Aqua 54 — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca —
Riding the Edge
|Part 2: The Aqua is geared for performance, but don’t think it’s done at the price of luxury or comfort below decks.|
Mataloni added that once the Aqua is on plane and before giving her some throttle, I should retract the tabs. This may sound like a lot to keep in mind, but it’s really quite easy. Within five minutes of taking the wheel, I found trimming this boat felt quite similar to trimming my own boat’s 250-hp outboards. Of course, this is on a grander scale, but the same principles apply.
I pushed the ZF Mathers ClearCommand single-lever electronic controls forward and started to trim the props, and the Aqua popped right onto plane. I noted that the wake was steep and unforgiving should anyone try to cross it, and while a 25-knot cruise speed would be plenty for me, it was fun to kick that rooster tail up and take off like a shot. The Aqua streaked across the Atlantic just like that Chevelle down Kissena, only instead of hitting an occasional pothole, the choppy water gave the Aqua the occasional slap while running at WOT. It wasn’t teeth jarring, but it did cause me to throttle back to 2000 rpm and 44 mph, where the ride was cleaner. At all speeds I found that ZF controls smooth with good detents and the hydraulic steering quick.
Having seen Mataloni do some interesting hairpin turns earlier in the day, I wanted to try my hand at it. You need as much prop in the water as possible for this kind of maneuver; at speed, a surface-drive prop usually only has about 40 to 50 percent of its diameter in the water, and not keeping the outboard prop down could result in it losing whatever bite it has. I got the Aqua up to about 38 knots, trimmed the starboard prop all the way down, and turned the wheel hard to port. She heeled substantially to port, producing a blind spot to that side. So before you make a turn like this, look twice, and then twice again. The turn was quite sharp, roughly a boat length or less. Aside from radical turns like this, I found sightlines at the helm to be quite clean (I’m 5'7").
But the Aqua’s bridge deck isn’t just for driving; it’s also designed for relaxing and entertaining. There’s a wraparound lounge to port that can seat approximately eight guests, and it’s positioned so all of your friends and family can easily admire those high-speed maneuvers. That is, if they’re not busy cooking lunch on the grill just aft of the helm or sunning on the aft sunpad that’s large enough for three. (There’s another sunpad on the foredeck.) The aft sunpad rises at the flick of the switch near the helm and reveals the engine compartment, which is cavernous. I could easily access all points on both engines with room to spare.
The Aqua is geared for performance, but don’t think it’s done at the price of luxury or comfort below decks. Her optional high-gloss cherrywood saloon sole (carpet is standard) is exquisitely finished. The saloon, which offers 6'6" headroom, also featured a soft leather lounge to port on my test boat. This is an inviting place to view the standard Panasonic flat-screen TV. Feel like cooking? It’s just a few steps across to the galley, which has a Bauknecht stand-up refrigerator and freezer, two-burner Ceran cooktop, and optional granite countertop.
The granite countertop is quite attractive and shows how much the builder believes in its Kevlar construction. Why? Because granite is an unforgiving material and is subject to cracking, and the galley is located right about where the hull meets water while running at speed. If the hull flexed at all, it would likely break the granite. But if you prefer a different look, Corian is the standard countertop material offered.
As for accommodations, the Aqua is pretty typical of boats this size, offering a three-stateroom, two-head layout with the master forward. The en suite master offers a large shower stall that could easily fit two people. However, the VacuFlush MSD is squeezed between the shower and the sink. I have a 32-inch waist, and when I sat down to measure the space between the two, I just fit. I’d be willing to give up some shower room for a little more seating space. In spite of this, the Aqua’s guest staterooms and second head, just forward of the port-side aft stateroom, easily allow her to be used as a weekend (or longer) cruiser for the family.
Obviously for most boaters the Aqua’s main attraction is her performance. She jumps up to speed after planing, blasts down the straightway, and finishes strong. But she’s also well appointed and has sleek lines, which will turn more than a few heads around the docks. And just like that ride in Phil’s Chevelle, once you see this boat do what she does best, the memory will stay with you a long time.
Global Yachts Phone: (305) 371-2628. www.globalyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.