Report by Captain Steve Larivee of http://boattest.com
Aquila 54 Yacht Power Catamaran: Aquila goes to new lengths to satisfy customer demand.
The Aquila 54 Yacht Power Catamaran
Several years ago, Aquila did some far-reaching surveys of catamaran owners as to what prevented them from moving into a large yacht-category cat. One of the most frequent answers was aesthetics. Simply put, large catamarans had too much of a boxy look to them. Owners wanted a yacht that looked like a yacht.
So, when Aquila decided to enter the large cat market, its primary mission was clear. The new design had to look the part. In our opinion, it succeeded with its 54 Yacht Power Catamaran. In fact, her profile has her looking more like a large monohulled yacht, which is certainly a departure from the norm.
Aquila strived to make the 54 look more like a traditional yacht rather than the usual “boxy” look of a typical catamaran. We think this is “mission accomplished.”
Performance was another aspect that needed looking at. Large cats are, in a word, large so they have much more mass to keep moving. Certainly, there’s the addition of horsepower to counter this, but Aquila went in another direction. Along with its raked bow where most cats have a more vertical, plumb design, Aquila engineers added molded-in spray rails and a new design to the bulbous bow. This bulb version has more of a pointed, streamlined look to it. It has several advantages. First, it increases the waterline length to add to the running surface. Secondly, it has an improved flotation characteristic that eliminates the pounding effect of the rounder version. This allows the 54 to have more of a gentle porpoise-like movement to the waves that feels more natural.
The goal of the 54 YPC was to expand on the huge success that Aquila has enjoyed by continuing the brand loyalty to a larger, more distinguished powered catamaran. She has a full-beam master en-suite stateroom and a versatile lower deck layout that accommodates a 3-, 4- or 5-cabin floorplan, in addition to a crew cabin.
Major Features (Including Distinguishing Features)
- Available in open or enclosed flying bridge
- Extendable beam tender launch mechanism
- Wide stairs to platform that double as seating
- Full beam master stateroom with en-suite
- Portuguese bridge with center access to the bow
- Newly designed bulbous bow for improved performance
- Major step away from the visible fiberglass of the interiors – much more yachtlike upholstery on bulkheads and overheads
- Completely resin-infused
- Much-improved raised tunnel clearance with wave-splitter design
The Aquila 54 Yacht Power Catamaran has a length overall of 54’2” (16.5 m), a beam of 25’2” (7.68 m) and a draft of 4’5” (1.37 m). With an empty weight of 49,659 lbs. (22,525 kg), 45% fuel and five people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 56,339 lbs. (24,120 kg).
With a pair of Volvo Penta 480-hp D6 diesels turning 4-bladed bronze propellers and wound up to 3650 RPM, our speed topped out at 25.2 mph. The best cruise came in at 2800 RPM and 18.1 mph. At that speed, the 23 GPH fuel burn translated into 0.8 mpg and a range of 542 sm, all while still holding back at 10% reserve of the boat’s 765-gallon (2,895.8 L) total fuel capacity.
Because the flying bridge is fully enclosed, there’s no need to have a second helm down below. This one is sufficiently protected. It’s center-mounted and includes a large, single display right in front of the wheel. Of course, there’s plenty of room for another one. Visibility is through an 85” x 52” (215.9 cm x 132.08 cm) single-piece windshield and the side windows are tinted.
Now let’s discuss the ergonomics. First off, the console is relatively low so there’s no interruption of visibility, even from the seated position. There are excellent sightlines over the bow. The seats include flip-up armrests and bolsters. There are two seats at the helm with a third one over to the starboard side. These are not the standard seats, however. Standard will be a bench seat with a flip seatback so that it can be reversed to join the crowd at the table just behind. Over to the port hand side, there’s a forward-facing lounge and in production models, this lounge will be duplicated to the opposite side to replace the third pedestal seat.
Since the helm is where everybody seems to be gathering underway, the third bucket seat to starboard is slated to be changed to a lounge seat, like the port side. We always appreciate when people can join the operator at the helm, especially since it is usually the host.
Because this is a cruising boat, the operator is going to be spending so much time on autopilot, going forever, so it’s great that there’s a Portuguese bridge to add protection when we’re outside keeping a watch while the boat is running itself. Even better is that there is a centerline set of stairs leading down to the bow. Now we don’t have to go all the way to the aft deck and up the side decks to join the guests relaxing on the forward lounges.
The new bulb design gives the 54 a gentle porpoise-like motion as she pressed through the waves. The spray rails are effective at keeping the decks dry.
As always on a cat, the engine rooms are mirror images of one another from the port side to the starboard side. Here, the only difference between the two is that the starboard side has a 16-kW generator. Of course, the focal point of both is the 480-hp Volvo Penta D8 diesel engines. Standard is the 380-hp Volvo Penta, and we can go up to the 550-hp Cummins diesels, which should bring us over 30 MPH. Total fuel capacity is 581 gallons (2,200 L) and there’s also an option for carrying an extra pair of 92-gallon (348.26 L) tanks.
As we start our inspection, it’s important to note that at the stern, where most people gather when at anchor or moored, Aquila makes its stairs a bit higher than most and that’s by design. The reason being is that each will also serve so well as seating areas. There’s room for a lot of people on this boat and at the stern, they’ll all have a place to sit. The center hydraulic platform doesn’t go all the way into the water, but instead, drops to lie flush with the two side platforms. This creates a full-beam platform, again with seating all around.
The Aquila 54 has stairs on both sides that lead to the aft deck.
Stairs to both sides bring us to the aft deck. This is an even more welcoming gathering spot. An Ultraleather upholstered bench seat lies behind an expandable table on two fixed pedestals. Ahead are two pedestal barstools against the opening window to the galley, making this a comfortable bar/serving area. All of this is under the protection of the extended flying bridge deck 7’1” (2.16 m) overhead.
Fully forward, there’s another gathering area with two sunpads and two forward-facing benches. The sunpads also convert into chaise lounges but only in one position each. Simply adding blocks behind the seatback support would allow for multiple positions.
We move to the interior via sliding doors that provide an enlarged opening. The galley is located between the salon and the aft deck keeping the host comfortably close to the two main social zones. We can also open a glass partition to the aft deck, that will further blend the two zones. Aquila even adds pedestal stools to this opening window, making it even more appealing.
Inside, the galley consists of an L-shaped counter fabricated from engineered stone. An island lies between the main L-shaped galley and the salon. It houses not only additional counter space but more storage, including a wine chiller.
Windows add plenty of natural light to the galley. The island serves to divide the galley from the salon.
Across to port is a full-size Fischer & Paykel refrigerator/freezer surrounded by additional storage.
The Corian counters house a stainless-steel single basin sink and to the side is an induction cooktop. I’d like to see a vent fan up above, but we have plenty of ventilation regardless. Underneath is a convection oven. At the island is a wine chiller and a wine rack.
Moving forward, Aquila’s in-house fabrication abilities show quite well. All the furniture is freestanding and custom-made. There is a sofa to port that is of an irregular shape, and that’s by design. The table is on a fixed pedestal, and I found that with the leaves closed, it seems to be just a bit high. Open and expand the table and it’s at a more comfortable height. There’s a corner of the table that protrudes into the seating of the couch but when we loaded up the seating, that corner ended up being used on both sides thanks to that irregular couch shape. So, everything is well thought out and cleverly implemented. Add two removable seats to the outsides of the table and it accommodates dining for eight. A 50” (127 cm) flatscreen TV is mounted to the forward bulkhead. Directly across is another sofa, which is the more traditional type that seats five across.
Two sofas create opposing seating in the huge salon. A TV is to the forward bulkhead and the door to the full beam master is alongside.
Previous Aquila models had a lot of finished fiberglass inside, so it was a little too… unfinished. Now they’ve gone with a lot of finish detail. The bulkheads are treated in Formica, and I can’t tell the difference between it and real wood. All the trim work is actual hardwood, with plenty of rounded edges. That takes a lot more work than just making it squared off, but not a problem for Aquila’s in-house carpentry shop. Looking at the overhead, we see vinyl upholstery and LED lighting… another nice touch that they add to their fit and finish portfolio.
The salon is well-lit from the huge windows. Furniture is all free-standing and custom-made in-house.
One of the design goals was to move past the fiberglass look that cats seem to favor. Here, the interior is more yachtlike with upholstered bulkheads and overheads.
Another design goal for the 54 was to increase the clearance of the tunnel between the two hulls. That created a more seaworthy hull design, and it would take a building sea with a short frequency to even contact the underside of the deck now. As an added benefit, there’s much better visibility inside the salon. We’re sitting higher and the windows that start out very high now come down nearly to that elevated deck, so we have clear sightlines out to the horizon even from the seated positions. Worried about greenhouse effect? Rest easy, the 54 comes with a combined 77,000 BTU air conditioning system.
One of the design goals was to increase the size of the tunnel between the hulls. Notice the wave splitter at the top of the tunnel and the molded-in spray rails.
Across from the galley, and ahead of the refrigerator is the ship’s power panel. Right alongside is the C-Zone screen for controlling all the vessel’s electrical system plus tank management. It can also be duplicated on a tablet that can be moved anywhere onboard.
The ground tackle is efficiently laid out beneath a pair of hatches in the bow. It runs on a roller through the stem. There’s a remote control over to the side. A Quick windlass is doing all the heavy work and there’s a chain stopper to prevent accidental deployments. There is an all-chain rode and a high-pressure water line for cleaning the rode as it’s brought aboard. There’s even a snubber line provided.
The ground tackle is concealed by two hatches at the foredeck.
The enclosed flying bridge serves as another social zone that includes L-shaped seating wrapping around another pedestal table with leaves that can be opened. An option is available for a drop-down TV that gets recessed into the overhead. For ventilation, we can open the back door and the large sliding side door fully to blend the inside with the outside. Additionally, there are two opening sunroofs and opening vents to the top of each window on either side of the windshield.
With a huge enclosed flying bridge, another social zone is created. It can be opened for ventilation or kept closed for a climate-controlled environment.
There are large opening doors to the starboard side and aft. The rest of the flybridge is nearly all glass enclosed.
The aft section of the L-seating has a flip seatback so it can be used to join the action at the aft deck.
The aft end of the flybridge is an open deck waiting to be populated with chairs or lounges. Directly across is a wet bar with a covered stainless-steel sink. Underneath is storage, a refrigerator and an ice maker. This unit also includes a griddle and electric grill.
One available option is to have interior stairs to access the flying bridge. Standard has the stairs at the aft deck, but the interior version has its merits. It only makes sense to go from one protected area to another, rather than go through an area that is exposed to the weather. This is particularly important for owners in the northern latitudes.
For accommodations, Aquila will customize your 54 with a choice of 3, 4 or 5 staterooms plus crew space. Our test boat was fitted with 4 staterooms plus crew.
It starts with the full-beam master stateroom fully forward. It features 6’5” (1.96 m) high headroom and a beautiful fit and finish with the delicate curves complementing the angles. Windows are all around that, of course, can be closed off. There’s an 80” x 77” (203.2 cm x 195.58 cm) island berth in the center with night tables to both sides.
The master stateroom on the main deck allows Aquila to make it full beam.
Here we can see the storage that occupies the port side hull. It includes a walk-in closet and vanity. Two opening portlights are integrated into the hull side window.
To starboard is the full-sized head with a separate shower.
Over to the starboard hull and down a set of steps is the head. It includes a pair of vessel sinks on top of Corian counters. Forward is the water closet with the electric flush toilet and just behind is the walk-in shower. As for thoughtful touches, one of the mirrors over the sinks can be brought down for those guests that might not be so tall.
To the port hand side, this is pretty much all storage plus there’s a vanity in the middle. I like that there’s a hullside window plus opening portlights. Forward is a huge walk-in closet with a full-length mirror on the door.
With the four-stateroom layout of our test boat, the VIP is to starboard. The berth is located aft, and it’s mounted along the length of the keel. There are large hullside windows with a single opening portlight. As expected, there’s plenty of storage. There’s a small settee that makes a convenient place to sit and relax. The center of the stateroom, at the base of the stairs, includes more storage just ahead of a desk. Fully forward is the en-suite head. It includes a vessel sink on top of Corian counters with storage underneath. Above is a large mirror and forward is a walk-in shower. An optional layout will convert this single, full-length stateroom into two separate staterooms.
The VIP berth is mounted along the keel and notice there’s walking room to the sides. Most times we see the berth right against the two side bulkheads.
In the center of the stateroom is a settee beneath a hullside window. Storage is just ahead. The entry stairs are directly across. The door to the head includes a full-length mirror.
Both stateroom entry stairs to the sides can be closed off with a sliding door.
To the port side is the guest stateroom. It’s largely identical to the starboard side stateroom but it’s smaller. The reason is that the aft end was shortened to accommodate a crew cabin that is accessed from the aft deck. Even with this smaller space, it can still be partitioned off to create two separate staterooms.
The crew cabin is accessed from the aft deck.
The crew cabin includes over/under berths and a wet head. Certainly, it’s more than adequate to serve as a guest stateroom.
Options to Consider
Options worth considering are….
- 4 Cabin / 4 Head – Galley Up Version
- 4 Cabin / 4 Head – Galley Down Version
- 5 cabin / 5 Head – Galley Up
- 2 x 480-hp Volvo Penta D6 inboard engines
- 2 x 550-hp Cummins QSB6.7 inboard engines with 2 x 4″ (10.16 cm) engine digital displays in lieu of 7″ (17.78 cm) Mercury display
- Reserve fuel tanks with transfer pumps (2 x 92 gal. / 360 L.)
- Bow thrusters: 8.0hp/6kW (1 x port; 1 x starboard)
- Fully enclosed Sky Lounge with upgraded furniture, upholstery & fabric to match salon; aft sliding door, side access door with additional access from interior stainless stairway – in lieu of standard 5-panel tempered glass windscreen
- Euro flybridge open version with low height windscreen – in lieu of standard 5-panel tempered glass windscreen – Standard
- Eclectic sliding hatches (2) in lieu of standard manual opening hatches
- Helm station canvas cover (black)
- Electric retracting canvas shade system integrated into aft section of hardtop
- Electric BBQ (310 square inches of cooking area) with 65L stainless steel fridge
- Stainless-steel ice maker installed at aft deck wet bar next to 65L stainless steel fridge
- Flip down 32″ (81.28 cm) TV mount (excludes TV)
- Captain chairs (2) in lieu of FRP molded bench seats
- Aquila 14R RIB Sport Console; electric start; 40-hp Mercury outboard engine; lifting bridle & securing tackle; tow post
- Electric dinghy crane lifting system with fixed aft platform for dinghy (maximum lifting capacity of 880 lbs. / 400 kg.)
- Hydraulic aft lifting platform between hulls in lieu of fixed aft platform
- Aft docking capstans (2) electric winches
- Wireless remote for windlass
- Hydraulic telescoping stainless steel passerelle with teak gratings at aft transom
Capt. Steve’s Top 5 Features
- The launching mechanism for the tender is outstanding. It’s an extendable beam that supports the whole tender and moves it in or out from the hydraulic swim platform. This removes any davits that can get in the way and allows for freeing up space for enjoying the platform more. It drops down to the level of the two side platforms creating a full-beam, same level aft beach.
- The RIB tender is also made by Aquila… and it too is a cat. It makes hardly any wake when underway.
The tender crane extends from the trailing edge of the upper deck. Notice the tender is also a catamaran.
- There’s a Portuguese bridge that provides a protected area outside of the enclosed flying bridge. This is a great feature for those long passages on autopilot.
There’s a protected area all the way around the flybridge. Notice the center access to the bow.
- Fully forward on the Portuguese bridge there’s access to the bow. This is a great feature and creates a third method for accessing the bow (two side decks being the others). I’d like to see the railing alongside the stairs extended further down though.
- The enclosed flying bridge. This provides for another entertainment venue, plus we can open it up and blend the inside with the outside. The forward windshield is clear, the side windows are tinted. There’s an option for having an interior set of stairs to the flybridge, and that makes sense. With an enclosed flybridge, it’s more appealing to go from one protected area to another without going outside. Appealing that is, to boaters in northern latitudes.
SkyLounge Flybridge (Option)
Main Deck (Standard)
Main Deck with SkyLounge Flybridge (Option)
Main Deck with Galley Down
(Option / Requires 4-cabin galley-down selection)
Main Deck with Galley Down & SkyLounge Flybridge
(Option / Requires 4-cabin galley-down selection)
4-Cabin / Galley-Up (Option)
4-Cabin / Galley-Down (Option)
I have to say, I’m definitely a cat person and I’m also a big boat fan. When the two are brought together, it’s a match made in yachting heaven. There’s just so much to like about the 54 that it was hard to fit it all in. Apparently, I’m in good company as there was a backlog of customers even before hull #1 was released from the mold. She makes an outstanding owner/operator’s boat as well as a crewed yacht and a charter candidate. Aquila had a lot of goals imposed on itself with this yacht, and in our opinion, all of them were met… and so much more.
For more information, visit: https://www.aquilaboats.com/models/power-catamaran/54 or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org