September 2016, The San Francisco Yacht Club held its annual Commodore's Club Cruise. The location selected was the Gulf Islands, British Columbia. This location was made for several reasons including the fact that it is in our back yard and some of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world. Another fact for the Gulf Island selection is that many of our members keep their boats in British Columbia. For those members that needed to charter a boat we selected Cooper Boating as our lead charter company based out of Port Sidney Marina. Simply stated this made organizing our cruise about as easy as it can get. Dawn Dexter and Colin Jackson's attention to details and the great selection of boats available for charter was all we needed for our group of 85 attendees.
As Commodore of the club, I needed a boat that was big enough to hold a few parties on and serve as the Flagship for the cruise. Dawn recommended a new boat to the fleet which is an Aquila 44. Having chartered several catamarans over the years I was excited to be cruising the Gulf Islands in a new power cat. Upon arrival at Port Sidney Marina I walked down the ramp and met an owner of the Aquila 44 who had just delivered the boat from Vancouver. I promised him I would treat his new boat like my own and was stunned when I walked on board the Aquila 44. What a stunning design and layout. I could not wait to get settled on board with my wife and 4 guests each having our own well-appointed staterooms. The beauty of the Aquila 44 is the incredible amount of space with the 44' length and 22'beam not to mention the fly bridge providing a second dining area, bar, sink and BBQ. When getting settled on the boat we were brief by Cooper's knowledgeable staff on every aspect of the Aquila 44 and my opinion of the boat just kept getting better and better. I could not wait to get cruising. The topper in the main salon area was the whole back window opening up to a seated outdoor bar area. I knew we had selected the perfect Flagship for our cruise.
After a welcoming party on Saturday night at the Shaw Centre Aquarium, located at the front of the marina, we were set to go cruising. Leaving the harbor, I was a little nervous aboard this beautiful new boat but the nerves quickly subsided after finding the Aquila 44 to be incredibly responsive and easy to maneuver out to open water. With plenty of power and twin screws set 20' apart, the boat can easily turn within its own length making the need for bow thrusters unnecessary. The Fly Bridge has great visibility 360 degrees and communication with deckhands a breeze using the front steps to access the bow from the Fly Bridge. Underway, my guests relaxed and enjoyed the warm cruise to Victoria at a comfortable 12 knots. Arriving in Victoria in front of the Empress Hotel my nerves acted up again as my first docking experience in front of hundreds of tourists and fellow club members. Once again the Aquila 44 proved how easy it was to maneuver into our side tie. My first full day aboard the Aquila 44 was behind me and it was time for celebration.
Let the party begin! The Aquila 44 can turn into a party platform with plenty of space for guest, a great sound system for music and open bar serving the entire back deck. At one point, I counted 55 fellow members sitting or standing on the boat and it was as stable as ever. It is interesting to note that there are not many power cats in British Columbia and the interest of many boaters was evident throughout the week. By the end of the week I might has well have been a sales rep because I could not find a single bad thing to say about this boat.
As the week rolled on and port after port the Aquila 44 performed like a large sports car. Even in the open water my guests were enjoying the beautiful scenery, reading a book, working from their computers, all very comfortable and warm either inside the main salon or the protected Fly Bridge. By the end of the week we all agreed the Aquila 44 is a superb boat for cruising with a group of folks and when I go back to British Columbia next year it is going to start with a phone call to Cooper Boating to book the Aquila 44.
Thank You Cooper Boats for making our Commodore's 2016 Gulf Island Cruise the best cruise ever!
San Francisco Yacht Club