Recently, the folks at MarineMax in St. Petersburg, Florida, loaned me an Aquila 32 Sport Power Catamaran for a couple of days. The 32 is the newest and smallest member of the Aquila line. She offers dayboating comforts galore, limited overnighting potential and a selection of three Mercury outboard packages: twin 225-hp FourStrokes, twin 250-hp Verados or twin 300-hp Verados. The vessel I used to explore St. Pete and its environs sported the last option.
My cruise was preceded by a sea trial on Boca Ciega Bay. Conditions were mild, with little more than a 1- to 2-foot chop. However, the 32’s test load was hefty, with two persons on board, 100 pounds of supplies and full fuel and water tanks. And while the average WOT speed of 31.7 knots I recorded was brisk, I’d say I could have squeaked out a few more knots had we dispensed with some of the extra weight. At any rate, the 32 managed a respectable cruise speed of 27 knots, thereby generating a maximum on-plane fuel economy of .78 mpg and a range of 177 nautical miles.
After I’d finished up on the bay, I headed out to Egmont Key, a small island due west of Tampa Bay, to gauge the 32’s open-water performance. I was soon zooming along the island’s palm-shady shores at a rousing clip. But it was the run back to St. Pete that really showcased the boat’s talents. With tabs and trim dialed in, the sassy little cat swept over the 3- to 4-foot side-sea swells at cruise speeds and higher with the lithe grace of a true, twin-hulled feline.
And hey, driving was a trip. Tracking felt solid, tight turns produced a faint outboard lean (typical of power catamarans) and sightlines were, of course, superb all the way around. Eventually, I eased on over to Pass-A-Grille marina for the night and soon experienced the dockside-handling virtues that attend a twin-engine boat with a wide engine offset.
e main deck, there were so many lounges and seats available (many with backrests that could be easily switched from forward- to aft-facing) that, due to my perfectionist tendencies, I had a hard time figuring out exactly where to sit while enjoying the Fusion stereo. Combine such ergonomic riches with a Kenyon electric grill, a sink with Corian countertop and an Isotherm fridge, and the 32’s dayboating potential seems pretty obvious.
But the boat handles the overnighting thing rather nicely, too. Just beyond the steering console on the starboard side, a sliding acrylic door leads down into a wet head with 5 feet, 10 inches of headroom, an opening port, sink (with showerhead faucet) and an MSD. And opposite the helm, below a companionway hatch in the portside console, there’s a berth, a microwave oven, an opening hatch overhead (as well as an opening portlight) and a battery-powered air-conditioning unit from Cruise N Comfort.
My overall take, after a couple of days on board? If you’re scouting around for a smooth-driving dayboat with a whopping fun factor (did I not already mention the wild, hydraulically actuated swim platform at the rear and the drop-down, beachifying ladder up forward?), as well as a modicum of space belowdecks that’s both air-conditioned and overnightable (sans genset), you’d be hard pressed to find one better. —Capt. Bill Pike
Draft (outboards up): 2’1”
Displ. (dry): 12,566 lbs.
Fuel: 252 gal.
Water: 45 gal.
Test Power: 2/250-hp Mercury Verado outboards
Cruise Speed: 27 knots
Top Speed: 31 knots