“Hang on,” warned Peter Johnstone, the chairman of MJM Boats, as he nailed the throttles all the way forward on his new 46-foot MJM 4 off Newport, Rhode Island.
And WOW! The acceleration was fast, almost explosive, as the twin 600-hp V12 Mercury Verado outboards shot it forward. It not only was fast, but it also was smooth, seamless, and quiet.
“The 4 is the fastest, and quietest, boat we’ve made,” Bob Johnstone, Peter’s father, told me a few days later at the Newport boat show, where the 4 was named Best New Powerboat. Bob Johnstone founded MJM in 2002 with a 34 designed by Doug Zurn.
I had been on the boat with Peter and six other people on a picture-postcard-perfect day on Narragansett Bay. We pulled out of the marina at historic Fort Adams (built in 1824) and headed up the bay, under the Pell Bridge. We didn’t take any speed numbers, because there were so many people on board, but several of us took turns driving.
(Mercury’s figures show that the MJM 4 tops out at 59.2 mph at 6426 rpm. At a relaxed cruising speed of 18.9 mph, the range is 555 miles, meaning you certainly won’t have to worry about refueling on a day’s outing.)
We all agreed that the boat was quiet, fast, solid and fun to drive. The hull, designed by Zurn and an MJM team, has a fine entry, an 18.5-degree deadrise at the transom and a slender 3.5 to 1 length-to-beam ratio. It’s built in MJM’s new factory in Washington, North Carolina, and the hull is laid up with vacuum-infused proprietary epoxy composites and e-glass, with post curing. It’s relatively lightweight and strong; it seemed like all the other MJMs I’ve driven over the years – another MJM modern classic.
But the MJM 4 is a new kind of boat. Peter Johnstone bought the company two years ago from his father, and moved it south, out of New England. He moved the style out of New England a bit also, creating what the company calls a modern Carolina Downeast style. He said he wanted to “bring the brand to a much larger audience.”
The 4 is a luxury family day boat, with seating for at least four adults on the open bow. It also is a more than capable weekend (or longer) cruiser, with a V berth below to sleep two adults plus another cabin a bit aft that could sleep two more. The head, with an enclosed shower, carries a full 6’5” of headroom. A couple, or a small family, could easily spend a week in the Bahamas, the Keys, or Nantucket on this boat.
The pilothouse is different for MJM; it has the company’s first galley-up layout, with the galley running all along the port side. A small dinette settee and removable teak table are to starboard. The helm station on the starboard side has two luxurious seats (MJM calls them “business class,” with good reason) facing an elegant, exceptionally clean and user-friendly helm.
The 24-inch Edson wheel is destroyer size and boasts a varnished teak rim. I found everything totally intuitive while driving. Two Garmin touchscreen chart plotters are in easy reach, on both sides of a Mercury VesselView screen. The joystick and bow thruster are on the dash with the Merc engine controls just where your right hand wants them to be. The boat has Humphree trim interceptors.
The three front windows can be opened by pushing a button. You have to open the one on the port side to go forward to the bow seating area (there’s another button to press there if you need to open it to come back). The forward windows on each side of the helm also slide back, for more ventilation. All the windows on the MJM 4 are large; visibility all around is excellent. So is the air flow; you also can open hatches overhead.
On this day we also had the back of the pilothouse open, so there was nothing blocking the view aft. You can enclose it if the weather turns, or you want privacy. The entire pilothouse can be climate-controlled; there’s a Westerbeke 6.5kW genset mounted under the cockpit. (There’s also a Quick gyro stabilizer down there.)
Aft, the cockpit is another enjoyable social zone, with L-shaped seating along the port side and part of the transom. It has a grill, sink and fridge. You can board the boat via a gate in the starboard side of the cockpit, or through another door opening from the transom.
The deck is all one level, from the cockpit to the helm. It’s easy to move around the boat, at the dock or underway.
The new MJM 4 has an air draft of just 9’ 8”, so it can slide under the bridges in the Southeast or along the Great Loop.
The two big 600-hp V12 Mercury Verado outboards on this boat are an upgrade. Standard power is three 300-hp V8 Mercury Verado outboards.
Base price with the twin 600s is $1,523,955.
Base price with the three 300s is $1,419,955.
Those prices represent a $104,000 premium for the extra 300 horses with the twin 600s.
MJM says that Volvo DPI stern drives will be another power option next year.
Specs.: LOA: 46’8”; Beam: 12’; Draft: 3’; Disp.: 17,730 lbs.; Fuel: 475 gals.; Water: 90 gals.; Power: 3×300-hp V8 Mercury Verado outboards. Read more: