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Used Boat Review - DeFever 49


Some say the two best days for a boat owner are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. Don and Pat Pickworth are still basking in the glow of that first day, when they took possession of their 2002 DeFever 49 Cockpit Motor Yacht in December 2006. That second day, however, is far, far off.


“Our objective at purchase was to own the boat for three to four years, do the cruising we want to do, then sell,” says Pickworth, 64, a Naples, Fla., lawyer. “And that’s still the plan. But right now, the thought of selling her is remote.”

Owning a cruising boat was a long-term dream, says Pickworth, who grew up boating on LakeOntario. His father even built a cabin cruiser for the family. “Weeks and weekends cruising the lake are great memories and provided a base of knowledge and a love of cruising,” he says.

The closest the couple had gotten to the cruising life was flats fishing in the shallows around Naples. Their biggest boat was a 19-footer they used for getting to and from their island summer cottage on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Not many boaters move up by 30 feet, but the DeFever 49 was just too good a fit to pass up. “We knew we wanted a 40- to 45-foot boat with twin engines,” says Pickworth, who’d chartered big powerboats several times in the Caribbean. They saw their first DeFever three years ago and, as Pickworth puts it, “one look told us this was the boat for us. She had much more living space than the other boats we’d looked at. In fact, we both agreed that we have lived in apartments with less space than the DeFever.”

The boat they snapped up was in excellent shape, and the price was $425,000. “It had the features we were looking for,” says Pickworth, “and it was heavily built, with good quality woodwork but not overdone. She’d been well cared for but not fussed with.”

One major selling point was the “split plan” cabin layout, with the master stateroom and the guest quarters at opposite ends of the boat. “We feel that is far more comfortable when we have guests aboard,” says Pickworth. “Everyone has their own space.” Adding a bow thruster was the only major project that needed to be done. “Except for that, it has been just routine maintenance.”

They bought the boat in the Chesapeake Bay region, so they stayed and cruised those waters for a season. But the Great Lakes and the Great Loop beckon. And the Pickworths are sure they’ve got the right boat for the voyage. The DeFever takes rough seas well, although she tends to roll in a beam sea. “She is full displacement and very heavy, so you have the feeling that you have a very substantial boat under you,” says Pickworth.

Power comes from twin 150-hp John Deere diesels, which deliver a cruising speed of 8 knots. Fuel load is 950 gallons. Pickworth’s electronics include a Raymarine chart plotter, radome radar and a Simrad autopilot.

“Because we are still working, most of our use has been three- to five-day cruises,” says Pickworth. “We enjoyed going to Baltimore, Annapolis and St. Michaels, and we still have lots of places we want to go.”

The DeFever has been up on LakeOntario, at Clayton, N.Y., for the summer, and the couple plan to cruise the southern shore of the lake. “We are undecided right now as to whether to take her back to Chesapeake Bay this autumn or keep her up north for the winter,” Pickworth says.

So far, the 49-footer has fulfilled the Pickworths’ vision. “With work, we have not had as much cruising time as we had hoped at this point,” says Pickworth. “But the cruising we have done has been wonderful, and the boat has been everything we had hoped for.”


The DeFever 49 Cockpit Motor Yacht has the look of a long-distance cruiser, with its tall, clipper-style bow and ample freeboard carried well aft beneath a moderate sheer to the cockpit. The side decks are wide, with sturdy rails. The flared bow is designed to shed seas, and the displacement hull has the traditional full keel and protected prop/rudder.

The midships pilothouse/saloon is topped by a flybridge with full helm station and seating for up to eight. The pilothouse is reached from the large, covered aft deck abaft the pilothouse/saloon, which has a full helm station to starboard and side doors, as well as the U-shaped galley aft. The galley is laid out with room for a multiburner stove, full refrigerator and microwave. The location is convenient to the aft deck and flybridge.

The two-stateroom layout comprises a large master cabin aft that takes full advantage of the boat’s 15-foot beam. It’s complete, with a full head (including separate shower), lots of storage and room for a washer/dryer. Stern and side ports provide plentiful light and ventilation. The commodious guest cabin forward is “down” and comes with a large V-berth and adjacent head. The engine room for the twin power plants is amidships, and it’s notable for its size and headroom.


While the smaller DeFever 44 is more easily found on the used-boat market, a little searching reveals a number of 49 Cockpit Motor Yachts scattered around the nation. Prices start at around $400,000. A 2000 model, “ready to go,” was for sale in Texas for $429,500, with twin 135-hp Perkins diesels and a fuel load of 1,000 gallons. The galley has a three-burner stove and side-by-side refrigerator. Full electronics at both helm stations include GPS/plotter, autopilot, radar and speed/depth. Extras range from a cockpit wet bar to an inflatable with outboard — and dedicated wine storage. In Washington, a 2001 model was selling for $399,000, with twin 135-hp Perkins diesels (less than 1,000 hours), a fully enclosed flybridge, hardtop with dinghy storage, stabilizers and an oversized 1,100-

gallon fuel capacity. A 2004 model “in excellent condition” was priced at $475,000 in Florida, with twin 135-hp Perkins diesels and a fuel capacity of 1,000 gallons. The galley has a three-burner stove/oven, and there’s an L-shaped settee/dinette in the saloon. The flybridge is fully enclosed with new canvas.


The DeFever 49 Cockpit Motor Yacht is the work of iconic California designer Arthur DeFever. Many consider DeFever the godfather of trawler yachts because in the 1950s he incorporated trawler features into his designs long before the industry understood the possibilities of offshore power cruising. DeFever based his designs on commercial fishing trawlers, and his recreational cruising boats are known for their beamy displacement hulls with a deep forefoot and full-length keel.

An independent designer, DeFever has used several builders (including CTF in Taiwan) to produce his yachts over the years — around 4,000 in all, from 32-foot weekenders to 225-foot luxury yachts, including sportfishermen and some sailboats. The 49 Cockpit Motor Yacht, introduced in 1999 and still in production, is an extended version of the DeFever 44, the designer’s most popular boat. Ed McKnew, author of “The Powerboat Guide” (, lauds the 49 for its “first-rate accommodations” and “seakindly ride.”


LOA: 48 feet, 10 inches

BEAM: 15 feet

DRAFT: 4 feet, 7 inches

WEIGHT: 54,000 pounds

HULL TYPE: displacement

POWER: twin diesels from 135 to 150 hp

TANKAGE: 950 gallons fuel,

370 gallons water

DESIGNER: Arthur DeFever