The solar-powered Silent 55 catamaran is successfully pioneering renewable power in a quality and seaworthy design.
- Mix and match layouts
- Twin outboard power
- Good range
- Available in cruising, sportfishing and commercial variants
The new Aquila 36 made its Downunder debut at the Sydney Boat Show and it won’t be long before we see this versatile power cat in New Zealand too.
It would be way too easy to call the Aquila 36 a transformer. Note that this is not the electrical kind. More like the robotic, superhero variety. The reason is simply that as a platform, both literally and metaphorically, it can be configured to meet a variety of uses, and then perform each and every one of them with terrific aplomb.
Suffice to say that the level of adaptability and tailoring to meet your needs is quite astounding. These are afforded by configuration in terms of seating, accommodation and amenity, but also a wide and varied choice of powerplants, and then ultimately even the kind of ownership you want to enjoy. The craft has very much become a bit of a darling, not only with private owners, but also syndication and charter fleet operators, as they too eye off its many benefits, simplicity and overall useability.
Remember too, that is a vessel that lands in the $655k to $737k bracket, with the Excursion version that I will talk about in a moment having a slightly sharper entry point. Again, it is based on exactly how you specify it, but expect it to be in the $638k to $715k zone, and that is all set up, ready to go into survey. I mention it now, because it is important not to lock in on price, but rather on what the Aquila 36 can do, and just how much award-winning craft you get for your hard-earned dollar.
Jake Wynne of Multihull Central and I were sitting on Hull #34 of Aquila’s 36 Powercat. Interestingly, during the time it took to write these words, Hull #35 arrived for its delighted owners and current orders for first quarter 2019 delivery will be for hulls with mid-50 numbers. All of which really does underscore the runaway success of the Sino-American operation’s latest model, which has begun to almost eclipse her bigger sisters, the popular Aquila 44, and spacious 48.
A genuine global success from what is only an 18-month lifespan so far has seen the 36 landing in Asia, Europe, the Pacific Rim and the USA. There are now seven Aquila 36s in Australia alone, just 12 months after the first one arrived.
Clearly it is time for Kiwi boaters to take Aquila’s latest model on too and it looks as though there are already a couple of keen buyers waiting in the wings.
As Wynne explained, “The whole craft is designed around a mix and match sort of mentality. Whether you’re into fishing, day charter, weekends away or favourite day spots for a swim, there are literally a plethora of things we can add in for you, from seating arrangements to BBQs, gensets and air-conditioning, to microwaves, waste bottle chutes, lazy susans, plush and durable fabrics, LPG, lithium batteries, solar power, sun awnings, and clear covers – basically, just ask us!”
It’s all in the layout
Some spots on the globe are sun obsessed, whereas here in the Southern Hemisphere we kind of run from it. It is probably one of the reasons we are yet to see an Aquila 36 delivered Downunder with the optional retractable sunroof over the main deck. There is also an optional for’ard sun awning to cover the huge lounge area that can be either seating or huge beds. The cockpit can be fitted with a fixed awning that can also take clears, should you want to close it all in.
So if one calls this version the ‘Great Entertainer,’ options include a full row of seating across the transom – or leave out a seat and fit a BBQ. Either way you will still be able to access the large swim platform with its integrated ladder.
You can make long distances too, as 1350 litres will give you a 300nm range at a respectable mid-teens kind of pace.
Once at your favourite islands, you can simply wander around, or set the boat up for charter – two couples could easily enjoy its ample space. You can opt for a third bunk in the port cabin and the dining table lowers to form another smaller, child-sized bed as well.
Enjoyed as a harbour-style day-boat, you and a whole crew of friends can blast off to your favourite anchorage at up to 36 knots, then dial up the Fusion stereo and have a wow of a time.
Being a catamaran, you don’t get much spray on deck. In the early days, it was almost 50/50 with the split-screen version versus the full screen. Today it is more like 90/10 in favour of the full-screen version, which to my mind looks better and also offers a more robust offshore package. The choice is yours.
Another way to adapt your Aquila 36 is to opt for the fishing package. Here the whole of the aft deck is transformed with a live bait well with a clear lid, a huge chilly bin under the filleting board to store your haul, a BBQ to cook your catch, as well as rocket launchers and rod holders. Once you see this set up for real, you will understand why keen anglers opt for it, as there is loads of space to walk your catch around and gunwale doors to land the big ones. And there is still plenty of seating back under the hardtop…
The final version, called Excursion, is the most different to look at. It has an entirely new, large deckhouse above the same hulls, starting right up in the foredeck with access for’ard and also from the sides at the rear of the cabin.
The Excursion can be open for SCUBA-type roles, or enclosed for business class transport.Seating numbers range from five for a patrol-type role to 40 for a water taxi. Any number in between is possible, depending on your requirements and the level of luxury you want to deliver.
Six craft of this version have been delivered thus far, with two of them going into our region already.
Note that this variant can be ordered with optional foils, offering a 25% improvement in the vessel’s efficiency, which is bound to delight commercial operators. Foils cost an additional $37, 250, so you would want to be racking up some miles to offset the initial cost.
By the by, each Aquila 36 variant weighs in at just under nine metric tonnes wet.
Feel the power
You certainly do have power at your fingertips. The vessel can take a pair of 250 to 350hp outboards. Initially, Mercury was the only choice, but now you can opt for Suzuki’s contra-rotating 350hp units, or Yamaha’s tried and tested donks. If you stick with Mercury you can also upgrade to joystick control.
Supply of Mercury’s new, game-changing 250hp and 300hp V8s is challenging all over the globe. The lightweight, fuel efficient, high torque units are in demand everywhere, but given the builder’s relationship with Mercury Marine, hull numbers from the mid 50s onwards will have the new V8 units.
If you want Mercury 350hp units, they will be the old L6 Verados for the moment, and for some time to come, which might be enough to swing some buyers towards other brands.
It is all dollars in the end, so just like ordering everything off the menu only to find that your eyes are actually bigger than your stomach, remember that every option and upgrade adds up in the end. With Mercurys, the choice of white or black legs and cowlings is very cool and may well be an overarching consideration.
In terms of numbers, the 250s will top out at 26 knots and you’ll be in for 200l/hr combined at that speed. 20 knots will give more like 90l/hr, but your best range will be achieved at either 16 knots, which is on the plane, or at eight knots. These speeds equate to 66 and 35l/hr, respectively.
The bigger 300s will take you on to 31 knots and add about 20% to your fuel consumption, but your range is effectively the same – it even improves slightly with the hammers down.
It is a very similar story with the 350s, but fuel burn is 30% higher than the base engines. The range is similar, but slightly better at both ends of the speed spectrum.
One cannot finish this section without talking oil burners. Oxe Diesel’s tremendous 200hp powerplants could well give you an 800-900nm range and having a one-fuel boat with a genset is handy. The Cox 300s are bound to be something else again, but both do have hefty price tags.
Fit and finish
Sino Eagle, the builder, puts a lot of attention into its craft, most notably in the moulds, and you see this in the fit and finish. The lines are straight and the panels true. All structures and components are entirely vinylester resin-infused for maximum strength, durability and minimal weight.
I particularly like the 36’s mirrored hulls and twin heads, its space, stability and being able to sit up for’ard while underway. Helming is a delight and vision is uncompromised. No doubt all these attributes influenced the judges at the International Multihull Show, along with Multihulls World and Multicoques magazines, when in 2018 they awarded the Aquila 36 the power ‘Multihull of the Year’. The boat also received the Christofle Yacht Style Award.
As a boat, the Aquila 36 answers a lot of questions, some of which you may not have even known you were going to ask. It is stable, does not tramline, gets up on the plane early, is fun, easy and enjoyable. You can have it go quickly, or spec it to make sure you have a genuine express craft. We said early on that finding superlatives was all too easy, but the global sales really do back them up.
So far there are no Aquila 36 Powercats in New Zealand, but that is bound to change, based on this very versatile and capable craft’s uptake around the world. At the Auckland On Water Boat Show Multihull Central NZ will have an Aquila 44 on display. Steve Thomas would love to discuss the Aquila range of three – soon to be four – powercats with Kiwi boaters at the show.