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This was an exciting and historic day for MJM Yachts and Boston Boatworks. 50z hull #1 was launched at the old yard in East Boston and towed over to the new facility in the Charlestown Maritime Center where it was hauled up a ramp and placed inside the service building to be finished. That upgraded older building (twice the size of the previous space) is currently being used for assembly while waiting for the new 70x400 foot production building to be completed. You can see on the steel framework is being erected.


40z palmbeach
Powerboat writer Eric Sorensen was passing through my part of the world yesterday afternoon, so we met at a pub after work to kick around some future story ideas.
In the course of talking about one idea or the other, Sorensen asked whether I had seen the video of the MJM 40Z running in 6-to-8-foot seas off Palm Beach, FL. He was impressed by how well the boat ran in those conditions and liked the commentary by founder and CEO Bob Johnstone.
I watched the aerial video this morning (shot by Billy Black), and it does indeed show the 40-footer running smoothly and smartly through a good head, beam, and following sea in 25 knots of wind.

That led us to another discussion on the longevity of today’s well-built boats, such as those from MJM Yachts, especially given the fact that the average powerboat and sailboat on the water now is 20 years old or older. If boats built with plywood decks and transoms are making it to the quarter-century mark, how long will the wood-free infused hulls built from vinylester last?

“They’re heirlooms,” blurted out Sorensen, who is the technical writer for Soundings and who was the founding director of J.D. Power & Associates’ marine practices. “You’ll pass them down from generation to generation. The boat you remember going out on with your grandfather — well, you can still have that boat when you’re 60.”

When it comes to the lifespan of today’s best-built boats, we are in fairly uncharted waters. I jotted down notes on a Revolutionary Ale beer coaster (the inn later brought me paper) as Sorensen forged ahead.


What might be the useful life of a boat like the one in the video? “It’s indefinite,” Sorensen says. “What’s to fail on an MJM? It’s an oven, post-cured epoxy boat. It’s as well built as a Dreamliner, as far as I can see. There’s no reason that a boat like that couldn’t be here in 100 years.” Maybe 200 years, he later added.

“What’s it mean for the industry?” I asked.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “At some point, are we going to reach saturation? Where are the good boats going to go?”

One question is, will there be a market for repowering and upgrading even today’s gems when they’re 30, 40 or 50 years old and older? If past is prologue, boats with a pedigree and boats with good bones will retain a loyal following of sorts well down the road.

To justify the costs, however, owners will have to have a long view of ownership. Repower, refurbish and rack up as many memories as possible and then hand it off to the next generation when the time comes.

“You can have the memories and the boat,” Sorensen says.

Maybe — or maybe we shouldn’t have had the second pint.

By Bill Sisson, Soundings Trade

021212BTPF 0202

The value of speed and seaworthiness in dealing with weather can't be emphasized enough. Same weather system, 2-40z's: Walter Teller's JUNO looking for a break to cross the Gulf Stream to reach Palm Beach from Old Bahama Bay in the West End and Bob & Mary Johnstone in their 40z ZING facing a forbidding forecast in getting from Southport NC on the ICW through Pamilico Sound to Bell Haven and then to Manteo on Roanoke Island.

Wednesday April 16, 2014 aboard the 40z JUNO with Walter Teller.  "It may not sound like it, but I consider myself quite conservative about weather and safety, and have frequently waited for windows to travel. But I never doubted the capability of an MJM 40z to handle these conditions after experiencing many of the crossings we did between Nassau and Whale Cay, or Spanish Wells and Little Harbour, to name just a couple."

Problem: JUNO was hoping to leave the Abacos for Palm Beach as a series of fronts passed through the Bahamas. There were 30+ boats holed up in West End waiting for a weather window. There wasn't a good break in the weather forecast for a week. In fact most were holed up 8 days until the following Thursday. After consulting weather sources including Chris Parker, a small window of a few hours was identified early the next morning. It had been blowing 25 knots from the NE for 36 hours. The forecast was for 5-7 with occasional 9 ft. seas by mid-day with 6-8 kt winds and 10 ft seas that evening and next day with an increase to 25 kts mid-day, but remaining from the SE.

The MJM Solution: At 0745, as many incredulous captains watched on the docks, two boats departed for Florida: a 57' Nordhavn and JUNO in light SE winds, which had blown at 25kts from the northeast the day and night before. "I knew the lull was due to the wind change and wouldn't last. The forecast was for it to increase to 25kts mid-day, but remain from the SE. I thought the change in direction would settle the Stream for a few hours before it built again. The forecast was 5-7 footers with occasional 9 footers by mid-day through that evening. The next day the forecast was for 6-8 footers with 10 footers and more. The course was 283, but we headed. generally 265 or 270 to allow for wind and Gulf Stream current. The distance was 55nm."

"We had a nice start running at 22 knots or so into moderate seas. The wind built, as did the seas as forecast. The crossing took 3 hours and 15 minutes. The beauty of our 40z was that we could power up the steep faces of waves that rose from nowhere like a random field of very steep moguls on a ski slope, and then power way back to avoid burying the bow on the way down. The anchor frequently skimmed along the surface in the troughs before we headed uphill again. It took some vigilance as there was no regularity or predictability to the seas. The boat is so responsive that it was possible to adjust speed and angle of attack for each wave. In the Stream they were coming from all sides and when we were in troughs seemed to rise over the pilot house, which was quite a sight. We caught just one sudden steep wave on the stern quarter which spun and rolled the boat a bit, but the recovery was swift. A thrilling ride to say the least. averaged about 17 knots in those conditions, which I think is remarkable. "

021212BTPF 074940z Dealing Comfortably with Large Waves
"We always felt secure, dry and comfortable, especially knowing the crossing would be fairly brief. And it was; we had some nice following rollers to surf coming in the Lake Worth Inlet and were at our slip in Old Port Cove before the wind built up to 25-30kts."

April 14, 2014 aboard the 40z ZING with Bob Johnstone, Southport Marina NC. We had some interesting decisions to make. Our destination was Manteo on Roanoke Island by Thursday PM (April 17).

Southport Marina has an x-Navy weatherman give transient boaters a detailed forecast and rundown of ICW hazards every evening at 1800 hrs. His forecast for Tuesday (April 15) sounded ominous: S-SW winds to 25 knots, switching to strong 25+ knots from the N-NE Tuesday PM and on Wednesday and Thursday as well… after the passage of a well developed cold front passing through the region late Tuesday evening.

Problem: Everyone else (including a Vicem 55) decided to stick it out in Southport (Wilmington River) to await passage of the Cold Front. If we did that, (A) we'd be facing two additional days plus 225 miles slogging to windward against some very steep seas in the long stretches of open water in the Wilmington River, Bogue Sound, the Neuse River, Pamilico River Alligator River and Albemarle Sound. And, (B) we had a reservation at the City Docks in Beaufort on Tuesday evening which with strong southerlies didn't look promising until after the wind shift that night plus the spectre of having to deal with strong northerlies on the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers next day.

The MJM Solution: Having a boat that could cruise at 32-33 knots with only 10 ft 3" Air Height, we weren't worried about being slowed by bridge waiting time (other than one low 4' RR Bridge that was open except for passing trains and one of the so called 12' bridges that was actually 8' when we arrived)…our downhill skiing strategy evolved. Left Southport at 0830 Tuesday with a stiff wind at our backs and slide downhill with Belhaven, 155 miles distant as the target by 1600-1700 hrs. What a blast! It was a great boating day for an MJM. We covered the first 20 miles down the Cape Fear river and into Myrtle Grove Sound in 40 minutes. Good stiff wind on the tail. Seemingly endless docks with floats reduced our speed to 7-8 knot slow zones in a number of places.

We arrived at a very industrialized Potash dominated Beaufort at 1345 hours (5:15 later) to enter the Adams Creek Canal. The only bouncy part was 10 minutes of a short beam sea clearing Winthrop Point entering the Neuse River. Then another sleigh ride down the Neuse until turning into Bay River. Ditto crossing the Pamlico River up the Pungo to Belhaven arriving 1630, exactly 8 hours later…averaging nearly 20 knots.

We holed up in Belhaven (grim town) on Wednesday while the front went through. On Thursday headed up the Alligator River and paid for all our wonderful smooth sailing beforehand with 25 knots of wind a very steep 3-4 foot chop right on the nose up the Alligator River then a quartering sea dodging crab pots and fish weirs on Albemarle Sound as we headed east toward Roanoke Island. We dialed back to 10 knot trawler speed as soon as we got out in the open on the river. Those waves must have been as far apart as they were high. Sure wish we had a Seakeepers.

Covered 70 miles from Belhaven to Manteo in 5 hours arriving at 1230 hrs. And, we didn't have to wait for the Alligator River Bridge. When about a mile out. The bridge swung closed for another boat. We were told we'd have to wait 'cause he couldn't hold it open that long. So, I asked the bridge tender what the clearance was. He said 14' 9". With our 10' 3" height and 2-3 foot waves, seemed safe enough. Made it under… no problem. Glad we only had a half day of that Norther instead of 3-4 days, had we been in a trawler or waited in Southport.

Spent Easter weekend with son Peter in Manteo, checking out his Gunboat Catamaran operation in Wanchese. Put the boat on a truck Monday morning and it arrived in Essex CT Tuesday PM in time to be on display in the Essex Boat Show that weekend. Cost of trucking is about on a par with the fuel burn (and ours is 50% of other 40 footers) on its own bottom of 1.1-1.2 nmpg at 30 knots….except the boat is doing 60 on the truck!



Most impressive of the runs down the coast was from Rye NY 272 miles to Annapolis in 7.5 hours consuming 375 gallons of diesel. That's an average of 34.93 knots. Has any cruising yacht made this passage in less time or more comfortably?

That voyage started at 0655 daybreak, took us down the end of LI Sound, through the City on the East River, around Sandy Hook, down the Jersey shore to round Cape May, then up the Delaware to the C&D Canal and down the Chesapeake to the Annapolis Yacht Club…arriving at 1425 hrs... using just 375 gallons of her 520 gallons capacity. That’s 0.7 nautical miles per gallon. At a slower trawler speed of 7.7 knots, 50z gets 2.9 nm per gallon, with range enough to go to Bermuda and back.

MJM 50z1 NY to FL mapThe Voyage of 50z #1 in October 2014

At 35 knots you feel relaxed and at one with the boat. Conversation is normal. Response to a light touch on the wheel is predictable and immediate…no delay, resistance, mushiness, yawing or bow steering…a clean, crisp, comfortable driving experience that you or your autopilot can appreciate. With optional Triple Volvo Penta IPS 600s, 50z has real get up and go… 0-20 kts in 5.2 seconds with a top speed of 40 knots!

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At a Gala Reception during the 2014 Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, MJM was awarded the best design in it's category by an elite Selection Board made up of the Editors of the AIM Group of magazines which include SAIL, Power & MotorYacht, Passagemaker, Yachts International, Soundings and Soundings Trade.

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