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Old 19-10-2010, 09:39   #1
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Suitability of Defever-Type Trawler for Atlantic Crossing ?

I live in the UK, but am looking to buy a trawler yacht in the US some time in 2011.
I'd be very grateful for comments on whether, say, A De Fever Passagemaker 41 is capable, ( ignoring fuel capacity in the first instance ), of making an Atlantic crossing, i.e. US - Bermuda - Azores - Portugal.

Having done 50,000+ offshore sea under sail as skipper I am pretty confident that I can decide how seaworthy a particular make of sailboat is, but motor yachts are a completely new proposition for me.

I'd appreciate comments on what factors might render a trawler yacht like a De Fever unsuitable for such a passage. For example :

Stability

Reliability of powerplant - I guess most people, ( like me), would think a single engine set up would be too vulnerable

Structural integrity of hull

Watertightness - here I'm principally thinking of perhaps the large windows in the surerstructure but maybe the possibility of pooping would be another issue

I will be very grateful for any input.

Regards,

Graham
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Old 19-10-2010, 14:51   #2
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if you have not read Robert Beebe,s book on pasagemakers, you must. He relies on paravanes for stability on long crossings and recommends a single power plant. But please, get and read the whole book. It's the Bible.
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Old 19-10-2010, 15:01   #3
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Graham.

I don’t see how one can ignore fuel capacity & range, when considering a transoceanic vessel.
Otherwise, De Fevers are basically good boats, for their intended purpose.

I also suggest you check out Beebe’s “Voyaging Under Power”
Voyaging Under Power - Google Books
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Old 19-10-2010, 21:56   #4
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I have a 44 Defever with old fashioned naturally aspirated Perkins engines. I t a very sea worthy boat and has Naiad stabilizers. I would take it across if I were so disposed. You can buy a fuel bladder like the military uses. This boat is heavy and well built.
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Old 20-10-2010, 02:46   #5
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Thanks for these responses - I shall certainly get a copy of Voyaging under Power.

I put the issue of fuel / range on one side initially because I was conscious that the tanks as built in would not have sufficient capacity. But I reasoned that bladders or similar could provide a solution if the boat itself was up to the job.

The longest leg would be 1900 NM to the Azores. At say 3GPM and 7 KN speed that would require 814 gallons. Allow say an extra 20% margin means 1000 gallons. Quite a tall order and a serious study of stowage and effect on stability would have to be undertaken before making a decision.

Graham
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Old 20-10-2010, 06:26   #6
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We live and cruise in a rebuilt steel shrimp boat with a 8/71 DD engine, 1000 sq ft of living space, 3000 gls of fuel, 2000 gals of water, 1000 sq ft of deck space, and built like a Panzer tank.
Once we figure out the stabilizers and the cats say it's OK, we will try some open ocean crossings. Right now we are up and down the east coast and headed for the Carib.
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Old 20-10-2010, 08:17   #7
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... I reasoned that bladders or similar could provide a solution if the boat itself was up to the job.

The longest leg would be 1900 NM to the Azores. At say 3GPM and 7 KN speed that would require 814 gallons. Allow say an extra 20% margin means 1000 gallons. Quite a tall order and a serious study of stowage and effect on stability would have to be undertaken before making a decision.

Graham
Indeed, 1000 gal seems, to me, a lot of fuel to carry on a boat built with about 400 gal of tankage.
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Old 20-10-2010, 10:42   #8
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I agree Gord. At first sight 1000 gallons does seem like quite a lot. However….

Most of the de Fever 41's seem to have a fuel capacity around 450 gallons and water tanks for about 300 gallons. Total tankage of 750.

I believe that water weighs about 10% more than diesel, but for the moment let's assume it's even.

For the purposes of the trip and for future use one could anticipate fitting a desalinator and carrying only 50 gallons of water.

Which would allow for 700 gallons of fuel to be carried without being in excess of the weight of liquid ordinarily on board.

By my calculations the extra 300 gallons, ( to bring it up to the total requirement of 1000 ), would weigh just over 1 US ton.

Maybe that is not so significant an additional weight as it might have at first appeared, on a boat with an ex fuel / water weight of around 27 tons?

For example, having 6 buddies chilling out on the flybridge would amount to about a third of a ton, in a position where they would potentially have much more of an impact on stability.

Of course one would have to look at precisely where the extra fuel was to be stowed, i.e. impact on C of G, C of E etc.
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Old 20-10-2010, 10:44   #9
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... Of course one would have to look at precisely where the extra fuel was to be stowed, i.e. impact on C of G, C of E etc.
Indeed; and it seems you may be equipped to perform that analysis.
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Old 20-10-2010, 11:10   #10
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A couple of observations:

When you get a copy of Bebe's book, read the section on the Krogen 42 (by Jim Lieshman of Nordhavn). The Krogen is nominally the same length as the Defever but is listed as having a displacement of 39,000 lbs with 3,000 of that as lead or iron ballast whereas the Defever is listed (on Yachtworld) as having a displacement of 28,000 lbs. Now I don't believe that number, but it is suggestive of being built lighter than the Krogen and with no ballast.

Single engine passagemakers can be safe and reliable but you need the tools, spares and mechanical capabilities to make significant repairs underway. Spares alone would cost $ thousands- injector pump, injectors, starter, alternator, etc, etc.

Also note Lieshman's comments about doors and windows which are certainly applicable to the Defever.

You will have to find a very secure place for your 600 gallon bladder- one that supports it on all sides and would be good in a 45+ degree roll. You will undoubtably have to build something in place, down low in the engine room to do this.

And be careful about relying on a watermaker. You will need at least enough stored water for drinking if it fails.

All in all I would think more seriously about shipping the boat to Europe. When you add up all of the stuff that you would have to add to do this passage safely (and may never use again), it may equal the shipping costs.

David
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Old 20-10-2010, 11:50   #11
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I would also consider having it shipped. Both Dockwise and SevenStar do US to Europe/UK shipments. You could also leave from the Caribbean. A smaller boat like yours might get a good price if you are flexible about departure date and could go on a "space available" basis. A great advantage of shipment is that your boat is insured. This will be no easy hurdle if you go on your own bottom and want insurance.

You might also read the crew reports on the Nordhavn site about their 2004 group transit.

Nordhavn

They made it but not without some excitement that included mid-ocean dinghy transfers of mechanics. Stabilizer's were especially troublesome. This from the leg ending in Horta:

"Problems with active fin stabilizer systems were the most common, with eight of the 16 stabilizer-equipped yachts reporting problems of some kind, though most of them did not disable stabilization aboard the yachts. Both American Bow Thruster/TRAC, a rally sponsor, and Naiad sent technicians to Bermuda and Horta at no cost to the crews to help solve problems, and all eight yachts which had stabilizer problems left Horta with their problems resolved--at least they hope so. Most of the stabilizer problems appear to be the result of either components that were undersized for such heavy-duty ocean-crossing use or system components not properly installed."

The other nasty recurrent problem was prop/rudder damage from nets and other debris.

Carl
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Old 20-10-2010, 11:57   #12
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Thanks all for the further input.

I think it's fair to say that the gist of comments made here so far is to advise against my proposition, though Melling's comments taking a more positive stance are interesting, especially as a De Fever owner with a fair bit of experience.

The generally less than enthusiastic tone here echoes the responses of some De Fever owners who have commented to me elsewhere re the proposed Atlantic crossing that they would be concerned about such things as the vulnerability of the windows and the side doors in the saloon.

Now our intentions once we have a boat here in Europe are to live aboard for 6 months in the summer doing mostly coastal cruising - up to Scandinavia, into the Baltic, and ultimately into the Med via the west coasts of France, Portugal and Spain.

But as part of that I would want to be able to trust the boat, for eg, do a 200 - 300 mile trip across the North Sea, or the Bay of Biscay.

Now I know from personal experience that very severe weather can at times be encountered on just those sort of relatively " short " trips. Even in the summer.

And I would not want to be worrying about the vulnerability of my windows or my saloon side door in those scenarios any more than I would want to be fretting about them in mid Atlantic. Indeed as I'm sure you know, relative proximity to land can increase the potential for difficulties vs a situation where there is a lot of sea room.

Which raises a few more questions. Is a boat like a De Fever suitable to deal with my Biscay / North Sea scenarios? And would it be wrong to apply responses to that question to other trawler makes such as, say, GB, CHB, Marine Trader?
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Old 20-10-2010, 11:59   #13
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While slightly larger, I lived aboard a DeFever 54 for about 4 years, cruised her as far north as the top end of Vancouver Island and down to San Diego, about 1700 nm's one way. She was equipped with twin Cat D330's burned about 4 US gal/hr at 1400 RPM. Carried 1800 US gal's in a main and 2 saddle tanks, stabilized, 400 gal's of water plus 20 gal/hr watermaker, 6kw gen set. I figured that we would need a 500 US gal bladder to comfortably make Hawaii which would have given us a comfortable safety margin. There was ample room on the aft deck to accommodate the bladder. Personally, I would opt for twin diesels for offshore passage making but only for redundancy, not for fuel efficiency. DeFevers are bullet proof cruisers compared to many others on the market but slow due to under water profile. Wonderful sea boats, and in my opinion a very comfortable ride. They handle a head-on buck with ease and the portuguese bridge assures a fairly dry ride. I wouldn't hesitate to head off shore in a well fitted out DeFever... Capt Phil
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Old 20-10-2010, 12:31   #14
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If you are worried about the glass it would be a relatively easy job to fabricate some screw on plexiglass storm shutters for offshore passages.

Another choice is to upgrade the glass. Laminated tempered glass is very strong and impact resistant. Readily available and not too expensive in the States because Florida now requires super strong windows in hurricane prone areas. Just make sure the frames are wide and strong so the glass doesn't pop out.

You might also enjoy reading John Dashew's thoughts on his move from offshore sail to offshore power. Not a trawler, but a lot of similar issues.

DashewOffshore.com - the serious cruising sailor's website

Carl
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Old 20-10-2010, 12:54   #15
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GW2010:

Re: Is a boat like a De Fever suitable to deal with my Biscay / North Sea scenarios? And would it be wrong to apply responses to that question to other trawler makes such as, say, GB, CHB, Marine Trader?

AFAIK the North Sea or the Bay of Biscay can get as ugly as anywhere in the Atlantic and with little warning. Cruising in those waters resolves the fuel capacity issue but no others. Although since a successful rescue is much more likely in those waters you can be a little more relaxed with the engine stuff.

I consider the CHB and the MT wholly unsuited for those conditions due to light superstructure construction. The GB, maybe, the Defever probably, the Krogen yes with window covers and the Nordhavn absolutely.

But for cruising in any waters where 20' seas are possible, I would want a heavy boat with substantial ballast and first class systems installation, like the Nordhavn or Krogen.


David
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