Exploring the Aquila 42: A Catamaran Designed for Modern Cruisers
Aquila 42 is a compact cat with a big appeal.
Aquila Power Catamarans has just grown by one—a 42-foot model designed by VPLP Design that may just be the right choice for couples who want a stable platform with lots of room, plenty of personalization choices, and a good turn of speed. Cruisers looking to set off for the horizon may find the new Aquila 42 a perfect escape pod.
A Closer Look at the Aquila 42 Catamaran: Innovation Meets Comfort On Deck
There are many examples of the well-established Aquila DNA starting with the familiar wide foredeck topped by twin sunbeds and the molded stairs which lead up to the flybridge. The value of not having to go aft, down, and around when moving between the upper helm and the foredeck cannot be understated.
Also present is the bar top in the aft cockpit with two stools beside a small counter and a window which connect the galley with the dining area. This intermediate space between indoors and outdoors is an Aquila trademark and it’s an immensely popular place to hang out at anchor or underway.
The cockpit’s long transom seat and folding table make this a perfect place for breakfast or cocktails, especially if a brisk breeze is blowing because this space is protected by the cabin house and the hardtop. Speaking of the hardtop, a dinghy crane protrudes from its aft end and is used to hoist the tender onto the fixed platform between the two swim steps. No davits are needed and with the tender launched, this is a special spot to relax on a chaise and watch fish swim by.
The cabin house is on the centerline making this model symmetrical which leaves wide side decks to both port and starboard. Two welcome surprises on the bow include a large, well-organized midline locker that houses the anchor, bow roller and windlass, and a cavernous stowage space in the starboard bow that’s large enough to carry loads of gear as well as an optional freezer. It will take restraint to not overload this deep lazarette or the cat will become bow heavy and may hobby horse. This space may be put to another use but more on this later.
Explore The Two Oceans 555 Power Catamaran: A Blend Of Luxury And Performance
Outdoor Living on the Flybridge
The aft cockpit is inviting but so is the flybridge which will be a favorite spot to gather. It feels as if the outdoor living space nearly doubles with the addition of this flybridge where you’ll find a long L-shaped settee running along the port side and aft end. Two tables can be combined with an added leaf so six may dine together, and there are companion seats to both port and starboard of the helm.
An island occupies the center of the flybridge. The backside of this module holds a summer galley with a sink, refrigerator, and a Kenyon electric grill. The front side forms the double helm seat with a flip-up bolster. The seat faces the dash which is bordered by a thick handrail. A single Raymarine Axiom multifunction display (MFD) is on the centerline with a small wheel offset slightly to starboard. Engine throttles are to starboard and two cupholders are to port.
The benefits of this helm station include good forward visibility and the rail which helps to steady anyone heading toward the forward steps. However, there are also a few drawbacks to this design. First, the midline placement means that you can’t sight down either the port or starboard side when coming into a slip. Second, the wheel has seven turns lock-to-lock so it will take some getting used to. Third, there is room for only one MFD which is a surprise on a boat in this class. Finally, the helm “island” chops up the available space, forcing odd traffic patterns.
Inside, the Aquila 42 is a bit of an origami boat with lots of options. Hull No. 1 that we visited featured an unusual layout. Once we stepped through the bifold door, we had a fridge/freezer to starboard and a straight-line galley to port with cabinetry and storage space outboard. Production models will offer a traditional and more functional U-shaped galley with higher cabinetry that extends up to the headliner for more stowage space.
The main seating area in the salon includes a U-shaped dinette to starboard that will accommodate four to six people comfortably, especially if extra chairs are added. On our model, a funky “nav station” was to port. It had no seat and no MFD and seemed like an afterthought that topped a sizeable storage locker below. We have learned since that this will be replaced by either a corner seat (a good choice for charter) or a full interior helm (an excellent option for private owners).
Forward is a utility cabin that holds an optional washer/dryer, a bottle fridge, and a single bunk. This space would work for kids or a professional captain although North American couples who work remotely may want to create an office here instead.
The Aquila 42 Catamaran can be specified with two to four cabins and three heads. On our boat, the entire port hull was dedicated to the owner’s suite with a bed aft, a vanity desk amidships, and a large head in the bow. The VIP ensuite cabin was in the starboard hull.
When four cabins are spec’d, it gets interesting. The owner’s hull holds two cabins with a shared head, and the utility room goes away as does that large lazarette space in the starboard bow that we described earlier. These two areas are then joined into another ensuite cabin with an athwartships bed.
Indirect and courtesy lighting throughout the interior create a warm ambience, and the surrounding tempered glass windows provide great views even from a seated position.
Aquila 42’s Performance
The Aquila 42 comes standard with twin 230-hp Volvo Penta D4 diesels, but with the upgraded 300-hp engines, expect a top speed around 21 knots at 3,400 rpm.
Cruising speed is 16 knots at 2,800 rpm where the engines burn 16 gph, delivering one nautical mile per gallon depending on load and conditions. With 290 gallons of fuel, that translates to an approximate 275-mile range with a small reserve.
The VPLP hull is designed to pop up on plane in less than nine seconds, and the elongated underwater bulbs help keep the bows high and prevent hobby horsing. Aquila also plans to offer a Yanmar engine with a V-shaped semi-foiling system which will lift about 40 percent of the boat’s weight, enabling faster speeds and better fuel consumption. For easy close quarter maneuvering, a bow thruster can be added to the starboard bow.
Aquila Has Some Intriguing Options
Aquila offers owners myriad ways to make this model their own with a long list of options. Besides the choice of layout and wood colors (dark walnut or light ash), owners can add two AGM house batteries, two 100-watt solar panels, a 17-gallon per hour Spectra watermaker, and a Kohler 9kW generator. Comfort options include a washer/dryer, the 23-bottle wine fridge, an icemaker, a propane cooker, and of course, the entire lower helm.
Why the Aquila 42 Catamaran Stands Out: A Comprehensive Review
Aquila, which launched its first hull just over a decade ago, continues to fill out its line. Smaller models include the Molokai 28 and the Aquila Sport 32 and 36. At the luxury end, Sino Eagle Group offers the Aquila 70. In the middle, we find three models including the Aquila 54, 44, and now the 42 which the company hopes will attract seasoned cruisers downsizing from bigger boats as well as young families stepping up through the line.
Although Hull No. 1 seemed to be a prototype with an atypical layout, Aquila has left the door open for many future iterations of this design, one of which is bound to suit a cruising couple looking to get away from it all.
-by Zuzana Prochazka