It’s not often that we see a new boat from Japan, so the Zen 24 immediately caught my attention. This pocket cruiser is designed by circumnavigator Yoh Aoki, who left Osaka, Japan, in 1971 aboard Ahodori 2, his 21-foot, plywood, home-built ketch.
The Zen 24, from Aoki Yachts, is meant to be a comfortable, sweet-sailing fiberglass boat for a small family, and it delivers on its design brief. Aoki, a practicing Zen Buddhist, kept several design principles in balance when designing this boat: speed, steering, comfort under way, and seaworthiness. The result is a sturdy, fairly quick boat that’s easily driven; the simple deck layout is made for shorthanded sailing. The fractional rig has a 100-percent roller-furling jib, and the split backstay allows easy access to the open transom.
The cabin is surprisingly roomy, with four bunks/settees lining the hull, a small table, and an enclosed head, a rarity on a boat this size. Consider the sink and cooktop, both available options, if you’re looking for a weekender. The finish—bare fiberglass with wood trim—is somewhat spartan but should prove easy to maintain.
The Zen 24 ($46,000) can be powered with an outboard, but a neat option, which was featured on the boat in Annapolis, is the Clean e-Marine’s Thoosa inboard electric engine. This engine can easily push the boat along at hull speed and the batteries can be recharged at the dock, with solar panels, or even through prop rotation while under sail.