Black Pearl 46 — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca —
Through a Cat’s Eye
A twin-hull sportfisherman with a monohull profile aims to convert traditionalist bluewater boaters.
She didn’t look like a cat, but I quickly concluded that her ability to jump, run, and land on her feet were signs of a nimble and acrobatic feline. No, I didn’t come across a predatory panther on the African plains, but I did take a ride on Black Pearl Marine’s 46 sportfish catamaran that made this monohull diehard reconsider his position on fishing platforms.
I spooled up the 46’s standard 710-hp Caterpillar C12 diesel inboards and pushed the single-lever Cat controls forward ‘cause it was time to fly. The smooth throttle movement was only rivaled by the easy rise of the 46’s solid-fiberglass planing hull, whose lines come courtesy of New Zealand’s Crowther Design. The vessel came up on plane before she reached 1500 rpm and quickly accelerated across Smokehouse Bay off Marco Island, Florida, to an average top speed of 40 mph while burning only 72.8 gph. (That averages out to about 12 gph less at WOT than several similar-size monohulls I’ve tested.) The speed and fuel efficiency were immediate clues of why Black Pearl’s founder, Mark Brunsvold, opted for a twin-hull boat. “I had a 65 [sportfisherman], but I didn’t like burning 130 gph to go fishing,” he told me. That’s understandable, as this fishing-fanatic-turned-boatbuilder, who originally intended to build a boat for just himself, added that he enjoys extended fishing expeditions that keep him and his crew a couple hundred miles from shore. With 680 gallons of fuel available on the 46 and a fuel burn of only 46 gph at her respectable 34.8 mph cruise speed, this boat is mostly about range and ability.
She’s also about handling. The 46’s standard power-assisted Teleflex SeaStar steering enabled me to weave her across the Gulf, carving S-turns between crab-pot markers and making double figure-eights at speed. Even better was being able to do a quick reverse at about 5.5 mph to simulate backing down on a fish. Her twin hulls didn’t so much as sneeze spray up and over the 51-inch gunwales.
One may question the fishability of a boat that has a gunwale that high. I sure did. But from a tag-and-release standpoint, it’s not a problem. Using a tag stick from the cockpit should be as simple as stick and cut. If you have a large table fish—say, a bigeye tuna—you can just work your quarry to the starboard-side transom door and drag him straight into one of the two in-deck, macerator-equipped fishboxes. These are large enough for triple-figure tuna.
Fishbox capacity aside, the allure of 180 square feet of uninterrupted fish-fighting space was almost too much to resist. This is the place to dance with pelagics, and her 18'2" beam makes it possible (similar-size monohulls average about two and a half to three feet less beam). Even with the optional Release fighting chair, there’s room for a stand-up angler to work a fish. If you prefer to fish with stand-up gear, I’d add coaming padding to save your knees some bruising, as my test boat didn’t have it. In addition, while I appreciate Black Pearl’s use of cockpit lighting, the lights protrude from under the gunwale and could possibly cut your legs if you’re working a fish. Brunsvold says that subsequent hulls will have flush-mount lights. Some other fishy highlights of my test boat included a 55-gallon transom livewell, four rod holders, six rocket launchers, and 33-foot Rupp outriggers.
This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.