The MJM 36z Downeast has a profile that lingers in the workboat realm while belying some forward-thinking design.
The first time I saw an MJM 34z I fell in love with it. I wanted it. And I fell in love with it again every time I encountered one at a boat show. For me, it was the perfect boat come to life—conservatively stylish, exuding both quality and seaworthiness, and a real pleasure to pilot.
The reason the MJM 36z Downeast is so efficient and sporty is that she’s light. She’s just 13,100 pounds (half load), and the reason she’s so light is her construction. She’s made with the latest in high-strength, lightweight composites—Kevlar, carbon, and Corecell—assembled using (here quoting the MJM brochure), “a proprietary wet-epoxy pre-preg vacuum molding and oven post cure method.”
For starters, the MJM 36z is fast—I measured a top speed of 32 knots. At that WOT figure, she gets nearly 1.5 mpg, but throttle her back to 3000 rpm and you’ll get 22 knots and 2.11 mpg. Wheel response is immediate and precise, and she’ll heel over and carve a grab-onto-something-quick turn like a center console. And if you order the optional ($22,500) joystick control and electronic steering, you can dock her so deftly, you won’t even need to order the Side Power bow thruster, which will save you $8,475.
One key to all this is stern drives—Volvo Penta’s Ocean X drives, to be exact. You simply could not get the combination of response, acceleration, maneuverability, and efficiency on this boat without stern drives. As for maintenance, note that these are Volvo’s Ocean X drives, which employ a titanium ceramic coating that Volvo claims is four times more corrosion-resistant than conventional coatings.
There’s a draft of just 2 feet 6 inches (props down), and in order cover the props so that swimmers don’t make contact with them, MJM has fitted a big, easy-to-reach platform that extends well aft. To maximize access to the area the 36z is available with a walk-through transom, a $7,950 option and worth every penny. The centerline gate provides easy access to the transom, but install the center filler cushion and you have a full-beam transom seat.
Because the four-cylinder D3s are right up against the transom, there’s bonus stowage just ahead of them and under the saloon sole where straight inboards would be. And when you lift that aft bench seat, you’ll find the engines are accessible on three sides, so maintenance and repairs will be easy.
While she breaks a lot of new ground for MJM, the 36z retains key features that have made this builder so successful. A single level from helm to transom reduces the chance of tripping, and the three-side StrataGlass enclosure can be put down to give everyone in the saloon relief from inclement weather or rolled up to let the warm breezes flow through—aided by the two opening windshield panels and a couple of overhead hatches. Sociability is maximized by facing saloon settees and twin pedestal helm seats—Stidds are optional. Cruisers can order a cruising galley group options package, and the island queen layout that replaces the circular forward settee with a bed with a super-cushy eight-inch-thick mattress.