Shadow boats are the new wave in mega-yachts

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Money is often no object for boaters in the mega-yacht market, as the newest trend in that segment of the industry is making abundantly clear.

Demand for "shadow boats," or "toy-haulers," is on the rise in response to a desire among the seafaring super-rich for a vessel to accompany them on their journeys and carry luxury items too large for the primary boats, the South Florida Business Journal reported in a story yesterday.

Often as long or longer than the primary boats they accompany, shadow boats transport those items essential to today's mega-yacht master: helicopters, speedboats, water scooters, SUVs, professional grade incinerators, even a SWAT team, the Business Journal reported.

"It's the ultimate toy box," said Tom Gonzales, owner of Shadow Marine in Fort Lauderdale - the only company in the world, yacht brokers say, that specializes exclusively in building and selling shadow boats. Gonzales owns one himself, which he'll soon market in the Mediterranean, and has four more in production, according to the newspaper.

A handful of serious yacht owners such as the Sultan of Oman, other Mideast potentates or any number of dot-com millionaires have shadow boats trailing their elegant mega-yachts.

John Schmiemann, a broker with South Florida Yachts in Riviera Beach, has a client with a 200-plus-foot mega-yacht who would like to create his own mini-fleet by acquiring a shadow boat.

"The interest is coming," said Schmiemann. "I don't see a major impact yet, but I think it's going to be dramatic."

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