MJM 35Z: Some Sweet Rig

The supercharged, outboard-powered and high-tech MJM 35z is somthing to behold.

Trust MJM Yachts to get the outboard thing right the first time. True to form, the team of Bob Johnstone, naval architect Doug Zurn, and the craftsmen at Boston BoatWorks (BBW) sweated out the details of hanging a pair of supercharged 300-hp Mercury Verado four-strokes onto the transom of a super-strong, super-light, relatively narrow (3.5:1 length-to-beam), modified deep-V hull, and they did the hard number-crunching to make her static and dynamic balances work. The hull’s sharp entry, delicately rockered forefoot, Carolina bow flare, lifting strakes, hard chines, and 19.7-degree running bottom (the after third of her length) blend to produce a shape with all-around good manners, both at rest and underway.

The sophisticated, precision-oriented BBW composite construction system brings together pre-preg epoxy resin, E-glass fabric, Kevlar cloth, and  Core-Cell foam core of various densities sequentially in vacuum-bagged molds and curing ovens to produce light hulls with monolithic strength. It showed on our sea trial in late September, as our test boat sliced through  two- to three-foot seas at speeds over 30 knots without shudder or shake. She rolled gently while drifting side-to in beam seas, but for ultimate comfort, MJM Yachts can fit the 35z with a Seakeeper 3 gyrostabilizer that nestles neatly below the sole between the helm and companion seats.

The seas off Annapolis on test day didn’t challenge her very much. She can take much more. Like the other MJMs below 40 feet, (29z, 34z and 36z) the 35z is certified CE Category B Offshore, the highest ISO rating for seaworthiness for vessels of her size. One indication of her thoughtful design considerations are the  sturdy grab handles everywhere one might reach in a seaway, including overhead in the salon.

In fact, our test boat felt like a big runabout, accelerating easily and loping along comfortably, with the big engines purring at sound levels low enough for easy conversation with our host, Ken Comerford of North Point Yacht Sales. The hull has no bad speeds, rising onto plane without bow rise and running efficiently from 12 to 30 knots. That’s a huge range available for cruising. Only at speeds above 30 does increasing
skin friction begin to take a modest toll on fuel consumption.

MJM 35z
37′ 11″
Beam: 11′
Draft: 21″/32″ (engine up/down)
Weight: 13,279 lb (half load)
Fuel: 250 gal
Water: 58 gal
Power: Twin 300-hp Mercury Verado outboards
Base Price: $595,000 (w/many useful options available)
Contact: North Point Yacht Sales: Annapolis; Portsmouth, Va.;;

The fundamentals of running the 35z is easy to learn with smoothly working controls and a big stainless helm while good sight lines and the hull’s excellent balance make accelerating and carving turns effortless. That said, there are some basics to absorb in the digital throttle-shift levers, the joystick for low-speed maneuvering, and the automatic trim controls of Mercury’s Active Trim for the engines and ZipWake Dynamic automatic transom interceptors (instead of trim tabs) to adjust pitch and roll. Both are sophisticated GPS-based systems with manual overrides. Another GPS function is the Mercury Skyhook, interfaced with the joystick software to hold the 35z in a fixed position, which is especially handy for single-handed docking maneuvers. With time on the water, the 35z will teach an attentive skipper to fine-tune her performance in a variety of conditions.

Topside, the 35z is open to many missions. First, it’s easy to come aboard from a floating dock through cockpit side doors, port and starboard. The combined pilothouse/salon is open, bright, and airy, set at the same level as the cockpit. Forward windows open completely for a breeze, with an optional electric adjustment. Side windows can be roll-down Strataglass or tinted, sliding safety glass. The pedestal helm seat to starboard and companion seat to port swivel sideways and lower to extend the settees that lie alongside immediately aft. They can even swivel another ninety degrees to convert the settees into bunks, with a privacy curtain to convert the area to a guest cabin. For entertaining and meals, a folding pedestal teak table fits into a socket in the sole. There are also table sockets in the cockpit and the forward cabin as well. The aft end of each settee can accommodate a range of options, including a refrigerator, icemaker or grill to port and an aft-facing seat with storage on either side including space for a portable cooler.

An island unit at the transom can hold a stern seat with storage beneath. To either side of the transom seat is an open walkway with a sturdy, locking gate leading to a full-width swim platform around the engines. With no engines, transmissions or shafts beneath the sole, there is huge storage space available, plus easy access to wiring and plumbing. An optional Westerbeke 3.5 kW genset fits under the cockpit.

Accommodations below are well-suited for a couple to cruise for a weekend or a week. The forward cabin includes a galley to port with a single burner, sink, microwave, and abundant storage, an enclosed head with shower to starboard, a hanging locker, and forward seven-foot V-berths with the socket for the table and an insert to convert to a double. Seven portlights and overhead hatches provide light and ventilation. Interior finish is classic Herreshoff—white paneling, teak and holly sole, and cherry wood joinery. An optional 16,000 BTU MarineAir HVAC system is available. Other cruising amenities include space for a pair of bicycles belowdecks and stainless steel racks on the cabin top for kayaks or paddleboards. With her shallow draft, she can visit sandbars, and her eight-foot ten-inch vertical clearance will allow her to fit under low bridges. She could comfortably cover the entire Chesapeake’s Captain John Smith National Historic Trail witout ducking.

Oh yes, the 35z will fish. The aft edge of the cabin top and the transom seat can mount up to ten rods in rocket launchers, with six more receptacles in the gunwales. The transom seat can hold a 35-gallon livewell and a bait cutting board. A pair of 33-inch insulated fishboxes lie below the cockpit sole, and instead of a grill, the unit at the aft end of the port settee can fit five tackle drawers.

Lovely, efficient, durable, supremely able, versatile, carefully thought-out . . . we run out of superlatives on MJM Yachts. The 35z sets a new standard for mid-size cruisers. Go see her.