Drawing Board: MJM 53z

Power & Motor Yacht

Building on its recent success in the outboard market, MJM plans for the launch of a new flagship.

Outboard-powered boats aren’t new for MJM Yachts, the Down East builder run by founder Bob Johnstone and his son, Peter. What’s new is their size. In summer 2019 the company will launch the 53z, its largest outboard model yet, with small-boat exploring capabilities and yacht-like comfort.

Outboard propulsion and shoal draft (a mere 27 inches with the engines up) will allow owners to explore shallow areas that are inaccessible to inboard-powered boats. “The idea of shoal draft exploring in a 53-footer would have been considered crazy just a year or two ago,” says Peter, director of product development at MJM. But not anymore.

The 53z piggybacks on the success of the company’s out- board-powered 35z and 43z, and like those models it’s designed around a simple concept: a strong, lightweight boat with good fuel economy that’s created by the people who use the boat. “When you get on one of our boats, everything’s in the right po- sition. Everything’s been thought through,” says Peter. “There’s no stupid stuff.” The 53z will be as versatile as it is practical. Two en suite mas- ter staterooms will make it comfortable for a pair of cruising couples to overnight. The quad Mercury 350-hp Verados and stowage capacity make it equally suitable for day trips to the beach, as the boat can be loaded up with friends and gear and parked just a few feet from the sand. Because this craft has the ability to perform double duty, customers may no longer have the need for two boats. “It makes the boat a lot more valuable to our customers because they’re getting so much more out of it,” says Peter.

According to MJM, the four Mercury Verados should lend the 53z a top speed of 44 knots. The boat should edge out the triple IPS-powered 50z, with its WOT speed of 40 knots.

Outboards now account for more than half of MJM’s sales. While Peter takes some credit for bringing Bob around to the idea of a 53-foot outboard-powered model, he says his father has always been the mastermind who built the brand from the ground up. “He did it the good old-fashioned way.”

But lest Bob be known as old-fashioned, Peter says he hasn’t seen his father so excited about a new boat in a long time. “My 84-year-old dad is showing more energy than I’ve ever seen,” he says. “Watch out. He has plans to keep busy until he’s a hundred.” — Krista Karlson

A Zurn Design