Few companies have done more to market the power catamaran to American boaters than MarineMax. Its ever-popular charter offerings serve as a type of feeder program, giving monohull owners a taste of the stability and spaciousness cats have to offer.
That mentality—giving just a taste in the hopes of stoking demand—has served its Aquila line well. Now, MarineMax is poised to introduce power cats to a more specific kind of boater: outboard enthusiasts.
At the Miami International Boat Show this past February, the new Aquila 36 was easy to spot at the end of the face dock, surrounded by a small gathering of onlookers. It appeared the boat was getting a lot of attention. Or I should say boats. There were two Aquila 36s on display; one was what they call a Private model, and the other was what’s known as the “Island Version,” which was outfitted for charter use.
The first thing that caught my eye was what really makes this new model unique: the outboards. Twin Mercury Verados—available in 250-, 300-, and 350-horsepower options—were parked on the stern of each sponson.
“That’s different,” remarked one showgoer. He was right.
Building on the rising popularity of outboards in the U.S., MarineMax is gambling said motors will help bring widespread acceptance to a boat type that is still considered fringe by many. Besides the popularity, outboards give the 36 improved fuel efficiency and a Bahamas-ready draft of just 2 feet.
According to the MarineMax team that helped deliver the boats to the show, the Verados’ placement on the far corners of the boat allows for easy pivoting and maneuvering in tight quarters. With the 300-horsepower engines, the 36 should reach 36 knots and offer a 200-mile range at a cruising speed of 25 knots, according to MarineMax.
Then there are the accommodations. The sponsons are home to mirrored, en suite staterooms with large hullside windows near water level. The Private Version of the 36 is completely open with a hardtop, which comes with an optional electric sunroof, and an unobstructed centerline walkway to the forward bow seating area. On the Island Version that’s likely to see duty in, well, the islands, there is an enclosure forward of the helm, which gives you the option of air-conditioned cruising, though the back is open so don’t expect perfect climate control. Other important features on the Island Version are improved stowage, a large built-in cooler, and dinghy davits. All these features on both versions can be mixed and matched on your 36.
What’s my conclusion after closely examining the Aquila 36? This boat might just change the power-cat game in the U.S. … again.
This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.