Arthur DeFever was the prolific designer behind a whole generation of well built, dearly loved DeFever Yachts. But Art DeFever didn’t start out designing long-range private yachts. He was a naval architect who designed commercial “bait boats.” These trawlers were nicknamed “tuna clippers,” and were used to chase migrating tunas thousands of miles from San Diego, Calif. They had to be tough, fuel-efficient vessels that could refrigerate large quantities of fish and be at sea three months or longer.
Eventually DeFever’s trawlers caught the eye of the Offshore Cruising Society, and he was hired to design a series of 38 to 54-foot seaworthy cruising powerboats. The result was what became known as DeFever motor yachts: deep draft, full-displacement, diesel-powered cruisers that could travel long distances reliably and comfortably.
In the ‘60s, DeFever yachts were made of wood and/or steel in Japan and Mexico. Then, in the’70s when fiberglass hulls became the rage, DeFever motor yacht designs switched from single diesel power to twin engines, but retained the displacement hull. The mid-‘80s ushered in the “need for speed” and once again DeFever yacht designs bowed to customer requests. The new version of DeFever motor yachts for sale had semi-displacement hulls and larger engines to increase speed.
Over the next several decades, DeFever yachts were built in California, Taiwan, China and Florida. By the time DeFever passed away in 2013, more than 3,800 boats with his instantly recognizable design had been constructed. Here are some of his more popular models and the timeframes in which they were built.
DeFever 49 (1977-89), 56 (2004-Current)
With their high bow, semi-displacement hull, smart interiors and long-range capabilities, the pilothouse models of DeFever motor yachts are ideal for cruising couples. The comfortable salon and large galley/pantry are six steps down from the pilothouse. The 49’s spacious full-beam master stateroom and private en-suite head are located beneath the pilothouse; the guest stateroom is forward. Teak cabinetry adds warmth to the interiors. Twin 135hp Lehman diesels cruise at 7–8 knots. The DeFever 56 has more expansive living areas: the master stateroom accommodates a walk-around king bed and has a walk-in wardrobe. The VIP stateroom has an island queen bed and private head access. A third stateroom can handle twin beds or be arranged as an office. Twin 420hp Cat diesels cruise at 8–9 knots.
DeFever 41, 43 and 48
The most popular DeFever trawlers, or as he called them “cruisers” are versatile, heavily built, roomy boats with a low profile. The used DeFever yachts for sale are flush-deck boats with aft and side decks on one level, and sliding doors from the salon to the decks. The aft galley –– a DeFever yacht’s signature –– provides easy access to the outside. The 41 and 43 DeFever motor yachts have two staterooms, and the 48 has three. The teak throughout showcases the woodworking skills of the Asian boat builders and help add life and light to DeFever’s interiors. The 41 and 43 models are powered by a single 210hp Cummins diesel or twin 135hp Lehman diesels, and twin 120hp Lehman diesels respectively and cruise at 7–8 knots. The 48 DeFever yachts for sale use Cat 375hp diesels and cruise at 12–14 knots.
Offshore Cruiser 1981–2007
The gigantic aft deck area and two roomy staterooms may explain why more than 150 of this DeFever motor yacht model were sold. Or, it could be the flush-deck design with aft and side decks on the same level and the salon’s glorious windows that provide breathtaking views. The layout is a masterpiece of comfort: enormous aft deck area enhances entertaining, roomy staterooms (2) and plenty of storage space make living aboard a pleasure. Add to that a walk-in engine room with near standing headroom along with twin 135hp Lehman diesels to get you where you want to go at 7–8 knots, and you’ve got a real winner.
POC (Performance Offshore Cruiser) 1986–90
DeFever 53 POC, 57 POC
These rugged, semi-displacement, long-range DeFever motor yachts were originally outfitted with Cat 375hp diesels that cruise at 12 knots (15–16 knots top). The galley/salon, pilothouse and aft deck are all on a single level. Full-beam owner’s stateroom has a walk-around bed and en-suite head. The pilothouse has access to both side decks, and there’s standing headroom in the engine room. What’s interesting is DeFever yacht builds differed even within the same model. For example, two 57 DeFever models were constructed with V-drives and an aft engine room, and six wide-body models were built with no side decks.
- Designer: Naval architect Arthur DeFever
- Size: 41 to 90 feet
- Type: Motor yachts, trawlers, offshore cruisers
- Models: Trawler, Pilothouse, Offshore Cruiser, Performance Offshore Cruisers
- Hulls types: Semi-displacement and displacement
If you’re searching for a comfortable boat with traditional lines, sturdy construction and versatile layouts for extended cruising, check out our yachts for sale listings of DeFever motor yachts for sale. But hurry. DeFever yachts sell fast because cruisers love them.