John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.
MJM 34z Downeast Dayrunner
FEBRUARY 2004
 
   
Length overall 34'0"
Beam 11'0"
Draft 2'5"
Displacement 9,000 lbs
Fuel Capacity 150gals
Water Capacity  60 gals




Kevin Ryman of J/Port Annapolis, the local 34z dealer, takes the wheel. (below) The helm has exceptional visibility all around, custom Stidd chairs, and an Edson teak-trimmed destroyer wheel.

It was on a foggy morning in early autumn that I got my first glimpse of the new 34z DownEast dayrunner at the docks of J/Port in Annapolis. The sleek navy blue hull sported the name Grace across the transom, and that name aptly describes the clean lines and appealing simplicity of the hull as laid out by Doug Zurn, the exceptionally talented yacht designer based in Marblehead, Mass.

The 'Z' in Zurn is the same 'z' in 34z, but the germ of the concept comes from the experience of Bob Johnstone, the marketing genius who in 1977 launched the J/Boat phenomenon with brother Rod, the designer of the fleet of performance sailboats from 22 to 53 feet long.

'I found most of my sailing was racing with the guys,' Bob Johnstone explained in a later chat on the landline. The fact that he and his wife, Mary, have done most of their cruising on their Dyer 29 in recent years, and have trucked it back and forth between Florida and Maine, led him on a quest for the perfect powerboat. 'And what kind of powerboat would it be? It would be prettier, faster, more comfortable, and it would be nice if it were a size that my wife could handle, and still be light enough to be trucked north and south, so you could use it year-round. There wasn't a boat out there that we really wanted, nothing fit the bill, so I thought, Ft. Johnstone, you build sailboats for a living, why don't you do it yourself?"

He teamed up with Zurn, who 'nailed' the design. 'Then came the challenge of finding a builder,' Johnstone recalled. 'We wanted something you can tow behind a dual-axle pick-up. The only way to get under ten thousand pounds was with high-tech construction, and nobody had the experience of building powerboats that way. It's a different way of going about it and a more expensive way, but it comes out stronger and lighter, with a higher quality laminate. We narrowed it down to Mark Lindsay of Boston Boat Works, who'd been building racing sailboats.'

The result is a high-tech hull built with an epoxy/Kevlar/Corecell laminate with solid glass keel and chines, rated strong enough to tackle Force 9 storm conditions, but light enough to tow.

'The fuel efficiency is another big payback,' Johnstone stated. 'We're getting about five-and-a-half gallons per hour on normal usage. On long trips, we were averaging about nine gallons per hour at twenty-four knots. That's about two-and-a half nautical miles per gallon.'

And not just a fuel-efficient ride, but a fun ride as well. It was an interesting experience, running a Maine style boat in Maine style fog there on the Chesapeake with my host, Kevin Ryman, partner in J/Port Annapolis, the local dealer for the 34z. Running out of the mouth of the Severn River, there were no landmarks to be seen, just a couple of workboats dredging for clams and an odd sportfisherman or two. Oddly, the wind was blowing out of the east at 10 to 12 knots and the chop was a good two feet with occasional higher swells. In short, a great day for a boat ride.

The single 420-hp Yanmar diesel provided plenty of power. Despite the sea conditions, we found a comfortable cruising speed at 2500 rpm, which gave us a solid 25 knots. We topped out at 31.1 knots at just a notch over 3000 rpm.

And the ride was amazingly dry. The modified deep-V hull provides a sharp entry, while dual lifting strakes, hard chines and the 18-degree deadrise aft provide stability. The propeller is partially recessed in a pocket and protected by an optional stainless steel prop guard.

The bridge is enclosed in a most ingenious fashion: The aft end has a traditional canvas-and-plastic zip-up door, but each side has a single large sheet of plastic snapped in place, designed to roll up to the hard top, providing good protection for extended-season running when in place, but a wide-open feel when rolled up. Both of the large panes of the windshield open up for additional ventilation.

The helm has an expansive dash for mounting electronic displays, an Edson teak-rimmed destroyer wheel, and an exceedingly comfy Stidd adjustable chair. Visibility from here, either sitting or standing, is exceptional all around. The copilot seat,a matching Stidd chair,has a small chart table. Aft of the helm, comfortable bench seats, upholstered in faux leather, face each other with an adjustable folding table, finished in a brightwork teak, centered in between.

Underneath each of these benches, there's an astonishingly cavernous locker measuring nearly four feet deep, about five feet long, and a foot-and-a-half wide. The entire helm deck lifts up with the aid of hydraulic pistons to reveal the engine compartment. This is separated from the adjacent storage lockers by insulated bulkheads, but separated in such a way that when empty, the lockers provide plenty of room to maneuver to access the engine from each side. Just a brilliant use of space.

The only critique would be that there's no 'day hatch' for routine fluid checks, so you either have to go in through a removable side panel underneath the starboard hatch, which would be rather awkward if you had as much gear in that locker as that vast amount of space calls for, or you have to raise the whole helm deck every time.

A companionway with a louvered teak door leads down to the cabin, where, because of that low-profile on the foredeck, the headroom is not quite high enough for this six-foot-two-inch boater. Still, this is a living space that's as attractive as it is practical. An expansive Corian countertop runs down the port side providing nearly six feet by two feet of work space with all the basic necessities,fridge, sink, single-burner electric cooktop, microwave. Across from the galley there's an enclosed head which doubles as a shower stall.

The dinette in the bow converts to a spacious berth. Yachty cherry ceiling boards line the hull. Paneled cabinet doors forward provide the only access to the chain locker. The overall appearance of the interior, with the varnished teak-and-holly sole, the light cherry cabinetry contrasting with the off-white laminated paneling, and the padded vinyl headliner, makes this a simply elegant living space.

The $350,000 base price includes everything but a generator, AC, bow thruster and autopilot, and teak flooring on the helm deck.