Throughout their boating lives, Mike and Linda Wiens have moved between sail and power with ease. The Lewis Center, Ohio, couple have owned an 18-foot Marquis runabout, a Sea Ray Sundancer, a Carver 36 and a 34-foot C&C sloop. The boat dearest to their adventurous hearts was a 41-foot Lord Nelson cutter, a husky, capable double-ender.
“We sailed Fair Wind all over Lake Erie for 10 years while we were based out of Port Clinton, Ohio,” Mike says. “Five years ago, we sailed her to Buffalo, through the Erie Canal and then down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to our homeport of Punta Gorda in Florida.”
Winters in the Bahamas followed, along with passages up and down the west coast of Florida, and throughout the Keys and Dry Tortugas.
“We are cruisers. We like the adventure of going new places and meeting new people,” says Mike, who is 65. “As we aged, the sailboat became a bit too much work. We were seeking an easier cruising lifestyle.”
So, after years of sailboat cruising, the couple switched back to power. “I still miss that sailboat,” Mike says, “but it was time to move on.”
The couple’s latest boat, Changes in Attitudes, is a 1988 DeFever 44 Ocean Cruiser, a twin-engine, full-displacement, aft-cabin trawler. They purchased her in December 2018 through the DeFever owners’ forum, one of several forums they joined to do pre-purchase research. The price for the boat was in the $150,000 to $200,000 range.
“After reading everything I could, I decided this model fit our needs the best,” Mike says. “We liked the design, and the build quality seemed as good, if not better, than other makes and models.”
The interior space, walkaround deck for line handling, aft cabin with queen bed and separate shower, indoor helm station, galley on the living level and walk-in engine room were all pluses. “This boat also had a watermaker and 1,500 watts of solar panels, and it was stabilized,” he adds.
Power comes from a pair of Ford Lehman SP135 diesel engines, which deliver a full-displacement hull cruising speed of 8 to 8.5 knots, running at 1700 rpm.
“Top end is 2500 rpm, maybe 11 knots and turning a lot of dead brontosaurus into noise,” Mike says. Fuel consumption is 4 to 4.5 gph, or around 2 mpg, according to his figures.
Mike replaced the original navigation gear with a slate of Raymarine electronics for extended cruising: a 12-inch chartplotter and radar, an Evolution Autopilot, a pair of p70 multifunction displays and Class B AIS.
In December 2019, the boat was settled in Punta Gorda for the winter, conveniently docked behind the Wienses’ house. And there were a few entries in the logbook.
“Our first cruise was from our home base in Punta Gorda to Sandusky, Ohio, where we visited our children and grandchildren,” Mike says. “In March 2020, we are planning a two- to three-month cruise to the Bahamas.”
The Wienses also have a great support group of owners and businesses to keep the boat running well.
“We are members of the Mariners boating club in Punta Gorda and the DeFever owners’ group,” Mike says. “So far, I have been able to keep up with maintenance, repairs and upgrades myself. Stabilized Marine in Fort Lauderdale has been helpful, and I get a lot of great advice from the DeFever owners’ group.”
Now, the islands the couple visited in their beloved Lord Nelson 41 are beckoning. That includes the Keys, the Exumas, the Bahamian Out Islands and, maybe, Cuba.
On moving to a powerboat, Mike says, “We should have done this sooner.”
The DeFever 44 is a two-stateroom, twin-engine trawler with an amidships pilothouse/salon, a galley up and an open lounge deck aft. The flybridge has a centerline helm station and plenty of seating. Full-length handrails and wide side decks make for safe passage while underway. The engine room features twin 120-hp Ford Lehman diesels and has space for tankage, generators, ancillary equipment and a workbench.
The DeFever 44 is one of West Coast designer Arthur DeFever’s most successful creations. In the early 1960s, DeFever was encouraged to come up with a cruising trawler similar to his commercial fishing boats. He produced a series of deep-draft, displacement-hull trawlers meant for long-distance cruising. The DeFever 44, a refinement of those earlier models, enjoyed a 20-plus-year production run beginning in 1981, with around 100 boats built.
This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue.