The popular “Black Pearl” designed by Björn Thomasson is finally available in stitch & glue construction for home builders. Of the six standard sizes, this is the JR (junior) size for kids between ages 6 and 12, weighing 65 – 110 lb (30-50 kg). It is our smallest Black Pearl. Ain’t it cute?! It’s short, yet wide giving extra stability for our younger paddlers. It is offered as a pre-cut plywood kit for home builders. It can also be custom built by CSCWC.
In coordination with Björn Thomasson and Petruskajak of Sweden, we have taken the strip built Black Pearl design and using our advanced naval architecture and CAD programs have adapted it to true stitch & glue construction using 3mm and 4mm okoume marine plywood.
The kit includes hull and deck panels that are professionally cut and shipped by Chesapeake Light Craft from 3mm BS 1088 okoume marine plywood, and the forms from particleboard or MDF.
The kit includes only the plywood components; solid wood (for the sheer clamp), epoxy, fiberglass, hardware, foot braces, and so on are not included. It is packed in CLC’s standard kayak shipping carton.
From Björn’s website:
Black Pearl is designed on the Hunter hull – but smaller. Where Hunter is a compromise – some touring, some play – Black Pearl is a 100% play and roll kayak.
Black Pearl Sizes
Six standard sizes of the stitch & glue version are available. There are models to fit virtually all paddlers from children (BP-JR) to larger adults (BP-XL).
||30 – 50 kg
||40 – 60 kg
||50 – 75 kg
||65 – 90 kg
||80 – 105
||95 – 130 kg
|65 – 110 lb
||110 – 165 lb
||140 – 200 lb
||175 – 230 lb
||210 – 285 lb
What if you are at the edges of the weight range? You are correct. Based on just weight you could use either one and be quite comfortable.
It comes down to comfort, style of paddling and your build. If you want a lower volume kayak for short day trips, simply like a tighter cockpit or are fairly short for your weight, build the smaller of the two. It will sit low in the water near the design.
Conversely, I would build the larger one if you are taller, need more volume (say for your feet or thighs) or simply want more cargo capacity since you want to tour in it. For light touring you’ll sit slightly higher in the water (mm higher). The waterline is longer so there may be some speed potential. The larger size would also give some cushion for weight fluctuations.
The “Areia” I built in 2003 was basically a Medium. I’m 6.0′ (1.82 m) tall and weigh 160 lb (73 kg). Based on weight I could have built the S but my feet barely fit the M.
If the standard sizes do not work for you a custom sized strip-built Black Pearl can also be ordered.
While designed for kids the BP-Jr shares the same heritage as the larger models. From Björn’s website:
Black Pearl is based on the east Greenland kayaks from the late 20th century – narrower, lower, with more overhangs and a straighter sheer, less deadrise and more flare than the western types. These were overall faster (particularly against the wind) and maneuvered better. With less initial stability it was a demanding craft. In eastern Greenland seals were hunted from kayaks until a couple of decades ago and the tradition is unbroken.
My take on this is a kayak lacking most characteristic qualities – meaning a kayak that is not stable nor unstable, not directionally stable nor maneuverable, not fast nor slow – but a kayak subtly following the paddlers intentions. No “kayak feel” between the paddler and the sea, no built in safety margin that saves the erring paddler and little mass to compromise fast maneuvering – a very reliable kayak.
Black Pearl is long, following Greenlandic tradition with length three times the height of the paddler. The waterline length is relatively short with sloping stems – resulting in good maneuverability at low speeds and good directional stability at higher speeds, when bow and stern waves climb the stems. Top speed is good for a Greenland kayak but does not match the full-ended archipelago kayaks like Nomad or Najad.
The narrow waterline means a tippy kayak. Total beam is hip width plus four fingers for a rolling kayak or eight fingers for a touring kayak: approximatively 46-52 cm. My own Black Pearl is 559 cm x 48 cm and 21,5 cm high in front of the cockpit (I am 185 cm tall, weigh 80 kg and wear size 43/US9.5 shoes). Because of the narrow beam, initial stability is low and a novice or someone used to wide commercial kayaks will have a nervous first trip. But with a good secondary it is easy to get used to the movements – and in waves there is a pleasant surprise: waves do not affect a ‘tippy’ kayak as much as a ‘stable’ one. When surfing, Black Pearl settles in its own wave system and becomes stable and easily handled.
Black Pearl maneuvers superbly. The almost flat bottom (5° deadrise), the hard chines and the short waterline length means that the kayak is easy to turn and reacts instantly to leans and weight shifts. The low deck takes some getting used to, but after a while there are some benefits – the comfort of needing no tight padding against the knees, hips, back etc and working with the knees as a additional power source for the strokes.
The deck aft is very low and flat to facilitate layback rolls.
When choosing Black Pearl you should be a reasonably experienced paddler and interested in developing skills in rolling, kayak acrobatics, exploring rock gardens, day touring etc. An ambitious novice with patience and perseverance might use Black Pearl as a crash course to advanced paddling.
Stitch & Glue Kit: Plywood Components
This is a basic CNC-cut kit. The hull panels, deck panels and coaming parts are professionally cut by Chesapeake Light Craft from 3mm or 4mm BS 1088 okoume marine plywood, depending on the design. The forms are cut from particleboard or MDF. This kit includes only the plywood components. Any solid wood for the sheer clamp, masik and other deck beams, epoxy, fiberglass, hardware, footbraces, and so on are not included. We encourage you to purchase those from local sources.
The kit is packed in CLC’s standard kayak shipping carton. It’s pretty light so shipping is inexpensive. We’ll contact you with a shipping quote once you’ve placed your order, and you’ll approve the shipping before you’re charged for the kit.