Our Story

Jeanie Benford Jordan comes from a family steeped in the boating world.  From their infancy, she and her brother, yacht designer Jay R. Benford, were taken cruising on the family sailboat on Lake Ontario in Rochester, NY.  Their parents, Jim and Margaret Benford, enjoyed life on the water throughout their 61 year marriage, racing snipes on Lake Ontario as a young couple and sailing the lake on family vacations.   Retiring from work in Rochester and traveling down the Intracoastal from New York to Florida in their sailboat, they settled in St. Petersburg, FL and cruised around Florida and the Bahamas for nearly 30 years of their retirement.  

Jeanie’s uncle Harry Benford, internationally recognized in his field of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, was named Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan.   

Since 1962, Jeanie’s brother Jay R. Benford has been well-known and respected for designing custom boats for many uses - cruising sailboats, liveaboards, tugboats, fishing boats, and freighter yachts, all with distinctive style and character.  His designs and published books can be seen on his website, Benford Design Group (http://www.benford.us).

In 1995 Jeanie met and later married Ray Jordan, a former Navy Seabee (Vietnam veteran) and avid sailor, and began a lifetime of adventures together.  They renovated a 54’ CT ketch which they lived aboard and sailed around the Bahamas over a five year period.  They also traveled every state (including Alaska) and much of Canada as full-time RVers, “land cruising” for 13 years before retiring to Florida. There they have a small boat which they use for fishing on the Withlacoochee River in Inverness, FL.  

Jeanie’s husband Ray Jordan and Ray's oldest daughter, Michelle (a successful entrepreneur in her own right), are the inspiration for bringing back this classic hat design.  Over the past 50 years Ray has worn out a number of the original hats and was very disappointed when Lancaster Hat Company, the last company manufacturing them, closed their doors in early 2011. Creating Benford Yacht Hat in collaboration with Michelle has been a labor of love.  She and I couldn’t be happier to see my husband proudly wearing his Benford Yacht Hat today!

Jeanie Benford Jordan and her brother,
yacht designer Jay R. Benford