As outboard-powered cats go, they don’t come much bigger, better or more brazenly suited to a luxury outdoor lifestyle than this 36-footer from Aquila.
Like no other boat of its length, it can capably serve as a couple’s retreat, cocktail cruiser, deep-sea fishing and dive boat, or simply an on-water entertainer with seating for no fewer than 20 guests.
Deck space echoes a 50ft monohull and affords three separate areas to cater for a myriad of roles. Lads can fish from the back as the ladies enjoy a champagne at the bow, or you can send the teens forward to listen to doof-doof music while the adults have the rear cockpit. Spread the yoga mats or ballroom dance, whatever floats your boat.
For overnighting, paradoxically, four people can enjoy intimate and comfortable accommodations below deck.
The boat is the result of a marriage between builder Sino Eagle in China and the MarineMax dealership in the USA, with Europe’s J&J Designs as the celebrant. While all have a chartering background, the 36 is their multifaceted multihull answer to the ubiquitous mid-sized monohull sportscruiser.
With two cabins and two bathrooms, it can certainly adapt to short-term labour. Feedback from Sydney Harbour operators has encouraged importer Multihull Central to put a 36 into 1E Survey, where it can carry 26 passengers in smooth waters.
Such is the versatility, there’s a water taxi/island shuttle version available, a dive boat option with space for tanks, and a charter fishing configuration. Syndication ownership would be another possibility, given its suitability for day boating.
Our test boat had been optimised for personal use by a Mooloolaba resident. In fact, the owner’s brother had bought the first Aquila 44 and both vessels now hang virtually side-by-side from private docks.
Entry to the 36’s cockpit is via topside boarding gates (port and starboard) with SeaDek non-skid decking underfoot. There’s a five-step swimladder concealed in the aft platform and another can be fitted forward.
Aft lounges span almost the entire stern, with a centre section facing aft for use when anchored, and lowering to a sunbed. The fibreglass bases are insulated iceboxes, supplementing the 80lt Isotherm drawer fridge/freezer in the nearby wetbar.
The bar unit can include an electric grill or, alternatively, you’d run a barbecue off the rear quarter. It has a moulded sink in the Corian-style benchtop, but otherwise the galley is minimalistic. An additional fridge is needed if planning longer stays, and a microwave would come in handy.
The test boat had a half-height, runabout-style windscreen that can be topped with clears, however a full glass enclosure is offered which would markedly change the boat’s cruising aspirations.
A clear benefit of having transom-hung outboards is that the hull voids beneath the cockpit are devoted to twin fuel tanks of 675lt a side, along with water tankage – 200lt as standard and 540lt optional. This places weight just aft of amidships, keeping the bows light. You can also install a genset to port.
Shaded by an expansive hardtop, with the option of an electric sunroof, the central deck features an L-shaped dinette with folding table. The starboard-side helm offers excellent visibility and includes a Raymarine navigation package.
The skipper never needs to feel removed from the action, thanks to a companion seat and twoseater lounge to port.
SPACIOUS – ABOVE AND BELOW
That said, the magic really happens in the thoroughly versatile bow-riding area. A walk-through windshield provides access and, once there, the seating can be configured in three different ways. Choose eight seats facing each other, or wide lounges and aft-facing seats, or fold to make two double sunbeds.
Included are flip-down arm rests, LED-lit cup holders and speakers. It has a large storage bin along with additional hatches for the anchor locker and windlass. A freshwater washdown outlet is also available here.
If that’s not enough, the Aquila has separate companionway entries leading to deceptively spacious cabins with a double bed and en suite apiece. Headroom is 1.98m while the memory-foam mattresses measure 2m by 1.4m.
Natural light, courtesy of topside windows, bathes the pleasantly hued oak finish.
CAPABLE OUTBOARD POWER
With a draft of only 60cm, it’s possible to nose the 36 into the beach for a calm night’s sleep. Most craft of this size carry inboards, but here you can just tilt the motors at day’s end and the props stay high and dry.
There are handling benefits as well, since the twin engines offer direct steerage. Mercury’s Joystick Piloting is optional, and the outboards are mounted on separate angled aluminium pods.
Standard powerplants are 250hp Mercury four-stroke Verados. The Aquila can accommodate twin 350s, but the test boat split the difference with a pair of factory-fitted Verado 300s spinning three-blade, stainless-steel Enertia props.
Henceforth, Multihull Central plans to fit motors locally during the commissioning process, giving buyers a choice of brands.
The hull is relatively conventional in shape yet very easily driven, with no hump to get over or a planing sweet spot – it’s all sweet. Acceleration pushes you back into the seat as there’s no perceptible bow lift. Mercury’s Active Trim system then automatically levels the ride based on both boat speed and rpm.
Rounded forward sections cleave through harbour chop that would have most monohulls backing off, downturned chines simultaneously taking care of spray. The hull typically turns flat through corners.
Outboard noise in the upper rev range is noticeable, although by this stage you’re doing 33 knots (61km/h) and eating into distances. Fuel usage is around 80lt/h at more moderate cruise speeds.
You can run this boat any way you like – as a supersized runabout or a weekend cruiser.
Construction quality is evident all round, from the resin-infused vinylester hull to the stainless-steel fittings with polished welds. No plywood is used in structural components or below the waterline.
There is certainly a lot to like. Base price is $535,000 with twin 250hp Mercs, while the test boat with 300hp and many options came in at $629,000.
Hull length: 9.94m
Dry weight: 7300kg
Power: 2 x 250hp Mercury Verado
As tested: 2 x 300hp Mercury Verado
Holding tanks: 2 x 80lt
Price from: $535,000
Price as tested: $629,000
More information: Multihull Central, tel: 1300 852 620. Web: multihullcentral.com, or: aquilaboats.com.