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Megayachts

The Shadows of Giants

If Stan Antrim gets his way, converted offshore supply vessels will be the next big thing in megayachts.

Paladin Shadow put on no airs. That's why she stood out among the tridecked, teak-soled, and tender-clad behemoths that lined the megayacht quay at the 2005 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Her looks had more in common with the numerous container ships that were idling a mile or so offshore, waiting to unload their cargoes at the city pier. Yet she was just as much a showboat as those multimillion-dollar babies.

The reason Paladin Shadow looked like a rough-and-tumble longshoreman dressed in a tuxedo is because that’s what she is—or rather was. She began her life 25 years ago as an offshore supply vessel (OSV) to Gulf Coast oil platforms and was transformed last year by an outfit called Shadow Boats into what is basically a megayacht carryall.

Shadow Boats is the brainchild of Stan Antrim and his partner Tom Gonzales. Antrim's got sea water in his veins: He was raised in Coronado, California, hard by the Pacific Ocean, and followed his father's footsteps to Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating as a naval engineer and serving various stints on a destroyer and as commander of Navy SEAL combat operations, Antrim retired from the Navy after a 25-year career.

It was in 2002, while working as an engineer and captain in the private sector, that Antrim was tapped by his then-client to get involved with a new build by Oceanco: the 206-foot yacht Lady Lola. That experience, from concept to outfitting and including project management, got him thinking about the need for megayacht support vessels. During the design process, Antrim realized that having support vessels to carry a megayacht’s various toys, as opposed to having all these space-eating machines cluttering her decks, was a good idea. And, he thought, why stop with watertoys? Why not build a support vessel that will serve all of the myriad needs and desires of megayacht guests? The stowage issue came into focus when Lady Lola's helipad was slated to be razed and redesigned to support the owner's Bell Executive 430 helicopter. Instead of focusing resources and energy on a costly refit, Antrim instead began to seriously develop his idea of a megayacht support vessel. Choosing the right vessel was surprisingly easy. To Antrim, an OSV was the perfectly natural solution for the project, which after four months became Lady Lola Shadow. "I understood the value of OSVs. I recognized these ships’ capabilities in all types of weather and their enormous stowage capacities," Antrim says.

Built of heavy-gauge steel, OSVs are ubiquitous in the North Sea and along the Gulf Coast; their role as supply vessels to oil platforms has earned them a reputation as extremely capable vessels. Their decks are frequently stacked 20 feet high and taller with heavy piping and are equipped with huge, below-decks tanks where hundreds of tons of liquid mud, a material used in the sealing of petroleum exploration bore holes, is stowed.

This article originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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