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A 220-foot toy chest that tags along

Shadow builds utilitarian support vessels that are luxurious megayachts in their own right

Shadow builds utilitarian support vessels that are luxurious megayachts in their own right

“Size definitely matters.”

With that quip, Shadow Marine CEO Kimberly Gonzales introduces the Allure Shadow, a retired offshore supply boat that is now a $35 million, 220-foot “sport utility vessel.”

It is a superyacht with brawn, yachting’s version of a stretch Hummer that is in every way a limousine. Gonzales’ husband, Tom, the “visionary” who conceived this genre of superyacht, says it’s big, brawny but also luxurious. That makes it versatile. It is designed to be many things to as many people as can afford it.


 Tom and Kimbrerly Gonzales of Shadow Marine specialize in building boats like the Allure Shadow, a 220-foot Sport Utility Vessel (SUV), which "shadow" superyacht-sized luxury passagemekers, providing security and storage for the "toys" of the super-wealthy.

Toy carrier? The aft deck is open and spacious enough to park a 65-foot sportfishing yacht. Behind bay doors, an adjoining “garage” can store a center console, car, tenders, a submersible and PWC. The fourth deck can serve as a helicopter pad. Party boat? The aft deck and garage can be converted into a discothèque.

Guest lodge? Allure Shadow boasts a movie theater, fitness room, sauna, freshwater pool, and six staterooms that sleep 12. Dive-boat mother ship? It can carry the dive boat and offer luxury accommodations to the divers. Personal yacht? With five decks, it’s plenty roomy, and the dining room, saloon, bar and staterooms are luxurious, all with panoramic views through oversized oval windows. (Staterooms have private balconies.)

Support vessel? Storage is plentiful, and the boat is equipped with a 35-ton overhead crane at the stern that can lift a herd of elephants. There are plenty of crew cabins.

The Gonzaleses specialize in building sturdy boats that “shadow” superyacht-sized luxury passagemakers, providing security, logistical and piloting support, and storage for the “toys” that the super-wealthy like to take with them when they cruise. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Shadow Marine ( has built two other yachts in this genre: the 185-foot Palladin Shadow and the 165-foot Mystere Shadow, both also built on oceangoing, steel workboat hulls. Allure is the most luxurious of the Shadows, a tribute, says Tom Gonzales, to Kimberly, who came out of a background in interior design to run the three-year-old yacht-building company in early 2007.

“It’s designed to do as many things as you can possibly do with a boat,” says Tom Gonzales, Shadow Marine’s owner and chairman.

Allure has some interesting design features. It carries water-ballast tanks deep in its hull that give it a draft of 13 feet when they are full and 6-1/2 feet when drained so the yacht can cross oceans but also put in at shallower anchorages. Computerized motion sensors dampen roll by activating pumps that move water laterally between chambers in a 35-foot-long, 10-foot-high, 12-foot-wide tank that spans the vessel’s girth behind the garage on the “disco deck.” Fresh water in the swimming pool on deck five stays crystal clear as it circulates continuously through a purifier located below the crew deck.

The white-over-black steel superstructure and hull are easy to maintain, Gonzales says. “Maintenance is a fraction of what it is for a cocktail yacht,” he says. “This boat is utilitarian. If you scuff it, you just put a coat of paint on it.” And it has the utility of a pickup truck. “You put your other boats on the back of it, and you just go,” he says.

Formerly City of Vegas, a 1982 offshore supply vessel built by Halter Marine, Allure has little in common with its workboat origins except the steel hull. “It is a complete rebuild,” Gonzales says. “There is nothing of the old stuff that we keep.”

Lay, Pittman & Associates of Jacksonville, Fla., the architects, streamlined the bulwark and railings to give Allure a more swept-back look, stretched the bow 6 feet, added 22 feet to the stern, and built the fo’c’sle and bridge decks new, says designer Andy Harley of Lay, Pittman & Associates. The yacht has 35-plus miles of new wiring, all-new piping, air conditioning, a mammoth icemaker, bow thrusters, joystick steering, the latest electronics, a windlass, 99-kW John Deere generators, 90,000-plus-gallon fuel capacity, and a pair of 3,000-hp Caterpillar D399 diesels. The yacht cruises at 10 to 12 knots and has a range of 10,000 to 12,000 miles — enough to voyage halfway around the world.

“You can go from here to there with no problem,” says Lee Morley, Allure’s chief officer and one of 14 who usually would crew it.

Gonzales says building a Shadow on a retired workboat hull makes sense. The hull accounts for just 3 to 6 percent of the boat’s price, but starting with an existing hull saves time, he says. “Steel is steel. Welding is welding. We use hulls that can go anywhere, anytime, in any conditions,” he says.

Starting with an existing hull and aiming for rugged instead of super-refined also gives buyers a lot of boat for their money. Gonzales says a comparably sized yacht built from scratch at a luxury-yacht yard would cost close to $100 million.

Kimberly Gonzales oversaw Allure’s construction at North Florida Shipyard in Jacksonville over eight months — a quick build time. She says she relied on the contractors and subcontractors to build Allure while she personally designed the interior. “I feel like I’ve just had a baby after eight months,” she said at the yacht’s debut during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last October.

The Gonzaleses built Allure “on spec” and planned to keep it for themselves. Tom Gonzales said in July he had just shipped the company’s fifth build, a Palladin Class Shadow named Al Showa — Arabic for Shadow — to the Middle East. The Jacksonville yard has gone on to an interesting assignment now of converting Minnesota (formerly Bering Seal), an expedition yacht turned oil supply vessel, back into a yacht.

Rugged, versatile, comfortable, these workboats resurrected as oceangoing superyachts are the “Swiss army knives of the sea,” Gonzales says.