In case you hadn’t noticed, outboards are in. Horsepowers are reaching skyward, and beefy center consoles with three, even four of the big boys are starting to appear at boat shows and in marinas all over the place.
The folks at Rhode Island-based MJM Yachts embraced this reality a couple of years ago and turned designer Doug Zurn loose to create a model that would replace MJM’s 29z, 34z and 36z. The result is MJM’s first outboard-powered boat: the 35z.
Founded in 2002, MJM Yachts is the brainchild of Bob Johnstone, a lifelong sailor who, along with his brother Rod, founded the iconic J/Boats company. Considering a designer for the MJM powerboat brand, Johnstone began and ended his search with Zurn, who grew up boating on Lake Erie and had recently designed the Shelter Island 38 runabout for recording artist Billy Joel. Johnstone felt that Zurn could deliver an MJM design that was “prettier, faster, more seaworthy, quieter, more comfortable, more versatile [and] more fun to drive” than powerboats on the market. MJM’s first offering, the 34z, launched in 2003. The company has since delivered more than 250 boats ranging from 29 feet to 50 feet length overall.
As with all MJM models, the 35z is a clean, contemporary design with styling DNA born Down East. Zurn’s hulls are variable-warped Vs, flat aft and sharp forward with fine entries. They’re designed to hack through the rough stuff, to stay dry and to go fast. According to MJM, the 35z tops out north of 43 knots. It has an angled-up “quiet chine” forward to reduce slap when the boat is at rest.
Conceived primarily as a day boat, the 35z also sports tasteful, functional accommodations for a couple on a weekend cruise. According to Zurn, the cockpit—the social center of the boat—is the same size as the one on the builder’s 40z. An optional Bimini top can provide cover from the elements in the after sections. MJM incorporated some features from other models into the 35z and added new ones; look for electrically operated windscreens, roll-up Strataglass or sliding-glass side windows, side boarding doors, joystick docking control, autopilot and GPS station-keeping. The boat is also set up to house an optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer.
All MJMs are built by longtime partner Boston BoatWorks of Charlestown, Massachusetts. The hulls are a wet pre-preg epoxy/Kevlar/E-glass/Corecell composite that delivers stiffness, durability and light weight. The 35z was designed around twin 300-horsepower Mercury Verado motors. Optional 350s will deliver an added 4 knots of top-end speed, MJM says.
VIDEO | See the MJM 35z on sea trial
Hull number one of the 35z was delivered in June of last year. As of early November, the company had sold 27 units, including 15 before the first hull splashed. It would appear that MJM’s play to latch on to the outboard boom is paying dividends.