David Moore, CEO of BlueChip Mergers and Acquisitions in Charleston, decided during the pandemic that if he had to work in isolation, he might as well do it from an office with waterfront view of the Charleston Harbor.
He manifested his dream — purchasing and fully renovating a 68-foot yacht, “Whimsy,” that he’s turned into an official company office, docked at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina.
In 2020, Moore, a Kiawah Island resident, and his team of six associate brokers went fully remote. It didn’t take long before Moore purchased the yacht and exited his lease at his former Church Street office in downtown Charleston.
There are a few challenges to working out of a yacht-office: On Zoom, clients will occasionally ask why his room is swaying when waters are choppy, and he’s had to pivot to taking Zoom calls in the galley of the boat rather than the top deck.
Moore also needed to ensure reliable Wi-Fi and electricity for charging iPhones and iPads and a fully closed-circuit network and security system with cameras.
“You can’t run a business off public Wi-Fi,” Moore said. “There are a few Wi-Fi options — Elon Musk’s Starlink is $500 a month … what I’ve got now with T-Mobile has been working really well. I have T-Mobile for Business with satellite and cellular is the backup.”
Two backup generators on board make electricity and Wi-Fi smooth, and a flat screen TV seamlessly plays national news in the yacht’s living room/indoor workspace.
“I was paying $70,00 a year for an office downtown and it ended up being just me in the space after COVID, in a boring office space,” Moore said. “Believe it or not, it was a cost savings for me to close the office.”
Now, dolphin sightings are all but guaranteed on the 100-foot walk to his literal nautical-themed office, with 360-degree water views and an excellent view of the USS Yorktown. The yacht has three bedrooms — one with a closet that holds work suits — three bathrooms and a fully-stocked kitchen. Coast Guard rules state the Whimsy can hold up to 20 people at a time.
“There are tax advantages — I’d equate it to buying a house for a home office. You have to be careful with it, and I keep a detailed log. If I sleep on the boat, I keep a log to tally up all the expenses for the year and how much of that is for personal use versus work,” Moore said.
For example, Moore can’t write off the cost of the crane and Jet Ski on top of the yacht, but he can expense taking clients and investment groups out on a harbor cruise.
The 50-year-old yacht needed a lot of fixing up — to the tune of $500,000 — to fully gut the boat and renovate it to be comfortable and seaworthy. And he had to work through the logistics of setting up computer networking and getting cell service and stable internet on a boat.
His diligence has paid off; today, Moore is selling 11 companies, closing two other deals, and leading two capital raises for clients from his yacht. The team’s work includes national franchise resales for several franchisers and due diligence assessments of companies prior to sale.
“My business is entirely about making other people money and helping them retire from their company,” he said.
Like any other office building in Charleston, there’s hurricane damage and threats to contend with. Moore knows the challenge all too well; his previous yacht was destroyed by Hurricane Damian. As a backup, he keeps a physical location on King Street to receive work mail and a place to work when major storms threaten the area.
“However, I’m 95% of the time on the boat,” he said.
He commissioned a yacht furniture company to make custom seaworthy furniture for both indoor and outdoor workspaces in a navy and white color palette along with teak wood tables for outdoor decks with comfortable seating for 12 people on the top deck.
In addition to his career in acquisitions, Moore also mentors business students at the College of Charleston and teaches in the college’s Business U program.
Moore loves his new office, although he has run into a couple of small challenges. Helicopters and squawking seagulls often break through the quietness of a virtual meeting.
“People who come for meetings don’t always want to leave,” he said.T