November 17th 2012. By Diane Byrne.

Heesen Yachts and Lady Petra: A Yacht for a Yacht Builder

The founder of Heesen Yachts finds family time, as well as peace and quiet, aboard a 153 footer built by the shipyard bearing his name.

Grandchildren are great, but sometimes you need your own private space. That’s part of the thinking behind Lady Petra, delivered over the summer by Holland-based Heesen Yachts. Upon learning that the owner is Frans Heesen, the founder of the shipyard who recently retired from daily business, you might assume he simply wanted a yacht for himself, rather than always building them for other people. But Lady Petra was conceived and built for him and his wife Petra to share as much time as possible with two additional generations of their family. As a result, Lady Petra places as much emphasis on large common areas for everyone to gather as the yacht does on places for the Heesens to have time to themselves.

Heesen Lady Petra

Lady Petra is the successor to a same-named 144-footer delivered in 2009. “In the past few years, my family has grown, and we now have seven grandchildren,” Heesen explains. “Our first yacht, a semi-displacement, had less internal volume.” The larger Lady Petra lets the three generations of the family enjoy a leisurely pace, too, a reported 15.5 knot top end with twin MTUs.

Hot tub on a yacht

The sundeck aboard Lady Petra is a particular favorite of the grandchildren. The entire family spent a good deal of time up here over the summer, too, and no wonder. Between the hot tub, located fully forward on this deck, and the vistas that can be enjoyed from it, it’s a well-arranged space for indulging in the outdoor lifestyle. It encompasses more than 915 square feet.

bow sunpad lady petra

Between the Heesens’ three grown children, their spouses, and seven grandchildren, quite a crowd cruises aboard Lady Petra. That’s why seating areas like this one, forward of the pilothouse, are so large. The proximity of the sunpad means the kids can sprawl out while their parents can enjoy the company of other grown-ups on the benchseat and still keep a watchful eye.

launching a tender

Lady Petra has a launch system for the tenders kept in the transom garage. Note the tether attached to the tender’s bow. That also means the toy can be winched back into the garage when a day of zipping around is done. And, whether boarding or disembarking, Lady Petra’s guests have an extra-wide and extra-long platform to use, thanks to the folded-down portion of the transom.

lady petra elevator

Anyone with aching joints or other difficulty getting around will appreciate Lady Petra’s customized lift. It’s wide and stable enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and can take a person straight from the dock all the way up to the sundeck. The black lines you see are the tracks that the lift follows as it rises along the starboard-side exterior stairway.

Hessen mega yacht aluminum wood

The Heesens hired London-based Bannenberg & Rowell for Lady Petra’s interior design, and the designers paid homage to Frans Heesen’s background as both a carpenter and a yacht builder. (Heesen was a carpenter prior to acquiring the Striker shipyard 35 years ago, which he turned into Heesen Yachts.) The high-gloss, dark-toned macassar wood takes care of the former. The hole-punched aluminum panels mounted atop the wood take care of the latter.

dining on a heesen mega yacht

Note the ribbon of terra cotta-colored leather running overhead and along the bulkhead and furnishings here in the saloon and dining area (just visible to the right). It’s a theme that continues along the soles of Lady Petra, too, and throughout the entire yacht. As Dickie Bannenberg of Bannenberg & Rowell explains, “It locks the whole interior together.” Note, too, the macassar and metal coffee table, a repetition of elements seen elsewhere.

Heesen lady petra yachting

“We love to spend time onboard with our family, but we also like to have our own private space to rest,” Heesen says. That’s why the master suite, on the upper deck, contains this dining area. The table swings out to make it easier to get into and out of the seats. A small pantry on the same deck ensures the crew an easier job of setting up meals.

inside cabin on megayacht

Since Frans and Petra Heesen have a different daily schedule than their children and grandchildren, they wanted their stateroom a bit removed from the others. Situated aft on Lady Petra’s upper deck, it opens onto a private alfresco area. But, the Heesens often invite their family to dine with them out there, at the table just visible in this photo, shaded by the overhang of the sundeck.

guest stateroom

Here’s one of the guest staterooms aboard Lady Petra, a VIP twin on the main deck. Two more twins lay below decks, accompanied by two queen cabins. As much as the Heesens enjoyed their previous Lady Petra, soon after delivery they realized she wouldn’t be able to welcome their ever-expanding family. With the grandchildren being of different ages, it’s good to have flexibility in terms of where everyone sleeps.

superyacht entertainment center

Since the master suite is situated on the upper deck, the forward portion of the main deck is devoted to a full-beam media lounge. All three generations of the Heesen family have put the room to good use, collectively and individually. As much as Frans and Petra adore their grandkids, they admit it’s good to have somewhere to “lock” the kids in.

LOA: 153’2” * Beam: 29’0” * Draft: 9’4” * Displacement: 410 gross tons (half load) * Fuel capacity: 15,875 gallons (approx.)

From the outset, Lady Petra was conceived as a family boat. Every meeting with Bannenberg & Rowell was attended by Frans and Petra Heesen as well as two of their grown children. It was vitally important that every aspect of the yacht reflected not just Frans’s passion for yachts but also his devotion to his relatives.

The way the yacht performs has made the family feel welcome—and secure, too. On her maiden voyage, Lady Petra encountered heavy seas in the Bay of Biscay, a triangular body of water in western Europe known for these conditions. Frans reports her performing well and all feeling safe.

For more information, contact Heesen Yachts.

Diane Byrne
Diane M. Byrne is the founder and editor of the daily updated website Megayacht News. A longtime yachting writer, she also contributes to Yachts International, Boat Exclusive, and other magazines. She is additionally a member of the International Superyacht Society Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association.