The Aquila 44 power catamaran was developed from the ground up by an award-winning design team backed by the industry’s largest boat retailer, MarineMax. Inspired by the launch of the MarineMax Vacations Team in 2011, Bill McGill (CEO of MarineMax) wanted a yacht that met all the needs of the charter industry, while maintaining the luxurious amenities private owners desire. With a handpicked production team, including J&J design, the end result was the birth of Aquila.The Aquila 44 features three separate cabins (each with an en suite), a foldaway bar off the galley, and an oversized bridgedeck with wet bar. The result is a catamaran that is equally at home on the ocean as on a weekend cruise or entertaining at the dock.
- 2 comfortable and protected bow seats integrated into deck railing
- Forward access steps from flybridge to bow with 316 polished stainless steel support structure
- Aft cockpit seating with U-shaped settee with integrated cup holders and table (converts into sun bathing area)
- Spacious comfortable helm seat for 3 people with upholstered seat and backrest
- Entertainment system remote control located next to helm
- Wet bar located behind helm station with corian work surface, and sink with hot and cold faucet
- Salon U-shaped settee seating, table seats 6 people
- Salon converts into a comfortable single bed
- Island-style beds in all staterooms
- Forward full beam master stateroom
|Length Overall||44' 11'' / 13.44 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||8.9 sec.|
|0 to 30||17.8 (0to20)|
|Load||3 persons, 1/2 full load, 1/2 water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||79 deg., 49 humid; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: .5|
2 x 300 hp Volvo Penta D4 V-Drive
2 x 225-hp Volvo Penta D4 diesel V-Drive
Contents of Report
The Aquila 44 is a versatile design for chartering and private yachting. Her interior layout lets the buyer customize the space. Overall, her spaces are functional and well-built. Tempered windows provide 360-degree panoramic views. A resin-infused hull, deck, and bulkheads, coupled with balsa wood coring, complete the package.
- Resin-infused construction. While many high-end yacht builders use resin-infused construction for hull and deck, Aquila takes it a step further and continues the process for bulkheads as well. Scored balsa wood allows the resin infusion process to enhance the strength of the wood and create waterproof barriers between the blocks, thereby eliminating any chance of delamination.
- Wiring systems. All of the yacht’s crucial electronics and wiring are run above the tunnel, keeping all these critical systems out of the bilge and side hulls (highest point in the boat possible). This setup also includes all batteries and allows for easy access/maintenance, as well as protection from saltwater and corrosion. The wire harnesses are run fore to aft and designed for easy identification.
- Dual emergency escape hatches. Aquila kept a holdover from the sailing catamaran designs. The dual stairs leading to the in-hull staterooms lift to reveal reinforced glass hatches. It’s an interesting window to the water, and on the sailboat designs they served as emergency escape venues. Now that the mast and huge sail are gone, there’s little need for this, but it is required for EC compliance, so it’s good that Aquila kept it. They even kept the glass-break hammer just above.
- Bulbous bows. The invention of the bulbous bow was originally intended for commercial use. The bulbs are molded and attached to each bow, resulting in increased fuel efficiency, speed, and stability, according to the builder. This is achieved through extending the waterline length and easing the hydrodynamic drag bow waves produce. While critics have long suggested that bulbs in recreational vessels below 75’ (22.9 m) increase pounding in heavier seas, the designers at MarineMax reworked the shape of the bulb, adding a slight V-shape along with soft chines and spray rails. The result is increased top speed and the elimination of pounding, according to the builder. Unfortunately, we had flat calm waters on our test day, so we can’t validate the lack of pounding, but it seemed to ring true during simple wake crossings. Also, since we didn’t test a non-bulb version of the 44 (there isn’t one), we can’t compare efficiency.
- Forward bow steps. One of the more convenient features on the Aquila 44 is the built-in bow steps that lead directly to the flying bridge. With the Aquila 44, the captain can walk directly from the flying bridge to the bow in under five steps, making circuitous access to the bow a thing of the past. A stainless-steel ergonomic handrail increases safety for those traveling back and forth while underway and a spacious foredeck allows easy conversing between the bow and the flying bridge.
- Three-Cabin Configuration. She is a three-cabin, three-head boat that sleeps six in the staterooms and an additional two in the salon if the adjustable table is selected.
- Oversized flying bridge. Our place to hang out on the Aquila 44 is the spacious flying bridge. Surrounded by acrylic wind protection inserts, the helm station features a three-person upholstered seat with additional seating on either side. Moving aft, a fold-down flying bridge table seats six, and upholstered seat cushions with backrests create an excellent gathering space. An entertainment system and complete wet bar provides what one needs to keep the party going. Beneath the aft seats is dedicated life raft and life jacket storage, placed for quick, handy deployment.
- Foldaway bar. An example of unique features: Aquila created a foldaway bar that opens up into the galley. Two gas-assist arms lift a hinged window, revealing a fold-out bar table that sits directly in front of two stainless-steel stools. With the bar open, the galley flows into the aft deck, creating a space for those in the galley and those seated around the U-shaped settee with a foldaway table.
- Extended beam. When one is traveling with guests or family members for an extended period of time, the big question that comes to mind is, Where are they going to go? The Aquila 44 has the square footage of many 55-footers thanks to a 21’6” (6.56 m) beam that is carried far forward. She has an aft deck with access to the foldaway bar, an oversized flying bridge with wet bar, seating on the forward deck easily accessed from the side decks and flying bridge, as well as a spacious salon and private staterooms. That’s over five different living areas for guests to converse onboard.
The flying bridge is broken up into two primary spaces: helm and observation seating vs. entertainment and communal seating. The Aquila 44 comes with an optional hardtop that includes built-in waterproof speakers and LED lighting. For those interested in sunbathing, the hardtop option may be something to pass on. Surrounding the flying bridge are stainless guardrails and acrylic wind protection inserts perfect for deflecting apparent wind and sun glare. Behind the U-shaped seating, Aquila built-in designated emergency lockers for quick access to a life raft, as well as life jackets and safety gear.
Upper helm station. The center-mounted helm station on the flying bridge is simple and easy to navigate. Finished in a dark grey non-glare UV finish, the helmsman has access to a variable position wheel, as well as throttles with gearshift controls. In addition to standard instrumentation, Raymarine radar dominates the center of the helm station, displaying all information necessary to navigate safely.
A standard compass is placed in the center along with dual stainless-steel grab rails on either side, allowing a safer transition while moving about or toward the forward stairs. A three-person upholstered helm seat allows extra room for friends and family to sit close by, and two additional seats adjacent to the helm create an observation space separate from the entertainment seating aft.
Stair access. One of the more convenient features on the Aquila 44 is the forward steps that allow passengers to travel directly from the flying bridge to the foredeck. Looking at the image above, notice how the helmsman has a clear path on either side of the helm station to quickly access the forward stairs during anchoring or docking.
Entertainment seating. Moving aft, we find a flying bridge table with fold-down extensions that can seat six. Surrounding this table are upholstered cushions with backrests and self-draining storage beneath. A built-in wet bar directly behind the helm station includes a Corian work surface, a sink with hot/cold faucet, and an electric grill. The wet bar, along with seven cup holders, are all within arm’s reach, allowing the party to continue without the burden of climbing down the aft stairs. This particular location, combined with LED mood lighting and waterproof speakers, will be a hit on the Aquila 44.
At the Bow
The bow was designed with safety in mind, finished in non-skid, and protected with a custom stainless-steel deck railing 26” (66 cm) high. One will notice the forward deck is not flush but rather raised at the center. This is a result of the cabin design and the goal of 360 panoramic views below. Eight 11” (27.94 cm) polished stainless-steel mooring cleats are through-bolted and an additional anchor roller for a secondary anchor adds redundancy and aids Bahama-style mooring. All hatches on board the Aquila 44 have self-draining channels.
Windlass. The Aquila 44 comes standard with a designated anchor locker that holds an 1500-watt windlass, featuring a handheld remote control and a custom chain lock. A secondary anchor roller and locker are within arm’s reach should a tandem anchor set up be necessary.
Seating. Aquila built two seats into the forward bow rail, creating another place on the boat where one can converse with friends and family. Beneath both seats are ginormous self-draining gas-assist lockers. Both sides allow easy access to the freshwater tanks, one to each side. The starboard side also includes the bow thruster batteries. The builder also left room in both hulls for crash boxes, an additional safety feature standard on the Aquila 44.
One thing we did notice was the absence of bow pads, or any type of sun lounge at the bow, which was intriguing because we’ve seen them on other 44s. A quick check of the options list also showed them surprisingly absent. When asked about this, it was confirmed that Aquila is not offering them at this time, but it’s an item easily added after-market. This explains why we’ve seen them elsewhere, but it doesn’t explain why Aquila doesn’t offer them.
The main deck is open in concept, featuring a synthetic wear-resistant deck that’s maintenance-free while still delivering a natural wood look. Oversized tempered shatterproof glass windows with external overhangs provide excellent all-around visibility and reduced glare. Opening portlights in the forward salon windows provide added ventilation below, and the foldaway bar creates a seamless flow from the cabin to the outdoor seating area. Aquila also built the flying bridge stairs outside the cabin, maximizing living space.
The aft deck is yet another gathering area open to the elements but still shaded by the extended overhead 7’ (2.13 m) above. It’s given more useable space with the addition of an extended seating “pod”, for lack of a better term, that comes out 5’2” (1.58 m) featuring a U-shaped settee with integrated cup holders and table. For those interested in sunbathing, the table easily converts into a sunbathing platform. Immediately forward, we find two stainless-steel barstools that accompany the foldaway bar.
Additionally, this pod provides added storage under the seats, including all the way across the seating at the rear, and there’s even an insulated cooler under the starboard seat.
It’s made even more useful with the addition of rails that extend out the back for mounting a RIB to. In this manner, adding a tender takes nothing away from the useable space of the swim platforms. A 772 lb. (350 kg) capacity crane is mounted behind the seating for launching.
On either side of the U-shaped seating, we find ergonomic transom steps that make boarding simple. Dual swim platforms measure 3’7” (1.09 m) with a stainless swim ladder to the port platform providing easy access to the water, and a variable temperature stern shower makes re-boarding after an afternoon swim that much easier. Dual engine compartments are mounted in each hull, and a self-draining storage locker in the center provides additional room for emergency gear and lines.
Engine rooms. In each hull, we find step-down engine rooms with lighting and all-around engine and systems access for maintenance. The port engine room includes, in addition to the 300-hp Volvo Penta D4 V-drive diesel, a 95-gallon (360 L) auxiliary tank that we can draw fuel from to supplement both the port and starboard mains. Our test boat also had to this side the air chiller system, the dual cord reels for the shore power, a water maker, and micron filters.
To the starboard side, things get much more basic with, in addition to the main engine, a generator and the main fuel tank. Now, since the generator draws its fuel from the main tank on this side, we can transfer fuel from the port main tank to this starboard main tank… one way. So, to sum up the fuel system, we can transfer from the aux tank to both mains, and transfer one way from port to starboard.
Moving to the interior, we arrive at an L-shaped galley finished with Corian countertops. On the port side, a dual burner stove is accompanied by a stainless-steel convection microwave oven 120/220V (inverter option as power source required for 220V). Facing the foldaway bar, a double stainless-steel sink with Corian worktop cover maximizes counter space, while providing easy access to guests on the aft deck. A designated blender/coffee area, as well as a slide-out garbage bin with surrounding cupboards, complete the port side of the galley. On the starboard side, a stainless-steel refrigerator/freezer with dual drawer front access allows for efficient packing and quick access throughout the day.
The Aquila 44 has a hinged window with gas-assist arms that lifts up to reveal a hinged Corian counter that folds out, creating a bar surface for serving drinks directly from the galley. Additionally, this large opening window creates a seamless blending of the inside with the outside.
The salon flows directly from the galley, continuing with the theme of maximum visibility and lighting. A 6” (15.24 cm) step separates the two areas. The overhead has decorative wood trim, and LED accent lighting sets the mood for a relaxing evening with friends and family. Custom blinds are fitted to the salon windows for added privacy. On the port side, a U-shaped settee is paired with a salon table that seats six. For those looking for an additional berth, the salon table easily converts to a bed. To starboard, cabinets and an additional countertop house a hideaway television and surround sound entertainment system.
Below deck, we find three staterooms all equipped with en suites and full stand-up showers. Each stateroom has ample headroom and necessary storage lockers. Large windows and custom blinds allow guests to control how much light they want in their room. Overhead LED lighting along with ambient floor lighting accompany each room along with overhead LED reading lights. Under each island-style bed with memory foam, additional storage is found for those planning longer passages at sea.
The master stateroom, located forward and between the two hulls, is the largest of the three staterooms. Upon entry, there’s a 6’4” (1.93 m) overhead clearance. In addition to the features listed above, the master suite also features a centerline-mounted king-size bed, as well as a large desk/vanity area with additional storage on the starboard side. The master head is located to the port side.
Dual guest staterooms. In each hull, we find mirror-imaged staterooms with en suites and storage lockers for guests. Both rooms contain large windows, custom blinds, and LED lighting throughout. Each cabin, including the master stateroom, has a closing cabin door for extra quiet and privacy.
Ensuites. All three en suites aboard feature electric freshwater toilets with push-button control. Large windows, portlights, and deck hatches offer plenty of ventilation and light. A vanity with round washbasin and Corian countertops add further storage and functionality. A separate shower stall with seat and flexible shower faucet is enclosed with an acrylic door, separating the shower from the rest of the bathroom. Overhead LED lighting continues through the en suites as well as wear-resistant decks.
When it came time to get underway, we were curious to see how the 44 handled around the dock. Those props are so far apart, it should provide for some exceptional handling. And to be clear, this is a prop and rudder boat -- no pods -- and even though there’s a bow thruster, we were intent on doing all of our maneuvers without touching it.
As it turns out, our thoughts were accurate in that she’s extremely well-mannered around the dock. Just a pulse into gear with a single-engine gets that side moving, making it easy to pull away from any dock at an angle. With no room in front or behind us, we were able to angle and bring the 44 out, show superb directional control while backing, and then rotate her with just the twin screws… again, while never touching the bow thruster.
Once underway, we were able to get a good feel for how responsive she is with props and rudders, and again, no surprise that she bends around tight turns with ease that will add confidence to any operator, particularly those moving up from smaller boats.
She’s got all-hydraulic steering, so it’s a firm touch, plus there’ll be no heavy cranking around race pylons. She’s got a 6-turn throw from lock to lock, so no matter how aggressive the captain, the 44 will remain comfortable.
The Aquila 44 has an LOA of 44’11” (13.44 m), a beam of 21’6” (6.56 m), and a draft of 3’10” (1.16 m). With an empty weight of 35,053 lbs. (15,900 kg), 60-percent fuel, and 3 people on board, we estimated our test weight at 37,422 lbs. (16,974 kg).
With the twin 300-hp Volvo Penta D4 V-drive diesels turning at 3550 rpm, we reached our top speed of 24.5 mph. The best cruise was measured at 3000 rpm. It was at that speed that the 20 gph fuel burn translated into 1 mpg and a range of 258 miles, all while still holding back a 10-percent reserve of the boat’s 290-gallon (1,097.8 L) total fuel capacity.
Now those are impressive numbers, and a lot of that has to do with the catamaran’s narrow hull design and entry, but Aquila also incorporates the bulbous bow design, well-known to improve performance. And while we can’t validate that it has indeed improved this boat, since we can’t test without it, it seems the numbers speak for themselves.
Of course, we had calm conditions on test day but cats, as a rule, love waves; it’s why high-speed ferries are cats. In our turns tests, we found that the 44 remained level through the turn, again, in true cat fashion, and as we said earlier, even a heavy-handed captain can’t upset the 44’s comfortable handling characteristics.
Overall, we came away quite impressed with the Aquila 44. She comes with the quality fit and finish of a premium build, the roominess of a much larger yacht thanks to the 21’6” (6.56 m) beam, and the overall quality handling of a distance cruising yacht.
If racing to the destination is the goal, then it’s best to look elsewhere. This is a cruising yacht, with the speed that long distances demand. It’s as much about the journey as the destination, but in both instances, the 44 will provide a comfort level that you and your guests will not want to end anyway.
Whether speed is a consideration or not, the fully resin-infused hull and structure speak to the quality and offshore mission of the yacht.