Once A Hard-Working Crab Boat, Suri Now Carries A Different Haul
When last seen, Fierce Contender was pounding out a hard existence as a crab boat in the Bering Sea.
As difficult as that line of work can be on crews—the reality TV show that chronicles the efforts of the Bering crab fleet is called “The Deadliest Catch” for a reason—the work is just as tough on the vessel. The thickness of ice build-ups on board can be measured in inches and covers nearly any exposed surface. The seas run as high as any in the world. And the 800-lb. pots used to catch and haul the crabs aboard pound against the vessel so severely that they beat measurable dents into the 1-inch steel that comprises the hull.
But step aboard the 172-foot Contender today and its clear that the gleaming, Sherwin-Williams Seaguard marine coatings systems are no longer there to protect it from the harsh environment brought on by crab fishing.
The Contender has been rechristened as Suri, and its primary function in its new life as a luxury “shadow boat” will be to transport the toys of its wealthy owner as it travels alongside a larger yacht. Those toys include a fleet of personal watercraft, a racing boat, a water limousine to move the owner and his guests from ship to ship, a gymnasium—and, oh yeah, a helicopter, and the helipad from which it will fly.
But it’s no mere floating toy box. Suri is also outfitted with opulent living quarters for both owner and guest, as well as such amenities as a “cigar deck,” and a luxurious galley.
Suri’s remarkable conversion is being completed under the watchful eye of Captain Stan Antrim and his wife Mary Jane, who together operate Yacht Escort Ships, out of Seattle. Shadow boats such as Suri are in many ways the creation of Antrim, who recognized the cost-savings of stripping a commercial boat down to its hull and bare essentials, then rebuilding where necessary.
“The support vessel, as a newbuild, is not a newidea,” says the retired US Navy Captain, “but the idea of taking an existing commercial vessel and doing a conversion is a new idea. It becomes the ultimate blank palette.”
In Suri, the owner will eventually receive an amazing vessel that even the previous owner would be challenged to recognize as the Fierce Contender. But the 10 months of intense labor required to complete the conversion will be known only to the Antrims and the dozens of laborers, tradesmen and painters who made it happen.