VIDEO: Industry mourns noted trawler designer

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Trawler designer and naval architect Arthur DeFever died on April 10. He was 95.

Rex Bettis, a DeFever-designed yachts dealer, said DeFever’s wife confirmed the designer’s death. Bettis is a broker with Texas-based Jay Bettis & Co. Yacht Sales, a Grand Banks and DeFever dealer. DeFever’s wife told Bettis they planned to go off shore for a memorial, but did not specify when.

DeFever lived in San Diego and first got involved in design when he began to create commercial tuna clippers from 80 to 181 feet, he said in a video interview with PassageMaker Magazine after he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the publication’s 2008 Trawler Fest.

The award, which he said was a “total surprise,” was presented by PassageMaker editor-in-chief John Wooldridge. PassageMaker and Soundings Trade Only are owned by Active Interest Media.

Click play to watch the video tribute.

During the video, DeFever described how he came to change his design and the industry along with it.

“Some sailboaters saw these trawlers I had designed and saw them going in all types of weather and sea conditions, so they came and asked me if I could design a pleasure yacht on one of those hulls, a trawler hull. I said yes,” DeFever explained in the video. “They liked those, so they built six of them to start with. That’s what started it in the pleasure boat field.”

In the early 1960s, DeFever joined the Offshore Cruising Society, according to DeFever’s website. At the time, long-range cruising in private yachts was virtually always done in sailboats. His friends suggested that he design a seaworthy cruising powerboat that would have sufficient range to make the long runs up and down the Pacific coast into Mexico or Alaska. So DeFever designed several pleasure craft for that organization in the 38- to 54-foot range. These were deep-draft, full-displacement, diesel-powered vessels that were capable of prolonged Pacific passages.

At last count, DeFever said he had designed more than 3,800 boats.

— Reagan Haynes

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