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MJM introduce 53z with four 350-hp Mercury Verados; largest outboard-powered express cruiser ever

by Peter A. Janssen 30 Mar 2018 15:25 UTC

MJM is doubling down on outboard power, even on its largest yacht to date. Indeed, Bob Johnstone, the company's founder and CEO, just announced that they will launch a new 53Z, powered by four 350-hp Mercury Verados, in the summer of 2019.

The company says it will be the largest outboard express cruiser ever, and it certainly will accelerate the growing trend to outboard power, even in the high-end cruising market.

The new 53Z, designed by Doug Zurn, is an outgrowth of the MJM 50Z, which is powered by three 435-hp Volvo IPS600 pod drives. I drove the 50Z in Long Island Sound two years ago and topped out at 38.7 knots. Johnstone says the 53Z will hit about 43 knots.

In addition to the higher speed, the 53Z will have a shallower draft than the 50Z (2' 11" vs. 3' 10"); you also can tilt the outboards up if you want to cruise in skinny water or beach the boat for a picnic, and outboards also offer easier maintenance and upkeep. Johnstone said that with the 53Z, "boaters can also enjoy enhanced living space, all-weather cruising and a smoother ride offshore that we all like in a bigger boat."

Zurn, who has his own design studio in Marblehead, Mass., told me he had to redesign the aft end of the deck and boat on the 50Z with new transom tooling for the 53Z. The engine compartment, which used to hold the three Volvos, now will be turned over to extra storage or an optional washer and dryer. He said the 53Z will have the same range as the 50Z, because of an increased fuel capacity (910 gallons vs 520 previously).

The 53Z is just MJM's latest move to outboards. It launched a 34Z with two 300-hp Mercury Verados a year ago. I drove that in Narragansett Bay with my Cruising Odyssey colleague George Day and Johnstone and we topped out at 38.6 knots in a 15-knot chop. Then MJM launched a new 43Z with three 350-hp Verados.

In the past few years, outboards have become more popular across the board. The National Marine Manufacturers Association just released a report saying that outboard sales were up 6.3 percent last year, compared to the year before. The largest gain was in the 300-hp and up segment, which was up 21.1 percent. And the number of outboards sold increased for the sixth straight year.

Specs.: LOA: 56'3"; Beam: 15'0"; Draft: 2'11"; Disp.: 33,669 lbs.; Fuel: 910 gals.; Water: 150 gals.; Power: 4×350-hp Mercury Verados.

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