive,” Randy explains.

“That’s just the kind of guy he is. You reap what you sow,” Jud reiterates. “The best part of the merger was he and I became great lifetime friends. He has an awesome sense of humor… the ability to make other people laugh and enjoy each other’s company. In a serious business meeting, he can bring some much-needed levity.”

Throughout his journey in the marine industry, Randy has also been deeply engaged in many local charities and boards, not only in Carteret County but across North Carolina. For more than thirty years, he has been a board member and unwavering advocate for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, to include manning the tournament radio and becoming a presenting sponsor via Jarrett Bay Boatworks. Randy’s charm and generosity is on full display each year to the international audiences tuning into Big Rock Radio while he delivers the morning prayer and handles all the tournament traffic, often finding assistance for any boat in need with poise and immediacy.

His philanthropic initiatives also include local projects on Harker’s Island, where he’s behind the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, Ramsey Youth Center and Habitat for Humanity contributions. At NC State University, he has supported the establishment of an equestrian center, boosted athletics, and held numerous governance positions. Currently serving as the Chairman of the North Carolina University System’s Board of Governors, Randy is dedicated to enhancing higher education statewide.


“I do believe if you’re lucky enough to receive gifts, it’s important to give back in a meaningful way. As a member of any community, it is incumbent on us to help others,” Randy says.

Randy Ramsey as the voice of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament
Randy Ramsey talking with Tate Lawrence and Peyton Lanier about their next project

In 2022, Safe Harbor Marinas acquired both Jarrett Bay Boatworks and Bluewater Yacht Sales, beginning a new chapter in Randy’s career, now holding the title of VP of Operations, but still overseeing the sales company. Why did he sell? “This was succession planning. Now the people that invested in the marine park, our employees, customers, will always have this company and the Safe Harbor network to fall back on.” Carrying out this transition now ensures that the contributions and legacies of the many individuals and team members he has encountered over the years, and helped build Jarrett Bay and Bluewater, will endure into perpetuity.

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