I was piloting Aquila, a custom Northern Marine 64, through the deep, dark waters of the Guemes Channel off Anacortes, Washington, and although I was far from my familiar East Coast waterways, I was confident in the knowledge that I was transiting on a vessel born for passagemaking. She’s a purpose-built expedition yacht that encourages a helmsman to point her in any direction and just go. And this 64 is unlike any that have come before her.
“We’ve revamped our approach over the last few years of what I call a young company,” Northern Marine‘s president, Andy McDonald, told me as we zipped up our fleece parkas against the cold air’s bite. Northern Marine encourages each owner to participate in his project. And Aquila‘s owner, Todd Taricco, was very involved with his yacht’s build.”It makes it easier to get lots of fresh ideas from our designers and workers. In the end, that means we are constantly working to improve the process and, thereby, the product.” On past 64s, a more traditional approach resulted in a general arrangement of four staterooms and four heads below; entertaining, dining areas and pilothouse on the main deck; space topside for the bridge, tender and crane.
“With this particular project, and given Aquila‘s commercial dive/charter/expedition yacht profile, with the ability to operate in both U.S. and foreign waters and to carry paying passengers in international waters, the design was a bit more specific,” Taricco said. “Andy and I made efficiency and energy-saving a priority.”
Aquila is the 10th 64 in what has become known as Northern Marine’s Aquila Class. “On this project the engineering cycle was a bit different,” Taricco said. “Everything had to be sent to Washington, D.C., for approval prior to starting the actual build.” This 64 is the first to have been designed to comply with the stringent regulations regarding the design, functionality, operational efficiency and safety of U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter T-class and to be certified as such.
Taricco’s input helped establish Aquila‘s character, especially inside. Her interior arrangement suits her commercial purpose. For example, the large salon allows everyone to be comfortable after a day of diving or exploring; the galley has enough stowage space for stores to feed everyone aboard while away from port for extended periods; the engine room is designed for ease of operation; and the pilothouse is nothing short of a skipper’s dream. The 64 normally has the pantry and laundry center below, but during the mock-up phase, Taricco and the builder discovered unused space beneath the stairs, which became the pantry and laundry room. Up forward, they changed the size of some doors and passageways and the layout of the crew mess, and added a wet head outside, enabling divers or others to utilize it before coming inside.
Among the rugged commercial designs are rotary-actuated rack-and-pinion steering, robust pumps and waste treatment, lifesaving and electrical systems. On the electrical side, Aquila possesses a specialized cascading bus system. When the larger of the two generators (27 kW) is operating, the yacht has enough electrical power to run every appliance. “We’ve [also] got 6 kW of inverters aboard driven by two large alternators that eliminate the need to run a genset during most crossings,” Taricco said. Switching to the smaller generator limits the number of appliances the crew may run. The Jacuzzi won’t turn on, for example. But when the yacht plugs into shore power, whether it is in South America, North America or wherever, you are good to go. Another compelling facet of the electrical system is the sophisticated Allen Bradley programmable logic controller, which turns on the 64’s running lights and any pump on the boat; it also monitors current draws and trends in exhaust temperatures and performs many other functions. “From the electronics to the electricals, we have emergency and backup systems backing up the emergency systems.”
Building Aquila was a challenge for McDonald and the Northern Marine team and one that they met head-on. The company has already integrated some of what it learned into boats on the current production line. “We are constantly looking to improve our processes to make as superior a product as possible,” McDonald said.
So if there are distant waters you want to explore or new directions you want to go, Northern Marine can create a 64 for your own odyssey..
DISPL: 75 long tons
WATER: 500 gal.
FUEL: 3,100 gal.
ENGINE: 1 x 400 hp MTU Series 60 diesel