Just look at the picture and you’ll see that Black Pearl has already overcome a primary complaint most people have about catamarans – Black Pearl boats are not ugly. Designed by Crowther Design in Australia, one of the world’s leading multihull teams, and built by ProBoat in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Black Pearl 46 runs and fishes like no other 46-footer.
Performance We took hull No. 1 from Marco Island, Florida, to Key West (about 80 nautical miles) in calm seas, and it ran like a dream. It actually handles very much like a go-cart in that when you turn the wheel, you get an instantaneous response. It doesn’t bank gracefully into turns, but rather immediately alters direction, almost producing an angle in the water instead of an arc. And with the props and rudders spaced so far apart, this boat boasts incredible control and handling. The 46 tops out at about 34 knots, turning 2,320 rpm and burning 73 gph. While that may sound like a lot, compare it with most any 46-foot monohull’s fuel consumption and you’ll be suitably impressed. I found the most economical cruising speed to be about 25 knots, which burned just over 34 gph total for a range in excess of 458 nm (figuring 90 percent usable capacity). At trolling speed (6 knots) the Black Pearl burns 3.6 gph. At that speed, the boat produces a remarkably clear wake – virtually all white water disappears by the second wave back.
Weatherwise, our trip back from Key West (due north) turned out to be another story. What started out as gentle 2- to 3-foot seas quickly developed into some really nasty conditions. By the time we got within 50 miles of Marco Island, a front hit us with northerly winds of 25 knots and the seas jumped to 4 to 6 feet at four-second intervals. I couldn’t have ordered more appropriate weather for testing a catamaran. The 46 met the challenge head-on, providing a remarkably dry, comfortable ride, even without an enclosure.
**Interior ** This 46 comes packed with loads of interesting features. For example, in addition to the queen-berth cabin to port and a guest cabin with two twin beds to starboard, there’s a crew cabin, accessed through a foredeck hatch, with a very comfortable single berth. Private mirror-image heads with enclosed showers on both sides service each cabin.
Below the galley you’ll find a huge pantry, and beneath the dinette and salon a utility cabin provides loads of storage space. Of course, if you choose, this cabin can be made into a stateroom.
L-shaped settees to port and starboard provide lots of face-to-face seating space, and a dinette to starboard opposite the galley seats four comfortably. In addition to the belowdecks pantry, Black Pearl provides loads of cabinet storage space along the entire width of the forward salon bulkhead.
I particularly admired the flawless gloss finish on all the brightwork throughout Black Pearl’s interior spaces.
**Cockpit ** Nothing says cockpit space like a multihull. A huge fish box in the transom doubles as a livewell, though I’d like to see rounded corners inside the tank. Along the forward bulkhead, the obligatory cockpit modules consist of a deep freeze outboard to port and a tackle station and storage to starboard. Some of the normal storage space gets sacrificed to two engine hatches instead of one.
I really liked the polished stainless-steel stairway up to the flybridge – it feels more secure than when using a ladder.
Our test boat featured an optional Release Marine fighting chair with a rocket launcher on the back. It made the perfect, functional accessory for this working cockpit.
**Flybridge ** An L-shaped settee in front of the flybridge complements a straight settee to port. The centerline helm provides a superb, unobstructed view in every direction, including most of the cockpit and half the foredeck. And there’s plenty of room for flush-mounting a whole array of electronics. About the only improvement I’d like to see here is to leave more room for a passenger to access the companion helm seat. It’s a pretty tight squeeze behind the captain.
**Engine Room ** Because of the cat design, you’ll find twin engine rooms, one on each side of the tunnel. Though it doesn’t provide standing headroom, the Black Pearl affords plenty of room to work 360 degrees around both power plants. All wiring and plumbing has been well-bundled and neatly run. Both compartments exhibit excellent soundproofing.
**Design and Construction ** Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, Proboat builds truly exquisite boats, including some spectacular megayachts for very demanding American customers. And since all the components (engines, electronics, pumps, etc.) are American-made, you needn’t worry about quality. Black Pearl is an American company and will stand behind every boat sold with local service.
This 46 sports a solid fiberglass bottom with PVC foam coring in the topsides. And the use of isophthalic gelcoats and two layers of vinylester resin makes an excellent barrier against osmotic blistering.
To truly appreciate this boat, you need to run it on a snotty day. That’s when the sign and construction really shine. If they’ll let you, take a nap aboard to see how comfortable it is. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
|SPECIFICATIONS****LOA 46’0″ BEAM 18’2″ DRAFT 3’4″ WEIGHT 35,000 pounds FUEL 680 gallons WATER 210 gallons POWER T710-hp Cat C-12s BASE PRICE $745,250Black Pearl Marine Naples, Florida 239-389-1103 www.blackpearlmarine.com|