You & Your Shadow: Superyachts


In a time of $225,000 parking spots in Manhattan and $70,000 wine openers, in a world of pet spas and on-site sommeliers, the luxury item is usually more extravagance than justifiable functional amenity. Which would seem to be the case when you hear about a tycoon having a yacht to support…his yacht. However, the more you learn about these multi-tasking support vessels, the more they seem a necessity for discerning megayacht owners.

Discerning megayacht owners like to have any and all amenities onboard to help make the most of their cruising. Unfortunately, captains are left with the question of where to put them all. Enter the concept of the shadow.

 Each one of the Allure’s five decks has been carefully laid out to maximize deck efficiency while maintaining spacious floor plans.

A shadow vessel is a trailer yacht for a megayacht-a floating, gilded garage of sorts that tags along with your main yacht to carry the toys: helicopters, cars, motorcycles, jet skis, kayaks, diving gear, tournament fishing tackle, zodiacs, motorboats, sport fish boats, and submarines. Of course, with all of that you’ll need toy-support equipment like crane systems, loading ramps, and customized davits. The boats can also pack fuel, water, spare parts, and supplies, allowing for safer and more remote travel. So a captain can have all support needs handy and at the ready to solve pesky problems like refueling during a trans-Atlantic crossing.

One of the nice things about a shadow vessel is that nobody should have to build an overly large yacht trying to cram everything in. You can scale back on the primary yacht size while having a shadow vessel to carry the extras, essentially extending your cruising possibilities.

Now, when you pull up to the docks of the Côte d’Azur in your 250-foot mega, you can also whip over to the local restaurants in your Ferrari, forgoing the indignity of having to endure a rented limo. If you’re itching to chug along the winding roads that encircle islands from Greece to St. Croix, you’ve got your favorite Harley on hand. Or if you need a 500-person party platform, it’s an easy laser light and disco ball conversion away.

While shadow ships aren’t that well known, they certainly aren’t new. Their history can be traced as far back as Marc Antony’s harem supply vessel that followed Cleopatra’s barge. And the navies of the world have supported their combatants with auxiliaries since the days of John Paul Jones. Still, they weren’t really a part of the modern luxury yachting scene until the Golden Shadow, which followed the Golden fleet (yacht, sport fishing boat, and seaplane) around throughout the 1990s.

So it’s only recently that the concept bloomed, thanks in part to the popularity of the megayacht Lady Lola and the Lady Lola Shadow. Unlike the Golden Shadow, which was custom built from the keel up to be an escort vessel, Lady Lola Shadow was converted from an old offshore supply vessel that was typically used to run supplies to and from oil rigs. As the project manager, Captain Stan Antrim took the decommissioned ship, stripped it down, and built a garage on deck to house the toys and serve as a helipad. Add in a couple extra staterooms for crew, some fuel and water tanks, and a few other must-haves, and voila, a utilitarian luxury shadow vessel.

After its success, Antrim partnered with businessman Tom Gonzales to create a company to build more such ships, and in 2005 Shadow Marine was born. Under the guidance of Gonzales (a yacht owner himself) and Antrim (a naval architect/engineer), Shadow Marine built the vessels on spec (although Antrim has since parted ways with Shadow Marine).

They also quickly realized that the boats could be wonderful “Hummer” yachts in their own right-highly functional, totally enjoyable due to significantly reduced maintenance, and ruggedly handsome. This has led to the company’s three class types (as well as an offshoot, Desgn Nu, a high-end interior desgn firm headed by former CEO Kimberly Gonzales).

The Allure class (205-foot to 240-foot) is a luxurious sport utility vessel that incorporates form and versatile function in its design. With an elegance typically found in megayachts, it is redefining the expectations of shadows. Each one of the Allure’s five decks has been carefully laid out to maximize deck efficiency while maintaining spacious floor plans. Key features of the plush interior include: six staterooms with balconies, a sky lounge with panoramic views, a fully equipped workout facility, and a movie theater that features the latest in automated A/V technologies. On the outside you’ll find a large swimming pool, a helipad, a davit, and a high capacity crane. The 220-foot Allure Shadow is available for daytime and weekly charters in the Mediterranean from May 1 to November 1.

The Paladin class (180-foot to 200-foot) is a comfortable crossover boat, able to serve as a support or a standalone. Featuring two oversized staterooms with balconies and a sky lounge, it’s capable of hosting a variety of events in style and luxury. Standard features include: a fully enclosed hangar, crane, and helipad. Below deck, four expansion rooms have been designated for future owner upgrades, such as medical treatment facilities, decompression chambers, or wine cellars.

The Mystere class (135-foot to 175-foot) has been created for those who require all of the utilitarian features found within the Paladins, but don’t need the additional space necessary for staterooms. Standard features are the same as the Paladin, as are the below-deck four expansion rooms. Shadow Marine’s own Mystere Shadow is available for charter in the Caribbean.

After breaking off from Shadow Marine, Antrim, with wife Mary Jane, started Yacht Escort Ships. YES’ first design was a 205-foot custom model with a sky lounge, sun deck, and four guest cabins. Unique from a structural point is the separate helicopter hangar located forward on the helo deck atop of the garage, so the helicopter never has to be lowered to the main deck for storage, leaving even more room for toys and tenders in the garage.

YES has stayed with the made-to-order focus, allowing potential owners to specify how they would like their own offshore vessel to be designed. The former fleet captain brings a level of understanding and practicality to the process. Mary Jane compliments the business with a background as an interior designer. She focuses on the layout and designs of the “mother-in-law” cabins and guest areas. Their business plan calls for just one or two boats a year.

The YES approach is highlighted by SuRi, a 173 footer that features three sumptuous, yacht-quality guest cabins, as well as a full beam master suite, theater, steam bath, massage room, large gym (20 feet by 25 feet), and luxury sky lounge. The profile styling has been significantly enhanced to eliminate the boxy appearance of the previous shadow boat hangars. Upon delivery, the owner outfitted SuRi with a mahogany sport boat, A-star helo, ATVs, Jet Skis, other water toys, and an amphibious landing craft with bow ramp.

YES also converted the 159-foot Pacific Provider for the Eastern Pacific Yacht Club. It’s the first of a new breed of private game fishing clubs, one in which the club itself is designed to transport members and tend their vessels across thousands of miles of the most desirable fishing holes in the world. This new hybrid fishing and boating “mothership” delivers a multitude of shore-side support services (60,000 gallons of fuel, fresh water, ice) far offshore for members to use when and where required. It also offers fine guest accommodations, a bar, and a gourmet dining room for her members. So whether fishing or just cruising, boating does not get any better than this.

The Pacific Provider is a definitive example of the endless possibilities that shadows afford. You can do things with a primary and a shadow that are simply not possible with one large boat. Economically, it makes more sense to have two smaller vessels than one giant 300 footer–to enjoy the best local marinas and smallest romantic anchorages, while having all the capabilities of that 300 footer just a tender ride away on the hook.