“This time last year, we had a shipyard full of spec boats,” Heesen’s Thom Conboy tells me, as we discuss the yard’s particularly hot streak in recent months, which has seen it sell seven boats in the past 14 months; four of which were sold by its US office.
The yard’s product continues to get better and better, year on year, and one of its latest projects and first hybrid boat, 50m Home, delivered in July this year, really vindicates its recent success and will be on display at this week’s Monaco Yacht Show.
“There are three characteristics of this boat that make it particularly special,” Conboy continues. “You can ghost along using virtually no fuel, with virtually no noise [46 decibels] and if you manage it properly, you can put significantly less hours on your major equipment over the long-term.”
Home is fitted with two small MTU 12V 2000 M61 engines, which have a maximum power output of 600kW. “When you go into hybrid mode and shut the diesel engines down, the generators run electric shaft motors which are virtually silent. In this mode, you can expect a range of over 8,000 nautical miles at eight knots.
“You can also put it into ‘boost mode’, where you can cruise at 12 knots on normal diesel engines, with a maximum speed of up to 15.5 knots and with a range of 3,750 nautical miles. But, if you engage the electric shaft motors too, you’ll nudge the maximum speed up to 16.3 knots.”
This performance is enhanced by Heesen’s fast displacement hull form (FDHF), as seen on 70m Galactica Super Nova, which the yard can build in both steel and aluminium.
As Conboy suggests, there are great savings for an owner on the lifecycle of the main equipment. If you manage it well, you can save putting hours on your gensets and main engines, giving the boat a significantly longer lifecycle.
“If you’re cruising around the Bahamas, you can shut the diesel engines off for two months and run around on the electric shaft motors. And if you’re going from Greece to the Balearics, for example, you can shut down the electric shaft motors and use the engines like a traditional diesel boat.”
“You can ghost along using virtually no fuel, with virtually no noise and if you manage it properly, you can put significantly less hours on your major equipment over the long-term.”
With fewer builders around today in the 50–55m segment, Conboy is confident of Heesen’s value-added proposition in this sector. “Hakvoort, and Amels’ smallest ‘Limited Editions’ yachts, are the only other two builders at this size in Holland – and Feadship, but it’s a more expensive build.”
Conboy says that the smaller Amels Limited Editions, the 180, is similar in price, “but we’re a bigger boat and have a volume of 760 gross tons; they’re about 690 gross tons,” he adds. “That said, Amels has had tremendous success with its 52m, 54m and 55m – they are the real deal.
“There’s little competition in the United States in this sector at the moment,” which is evidently the client-base that has been driving Heesen forward in recent months. “Christensen is back building, but there’s no Trinity or Palmer Johnson and Burger has seen a decline. And certain people don’t want to build in Italy, and Turkey is upside down, so suddenly you’ve only got a few yards you can go to for a boat of this size.”
Heesen currently has one yacht available for sale, with delivery in 2018, a steel 50m build, and one with a delivery date of 2019, which is the sistership to Home. Other than that, the yard doesn’t have a spec boat available for sale with a delivery prior to 2020.