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Design & Illustration

Black Pearl – Ben Blackburn

Bens new Black Pearl

"Hi Björn,

Launched the new kayak the other day and had a great first paddle.

Photos from the launching (Facebook)
Building photos (Facebook)

Thanks for all your advice and for designing a great kayak. I've learnt a huge amount and will learn a great deal more sitting in the cockpit.

thanks . . . Ben

A short mail communication that might interest those trying a GP (As apparent from the comments below I got it all wrong, but I leave the mails as removing them would render the comments meaningless ;-)


Bens new Black PearlJust a quick email to say thanks for all your advice when building my Njord. I have finally finished and it is 5.35m long and 19Kg. I was surprised how light it is as I built it with plenty of glass given our rocky coastline.

I have done just a weekend of paddling around the North Pembrokeshire coast so far - the conditions were quite rough outside of the shelter of the bays so I don't have many photos – I'll send some better ones when I get a chance to take some.

Anyway I am very happy with the choice of boat – fast, responsive and just enough excitement to keep me on my toes. I think that I'll learn a lot in it.

I need to work hard on my strokes to get it to manouver in tight rock gardens! – for this and playing in rougher water I will probably look for something shorter and more play orientated in the long term.

I also enjoyed using a greenland paddle for the first time. It was a bit short for me (designed for my girlfriend) but it was great when cruising along or heading into the wind. I found the lack of power compared to a euro paddle made it harder to manouver in tight spaces and more difficult to roll compared to a euro paddle, but I suspect that a longer length and slightly wider blade (hers was 75mm and I am going to make mine 85) will make life easier. Also I need to improve my technique so that I require less brute force!

Incidentally I am going to try assembling a paddle from parts to reduce the ammount of planing and also to create a lighter paddle by leaving avoid in the middle of the blades. I'll have posted on Blue Heron Kayaks so I'll update on how it goes there.

Thanks again,

Ben in his new Black Pearl

mail"Hi Ben

Thank you for the photos and the info. A real beauty! I will publish a launchings post on my site in due time (a bit of a queue with launchings this time of the year ;-)

A greenland paddle works fine even in rock gardens and tight maneuvering, but most people underestimate the difference in technique initially. I would say that the GP is easy to start using but more demanding than EP or VP to master. The first breakthrough is when you find the GP superior in rolling. Give it a little time...



The lack of power he feels could be technique related. How many new Greenland-stick paddlers never cant the blade? I know from experience. It was like a turbo kicking in.

Bjorn, it's been a while. Hope all is well on your side of the pond.


Hi Björn,

You have two Bens building your designs at the moment, a Black Pearl and a Njord so there is some confusion here. That's definitely me in the BP and I've been using my treasured GP for a couple of years now and use it almost exclusively. The other letter is from the Ben who has just finished his Njord.

The BP is fun to roll. I've managed more rolls on my offside and am working on some forward finishing rolls.

regards . . . Ben

Sorry Ben. The GP-mail came two days after I received your report and photos, so I jumped to conclusions – sorry about that ;-)

I have probably sent a couple of rather confusing mails...

Hey Björn,

It yes it is me who is the GP beginner - Ben B looks a lot more acomplished than me! I am definitely getting better with it (and to Dan's point have started to use a more agressive canting of the blade which makes a difference) but I still have some way to go. Hopefully my own paddle wich is 25cm longer and 10mm wider than the one that I have been using will improve things further.

I'll send you some better photos of the Njord when I get a chance.


Thanks Ben A, I am sorry for the confusion ;-)

for ben a.

Hi ben,

make sure your paddle is ballance in the canted position...hold it ballanced on you open palms it should sit in the correct cant..... many people buildin there own paddles get this bit wrong . hope this helps and stick with it , its a wonderful way to feel the water .


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