Aquila customers are a loyal bunch and once they’ve been bitten by the Aquila bug, they’re hard-pressed to move to another brand. So, when it comes time to add fishing to the mix of boating pleasures, it was either use the existing cruising style boats or stray from the brand. Those customers spoke up about it and Aquila responded. The result is the first center console from Aquila, the 28 Molokai.
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|0 to 30||7.8 seconds|
|Props||16 x 17|
|Load||3 persons; 50% fuel; 50 lbs. gear|
|Climate||82 deg.; 95 humid.; winds: 0-5; seas <1|
2 x 200-hp Mercury Verados
2 x 150-hp Mercury Verados
2 x 200-hp Mercury Verados
Captain’s Report by Capt. Steve
The mission of the 28 Molokai is to be an offshore-capable fishing boat with a nod towards family features. She got the name Molokai because she's exactly the type of boat that can handle the seas that are notoriously rough around that Hawaiian island because of the currents and winds.
Being a cat, she has the capable handling characteristics that can get her out into conditions that would keep the typical monohull ties to the dock. Should she be offshore when adverse conditions may pop up, she can get her crew back safely.
Major Features of the 28 Molokai
- Proven and tested hull design from Hawaiian waters offering best in class offshore handling capabilities.
- Highest tunnel clearance in class offering better air cushion and reduced hull noise when fishing/trolling.
- 360-Degree walk-around fishability.
- Central walkthrough with a door at transom offering direct access to stern/excellent for fishing, diving and recreational water access.
- Forward console hinged door opening for easy access to inside console and optional toilet with dockside pump-out.
- Plenty of deck space for fishing and entertainment.
The Aquila 28 Molokai has an LOA of 30’9” (9.38 m), a beam of 9’8.5” (2.96 m) and a max draft of 2’6” (.76 m). With the twin 200-hp Mercury Verados turning 16.17 props and wound up to 5300 RPM, our speed topped out at 45.8 mph. Best cruise came in at 3000 RPM and 22 mph. It was at that speed that the 9.6 GPH fuel burn translated into 2.3 MPG and a range of 307 statute miles, all while still holding back a 10% reserve of the boat’s 150-gallon (567.81 L) total fuel capacity.
She has a dry weight of 6,188 lbs. (2,806.83 kg). Cats are light as a rule and don’t need weight to ride well, so the fact that this boat is so light is a good thing.
In acceleration tests, we reached 20 mph in an average of 5.1 seconds. 30 came and went in 7.8 and we cruised through 40 in 11 seconds flat.
There’s no wave piercer in between the two hulls so that leaves a pocket of air inside there, which means that with a bow-high attitude it acts as a bit of a cushion. You can feel that cushion as you're going through the waves. It’s most prominent at about 30 mph, which seems to be her sweet spot. Drive a little bit faster than that and the cushion gets dispersed and there's a little bit of a pounding as waves hit the underside of the hull.
The 28 Molokai turns in a level attitude, meaning she doesn't lean into the turn nor out of the turn. She maintains a dry ride, except perhaps in the beam sea when we get a little bit of spray over the rail and onto the windshield.
She accelerates at a level attitude, so no loss of visibility to the horizon. I find that running with the trim set at about 26…27 puts her into her optimum running attitude of slightly bow-high unless you have an uneven distribution of weight. If there are more people in the bow, then bring that bow up a little bit more using engine trim. If there are more people in the stern, then bring the trim down a little bit.
Standard engines on the Aquila 28 Molokai are a pair of 150-hp Mercury Verados. Optional engines are the 200s that we had on our test boat.
Since this is a center console, we’ll start with the fishing features. That has to begin with the 30-gallon (113-L) livewell. It has the usual features of being colored blue, has rounded corners and it’s aerated. Aquila tells us it fills in four minutes. There's a sink right alongside and a grab handle is surrounding the whole area. Just above is lockable tackle storage there's also a charge port in a small cubby. Further above are beverage holders.
Affixed to the hardtop supports are five rocket-launcher-style rod holders with another on each of the sides. Additionally, there are spreader lights at the trailing edge of the hardtop. There are lengthy grab handles and optional Taco Grand Slam outriggers. Fourteen rod holders are mounted to the caprails, including six across the transom.
Padded bolsters run nearly 360-degrees around the boat with the exception of the aft door, giving the 28 Molokai full walkaround fishability. Toerails at the cockpit sides would be a nice addition. In-deck storage fish boxes are to both sides and the aft ones are 94 gallons (355.83 L) each, insulated and macerated. Forward and to each side are 103-gallon (390 L) storage boxes that include rod storage.
It’s not lost on us that any water on the deck is channeled away from the boxes to the aft deck drains and overboard. Still, more rod storage is under the gunwale and just behind is a raw water washdown. To starboard and under the helm seat is pull-out storage for a pair of Plano 3650 tackle boxes. To the port side of the helm seat are dual Plano 3700s. Let's not forget the 3’4” x 8’2” (1.01 m x 2.49 m) of open cockpit space for fighting a fish.
As expected, the 28 Molokai isn't just for fishing. Family features start by flipping the transom seats out and they’re certainly easy to deploy. Simply lift the bolster, grab the handle and pull. Between the two is the access to the swim platform. Aquila went with a slide-out removable door that stores at the opposite end of the boat, in the head compartment actually. It’s not as elegant a solution as a simple hinged door but it works. The platform is large and two massive grab handles will make it easy to get in and out of the water, probably even when wearing dive tanks. The reboarding ladder is also stored in the head compartment.
Moving forward on the 28 Molokai, it’s notable that the deck is a single level with no steps to interrupt the smooth transitions forward or aft. There are two different seating layouts available for the bow. Standard consists of a forward bench seat and a double-wide forward-facing seat ahead of the console. The optional layout, which is what our test boat had, consists of a set of port and starboard lounge seats with removable seatbacks added to the mix. Either layout can also add an optional pedestal table to increase the functionality. Storage is under all seats.
Fully forward, there are three hatches. The two side hatches are rode access while the center is for anchor storage. There's also a windlass option, and without it, the anchor just sits in the compartment. An anchor keeper would be a welcome addition. High marks to Aquila for adding a center-mounted cleat for securing the anchor rode when deployed. It’s a 6” (15.24 cm) pull-up cleat so a tripping hazard is eliminated when using the foredeck as a casting platform.
We have to appreciate the forward opening door to the head compartment. It provides so much more room when compared to typical side access. Aside from the storage for the swim reboarding ladder, aft platform door and cockpit table, there’s plenty of room for an optional Porta-Potti. The interior has an overhead height of 58” (147.32 cm). The aft bulkhead has opening hatches that allow access to the area behind the helm console for ease of installations that will keep the technicians happy.
The helm panel is populated with a single 12” (30.48 cm). Aquila offers three electronics packages. The First is the Coastal, which gives you a single 12” (30.48 cm) screen. The second is the Offshore Package that adds an upgraded transducer for fishing. Finally, there’s the Offshore 2 Package that adds a second 12” (30.48 cm) screen. In the center will still be a Fusion stereo and the 4” (10.16 cm) VesselView display. The steering wheel is mounted to a tilt base.
Below the console, there are two layers of footrests plus a flip-down platform that elevates the operator a full 5” (12.7 cm) off the deck. The seats include flip armrests to both sides of the seats. Lengthy vertical grab handles are fixed to the aft side of the hardtop supports. There's glass to three sides that doesn't quite go all the way up to the top, so we always have ventilation and there's no distortion at the edges.
Options to Consider
In addition to the seating and electronics packages discussed in this report, the 28 Molokai is also available in a cuddy version. That will enclose the entire helm area on three sides and leave the aft section able to be enclosed in Isinglass.
The 28 Molokai seems like such a natural progression for Aquila, it makes one think “why didn’t they do this sooner?” Combining the roominess and offshore capabilities of a cat with the walkaround functionality of a center console is a win for everyone. Certainly, it will open up a whole new market segment for Aquila and I seriously doubt that this will be the last of the CC lineup from this brand. We’ll see.