Captain Hock's latest love

Posted on December 07, 2015 by Yvonne Wirth, Images by Robert Hack, Heesen Yachts

The new Heesen yacht Amore mio is powered by mtu engines.
Oss, Netherlands

Amore Mio. My Love – that is the name of the latest superyacht built by Heesen Yachts. But it's more than a name; it is an expression of pure passion. That passion is shared by the yacht's captain, Tripp Hock. He has been a captain for 20 years and loves his job. And now he is about to take up new post on the Amore Mio. As an exclusive engine manufacturer, mtu was allowed to grab a look behind the scenes at the Heesen Shipyard and at the new luxury yacht before any other. We also had an open and honest talk with Captain Tripp Hock about life as a yacht captain.

Tripp Hock has been a captain for 20 years. His new command is the Amore Mio.

“What a lot of people don't realize is that, even though my role is captain and therefore my primary job is to sail the vessel, I am involved in the build process of the yacht from the beginning,” Tripp Hock reveals. “I ensure that all the yacht owner's wishes are followed throughout the entirety of the process.” And the new 45m yacht being built for a business magnate was no exception. “I am lucky enough to have worked for the same owner for 16 years,” Hock says with satisfaction. “While the Mediterranean summer cruising season is typically only four or five months, that means I have the time to oversee the construction of the new yacht and plan new sailing routes the rest of the year.”

It takes around two and a half years to complete a mega yacht. The Amore Mio, built by the Dutch shipbuilders Heesen, will have its home port in Malta. Gleaming white, with generous outer decks on three levels and a sumptuous interior, the new superyacht puts a sparkle in the eyes of Captain Hock, and not only his. “The Amore Mio is one of my favourite Heesen creations,” enthuses Hock in his new workplace. “When a yacht owner is on his yacht, he wants to experience the sea and be close to the water. That is exactly what the Amore Mio offers with its expansive open decks.” Captain Hock lives the dream of sun, sand and sea at his “office” every day.

Amore Mio is the name of the new 45-metre superyacht built by Heesen. Heesen employee Huib Smits makes sure the lettering is polished to a sparkling finish.

Caribbean dream

“I grew up in the outskirts of New York,” Captain Tripp Hock relates. “After school I worked on Wall Street. Getting up at 6 every morning, sitting on the subway, commuting, quickly convinced me to look for something different. So at the age of 22 I bought a one-way ticket to the Caribbean Islands. I didn't think of making it into a career. I just wanted to have fun for a few years and earn enough to cover expenses.” The dream of many young people in New York became a reality for him. Hock went to the Caribbean, woke up every day to the sunshine and found his first job as a steward on what was then the largest sailing trimaran in the world. As a young steward he was on the bottom rung of the ladder and mostly charged with washing up and making beds.

Big enough for the job: Captain Tripp Hock sizes up one of the yacht's propellers.

“That first boat was a scuba ‘live-aboard’ running weekly dive charters for the guests," says Hock. “It was like a dream – diving with the guests every day and living among the cleanest waters and most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. In the first years I would spend the winters in the Caribbean and head to Alaska in summers to work in the fishing fleet. I loved the change of pace between the two jobs, but you can guess which boat didn’t have showers, and I would go to bed every night smelling like a rotten fish! And so I clocked up the nautical miles, studied for my captain's license and eventually became a skipper.” The more nautical miles you have as a captain, the bigger the yachts you are allowed to command. Captain's license specifies the tonnage you are qualified for.

Specials included

The new yacht has three decks that offer ample outside space for that special sea-voyage experience.

Hock worked for a number of years before taking charge of superyachts like the Amore Mio made by Heesen Yachts of Oss, Netherlands. Every yacht of this kind has its own highly individual characteristics. So that guests aboard the Amore Mio can retain their balance on choppy seas, the yacht has special ship gyro stabilisers. They prevent the vessel rolling, that is, rocking from side to side around its longitudinal axis. The interior of the Amore Mio is tastefully done in a contemporary style by an interior designer from Venice, Italy. And even the captain gets his own special toy. “I call it Nintendo,” jokes Hock. In actual fact it is the mtu portable operator unit he is talking about.

“When I am on the bridge, I can't see immediately around the bow or the stern or even the sides of the yacht. That is a problem when manoeuvring in the harbour,” Tripp Hock explains. “But thanks to mtu's remote control, it's no longer a problem for me.” Captain Hock can simply grab the remote control from its locker on the middle deck, strap it around his neck, steer the yacht rather like a mobile crane   operator from the stern deck and see precisely how close he is to the quayside. “It's not for the inexperienced, however. Steering the yacht like this demands practice and sensitive control,” Hock emphasizes.

There is not much space in the engine room. Engineers Dennis van Oijenengineer (left) and Charl van der Wielen make sure that everything fits perfectly.

The heart of the Amore Mio

Of course, it is not just the special features that are important. “The mtu engines are the heart of the vessel,” says Tripp Hock. “I have to be able to rely on them 100%. You could say it's the most critical component in my entire job.” The Amore Mio has the twin benefit of two mtu 16V 4000 M73L engines, each producing 2,880kW of power. In bad weather, yachts can stay in harbour. But when the sun is out and the yacht owner wants to take a trip out to sea on his boat, the worst case for a yacht captain is an engine incapacity. “Owners expect everything to work when they find the time to come enjoy their boat - and it's my job is to ensure it does,” Hock explains. “In the rare case when we do have issues, I have always been able to rely on the quality of support and the worldwide availability of the mtu service network.”

The new yacht's electronic systems are also supplied by mtu. Heesen project leader Dennis van Oijen is seen checking them in this picture.

No day the same as anotherimes

But even when the yacht is at sea, no day is the same as another. “It depends on who is on board; although my boss has private yachts, his guests or family are often on the yacht,” Hock recounts. “If they are all in their mid-twenties, they naturally might like to party all night long, and sleep it off all day. But if we have a family on board, they might prefer spending the days maximized for cool water sports, like Fly Boarding or water-skiing. Then the next week we might have culture-lovers on board who want to explore the ports, their surroundings and their history.” So for Captain Hock, every week is a new experience. His workplace frequently changes too, because his employer has a small fleet of Heesen yachts. “Every yacht has its own handling characteristics. And lots of people think it is more difficult to control a big yacht,” Tripp Hock observes. “In truth it is the other way around, because the smaller, lighter yachts are more susceptible to the effect of wind and waves.” Another challenge is communicating with all the different port agents and suppliers. “We have about 50 words in every language,” Hock is happy to report. “While English is luckily widespread, we still get to lots of out-of-the-way places where we need to make the arrangements and provisioning for whatever our guests require. Charades also helps!”

It takes about two and a half years to build a yacht like this. After completion, the yacht will have her home port in Malta.

Not only good times

In his years at sea, Captain Tripp Hock has had experiences that weren't so nice. “Maybe you remember the film The Perfect Storm. It is based on the true story of a terrible storm in 1991, with the fishing boat Andrea Gail losing all its crew,” Hock remembers. “I was also in the mid-Atlantic on an old sailing ship about 600mi from them when that monster was blowing. We were 34 crew and we were hundreds of miles away from the nearest landfall. Luckily, the only damage to our ship was a lifeboat that got washed overboard.” But back to the good times. “My boss is always looking for out-of-the-way places. He has a special liking for the Black Sea, for instance. It is a relatively undiscovered area for yachts so far. When I was there 15 years ago with his first 24m yacht, it was the biggest vessel on the water by miles, and the locals in Bulgaria, for instance, could hardly take it in,” Captain Tripp Hock chuckles.

The Amore Mio has the twin benefit of two mtu 16V 4000 M73L engines, each producing 2,880kW of power.

Charter yacht versus private yacht

There is a distinction to be made between a charter yacht and a private yacht. The Amore Mio built by Heesen is a private yacht and so available only to the owner and his guests. “So I plan charters for my yacht owner wherever and whenever he wishes,” Hock explains. “If he wants to go to Turkey, we need to put together a suitable itinerary of ports, anchorages or interesting sites depending on the wishes of the particular guests.” Charter yachts can be quite different, staying in the same regional base and potentially repeating the same cruise over and over again.

Three into one

By the way, Tripp is not Captain Hock's real name. Tripp is short for triple  - a reference to the fact that Hock shares the same name with his father and grandfather. And what is it that is so special for Tripp Hock about his job? “It is simply a privilege to be able to work on a ship worth millions like this and to be part of the luxury yacht world. Every morning when I wake up to bright sunshine from my floating bed, I appreciate that it is something very special.”

Heesen and mtu – a long history

The Dutch shipbuilders Heesen became well known in the 1980s for yachts like the 38m Octopussy from the James Bond film of the same name. Today, the Oss-based yachtmaker is the leading builder of aluminium-hulled motor yachts and regularly wins international awards for projects such as the Kometa and Galactica Star. For its superyachts between 45 and 70m, Heesen exclusively uses mtu engines.

The content of the stories reflects the status as of the respective date of publication. They are not updated. Further developments are therefore not taken into account.

Point of contact

Jochen Kuhn
+49 7541 90 7018

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