The Shape of Things To Come: The MJM 35z
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
When the news broke that MJM was building a 35-foot outboard-powered boat to join its already prestigious line up of sea-proven vessels, the buzz ran through the industry and among boat owners alike with the quickness of a lightning strike.
MJM is well known for its strong, epoxy composite build, best-in-class performance Category A seaworthiness, all-weather comfort and easy joystick docking for trouble free family boating among diesel inboards. This entry into the luxury end of the outboard market with best in class performance is more than exciting news. For this nautical scribe, it was a welcome change in the paradigm.
But before I get into the new MJM 35z, I feel it’s important to have full disclosure—transparency in today’s parlance—on my involvement in this project.
As most of you know, I’ve been around the docks in the marine industry since 1994 with such titles as Power & Motoryacht, Yachting, Marlin, Southern Boating and other, well-heeled magazines on both the editorial and video sides. And in all that time, I’ve surveyed, reported on, interviewed, sea trailed, tested, filmed, broke exclusives, fished, traveled, visited manufacturing facilities all over the world, and was involved in just about everything in the nautical food chain that had to do with all things boats.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my career is getting to meet and establish both a professional and personal relationship with some of the more colorful and outstanding personalities in the industry. And while there are many I’ve come in contact with who have made an exceptional impact on what we do, the folks at MJM Yachts continually stand out with each and every boat they offer.
It was with a great deal of enthusiasm that upon completion of two video projects, one for the flagship of the line up, the impressive 50z, and the other for the equally notable 40z, that I was asked to get involved in a series of articles on how this exciting new project came to be as it moved along from idea to conception to build and finally to completion, launch, sea trial, and become the latest addition to the outstanding line up of MJM yachts.
Oh yes, and there is one more important issue I need to make known. I ran an MJM 29z as a commuter boat for the upscale—as in very upscale—Manhattan-based members of the exclusive Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, NJ. With nearly 5,000 hours on her Volvo Penta I/O, no less that five different captains, all with their own throttle style, finesse, or lack of, in close quarters in the high traffic, fast flowing Hudson River with docking maneuvers. And, but for the expected maintenance associated with that kind of service, along with trying to avoid hitting any kind of debris, whether floating or submerged—if you’ve never been to lower NY Harbor before, well nauta cavetto (from the Latin for mariner beware)—that boat became a legend for endurance, reliability, and stability in all kinds of sea and weather conditions. And that is something I can attest to first hand and without hesitation.
Well, now that the groundwork has been laid, let’s get into how the MJM 35z came to be, what’s behind it, and how, just as her well-heeled predecessors have so successfully done, she can be enjoyed by her owners.
For starters, I’d like to quote Albert Einstein. He owned a sailboat and his favorite pastime was sailing, so his take on problem solving has, in my opinion, some validity on which to launch this discussion:
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
MJM Yachts Founder and Hall of Fame sailor, Bob Johnstone, sees it.
“A winning course addresses the now realities of wind, tide, your capabilities, and what competitors are doing… ignoring preconceived notions of what might have worked in the past.”
It takes a different mindset to breakaway from conventional thinking about boat design to create something new and better. Here’s Johnstone at 68 years old. He’s created 20 or so sailboats that have won Boat of the Year honors. He owned several Dyer 29s but wanted larger, if he was going to give up cruising his beloved J/42 sailboat. It had to cruise at 25 knots to outrun waves downsea, not submarine or bowsteer; offer three couples all-weather seating comfort under a hardtop; have fresh air on a bridgedeck with fully-opening windshields and be easy for Mary to operate alone. But, more than anything, “It had to be pretty.” The heavy 35 footers that weren’t pretty or pretty boats that weren’t seaworthy didn’t cut it. He concluded, “Why not create the perfect powerboat? The resulting DNA with a signature look covered by a US Design Patent… now runs through each and every MJM and is the foundation for the new 35z.
So, just what made the 34z so different that it along with succeeding models have earned the special place in the industry MJM Yachts would occupy?
It all started with a fundamental change in how powerboats were made. Stronger, lighter and narrower for greater agility through pre-preg epoxy composite construction, also delivered a significant benefit in operational economy for prospective boat owners.
Given Boston BoatWorks master builder Mark Lindsay’s longstanding expertise in advanced composites, Steve Burke’s abilities as a structural engineer and Doug Zurn’s unequaled eye for design as a marine architect, the first MJM, the 34z got started back in 2002.
More than 200 boats later, the mission is sustained: Create a good looking, safe, seaworthy and comfortable vessel that Bob’s wife, Mary, can handle alone to set a new standard for performance in the large outboard dayboat market.
The new 35z has inherited all the advanced design and construction techniques developed for her predecessors and have had success with, including the use of superior materials such as the considerably more expensive epoxy, CoreCell and Kevlar. Together, these materials make for a stiff, strong, and light structure and one that will have longevity long past other builds. As the technical editor of Soundings commented, “MJMs are built like the Dreamliner, they’ll last for a 100 years or more!”
All MJMs are specifically designed to surpass structural requirements for small craft as set down by industry accepted ISO standards. The MJM 50z and 40z are built and Certified to the highest rating for seaworthiness available, ISO Category “A” Ocean and are the only two Down East style yachts of any size to do so. This means dealing with wave heights of 23 feet (7 meters) and winds of Force 9 (41-47 knots). The 35z is also built to Category “A” structural and stability standards, although no vessels under 40-feet in length, can be certified higher than ISO Category B “Offshore”.
Advanced engineering, using the latest CAD technology, pinpoints critical load, stress and strain areas for the builder to reinforce. MJM behavior in a seaway is dramatically improved by reducing the mass of fiberglass superstructure above deck for greater stability. MJMs have a very low VCG (Vertical Center of Gravity). And, MJMs are unique in having a hull form which slices through waves better and rolls less without pounding has less drag for better fuel efficiency, due to a 3.5:1 Length to Beam Ratio on the waterline… compared to the more typical 2.7-3.0 Ratio.
The very heart and soul of every MJM build is in the mold tooling and an advanced process using pre-preg Epoxy-impregnated Kevlar and E-glass composite construction, with glass fibers running in unbroken strands piece from bow to stern. Add the CoreCell foam and the inner skin of E-glass, the hull grid and stringers, and encapsulated bulkheads after which the hull is then vacuum bagged.
The final step in this unique lamination process is to take the molded parts and post cure them for 24 hours at 145° F, thus allowing the chemical reaction to bond more thoroughly. This avoids many post cure laminate problems such as print through.
The industry leading advances of the new MJM 35z has propelled this high quality, luxury outboard to occupy a very special place in boating. Her profile, size, power, sophisticated systems with optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer, will make the 35z a versatile, impressive performer to the discriminating yachtsman.
Besides her pedigree, the 35z presents a wide variety of features that will make her much more than a family day/weekender boat. To begin with, and unlike the motorcycle-like center consoles in her size range, she is more like the family car, fully enclosed for all-weather use including glass sides or roll ups. And if required, a one-zipper, yacht bimini completes the package.
Furthering the point, her deck area is more than suitable for guests, on-board entertaining and dining, and for ease of getting on and off, a walk-thru transom and side boarding doors. Below decks? Totally civilized with a large head, galley, and V-berth forward.
For ease of operation, the 35z is provided with the latest in intuitive marine technology including advanced electronics, and joystick docking, and GPS hovering… enabling even beginners a short learning curve and sense of confidence.
For those seeking a Yacht Tender, 35z is the perfect answer to tow, or if the mother ship is big enough, stored on deck. With her fully enclosed capability, there will be no more soaked guests as in a RIB. With optional bridle, 35z will be an attractive addition to any mega yacht.
The 35z is also unique in being Eco-Smart ™. With energy efficiency and great fuel economy, less hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and various gasses among other pollutants that can be released into the atmosphere. Using vacuum bagging and epoxy all but eliminates any volatile organic compounds (VOC) usually associated with traditional lay up and curing procedures of fiberglass boat construction.
To bring things full circle, I have another quote; this one from financier Malcolm Forbes, to wrap things up: “It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem. “ As far as MJM is concerned, from its inception as a brand ready to claim its place among the very best in the industry, the MJM team has never taken the easy route. Instead, they have worked through any and all situations that would prevent it from being the very best. And with launch of the 35z, the point is well taken. Very well taken.