Aquila 48 Boat Review
From Boats.com, April 2014
We are pleased to be a feature article on Boats.com, published April, 2014. The in-depth article on the Aquila 48, named the MarineMax 484 in our charter fleet, expands not only on the performance of the power catamaran, but also the livability comforts and design features. We appreciate being featured in this publication and thank the editors and writers for their time and efforts.
MarineMax Brings Charter Knowledge to Boat Design: Aquila 48 Boat Review
After years of dealing with both boats and charter vacations, MarineMax put the two experiences together and developed the Aquila 48.
By Lenny Rudow
reviews on boats.comSpend two days on a boat like the Aquila 48, and you’ll learn quite a
bit about it that wouldn’t be obvious during a walk-through or a boat-show tour. So when MarineMax invited me down to Florida to spend a couple of days checking this model out, I
jumped at the chance. The strange thing is, once I spent some time on the boat, I kept jumping. For joy, that is.
Wait a sec—why would a chest-thumping, gore-loving, die-hard angler like myself enjoy time spent on a cruising boat with nary a rodholder in sight? For starters, I do appreciate thoughtful design in boats regardless of their intended use. But even more significantly, even though I was working the whole time it seemed like I was on vacation while aboard the Aquila 48.
"The Aquila 48 is one unique crusing boat, from stern to stern"....
As anyone who’s spent extended time aboard a boat can attest, privacy is usually in short supply. Very short supply. Yet on the 48, everyone gets gobs of privacy is usually in short supply. Very short supply. Yet on the 48, everyone gets gobs of privacy. The boat we were on had a three-stateroom configuration, with a master suite in the port hull and a pair of guest cabins in the starboard hull. Yes, port and starboard hulls; this boat is a power-cat. What’s really unusual here is that the cabins are kept completely apart from each other. The master (the boat can also be ordered with a smaller master and a fourth cabin) has the tunnel separating it from the guest cabins. And the guest cabins are separated from each other by a pair of heads plus an entryway. No two cabins share a bulkhead, nor do any share a head, and as a result when you go into one and close the door you’re completely insulated from the rest of the crew. It’s a very different experience than being in a cabin on most boats of this size, where truth be told, if anyone onboard snores everyone onboard knows it.
Why is the Aquila designed this way? Credit MarineMax, which includes MarineMax Vacations and played a hand in developing the Aquila line. Their experience in the charter vacation segment of the industry taught them that privacy aboard a boat of this size is both in demand, and exceptionally rare. So they made an honest effort to create it—and they succeeded.
While the sleeping quarters are designed to maximize privacy, the main cabin tilts towards maintaining social interaction. Again, this is a lesson learned from charters. People vacation in groups and though they want privacy at times, the saloon, galley, and even the cockpit should flow together as seamlessly as possible. This is accomplished on the Aquila by keeping these areas on one level, and connecting the cockpit with the galley via a pair of massive sliding doors.
As you’d expect on a boat of this size that galley has all of the prerequisite features, from an under-counter refrigerator/freezer, to a microwave over, to a double-sink. Move forward to the saloon, and you’ll find a six-person dinette/settee with a folding table. But don’t stop there – keep moving forward, and you’ll discover a unique feature not seen on competing boats: a forward cockpit with gobs of seating and another dinette table. It’s protected by a hard top above (the flybridge brow, which is also quite unusual, but more on that later) and the sides are canvass, so you can open it up and get a nice breeze. Not only that, but you’ll get a better breeze than any aft cockpit because whether at anchor or cruising, it’s almost always the bow of the boat that faces the wind. It’s akin to having a front porch, but on your boat. And if that wind starts howling, you always have the aft cockpit to retreat to.
Let’s get back to the flybridge brow, for a moment. The reason it’s unusual is that it has a set of stairs complete with raised handrails, leading from the flybridge to the foredeck. Remember the days of scrambling up and down ladders and around side-decks to handle the lines? They’re ancient history. A second set of stairs goes from the bridge to the main cabin.
Again, this is a lesson learned from dealing with charter vacationers. No one wants to get flustered while scrambling around trying to get lines. And the commonly disorganized docking dilemmas faced by vacationers taught MarineMax one other thing: the part of the boat that takes the biggest beating is usually the transom and stern sections of the hulls, which tend to come into contact with pilings, docks, and bulkheads more often than other area of the boat. Sometimes, with somewhat destructive results. So the Aquila is built with a separately molded pod on the back of each hull. If you smash one up during a morning of mooring mayhem, it can be removed and replaced at a far lower cost than repairing the main hulls. Added safety bonus: they also create two individually sealed air chambers, in case of hull damage. Smart.
Those pods aren’t the only sign of foresight in the Aquila, when it comes to safety. There’s also a separate crash box forward, and in the unlikely event that one hull or the other does flood one day, the boat’s electrical system—including items important for safety like your VHF and nav gear—will keep working. Why? Because all of the boat’s wiring runs and the batteries are placed above the tunnel, instead of running through the hulls. That keeps them elevated, and dry.
There are several other details to take note of when you inspect the way the Aquila 48 is constructed. The entire boat is resin-infused with vinylester resin (not the less expensive but more water permeable polyester type). Balsa coring is perforated prior to the infusion process, allowing resin to be drawn in-between the fiberglass-core-fiberglass sandwich. That not only creates an I-beam like structure, it also seals off one segment from another. If the boat was ever driven onto rocks or the fiberglass is otherwise punctured, water that penetrated to the core wouldn’t be able to migrate through the laminate. Once more, this construction touch can be best summed up with one word: smart.
If there’s any down-side to the Aquila’s design, it’s a lack of thrilling performance. Of course, that’s not what this boat is all about; if what you’re after is an adrenaline rush, get a souped-up go-fast, not a cruiser. With our test boat’s pair of 370-hp Volvo-Penta V-drive inboards top-speed is slightly over 22 knots, and the boat cruises comfortably just under 20 knots. And while that won’t plaster your cheeks to your ears, what it will do is give you the legs you need to hop between islands, find a deserted cove, or head across the bay for dinner, at a reasonable clip.
If long-distance cruising is in the cards, pull the throttles back to 1000 RPM and 6.4 knots. At this relaxed rate you’ll get a healthy 3.6 nautical miles to the gallon. That means range approaches 1,000 miles. To heck with Bimini – let’s head for Bermuda, instead. And it’ll be a comfortable ride, again thanks to the power catamaran design. Two narrow hulls pierce the waves with far less impact than one wider hull, and when we ran this boat through the open Atlantic, the difference was obvious.
Excellent dockside handling is another great cat perk. While it’s true that handling at speed isn’t exactly sporty, when you need to turn or spin at slow speeds the wide engine placement makes it a breeze. Oppose the powerplants, give them a shot of juice, and the Aquila dances into its slip.
What about fit and finish, looks, and décor? Hey—you can see the pictures. Suffice it to say that this boat’s interior isn’t going to disappoint anyone. In fact, my guess is it’ll remind you of the interior in a high-end luxury hotel. Think of the last time you went on a nice vacation, at some ritzy resort. I know that’s exactly what went through my mind, while I spent time aboard the Aquila 48.
Read the entire article on Boats.com here