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The 40Z combines stability, seaworthiness, speed and efficiency.

By John Page Williams May 25, 2010

The 40Z from MJM Yachts is like a greyhound: long, lean and fast. It covers miles effortlessly at speeds between the 20s and low 30s. Diesel stern-drive power provides great efficiency, shallow draft and a sporty feel at the wheel. In three-footers, our test boat loped along at 30 mph, with no spray on the windshield at any angle to the seas. With a high-tech design and construction keeping the center of gravity low, the boat carved turns with confident precision. Added kicks are provided by the Axius joystick system. I enjoyed excellent low-speed maneuverability and “virtual anchoring,” aka Skyhook station-keeping.

Detail runs deep. For example, when the time comes to socialize, the helm and companion seats swivel around and drop to the level of the port and starboard lounges in the pilothouse. In fair weather with the aft curtains drawn back, the pilothouse and cockpit — all on the same level — become one continuous family and friends space. Port and starboard cockpit boarding doors facilitate line handling, grocery toting and dockside entertaining.

The forward cabin provides a queen berth that I didn’t have to climb onto, and the abundant stowage is divided between lockers, drawers and shelves for better organization. There’s a bookcase at the berth’s head, complete with sea rail for keeping reading materials secure. I thought the 30-gallon holding tank small for extended cruising, until I noted a VacuFlush head, which minimizes water per flush, thus reserving water for other uses. Opposite the galley, you choose either a lounge with a table that converts to bunk berths or a dinette with a table that converts to a double. Both layouts offer a privacy curtain.

With the stellar efficiency I recorded, the 40Z offers long-legged cruising capability that couples can use for exploring. But this yacht can also entertain for a day more elegantly and comfortably than most cruisers its size.

High Points

• Sophisticated hull form combines stability, seaworthiness, speed and exceptional efficiency.

• E-glass/Kevlar biaxial fabric and Core-Cell foam coring, pre-impregnated with epoxy resin, vacuum-bagged and oven-cured, produces an exceptionally strong but light hull.

• Wood-battened stateroom ceiling is way more posh than is typical vinyl

Low Point

• Relatively narrow hull enhances ride and performance but reduces cabin space compared with most 40-foot cruisers.

• Axius joystick stern-drive system has to work hard to maneuver this long, narrow hull in tight spaces when conditions are snotty.

• Advanced design and construction don't come cheap.

Toughest Competitor

Sabre's 40 Secan ($587,000 with twin 380 hp Zeus pod-drives is two feet shorter, two feet wider and 7,000 pounds heavier. It too combines classic lines with a sophisticated hull design and excellent joystick maneurvering, but it runs slower and burns more fuel. It offers more live-aboard amentitices but won't party as well as the 40z.

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