The MJM Story

A Boating Passion

MJM Yachts was founded in 2002 by Bob Johnstone, who, in 1977 co-founded J/ Boats, Inc., the world’s leading brand of performance sailboats. J/Boats currently has 15,000 boats sailing worldwide and 20+ Boat of the Year awards to its credit. Bob is a member of the National Sailing Hall of Fame and recipient of the prestigious Mystic Seaport America and the Sea honor.

When Bob retired from J/Boats, he didn’t retire from boating, you may say he did more boating by cruising the coast from Newport to Maine with his Wife Mary in a powerboat. Asked why the move to power, Bob replied, “we got older, so our boats had to reverse roles. I can enjoy a day sail on the latest J/, but quality cruising time is on a motorboat.” And, not just any motorboat, Mary Johnstone’s Motorboat.

The boat that could easily be docked single-handed, seat three couples comfortably in an all-weather pilothouse and cruise at 25+ knots to outrun waves offshore didn’t exist in ‘02. So, as he did at J/Boats, Bob created a new boat, feeling confident that others would be like-minded in wanting a more practical, fun, easier-to-own boat. Bob’s wife Mary was the inspiration for the name. The brand became MJM – Mary Johnstone’s Motorboat.

Bob and Mary Johnstone MJM Yachts
MJM Yacht

Priority one was to find a yacht designer with the best eye in the business to draw a pretty boat combining the features of Bob’s favorite powerboats: the powder-horn sheer of a WW II Elco PT Boat, the bow flare of a Carolina sportfish, the sexy tumblehome of an Adirondack runabout, the 360°sightlines of a 1950’s Matthews cruiser and the open pilothouse and flush deck of a Maine lobster boat. So, with son Peter (former-CEO of Sunfish Laser & founder of Gunboat), they brainstormed. A month later the signature MJM look was born.

No powerboat builder could be found with the hi-tech experience required to build a boat that met Bob’s marketing goal of “best performing brand.” So, he went back to his sailboat roots and found a master builder who’d been building America’s Cup and world championship winning sailboats for 35 years to partner with. MJM makes sure that each new model meets their personal standard: Best performing brand.

Fast forward to 2019 and a now retired Bob turned over the helm to Son Peter, as the new owner and Chairman. Seeing opportunities to embrace available technology to improve the build process and materials, Peter established Pamlico Yachtworks in Washington, NC in 2021. Under Peter’s guidance, MJM was now the builder and the MJM team would continue to tweak and improve the existing MJM 35, and launch the new, open bow MJM 3 day yacht.

Peter Johnstone MJM Yachts
MJM yachts quality

MJM has become the leader for all-weather/all-conditions capably day and cruising performance yachts. Now built utilizing the vacuum infused, post-cured, Epoxy composite process resulting in a stronger, lighter, faster, more efficient yacht. This process, combined with the advanced hull geometry delivers an impressive and class leader ride stability and smoothness.

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By 2021, all design and engineering were also inhouse, increasing efficiency and responsiveness to the market.

In 2022 MJM unveiled the MJM 4, a remarkable 46-foot, open bow outboard express day yacht with very comfortable overnight capabilities. This model, in combination with the MJM 3, and the increased popularity of the proven MJM 35 drove a dramatic and sustained growth of new boat orders.

Leading the market segment in sales, and with the newest MJM cruising model, the MJM 42 under construction, demand for new MJM’s was exponential. Late in 2023, the business and assets of MJM were acquired by Saothair Capital Partners, a private equity firm specializing exclusively in middle-market manufacturing and industrial companies, through its newly formed affiliate, Seolta Holdings.

MJM bow open windows

A Zurn Design