All boat people are dreamers. One dream involves owning a platform big enough for family and friends to have a great time together, but also to have some privacy; a boat optimized for outdoor fun on the water, and for comfortable inside living; a boat that’s both stable and seakindly.
Charter companies have long known the secret here: Build big, roomy catamarans with well-designed living and play spaces. Until recent years, sailing rigs prevailed on these boats, but inevitably the builders started deleting the sails on some models, and beefing up the diesels for all-power chartering.
MarineMax, the mammoth American boat retailer, has gotten up to speed very quickly in the big power-cat world, using top design talent and premium building techniques to produce (as of this writing) three primary models, a 38, a 48, and the new 44-footer in the middle, all dual-purposed for both charter and private sale.
The 2014 Aquila 44 (known in the charter trade as the MarineMax 443) serves as a good example of a large-scale collaborative boatbuilding project. The Slovenian firm of J&J Design (for brothers Jernej and Japec Jakopin) drew up the plans; the boat is built in China by the Sino Eagle Group, and the sales, marketing, charter vacationing, and general clout is provided by MarineMax. All companies have wide experience in the global recreational marine industry.
The design maximizes hull volume and deck space for good living in the elements and belowdecks, but adds sharp, modernistic styling that serves both practical and aesthetic purposes – tinted, forward-slanting upper bridge windows; a pronounced overhang for shade over the tinted main deck windows; a hardtop well-integrated with the antenna arch; big hullside windows like speedy parallelograms, and a sheer that rises dramatically from transom to bows. Jernej and Japec know what they’re doing in terms of visuals. They make space and comfort look racy, even with the boat standing still.
But the boat doesn’t stand still. Powered by twin 225-hp Volvo-Penta diesels, the 44 has a top speed of 17 knots. At a leisurely cruising speed of about seven knots it gets very good fuel economy for a boat of its size — about 2.9 nautical mpg.
The hull is built with top-quality vinylester resin to prevent water intrusion, NPG gelcoat, and resin-infused fiberglass in the main hull and deck construction. These materials and methods will help insure longevity — very important in the physically tough charter trade, and for resale value among private owners and buyers. And it has a really impressive features list.
The 44 is available to private owners in a three-cabin/three-head version, or, for really ultimate elbow room, comfort, and utility space for liveaboards, a two-cabin/two-head version.
Boaters interested in a serious test-drive of the boat (in a nice location) will be able to take one on a charter through marinemaxvacations.com.