Growing up, Capt. Frank Hesse spent breezy afternoons sailing with his uncle, blissfully ignorant that the superyacht industry existed. He trained as a car engineer. Then, on a cruising holiday in the Caribbean, he met someone who was looking for help sailing from the Dominican Republic to St. Thomas. “And this is where I first understood that people were paid to be on boats. That was twenty-nine years ago,” he says.
Later in Palma, Mallorca, his superyacht career began after a chance meeting in a café.
His first new-build project was in 1999 for the 35-meter Benetti M/Y Felidan. Since then, he has built three Sanlorenzos and four Benettis over the last 20 years.
Hesse particularly appreciates the yacht’s maneuverability. “She’s amazing to dock and drive and we’ve done so many miles because it’s so easy,” he says.
“My technical background helps with the new builds,” Hesse says. “Germans are organizers, and I get on with Italians because I am not too German, but I am German enough. Italian shipyards are amazing. The people are proud, experienced, and determined to do their best.”
M/Y Metis, the steel and aluminum fully custom 63-meter yacht, was delivered on May 15, 2019. “Another captain was originally in charge of the build but when that didn't work out, I came on board three months before delivery. Since then, we’ve done 6,500 nautical miles and 75 days at sea,” the captain said at MYS 2019. “That’s a good test for the boat,” he adds.
Hesse particularly appreciates the yacht’s maneuverability. “She’s amazing to dock and drive and we’ve done so many miles because it’s so easy,” he says. “Recently, we came back from Corsica with five-meter waves, no problem. You can only do that with a boat like this because she is well designed, narrow with a straight bow, and cuts through the waves very nicely.”
The yacht was originally built for 13 crew, but Hesse has added another two crew, which are necessary, he says, to properly care for the guests. Because the yacht is privately run, the medical bed, required for commercial vessels, is used for the extra crew. “The biggest challenge is finding the right crew and now we are pretty good,” Capt. Hesse says. “The first couple of months were a bit tricky and a few girls have been replaced. The crew work well now and we actually made up a song for the owner on his last cruise of the season and sang it to him at a taverna in Croatia. We’ve got two guitarists on board.”
The bridge is paperless with no charts. Forward of the bridge is a private area, which the captain has designated as a crew area. Hesse has no complaints about the storage areas in terms of space for provisions or luggage — but cupboards for plates and cutlery are a bit tight. “Luckily, the boss is very low-key and doesn’t want or need huge dinner services,” he says.
There’s little Hesse would change if he had the chance to — just small things like adding a stainless-steel splash-back to the barbecue on the deck (nothing that couldn’t be changed during the winter period). The owner’s favorite areas include the sky lounge deck, the gym, and the sun deck. “The heart of the yacht is on the main deck where you have the owner’s cabin and sky lounge,” the captain says. “I think shipyards should think about losing the salons on yachts; they are never used.”
The owner is keen to travel beyond the usual Mediterranean/Caribbean milk run. “The boss wants to go farther afield, which will be amazing,” the captain says. “I’ve done twelve years of charter and I’m amazed how few owners are adventurous.”
Capt. Hesse explains that he is very happy on this 63-meter but if his boss decides to go bigger, he’ll go with him. “I worked for a long time on 35-meter yachts and for me, it is always about the people and owners. This jump I’ve just done from a 40-meter to a 60-meter is huge, but I think it is the right time.”
The column originally ran in the June 2020 issue of Dockwalk.
- Country of build:Italy
- Delivery year:2019
- Length Overall:63m
- Gross Tonnage:1000t