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Meet Thomas Gumz of Yacht Moonlighter in Fort Lauderdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Gumz.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Thomas. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After living in Manhattan, NYC for many years, I needed a change of scenery and really wanted some waterfront views. Right across Manhattan on the NJ side, I found a really cool and unique pier which houses a condominium structure on top of it. That pier extends about 600 ft. into the Hudson and provides spectacular, unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline. And not only that, it also had a nice Marina next to it, named “Lincoln Harbor Marina”. I worked as a software engineer at IBM at the time and wasn’t into much into boats or yachts at all, but seeing the yachting lifestyle up front from my living room caught my interest and when one of the larger 97 ft. yachts there announced that they’re relocating the vessel down to Florida over the winter, I asked if I could hitch a ride with them to see how living and working on a yacht would feel like. The owner graciously took me long for a wild ride and I was hooked! I knew then, that this is something I wanted to do. Not just owning a boat but actually living on a yacht full time! While I worked as a software engineer at IBM at the time, I did some moonlighting and had built various small software projects on the side for fun and one of them took off and had (and still has) great commercial success. I invested all that side income in the stock market and did pretty well over a couple of years, so much, so that was ultimately able to buy myself my own yacht from it.

And since I was ‘moonlighting’ while making that money, it was only fitting to name the yacht “Moonlighter”! I relocated to Fort Lauderdale, FL since I had friends there already and also because it’s the ‘yachting capital’ of the US, and searched for ‘my’ perfect yacht. It took me almost exactly one year to find it but once I saw her, I knew I had found my perfect match and we closed on the yacht within 2 months or so. The owner of the 97 ft. yacht where I took my first ‘maiden’ voyage with, had introduced me to an experienced and friendly yacht broker who worked with me to find the right vessel and after we closed on the yacht he said: “Well, congratulations Thomas, you’re a yacht owner now! What are you going to do with it now? Let me teach you how to operate it! Free lessons until you’re good to go!” He isn’t just one of the best yacht brokers you can find in South Florida, he’s also a very experienced captain for over 30 years and loves to teach, so off we went on many trips and became good friends in the process.

Now, operating and maintaining a yacht is expensive; a good rule of thumb is to figure between 10-20% of the initial purchase price every year. So, if the yacht costs, say $1 million, you’ll end up spending $100-$200K each and every year on it to keep it from deteriorating. One way of helping to defray those costs is to charter out the yacht, another benefit for up and coming captains is to accumulate sea hours by being out on the water! I get to spend time out on the water driving my yacht which I love. I get paid for having fun and our customers are having a great time! It’s a win-win all around! Another nice thing was that, a Canadian movie production company found us online and used Yacht Moonlighter as a filming location for an episode of the TV crime drama “Guilty Rich” on the Discovery ID channel!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It was mostly smooth sailing (pun intended, haha!) for the most part. Once, I made the decision to ‘do this’, I needed to first relocate my primary residence from NY down to Florida, since buying a yacht in NY (at the time) would’ve incurred a hefty sales tax, whereas FL caps the sales tax at $18K max. Florida is generally more tax friendly since it also doesn’t levy any capital gains taxes (I sold some stock to pay for the yacht), nor do you pay state income taxes in Florida.

Yacht Moonlighter – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our motto is: “Live life like a celebrity. Affordable hourly private luxury yacht charters. Captain, crew, champagne, fun and fuel included!”. We host groups up to six people on our yacht, mostly for birthday celebrations, anniversaries, corporate events and marriage proposals. Our best and most fun charter so far, was for a very nice couple from Kentucky who came to Florida to get engaged on a boat during a sunset cruise. I’ve worked with him for about a month before the actual trip to get every single detail right and perfect to exactly what he wanted and it was a 100% success. She said YES and they’re getting married this year! We really personalize each and every trip individually to our customer’s request to make it really perfect.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is when you achieve whatever you’ve dreamed up and made that a reality. A big portion of luck always helps, too. The feeling of accomplishment once you actually finish the task you set out to do, whatever that might be. Money is marker for any business of course, yet you can’t put a price tag on the satisfaction I got when we were able to make the most important day of that couple’s lives just perfect!


  • 3 hours: $750
  • 4 hours: $1000
  • 5 hours: $1250
  • 6 hours: $1500
  • 7 hours: $1750
  • 8 hours: $2000

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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