Some 44 years ago, while on his honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico, Bob Book fell in love yet again — with boating. He fondly recalls taking out a 16-foot outboard-powered boat and being “hooked forever.” In fact, the American had such a great time that he and his wife decided to buy their first boat just a few months later. After a while, wanting to cruise more, they bought another boat. And then another. And another. Each one was successively larger, “appropriate for a certain period of my boating life,” he says. Eventually, the Books stepped up into superyachts. A few years ago, while they were enjoying the long range and family spaces of a 130-footer, their 16th — yes, 16th — yacht, Book decided that a full-displacement, metal-hull yacht was in order. A transatlantic crossing was on the couple’s minds, so reliable range and stability seemed the right fit. He had a list of additional must-haves skewed heavily toward technical features versus aesthetic ones. (Spending abundant time with your captain and engineer can have that effect on you.) He visited several shipyards across the United States and throughout Europe. He even knew exactly what length overall he wanted: 180 feet.
Instead, in springtime 2017, two years into the search, the Books bought a 154-footer that was less than a month from completion at Heesen Yachts in the Netherlands.
The 13th hull in Heesen’s 47-meter series, started on spec, the yacht ticked a lot of boxes for the couple. In addition, “Heesen was the most impressive in terms of quality of facilities, and production excellence/best practices,” Book wrote in an email. What’s more, he said, Heesen made “an unswerving commitment to deliver the boat on time and on budget,” even while inviting changes that involved more than mere pillow swaps.
To be clear, the Books weren’t interested in starting a yacht project from the keel up. Having owned two semicustom superyachts, a Westport 112 and a Westport 40M, they were accustomed to shorter delivery times than are possible with a custom build. Their desire to cruise the Mediterranean in summer 2017 was another big factor in the purchase.
Book says the quality control built into each yacht and Heesen’s reputation for holding value made strong impressions. So too did Thom Conboy, Heesen’s director of sales for North America, Mexico, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Conboy is the one who introduced the Books to Project Ruya, the yard’s in-build name. Since she was nearly finished, she would be ready for the summer season.
Project Ruya also had the technical features Book insisted upon. He wanted big MTU engines, for instance, along with a well-laid-out engine room. “I was always spending time with my engineer or captain, learning what could go wrong,” he says. The yacht’s 4,000-nautical-mile range was the same as the transatlantic figure he had in mind too.
Despite the smaller LOA than originally planned, Book Ends provides several good spaces inside and out for the Books and their family, which includes grandchildren. The sun deck is a favorite spot for entertaining big groups, while the bow seating is preferred for quieter moments.
Given that there were mere weeks to go before the yacht’s delivery at the time of the contract signing, you might assume Book Ends is the same as she was when Bob Book first laid eyes on her, save for a few throw pillows. Not so. “We knew we could make enough cosmetic changes to the interior of the boat that we could really put our signature on it,” he says.
The couple installed LED lighting on the main deck for ambience. Several additional TVs needed installation, out on deck and inside. The sky lounge underwent the most alterations. The family wanted a larger television and a games table. A bar that was already in place, forward to starboard, required changes as well. The original design, by Bannenberg & Rowell, concealed the bar behind doors. The Books wanted it out in the open. The colorful nature of the liquor bottles on display is reminiscent of the owners’ art collection.
“There are no perfect boats,” Book says. “Nothing is ever 100 percent, but if you get to 70 or 80 percent, I think that’s pretty darn good.”
On a scale of one to 10, he ranks Book Ends “a strong seven” and credits Heesen with embracing a philosophy he’s lived by as a consumer and as a businessman: “If you want to be successful, listen to what the customer says.”
And he is already a future customer for the yard too. “While I feel really comfortable and have nice volume on the boat, I think I’d be better off with a Heesen 55-meter or 60-meter. So, here I go again,” he says with a laugh.
Come June 2020, the Books are scheduled to take delivery of a yacht in the yard’s 55-meter steel class.
“Since I am early in the build,” he says, “this boat will be a nine out of 10.”
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
When the Books decided to cruise the Mediterranean, they planned on more than a South of France “milk run.”
During seven weeks this past summer, Book Ends cruised from Spain to Italy, visiting Barcelona, Ibiza, Capri, Positano, Portofino, Elba, Ischia, Rome and St. Tropez.