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A New Challenge

When Antrim retired from the Navy in 1990, he put his talents in many things marine to work in both running yachts and designing them, work that culminated with the design of the Lady Lola, named the Yacht of the Year in 2002 by a major trade magazine. But the owner of that craft enjoyed air travel as much as sea travel and when he decided he wanted his new, upgraded helicopter within arm’s reach while at sea, Atrim had a new challenge ahead of him.

“He loved his new helicopter, and it was decidedly bigger than the one we had originally designed his yacht to carry,” Antrim says. “So he tasked me with finding a way to make it happen without doing a complete rebuild, which would have imposed unacceptable changes on his brand new luxury yacht. It was then that we seized on the idea of refitting an existing offshore supply vessel, and putting a box on the end of it to serve as both helipad and hangar.”

That boat eventually sold to another owner, who was so taken with the idea that he partnered with Antrim to start a business venture building more shadow boats from commercial vessels. Antrim has since split with that partner and formed Yacht Escort Ships, and Suri is the new firm’s first project, while another is under way in the same ship yard. The second project is billed as a “floating yacht club,” and also lived its first life as a crab boat. (www.epyc.com)

But for now, Suri and its remarkable transformation are drawing the spotlight. Up to 12 different subcontractors have been aboard during the project, and perhaps the greatest challenge fell to those working on the hull, work performed by Seattle-based West Coast Marine Paint and Restoration.

After audio gauging determined the hull, built in 1978, to be sound, work crews went about addressing each of the dents. Some were cut out and new steel was welded into place. Other dents were simply pounded out, and smaller ones were made smooth with application of an epoxy fairing compound. After sandblasting, the fairing material was applied in 20-foot sections to facilitate a smooth overall appearance, rather than applied in a patchwork, as-needed fashion, which may have not consistently covered weld seams, according to West Coast’s managing partner Gabriel Wiehle.

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