Review – Aquila 36
The Aquila 36 offers simplicity, fun and easy handling
Hong Kong’s hot summer weather is drawing plenty of boaters back to the water. One interesting option to get out and explore is the Aquila 36 catamaran, a boat that is all about having fun on the water without frills. On a run from the new Lantau Yacht Club to the Soko Islands, the 11-metre catamaran proved to be versatile and easy to handle.
Built at Sino Eagle Shipyard in Hangzhou, China, the Aquila brand of catamarans aims for simplicity and practicality. Sino Eagle uses the latest techniques in fibreglass production. The design is by J&J Yacht Design, which has a long history of designing sailboats and small powerboats. The first Aquila boats were commissioned by US boating giant Marine Max for its charter guests. The result of this tripartite collaboration is a yacht that is well made, sensible and efficient.
You may not find exquisite finishes on the Aquila 36, but you will find drink holders, fridge units, plenty of storage and grab rails in all the right places. The many years of design and charter experience that are the pedigree of this yacht add up to a boat that is great for everyone and first time boat buyer/operators in particular.
Our test boat was powered by twin Mercury 300HP outboard engines, but buyers can choose between 300 and 400-horsepower outboards. At full throttle, we topped out at around 30 knots, but a better speed is cruising at 18 to 20 knots. At that speed, the 36 consumed about 120 litres of fuel per hour from its twin 675-litre tanks, yielding an approximate range of about 225 nautical miles, more than enough for Hong Kong day cruising, or even overnight cruising between Thai or Philippine islands.
On our test day, we had light but steady breezes and minor chop, which the 36 handled with aplomb. The hulls were designed to minimize slamming in waves, and the boat did a good job cushioning the ride. There is also a fixed foiling blade that connects both hulls at amidships, which adds lift while underway, increasing efficiency and reducing fuel consumption.
Large, tinted windows and thin mullions mean the pilot has an exceptional, nearly 360-degree view of the sea. This, combined with the optional joystick controls, makes docking, anchoring and manoeuvring very easy. You get the sense that an operator could master handling the boat in a matter of minutes. The helm station displays are easy to read and everything is at your fingertips.
The half-metre draught of the Aquila 36 means that it is possible to beach it in the right conditions, or to get close enough to the beach for people to jump in and wade to shore. There is an option to have a davit system aft, in case a tender is desired.
Forward and aft, the designers made full use of the twin hulls to create a wide, comfy spaces that are easily traversed while at anchor or underway. The bow area offers generous seating, and the aft deck is an extension of the main deck. Guests can clamber back and forth between the bow and the aft deck with no restriction. The aft deck has a hidden swim ladder that can be deployed quickly.
Down below in the twin hulls, there is accommodation suited for overnighting for up to four, with simple but functional day heads.
Aquila says the 36 can carry up to 26 passengers onboard. That might be a bit crowded, but it is not hard to imagine a dozen or more people having a great day on the water with this yacht.
Buyers can choose between full height windows or half height windows. Either option would work well, though for brief rain spells that come with summertime tropic weather, the full height windows might be preferable. One niggle on the full window option is the mechanism for opening and closing the windows and access to the bow. This can be a bit cumbersome and has to be done at anchor.
But it’s a relatively small concern on a yacht that ticks a lot of boxes for people who just want to get out on the water and have a lot of fun.
Technical Specifications – Aquila 36
Length Overall: 10.96m
Hull Length: 9.94m
Draught (outboards up): 60cm
Displacement (fully loaded): 8,800kg
CE Certification: B:8; C:18; D:26
Engines: 2x300HP V8 Mercury Outboards
Fuel capacity: 1350l
Water capacity (Max): 485l