There are big yachts. And then there are yachts so huge that they have their own fleet of boats, including helicopters and submarines. The Garçon offers a good example. At 67.1 meters long, 11.2 meters wide and with a draft of 4 meters, the ship would attract the attention of anyone who saw it enter a port. Inside she does not leave indifferent either. In addition to some interiors that have little to envy to the hotels of the highest category, on deck she hosts a heliport, jet skis, a submarine for four people and a flotilla of launches and small yachts.
Perhaps the most curious thing, however, is neither its size nor its display of “toys”. What is most surprising is that, as Fraser Yachts explains, the Garçon is intended to act as a “support vessel”. That is, in addition to being a luxury ship with its own fleet of boats, its task is to provide service to another ship, larger and more exclusive. In her case, it is usually associated with the Lurssen ACE, of 87 meters and some interiors that, these yes, seem taken from the Ritz-Carlton.
In short, a display of maritime luxury only available to tycoons.
What are shadow yachts?
Although the Garçon could well pass for a luxury yacht designed exclusively for your pleasure sailing the seas, its role is to provide support to other mega yachts. In his case, the Lurssen ACE. Basically support ships, or shadow yachts, consist of ships designed to transport supplies and equipment for the ship they serve. Hence, the Garçon itself looks like a small floating fleet—excuse the pun—of speedboats, jet skis, auxiliary ships, and even a helicopter and a submarine, “toys” for the main ship.
In a way they shadow yachts act as warehouse and they benefit from their smaller size and draft, which makes it easier for them, for example, to get closer to the coast. The Garçon is not the only one that plays this role, but it certainly draws attention due to its size and capacity. Another good example is the Hodor, a catamaran created to support the 87-meter Lonian superyacht.
Hodor is provided with its own dive center, equipped with a decompression chamber, helipad, speedboats and even a garage to store quads. All designed so that the passengers of the Lonian can enjoy the trip without losing meters of length in their own luxury yacht, in which, among other things, they have a space for leisure on deck that would hardly be incompatible with the heliport that does has its shadow yacht. As defined by Boat International in July, in a way the Hodor can be considered “the floating toy box biggest in the world”.
The case of the Garçon draws attention because, in addition to its role as a support ship, it is also designed so that it can be enjoyed independently. Perhaps not with the comfort that the Lurssen ACE offers, but certainly with better features than you can find on many other yachts. In addition to space to accommodate a Bell 365 helicopter, she adds 13 cabins for the crew. Inside it has, among other benefits, rooms, gym and kitchen.
If you are wondering who can afford yachts like Garçon or Hodor, the answer is clear: billionaires with a generous number of zeros in their checking account. Just a few days ago, Garçon was in fact news because the government of Antigua is investigating his links with the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who according to Forbes amasses an estate of 8.3 billion dollars and owns the second largest yacht in the world, the Eclipse.
How much does the luxury of having a boat like Garçon cost? A few days ago, a superyacht expert explained to Financial Times that the ship can have a totally independent use, without providing service to any other ship; but “what you see a lot more these days is this type of support yacht that basically follow the big yacht and carries toys, crew and other things”.
Its last known price is 24 million euros. It’s money, sure, though it’s pennies compared to the nearly $400 million Abramovich spent on the Eclipse in 2010.
Pictures | Lurssen
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism