REVIEW: AQUILA 36

By: KEVIN GREEN, Photography by: KEVIN GREEN & SUPPLIED

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

As powercats continue to gain market share, the outboard-powered Aquila 36 offers a wealth of possibilities to the ambitious seafarer.

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First impressions can often be startling – even for us veteran boating journalists – and so it was at the Sydney Boat Show, when I came upon the Aquila 36.

Raked back lines and a low profile offered strong, yet smooth, aesthetics and a clever hull overhang maximised deck space.

In fact, it was this deck space that loomed as a real selling point of this boat as I took it all in.

My mind raced with the possibilities – the SCUBA enthusiast in me could see myself using it as a functional dive platform on the Great Barrier Reef, but all that deck space could also be used as seating (it is survey-rated for 26 people), and not to dismiss the two double cabins below.

So there were a whole range of solid reasons for Multihull Central to import this first hull and for dealer Jake Wynne’s optimism about sales: "We can fit the boat out to meet any requirements, with gear like bait tanks, icemakers and barbecues for day party charters or whatever the client needs."

CREDENTIALS

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Chinese brand Aquila had impressed me when I did a sea trial on its flybridge 44 powercat which sported pioneering bulbous bows and a quality finished interior.

But long before that, I’d dealt with them regarding the company’s high specification grand prix race yacht designed by legendary American design house Reichel/Pugh – the Aquila RP 45.

Other credentials include building Leopard catamarans and the Sunsail 38 models, so it wasn’t surprising that American charter company MarineMax approached Aquila in 2011 to build this range of power catamarans.

This partnership was first established when Sino Eagle Group began building the Aquila 38 specifically for MarineMax’s new charter business.

Fast forward to the present, and the yard has the 44 and 48 flybridge powercats, and now, this newest 36 sport style.

AL FRESCO SALOON

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The open-style topsides on this Aquila can be optionally enclosed for more temperate climates, but the Australian review boat layout was ideal – a large spray screen with only two fibreglass bulkheads and alloy struts forward to attach the composite bimini.

Beneath was a functional layout with L-shaped seating and table to port, just across from the wet-bar, while the steering console is given plenty of space on starboard with double seating.

More seating and a sunpad are on the transom and there’s also ample room for guests to move about.

Boarding is via two gunwale doors on either side, so ideal for unloading a busy charter boat or mounting side ladders for a dive party.

The wet-bar has a deep sink, icebox and small fridge beneath with optional hot plate to complete the casual galley arrangement.

Spacious decks are clad in synthetic SeaDek, a slightly spongy covering that reduces heat and deadens sound while giving good grip to boat shoes.

I’m unsure about its longevity, but it suits this style of boat.

Looking aft, the swimplatform is located centrally due to the outboards, which rather complicates its use as a dive platform especially as it is fairly high.

I’d probably add removable ladders on each side gate and for total safety (in dive mode), fit prop guards, too.

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There’s a freshwater shower here and a handy locker, but I’d prefer guard rails on either side.

With no sidedeck, access to the bow is via a door through the forward saloon, which reveals a large and deep cockpit – so it’s safe at speed.

I sat there in bow-rider style, while my host for the day, Jake, steered and here I experienced very little moisture incoming, but should spray land, there are large scuppers.

This area is a major feature of the Aquila 36 thanks to a double sunbed, moveable chair backs and a wide space that only catamarans can offer.

Special touches include drink holders with LED lighting – and further bling is available courtesy of underwater versions.

Practicalities aren’t neglected thanks to two sets of retractable cleats, vertical electric Quick windlass with manual override and a sealed chain locker – all surrounded by a stainless guardrail.

There’s also storage beneath several bulkheads and the cockpit sole has a large box that drains outboard.

Also, sunshades can be optioned for both the bow and stern decks.

SYMMETRICAL CABINS

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The symmetrical cabin layout has the bed forward and bathrooms aft, with a sliding door for privacy.

The rather spartan décor – bare gelcoat and plain vinyl – is admittedly easy to clean, while the double berths have enough volume to avoid stuffiness, even with the door closed.

In the cabin tops, an opening deck hatch gives plenty of natural light along with large rectangular portlights and quality OceanAir blinds.

Sensibly, the starboardside cabin has the main switchboard – so the skipper at the helm can glance behind to check what’s on.

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The large switchboard has 12V controls on the top and AC shore power below – often the most hazardous item aboard – monitored using readable analogue gauges.

The heads are electric freshwater flush with macerator, so I’d option-up to larger tanks and some might consider a watermaker (run off the generator).

There’s a Corian basin in the heads with opening portlight beside it.

Underfoot, a teak grate is a nice touch and headroom is nearly 2m.

A good quality of finish is found throughout the Aquila 36 with solid joinery on doors and no fancy embellishments to worry about.

VERSATILE HULL

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The infused vinylester hull is foam cored, without any plywood used, employing moulded stringers instead, with distinct hard chines to add rigidity and reduce drag – something that was very noticeable during my sea trial.

Fine bows with two chines enable a narrow entry, while high bridge deck clearance and a sculptured underside further reduce the Aquila 36’s drag.

Opening several of the hatches revealed a smooth finish which demonstrates the credentials of the Sino Eagle yards.

Those outboard engines free up a lot of internal hull space, so the Aquila 36 has vast storage on each side aft.

In the aft space are alloy fuel tanks located against the inboard bulkhead (which helps trim).

There’s space on the starboard side for a generator set (to supplement the 70amp alternators on the outboards) but ample space is also available on the fibreglass bimini for a large array of solar panels.

BEACHED AT SYDNEY

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Nudging the 36ft Aquila onto a beach in Sydney Harbour demonstrated the versatility of this boat.

No need for a tender to be towed, simply tilt the motors and glide onto the sand.

All that was missing was the optional bow ladder, so I had to leap off as elegantly as I could manage to take the pictures you see with this article.

On the move, the Aquila felt effortless under power with little wave noise as I sped through the harbour, reaching a maximum speed of 33kts.

Smooth power delivery is what you get with six cylinder outboards like these 300hp Mercury Verados.

My only complaint was their roar at high speed which made chatting a wee bit difficult.

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Snug behind the windshield, my head was well protected and thanks to the open-style cockpit I had enjoyed unbroken views – especially good when you have a load of guests on Sydney Harbour.

From take-off, the slim hulls cut through the smooth water, taking us on the plane at about 12kts.

As the bow rose, the active trim moved the outboard legs and the Aquila sped off with easy control, thanks to the electronic wheel and braced standing position.

At a comfortable slow cruise speed of 15kts, fuel burn was a moderate at 58lt/h, while moving onto fast cruising at 25kts burnt the petrol at 126lt/h for a range of 268nm.

But unlike many monohulls, these cats can cruise quite happily in displacement mode, so a sedate 5kts would take you more than 500nm.

High speed handling felt slightly strange at first, because the hull doesn’t heel into turns, so the weight doesn’t shift to compensate for the gravitational pull.

But once I did a few doughnuts and figure-of-eights, I felt confident in going beyond the Sydney Heads where the high stability really was enjoyable and the decks remained totally dry in the 1m swell.

THE WRAP

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This Aquila would make an ideal vessel for ferrying those occasionally seasick divers who suffer mal de mer on my Zodiac RIB.

The only slight flaw I could find was a tendency to go off track when following a wake, as the wave pressure built up between the hulls to cause a wee bit of oscillation, but that’s really nitpicking.

Slow manoeuvring, when I went astern to pick up a mooring, was done with ease – helped by the fairly high aft sections that minimised drag.

So, indeed, my first impressions were confirmed after a day on the Aquila 36.

This really is a special powercat and like most catamarans, it can have many different lives – you just need to pick which is yours.

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICED FROM

$560,640.00

PRICE AS TESTED

$637,490.00

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP

TYPE Power catamaran

LENGTH 10.96m/36ft

BEAM 4.45m

HEIGHT 3.05m (excludes electrics and electronics)

DRAFT 0.60m (outboards retracted)

WEIGHT 6700kg (light ship); 8800kg (loaded)

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 4 (night)

FUEL 1350lt (2 x 675lt)

WATER 200lt

HOLDING TAnK 2 x 80lt

ENGINES

MAKE 2 x 300hp Mercury Verado Outboards

TYPE 2.6L inline six-cylinder block, supercharged with electronic fuel injection

WEIGHT 288kg

PROPELLERS Three-blade and can counter rotate

SUPPLIED BY

Multihull Central

Lot 4 Chapman Road, Annandale NSW 2038

PHONE 1300 852 620

WEB multihullcentral.com

Check out the full review in issue #498 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration. 

 


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