Just under the Tobin Bridge and a stone’s throw from downtown Boston lies Boston BoatWorks (BBW). The builder got its start 23 years ago crafting custom racing sailboats. Another sailboat builder from Rhode Island approached BBW about the possibility of building a one-off powerboat for him and his wife, Mary, to cruise aboard. The rest, as they say, is history.
Video: MJM 43z and Boston Boatworks
Video produced by John V. Turner
The customer was, of course, Bob Johnstone. And his little one-off would blossom into one of the largest Down East brands in the country: MJM Yachts. MJM and BBW have partnered to build more than 260 boats at a current pace of about 30 per year. This successful, symbiotic relationship has allowed BBW to thrive and, in fact, grow—filling a recently expanded 60,000-square-foot facility with 145 employees.
Maybe it’s Boston’s rich history that somehow feels more tangible when school is in session. Maybe it’s that crisp air that puts you in the mood for a hot dog at a ball game. Whatever the reason, there was a lot to daydream about as I took the builder’s newest model, the 43z, for a sea trial last fall. She skirted the cityscape at a top speed of 44.5 knots and headed for open water.
She pops out of the hole and onto plane like a fighter jet. Her 18-degree transom deadrise that flares out to form an incredibly sharp bow allows her to track like she’s on rails while cutting waves like a bully in the cafeteria lunch line.
“Her LCG [Longitudinal Center of Gravity] is 59 percent aft,” explains cofounder and co-owner of BBW Scott Smith. “This allows for reserved buoyancy in the bow; our bow is like a balloon that’s being held underwater.”
We ran around a half dozen of the islands that make up the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Sightlines all around the boat were excellent, which allowed us to easily keep tabs on an MJM 35z photo boat that was following us like a persistent younger sibling. Together the boats slalomed through the islands. I didn’t want to give up the helm. This boat is that fun to drive.
The only thing that pried my attention away from the 43’s drivability were the picturesque islands surrounding us. There were many points where the city skyline disappeared altogether from view.
Of the 34 islands that make up the National Recreation Area, 19 can only be accessed via private boat. I had a sudden urge to explore them all, and the 43 would be just the boat for that kind of mission. She has a 24-inch draft with the engines (triple 350-hp Mercury Verados) up and 38-inch draft with them down, which would allow her to easily nose close to one of the islands. (The largest MJM to date, a 53z is due to launch late this spring, so I’m holding out hope that I’ll get the chance to explore those islands on an MJM yet.)
As the photographer fired off shots of the 43 near Boston Harbor Lighthouse, I took the opportunity to step below. Johnston and MJM—as well as designer Doug Zurn’s—passion for sailboats is apparent and obvious. From the teak-and-holly sole to the handrails and modest (by today’s standards) ports, you feel like you’re aboard a modern sailboat. The master forward is the obvious accommodation of choice, but I’d welcome the chance to be a guest in the starboard salon seating that converts to a double berth, complete with privacy curtain.
A hot dog, a ball game at Fenway and an overnight on an MJM? That sounds like a winning combination.
MJM 43z Specifications:
Displ.: 17,949 lbs.
Fuel: 540 gal.
Water: 100 gal.
Standard Power: 3/350-hp Mercury Verado outboards
Cruise Speed: 25 knots
Top Speed: 44.5 knots
Price: Upon request