Jarrett Bay Boats 46 Review

Latest of the Jarrett Bay Boats Brings Superb Fuel Economy and Handling

Jarrett Bay 46

One would think that a man who makes a living driving race cars in excess of 200 miles per hour — oftentimes touching the bumpers and doors of those around him — would choose a boat with blazing speed and dramatic modern styling. Not so in this case. NASCAR's Jeff Burton, who has 21 career wins, 128 top-five finishes and 237 top-10 finishes, chose classic styling among several Jarrett Bay boats, coupled of course with an advanced propulsion system that delivers superb fuel economy and driver-of-the-year handling (see the complete photo gallery).

Our sea-trial day found the winds southeast at about 5 knots, but with confused seas and the wind-against-tide conditions in the inlet, it was still ugly. Running through the inlet at a modest speed, the 46 stayed dry and smooth. At cruising speed, the noise level on the bridge was a respectable 82 decibels, thanks to the Caterpillar engines coupled to ZF pods with integral underwater exhaust. Of all the Jarrett Bay boats, this one turns more sharply than any pod-driven vessel I've run, with few apparent speed-related rotation limits. The boat backs down at 8 knots like an arrow, without a drop coming over the transom. With pods, you can also use the steering wheel to steer in reverse, just like in a car, or switch to using the throttles and gears like a standard propulsion rig. And finally, there's that incredible joystick that can move the boat in any direction — and I do mean any direction.

Trolling at 9 knots, I witnessed considerable subsurface turbulence on centerline that dissipated by about the fifth wave back. Interestingly, there was only moderate surface white water. The integral trim tab in each pod offers a good range of trim as well as a programmable auto-trim function.

As I said, I imagined that Jeff Burton would want an oceanic rocket ship (like many other Jarrett Bay boats). But top speed on Persistence hit a stately (but still very respectable) 34.9 knots at 2400 rpm and burned only 58.3 gallons per hour. Optimum cruise registered at 24.5 knots (1900 rpm), burning 36.4 gallons per hour. Running back toward the inlet, I found that the 46 tracked straight and true down-sea.

Another Burton stipulation was that this would be a family boat — not just a hard-core fishing machine, but not just a cruiser either. Fishing features include a fish box in the transom, a lovely sailfish pod, insulated boxes and a tuna door (without bridge) in the cockpit. Jarrett Bay installed three rod holders in each gunwale and six more across the flybridge rail.

You often lose much of your underdeck cockpit stowage on boats with pod propulsion; however, the mezzanine on this Jarrett Bay offers plenty for extended cruises and tackle stowage, as well as quick-release connectors under the port gunwale for the water fill and freshwater and saltwater washdowns. The shore power plugs in under the starboard covering board.

As you'll discover with all pod-propulsion boats, most of the power is housed farther aft, under the cockpit deck. This 46 provides centerline engine-room access, but the engine compartment doesn't extend as far forward as you expect it to when you first open the hatch. In fact, you enter the forward compartment via metal-plate steps attached directly to the fronts of the engines. You can access the power plants via this "day hatch" or lift the entire cockpit area on rams. Either way, you'll have no problem working on all the standard maintenance points or getting outboard to service equipment mounted on the bulkheads of Jarrett Bay boats.

As I get older, my appreciation for “retro” grows. The Jarrett Bay 46 has much to offer in this regard. The boat has a decidedly old-world interior with rich dark woods like smoked oak and burled walnut. Another retro aspect comes in the form of full-width windows in the cabin front, something most sport-fisherman boatbuilders discontinued 30 years ago when many buyers claimed they feared taking green water over the bow, crashing through the glass. Apparently, people now realize this rarely ever happens, and it’s quite nice to have the extra ambient light in the cabin to alleviate the effects of the “cave” syndrome. Finally, a true retro feature is a lower helm station to starboard in the salon, giving you both an open flybridge and an enclosed station — on a 46-footer! Burton says he wants to spend a lot of his off-season on the boat, and since that’s during the winter, he wanted a lower station so he could enjoy the boat with his family while staying out of the elements. Additional modern features include a lovely L-shape settee to starboard with an entertainment center opposite, and a larger L-shape settee amidships to port.

Oh, and here's another throwback: the galley-down configuration. Modern touches here incorporate granite counters, a ceramic cooktop, refrigerator/freezer drawers and a day-head that also serves the guest cabin, which has two single berths. Fortunately, it's the Burton children who stay in this cabin; the doorway is a bit tight for someone of my not inconsiderable bulk. The master stateroom in the bow boasts a raised island double on the centerline.

Many Jarrett Bay boats have cold-molds on each hull bottom with fir marine plywood, okoume, bi- and tri-directional fiberglass and epoxy. However, on this hull, receiver tunnels for the pods were designed following extensive tank testing and have been constructed of solid fiberglass and epoxy and tie in structurally to the hull bottom, stringers, bulkheads and transom to carry the loads generated by the pods. Many of the abovedeck components are built with foam coring to keep the weight and center of gravity down. Bulkheads are cut and installed to hair-breadth tolerances. Jarrett Bay boats look good, last a long time and run exceptionally well. Truly a reason for a victory lap.

LOA: 46'8"
BEAM: 15'4"
DRAFT: 4'4"
DISPL.: 37,000 lb.
FUEL: 620 gal.
WATER: 100 gal.
TEST POWER: 2 x 575 hp Cat C9 diesels
Base Price: On request

RPM Knots GPH
1500 16.3 25.4
1600 18.0 28.6
1700 21.0 30.2
1800 21.7 35.7
1900 24.5 36.4
2000 25.8 41.0
2100 27.0 44.0
2200 30.0 47.7
2300 31.0 50.0
2400 34.9 58.3

Jarrett Bay Boatworks, 252-728-2690; www.jarrettbay.com