Contents of Report
MJM Yachts was started by a lifelong sailor by the name of Bob Johnstone, who with his brother Rod also founded J/Boats, a company that developed and built a variety of sailboat models and helped expand the sport of sailing and introduce it to many people the world over. Johnstone was looking to make his next move and get into power cruising, but wanted to bring the power of technology to bear on the challenges of Downeast-style cruising. He started building boats with lightweight hulls and sterndrive propulsion, eventually swapping out the I/Os for Volvo Penta IPS pods. Johnstone embraced the Seakeeper gyro stabilizer as well, making it standard equipment on the largest model, the 50z.
While the company still builds those IPS-powered boats, the MJM 35z, designed by Doug Zurn of Zurn Yacht Design, is the company’s first foray into outboard power. The latest generation of outboards have proven themselves to be engineered to provide the kind of performance, NVH abatement (noise, vibration, harshness), and efficiency that discerning cruisers welcome aboard.
Let’s have a closer look at the MJM 35z and see all of the features that make this a comfortable cruising yacht.
All MJM Yachts are built at Boston Boat Works using proven high-tech methods including wet prepreg construction, which means that Eglass and Kevlar fabrics are impregnated with epoxy resin prior to layup and, in conjunction with Corecell coring material, placed in a mold to be oven cured. The result is a lightweight, stiff, and strong hull that is fused to a cored deck structure to create a monococque. Every other aspect of the boat, from performance to fit-and-finish looks and feels better because the boat makes her start with this solid foundation.
The twin 350-hp Mercury Verados are mounted in a splashwell in the swim platform, which has a synthetic teak deck that allows full access to both sides and ahead for simplified daily checks and engine inspection, as well as any required service. The outboard installation is clean, with steering and rigging lines taking up minimal space.
The swim platform has longer sections extending to either side of the outboards, which help it serve its function for swimming and boarding. There’s full access across from one side to the other in front of the engines. A fresh water shower is to the port side. The false transom has rod holders and beverage holders on top to each side. A center grabrail is a good safety touch on the aft side of the platform. There’s a transom seat on the forward side, in the cockpit.
Both transom gates open outward to allow them to drain the cockpit quickly should the boat ship a following sea. The cockpit has opposing seating fore and aft, with two aft-facing benches to both sides at the forward end of the cockpit. Each seat has a locker beneath it, adding to the stowage capacity of the boat. The forward seats each have a step to the side deck built into the molding and finished with non-skid.
Hull-side doors are in the cockpit to both port and starboard providing a 16” (40.64 cm) opening and a 7” (17.78 cm) step. The doors are held open with magnetic catches, so they’re easier to close without having to feel for latches. Beverage holders are just abaft the doors, recessed into the bulwarks.
Transiting from cockpit to foredeck is made simpler by a number of features, including steps to outboard of the seats to either side of the cockpit, along with vertical stainless grabrails mounted on the aft coachroof supports. The side decks are 9 ½” (24.13 cm) wide amidships and 12” (30.48 cm) wide forward and are finished in nonskid in a contrasting color to the white decks. There’s a grabrail along the coachroof that lends security until one reaches the bow rail that rises from the toerail at the B-pillar of the coachroof on either side.
On the foredeck, the trunk cabin and working deck areas all have that same buff-colored nonskid as the side decks. The 28” (71.12 cm) high bowrail lends security to this area. Fully forward, there are two 12" (30.48 cm) cleats with a clear run to the caprail mounted chafing gear. Those fairleads are designed to also serve as bollards to secure docklines. In the center is an electric windlass, managing the all-chain rode that leads out to the stainless anchor roller. Foot-control switches are to the starboard side. There is no access to the chain locker from the foredeck, instead there is access through the forward bulkhead belowdecks. There’s a rail-mounted LED spotlight that is controlled remotely from the helm.
Continuing forward from the cockpit into the main deck area beneath the fixed coachroof, the deck remains on a single level, making it easy to get around, and a rail on the starboard side of the walkway between the cockpit seats gives something to grab. The area on our test boat is enclosed with Strataglass curtains, which can be rolled up for ventilation. Full glass windows that slide open are another option.
Upholstered settees to either side have lockers beneath. A pedestal-table base is set into the walkthrough but it’s off centerline. The varnished pedestal table has expandable leaves that let the owner use as much or as little as needed, and still allow people to move fore and aft. Speaking of moving fore and aft, two rails on the overhead let people move about safely while underway in reasonable conditions.
The helm is to starboard at the forward end of the coachroof. The helm position is handy to the companion seating as well as the main-deck social area.
The helm dash on our test boat has an upper panel with a 15” (38.1 cm) Raymarine multifunction display along with an autopilot and the Mercury VesselView helm display, (this is basically a rebranded Simrad display with dedicated control and monitoring of the outboard functions). The lower panel has the electrical switches, the bow thruster control, and the Mercury Joystick Piloting for Outboards control on the port side. Moving starboard is the remote control for the bow spotlight.
Further to starboard is the Zipwake auto trim tab control, the remote for the main display, and the Digital Throttle and Shift with its selectable features, including Single Lever Control, Engine Sync, and RPM Adjust. On the vertical aft panel of the helm console are the bilge-pump controls and the generator panel. The steering wheel is wood and stainless.
MJM chose placed the VHF on the outboard bulkhead. The helm seat is from Stidd and fully adjustable, with a teak footrest. We appreciate that MJM included two grab handles at the helm – one to port on the console itself and one to starboard, outboard on the coachroof support.
On a couple’s boat such as this, the companion seat is key and here it’s done as well as the helm seat. The grab handle setup mirrors the helm, and goes one better with one on the fiddled flat placed forward of the seat. A flat panel can accommodate another multifunction navigation display if desired.
The Stidd companion seat is the same model as the helm seat, and MJM even placed the same design of teak footrest before it. To starboard is the trifold top door section designed with a lip that serves as chart flat. Open that door and the lower pocket door to access the ignitions, the Fusion stereo, and the 12-volt and 120-volt electrical panels.
We transition to the lower deck through the companionway. That trifold top door section folds out of the way and a pocket door slides to port.
Down three steps is a galley to port. At the bottom of the stairs, the headroom is 6’1” (1.85 m). The galley has a Corian counter, a sink with cutting-board cover, a single-burner electric cooktop, microwave, and drawer-style refrigerator. There’s a dedicated trash receptacle, and a fiddled shelf above has enough of an edge that it also serves as a functional grabrail.
There are lockers for stowing appliances and provisions that are behind the counter and have sliding doors that don’t sweep the counter when opened and soft close. Drawers are on the front of the cabinet beneath the cooktop. The galley is all beautifully finished in cherry joinery that’s well made and suitably nautical.
Opposite the galley is a hanging locker with a louvred door in cherry, and the cherry door to the head compartment. The berth area is forward, including a V-berth with a pedestal table between for use as a dining table or desk, with foldout leaves.
The head is located to starboard. It is a wet head with pullout shower in the sink, Corian counters and stowage behind cherry doors with push-pull latches. Lockers behind the vanity counter have sliding, soft-close doors, and are topped with a fiddled shelf. The sole is finished in nonskid. There’s an opening portlight for ventilation and an opening hatch in the overhead that serves as a skylight.
The cherry woodwork represents an attention to detail, even down to the framing of the portlights. The seams are all even and there’s no need for caulking to hide defects because everything seems to fit together.
The MJM 35Z has a LOA of 37’11” (11.56 m), a beam of 11’ (3.35 m), and a draft of 28” (71 cm). With an empty weight of 13,300 lb. (6,033 kg), 63-percent fuel and three people, we estimated our test weight at 14,923 lb. (6769 kg).
With the twin 350-hp Mercury Verados turning 17 pitch Rev 4 propellers and spooled up to 5900 RPM, we reached our top speed of 40.9 knots. With the throttle pulled back to 4000 RPM we measured the boat’s best economy at 24.5 knots. It was at that speed that the 20.5 GPH fuel burn translated into 1.2 NMPG and a range of 269.1 nm, all while still holding back a 10-percent reserve of the boat’s 250-gallon (946.35 L) total fuel capacity.
In the light chop of our test day we had no pounding, and in fact got better top speeds than MJM got during their tests: 40.9 knots vs their 38.6. She’s also a well-mannered boat. In hard turns she drops her shoulder slightly to give a gentle roll into the turn. We noticed no ventilation of the prop, even when left in the trimmed position. If we kept her hard over, she bled off speed initially, and then recovered and held the speed so we didn’t have to accelerate into the turn.
The MJM 35z accelerates on a nearly level attitude with no loss of sightlines to the horizon, and then settles into her 5-degree bow high attitude. She’s also quick to accelerate, reaching planing speed in an average 4 seconds flat. She continued on to 20 MPH in 6 seconds and 30 came and went in 9.5.
Coming into the dock, we brought her in between a t-head and a rock wall against a 20-knot crosswind and saw no problem with her characteristics. The joystick was dialed in to this installation and I liked the positioning of the Mercury joystick just behind the bow thruster stick and how both can easily be worked with one hand. And it was in that manner that we slipped her in and held her while the lines were tied.
- • Stidd 500 helm and companion seats on telescoping swivel bases
- • Electric Zipwake 450S Interceptor trim tabs
- • General Ecology Seagull water purifier
- • Retractable Armstrong swim/safety ladder on transom
$650,000 - $700,000
Warranty information to come.
To design a boat for the way it’s used 80 percent of the time, as MJM has said it does in the past, is a sensible approach that serves as a guidepost for many decisions. And when we inspect the boat and consider that rule, we see why decisions are made the way they are.
Overall, the MJM 35z was a pleasure to drive because she is docile and visibility from the helm was excellent. The idea of building a boat like this with outboard power may change the equation for many boaters. The reason is that friends and family who are used to center consoles and sportboats will find the seating comfortable and the shade of the hardtop welcome.
The placement of the helm within the social area is a key to the MJM design philosophy. The boat has been designed with its own version the flying bridge social area: It’s even been called, “the main deck flying bridge,” and offers similar views (albeit much lower) and companionship.
Most importantly, the companion station elevates and involves the cruising partner – well, there’s a reason you’re together, right?
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the MJM 35z (2018-) is 47.0 mph (75.6 kph), burning 62.5 gallons per hour (gph) or 236.56 liters per hour (lph).
Standard and Optional Features
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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