Capt. Mike French has learned how to make an entrance.
He realized early on that the 164-foot Heesen Home garners more attention than other yachts. Her contemporary exterior styling catches the eye, so much so that one time, on a Fort Lauderdale river, he looked out and saw more people taking pictures than he’s seen from aboard any other yacht in the past 30 years.
So, he decided to combine Home‘s charisma with her 7-foot draft, putting her in places where she isn’t expected to be, and where she looks even grander.
“In the Tobago Cays, we can get into where the smaller sailboats are,” he says. “It’s pretty impressive. We got into Highbourne Cay the other day in the Bahamas with all the smaller boats — those are the sorts of things we can do. Everyone’s looking, and people like that. It’s not inconspicuous.”
And the onlookers likely don’t even realize just how unique of a sight they’re seeing. Home, which was delivered in 2017, is the first Heesen Fast Displacement Hull Form with hybrid propulsion. She is one of a kind in the world, and on the charter market, as she prepares for her first spring charter season in the Bahamas and her first summer season in the West Mediterranean, as part of the Yacht-Zoo fleet.
The propulsion system lets Home run in virtual silence around 10 knots, or climb above 16 knots in diesel mode. For charter clients, that makes shifting from Harbor A to Harbor B an exercise in trying to figure out whether the power plants are even turned on.
“The key is comfort,” French says. “We can move with virtual silence. It just slips through the water. You can move without anyone realizing it — it’s true. It’s only the generators that are on, and you can’t really hear them. They run electric motors, which turn the props, and that’s how we move. It’s obviously not as fast as with diesel, but it’s not like we’re moving particularly slowly. It’s not hampering us in any way.”
Charter clients also receive a sizable savings on fuel costs. According to Heesen, at 10 knots in hybrid mode, this superyacht’s fuel consumption is less than 12 gallons of fuel per hour.
On board, interior designer Cristiano Gatto worked with Heesen to create an experience of bringing the outdoors in. The design elements go beyond sole-to-ceiling windows and wide views; they also include connections between the outdoor and indoor spaces.
“The design is very clever,” French says. “You have these areas where you have the outdoor area, and then because of the use of space and windows and light, people can be inside in the air conditioning and still be interacting and feel like they’re part of the outdoor experience. The swim platform is one of those areas. It’s nothing I’ve seen before, and it genuinely works. Even people with relatively conservative tastes have come on board and said, ‘Wow, this is spectacular.’”
Another fan-favorite area, he says, is at the bow, where there are two elevated chairs.
“You sit on the chair facing aft, two people next to each other,” French says. “We then turn the chairs around, and you’re facing forward, probably 15 or 20 feet above the water. It’s silent, and you’re hovering — it’s like being on a helicopter over the water. The owner just thought it would be a totally unencumbered way to see the sea.”
Helping guests see the world in memorable ways is his goal for the entire Home charter program. Because the yacht has not chartered previously, French and the crew are open to trying just about anything clients can imagine doing — especially if it means positioning the yacht for views that others in her size range can’t achieve.
“Whether it’s the Pitons or Stromboli or Vesuvius,” he says, “we want to see about getting people there.”