Power Catamarans On The Rise

Aquila’s flagship 48 and new 44 bring comfort and luxury to the cruising power cat market.

Aquila 48
Aquila 48
For more information: aquilaboats.com
Aquila 48
Aquila 48
Aquila 48
Aquila 48
Aquila 48
Aquila 48
Aquila 48
Aquila 48
Aquila 44
Aquila 44
For more information: aquilaboats.com
Aquila 44
Aquila 44
Aquila 44
Aquila 44
Aquila 44
Aquila 44
Aquila 44
Aquila 44

You were ready for this.

A soft yellow illuminates the master suite portlight announcing the daybreak. You slip quietly from the large, comfortable berth, dress quietly and climb a few steps up into the power catamaran’s main salon. Making a quick visual sweep around the sunny anchorage through large, strongly tempered windows and a glass aft bulkhead, you can make out two boats, a large cruising sailboat and an aft cabin trawler, both of which are rocking and rolling as the swell from some far off ocean storm invades the cove. You smile to yourself, because the cabin sole beneath your Topsiders is much more steady.

The generator is purring quietly, and the temperature inside your power catamaran has remained constant all night, a little cool and dry for sleeping comfortably. You walk over to the galley, drop a cartridge of dark roast coffee into the Keurig, and search for your iPad as the aroma of the brew fills the salon. The genset never skips a beat. With your cup and pad in hand, you slip quietly out the sliding door to the aft cockpit, then climb the molded stairs to the flybridge.

There’s a light coating of dew on every exterior surface, so you’re glad you slipped a cover on the helm chair last night. Once seated, you power up the electronics, spool up the radar, and check the screen for other boats in the cove. Some of the slower boats will be leaving soon, headed for the next cove that a few locals all know about. Since your power cat has twin Volvo Penta diesel engines that can cruise efficiently at 7 to 8 knots, and cut the cruising time quickly at speeds up to 17 or 18 knots, you’re not worried about who will get there first, even if you give the fog a chance to lift and leave a little later. You energize the iPad and enjoy your first sip of the dark, heady brew.

As I said, you were ready for this, for cruising in a power catamaran, for enjoying the large livable spaces inside and out with family and friends. Cruising power catamarans are selling in greater numbers than ever before, and you only have to look at the new Aquila 44 or the Aquila 48 to understand why. Here are two yachts with wide beams producing excellent stability at anchor or underway, with modern hull designs that offer shallow draft, as well as large interior volumes for engines, generators, and systems vital to comfort afloat. Both Aquila yachts are designed from the outset to be pure power catamarans, as opposed to some power catamarans that are modified sailing catamaran designs.

When MarineMax and the Asian builder Sino Eagle Group entered into an agreement in 2012, the Aquila line of contemporary, luxurious power catamarans — 38, 44, 48 — was born. Top-flight design firms like Morrelli & Melvin, and most recently J&J Design/Seaway Group, brought their considerable naval architecture and engineering skills to bear. From the beginning, Aquila specified that all serviceable components be globally available for ease of service and optimal support, many of which are made in the U.S. And to help ensure that the Aquila line was leading edge from the keel up, a new factory was built in Asia, incorporating the latest technologies in boat building.

Hulls, decks and even bulkheads are laminated using the resin infusion process for the strongest, lightest, stiffest possible structures. Unlike some manufacturers who hand lay resin-coated fiberglass and balsa core strips in the mold after the gelcoat has hardened, Aquila craftsmen lay in precisely cut dry fiberglass and balsa core mats specially prepared for infusion. Once the dry layup is finished, and all the pieces are firmly in place, the mold is sealed inside a bag that is attached to a vacuum pump, and all of the air is removed. The bag has a network of inlets that attach to a fiberglass resin source, and when the vacuum is assured, the inlets are opened, allowing resin to flow to every space, encapsulating the fiberglass layers and balsa core completely. Air voids are nullified when this process is carefully done, an Aquila hallmark.

Although it is time consuming to produce a boat using the resin infusion process, it is not only more environmentally friendly (fewer volatile organic compounds released into the atmosphere, less fiberglass waste) but also offers a higher quality structure that will better withstand impacts and minimize water intrusion into the structure if it is ever penetrated. Aquila specifies solid lamination on hull centerlines, where thru-hulls are located, and where hardware is attached. They also specify NPG gelcoat for superior UV resistance, and vinylester resins for long life and wear resistance. Interestingly, there is a fully sealed crash box in each bow, plus a separately molded and attached hull extension at each stern, to help ensure hull integrity in case of impact.

Aquila selected Volvo Penta diesels for their newest design, the 44, and their two-year-old flagship, the 48. These made-for-marine-use, cast-iron-block engines have proved themselves in large numbers, and their reliability is prized by those who own and maintain them studiously. Combined with these advanced hulls, owners will realize performance efficiencies most monohull vessels simply cannot achieve.

The 44 has twin 225 hp D4 engines with V-drive gearboxes, and running gear in tunnels (for reduced draft and a more efficient running angle). Long range speed is approximately 6.5 knots with a 2.5 gph fuel burn. With the standard 290-gallon fuel tank, the range is approximately 718 nm. At a cruising speed of 14.9 knots, consumption rises to about 17 gph and range becomes about 241 nm (all ranges quoted based on a 5 percent reserve). An optional tank raises a full load of fuel from 290 to 385 gallons, increasing ranges to approximately 954 nm and 320 nm, respectively. Wide open throttle settings can get you 18 knot top speeds.

The 48 packs a pair of 330 hp D6s, also with V-drive gearboxes and running gear in tunnels. Long range speed is approximately 7.1 knots with a 3.8 gph fuel burn. With the standard 356-gallon fuel tank, the range is approximately 634 nm. At a cruising speed of 13.3 knots, consumption rises to about 25.5 gph and range becomes about 177 nm (again, all ranges quoted based on a 5 percent reserve). An optional tank raises a full load of fuel from 290 to 385 gallons, increasing ranges to approximately 954 nm and 320 nm, respectively. Wide open throttle settings can get you 18 knot top speeds.

It is important to note that Aquila developed these figures using fuel and water loads over 50 percent on both the 44 and 48, but you need to be aware that there are many factors — current, wind, waves, load, and cleanliness of the hulls and drive trains — that can cause performance, consumption and range to vary.

The 44 and the 48 are both offered in four stateroom, four head layouts, but unless your family is larger than average, or you're committed to taking a host of friends cruising, you may want to consider a layout offering more room in each stateroom. Which is why Aquila offers both yachts with three stateroom, three head layouts.

For the 44, the master stateroom, which is nearly full beam width, is forward and only a few steps down from the salon deck level. Its ensuite head is several steps down to port, while a cozy seating area occupies the same position to starboard. Two guest staterooms are located in the hulls, also with ensuite heads, with stairways descending near the aft salon bulkhead. The galley is to port aft, where it can serve the aft table as easily as the salon table, and is very well equipped, including Corian countertops for long service. Molded stairs lead up from the aft deck to either side deck, while the major stairway leads to the large flybridge. An L-shaped bench seat for four sits just behind the helm console, so a large group can enjoy the ride facing forward with the helmsman. Just aft, there is a console for an optional outdoor kitchen and a large U-shaped seating area and a table with folding leaves for easy access. And when the time comes to go forward, there's no need to retrace your steps down to the aft deck. Aquila has included a centerline stairway with excellent handrails just ahead of the helm.

The 48 has this same ease of access from the flybridge, but there are two rather than one stairways, also with excellent handrails. The 48’s flybridge is spectacularly large, has an dining area with folding table leaves, and is shaded by an optional fiberglass hardtop that extends forward to cover the centerline helm. Behind the four-wide helm bench seat is a locker for an optional outdoor kitchen.

One of the more notable features on the 48 is both indoor and outdoor stairs to the flybridge. Another is the cozy seating area just ahead of the forward salon bulkhead, accessible through a centerline door. There’s a massive galley near the aft salon bulkhead, with access to the staterooms nearby on both sides. The master suite is to port and takes up the entire hull, with a large queen berth aft, a spacious head and shower forward, and excellent storage in between. Guest staterooms are to starboard, and each has a private ensuite head.

Fit and finish are outstanding on both yachts. Interiors are a pleasant blend of wood (striated olive wood in a glossy finish, cherry in a matte finish), fabrics and molded surfaces. You really have to see them to believe them, and you'll get your chance at the upcoming Miami Boat Shows. You can find loads of information on MarineMax boat show specials on Aquila's yachts by logging on to this page: www.aquilaboats.com and take an opportunity to experience the stability, spaciousness and comfort of these luxurious cruising power catamarans. You are ready for this, and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.