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October 24th 2019. By Zuzana Prochazka.

New Yachts Debuting at FLIBS for 2020

Two anticipated, 50-foot range yachts will be debuting at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show for 2020.

The world’s most diverse in-water international boat show comes to Fort Lauderdale around Halloween each year and it’s a spectacle worthy of a multi-day visit. The comprehensive nature of this show means you can see everything from sunglasses to superyachts and from engines to electronics. This year, the show (also called FLIBS) is celebrating its 60th anniversary so many boat builders are taking advantage of the festivities and rolling out new models that will have your head snapping around.

Yin & Yang at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

Below are two takes on a popular boating sweet spot in the 50-foot range that you really must make time for during the five-day show. Aesthetically, they’re quite opposite but both deliver comfort, speed and a spectacular day on the water.

Wallytender 48

48 Wallytender

Making its US debut at the 2019 show is the uber-modern, James Bond-esque 48 Wallytender by the iconic Wally brand, now owned by Italy’s Ferretti Group.

If used as a tender, your superyacht had better be truly super to use this sleek 48-footer as your runabout. Propulsion includes twin Volvo Penta IPS 650 inboard engines for a total of 960-hp that reaches 38 knots at wide-open-throttle and a 32-knot cruise at which you can expect to travel about 300 nautical miles between fuel stops.

Loaded with on-deck features and an interior cabin that includes a double berth, the 48 Wallytender is really an excellent standalone yacht in its own right. Board via the aft swim platform or on the passarelle that doubles as a deep, five-step swim ladder. Then choose where to lounge. There are two double sunpads aft and a large one forward. Amidships is a dinette that will accommodate eight for dinner, a galley module and of course, the center console helm. This command pod has an abbreviated hardtop, twin multifunction displays and engine throttles and joystick drive at your fingertips.

Luca Bassani, the founder of Wally Yachts, leaves his mark on the 48 Wallytender with innovative touches that will make people on the dock point and stare. A section of the plumb bow opens to reveal a sleek anchoring system, which puts the anchor forward and away from the bow to minimize any chance of dings. When closed, the bow is flush so you’d never guess there’s an anchor hiding in there. The whole thing is a pushbutton affair where the driver can drop and set the anchor without disturbing the guests.

The bulwarks on the aft hull sections open down toward the waterline to extend the cockpit when at anchor. A dozen guests can easily party aboard for an afternoon and not feel crowded. However, the boat is so versatile that a couple can easily weekend on it given that there’s a full head and shower and an impressive galley aboard. And you can’t beat the view from that on-deck kitchen. Just, cast, catch and cook.

The 48 Wallytender is a nice compilation of features but it’s her design that will have you thinking about the design later over cocktails. With a slightly higher freeboard and single-level deck the boat feels safe while looking amazing. The company kept the iconic Wally aesthetic and somehow added sexiness to this sensuous day boat that’s so much more.

MJM 53Z Express Cruiser

If European minimalism isn’t your thing and you’d rather appreciate the fine lines of a Downeaster, put the MJM 53Z on your must-see list.

The third outboard-powered express cruiser in the company’s powerboat lineup, the MJM 53Z is powered by quad 350-hp Mercury Verado or 400-hp Mercury Racing outboards. Expect hair-raising performance of 50 mph top speed and 0-20 mph in seven seconds. Outboard engines have several advantages including a shallow draft, easy maintenance, installation and repower, more room in the interior of the boat and a smooth ride. With Mercury’s Skyhook dynamic positioning feature, you can keep station automatically while waiting for bridge tenders or a space at the fuel dock to open up.

Company owner, Bob Johnstone, is best known for the J-boat brand of sailboats. He built the first MJM for his wife, Mary, and it was so in-demand that he launched a second company named Mary Johnstone’s Motorboats (MJM). The slippery Doug-Zurn-designed hull has good stability at high speeds and a light epoxy composite construction for good fuel efficiency.

On deck, the experience is clean and comfortable with single-level living. Below, there are two cabins standard with the master in the bow and the guest cabin aft, both with ensuite heads. The social area divides into the climate-controlled interior salon that’s separated from the spacious cockpit by a glass door. A Seakeeper gyrostabilizer is standard on MJM models and it eliminates 93% of the roll so no one needs to feel seasick or fatigued ever again.

The lines of the MJM series are classic downeast with a gleaming blue hull, a low cabintop and a graceful sheer. This is a gentleman’s yacht for sure but if you want to fish before you entertain, they’ll even install rod holders and a live well for you.

Something for Everyone

Whether you’re looking for a slick avant garde Italian tender fit for the jet set, or are nostalgic for the elegant lines of a Northeast classic, you can visit both at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. These are just two of the hundreds of designs you’ll find at the docks so bring good walking shoes so you can visit all the motoryachts, center console fishing boats, trawlers, tenders and powercats. All it takes is time.



Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.