Designed by John Bell 
Written By Ed Jones

Ed Jones builder in BLACKBERRY

During my last physical exam, my doctor told me that I had to start getting an upper cardiovascular work out and after looking at all the options he gave me, which sounded boring. I decided to look for a rowboat that I could build and handle by my self. The next step was to search the Inter-net and post questions on several web sites with good results. An Inter-net friend of mine Mike Saunders from Dinghy Cruising suggested that I take a look at the plans for the BLACKBERRY on the DUCKWORKS MAGAZINE web site. Mike was correct, the BLACKBERRY would be light, easy to build and easy for me to handle by myself.
After down loading the plans I contacted John Bell and told him of my special needs to get his input before work was started. He was very friendly and made several good suggestions for me to do, he also informed me that I was the first to build his BLACKBERRY.

Construction started the next day after buying 3 sheets of Lauan plywood, 6” wire ties, 1-½ gallons of epoxy and a role of 4”- 6 oz. fiberglass tape. The first step was to lay out the cut lines for all the panels and rough cut them out. The butt joints on the sides and bottom panels were joined with a single layer of fiberglass tape and epoxy on both sides, being held in place with concrete blocks until cured. After curing the bottom and side panels were trimmed to size. If you follow the plans at this point, loosely fasten the bow with the ties, I made a solid stem instead. Next fasten the temporary frames with screws and small blocks of wood, the transom is held in place with ties, loosely secure the bottom with ties. After checking for alignment and after making necessary adjustments, tighten all ties. 

Now the real fun begins, epoxy putty and fiberglass tape all insides seams (instructions can be found on the internet), some realignment of the temporary frames will be necessary at this point. After removing the ties with a sharp knife a small radius is sanded on all exterior seams before fiberglass tape is applied.

These two photos show the hull is ready to have the
ties cut and the out side seams glassed. The bottom
one also shows the fiberglass butt joint.

After the interior joints cured, I took out the temporary frames and replaced them with 1 X 4’s 6” down from the top edge, this gave me room to install the inwales and gunwales, I chose a split inwale for looks. The tomb stone doubler was cut from a 1 X 8. I also installed a 36” skeg that tapered from 1” to 3”. The oar lock sockets were then installed in solid wood 57” from the transom.

This photo shows the split inwales,
side and bottom butt joints.

The hull was then painted and a temporary seat was used, a box 6” X 12” X 16”. John is going to add a fixed seat to add a little more stiffness to the hull. He also recommends a 7’ oar with sleeves be used. 
We took the boat out to the local lake one frosty morn (30 deg.) and to our surprise the boat was 50 lbs. of pure delight, it met all of our expectations and more. Even with my limited abilities I was able to handle it with out difficulties. For my first time in a boat with oars, the little BLACKBERRY skimmed across the water with no effort at all. John Bell being an experienced oarsman was able to make it turn within its own length, he was even able to put most of his weight on one gunwale with out it tipping over. It will be the perfect boat for one person to go fishing, and you will be able to slip into the small quite spots with out even a ripple.

Designer John Bell testing the BLACKBERRY’S abilities