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Augusta, Ga., lawyer Jack E. Boone Jr. likes to tell people he flies the international flag of lawyers outside his office. A white skull and crossbones on a black field — the pirate’s standard — is fluttering in the breeze, its reflection dark in the water below. That’s right. Water. Boone’s law office is a 47-foot yacht called Dolphin, docked on the Savannah River at Riverfront Marina. Though Boone, a self-proclaimed hippie with a craggy face, easy grin and curly ponytail streaked with gray, likes to joke about his flag, the events that led him to work on water are more serious. Boone says he’d always wanted a boat, and had even been a crewman and diver on boats in the Caribbean in his late teens. But his life in the law had been largely in a downtown office for more than 20 years. Then his brother died of cancer at age 40. His father had died young, too, he says. And Boone, 47, realized that he might have a limited time in which to accomplish his dream. “Lawyers, you know, we work 24 hours a day and we drive around in fancy cars, and we have big houses, and we die,” he says. IN SEARCH OF ‘OFFICE’ BOAT So four or five years ago, he and his wife, Julie, began looking for a boat that could serve as his law office — a convenient tax deduction for renovations, he says — and eventually as their retirement home. He wanted a wooden boat, then realized it would require too much maintenance. After searches that led him to New York and Texas, among other states, he finally found a 1968 Chris Craft with a fiberglass hull in Marathon, Fla. The boat has two 280-horsepower diesel engines, phone and Internet access, and a generator for electricity. But he says he seldom turns on the lights because his office is encircled by windows. The Dolphin and its renovation cost six figures, he says, admitting he went $30,000 or $40,000 over budget because of unexpected problems — including a fuel tank mishap. That meant Boone bailed about 50 gallons of diesel out of the bilge by hand, then spent hours on his hands and knees, swabbing the bilge with white vinegar to combat the smell. Though Boone and his wife and sons spent two weeks on the boat in Florida’s waters after he bought it, he says he’s doing maintenance on the engines before its next venture. That doesn’t daunt him. “It’s like a home. There’s always something you can do,” he says. “I love it. Occupational therapy.” Renovating the boat was a form of therapy, too, and Boone is eager to give tours and talk about the transformation. His secretary’s desk is in front of the helm, where a chart table once stood. A copier and couch take up most of the rest of the boat’s upper level. Narrow stairs lead down to his office, where the breakfast nook and living area used to be. There’s a head, a bedroom where a bed and extra computer share space, and a galley whose refrigerator (which contains only Budweiser today) is visible from his desk. A tiny room called the V-berth, intended as crew quarters, has been converted to a mail and file room. Visitors approach the Dolphin via a slim walkway that curves up the side of the boat to its aft deck. They enter through a door not morethan 24 inches wide — so narrow it’s guaranteed to serve up instant guilt for anyone who’s had dessert in the last week. Heavyset clients — or those who get jittery on the water — have the option of meeting Boone at his home office or at the marina’s nearby picnic tables. WHEN CLIENTS VISIT Boone’s practice is mostly criminal defense work, including capital cases. He also does some personal injury, divorce and corporate matters. Most of his clients, he says, love the boat. One potential client, visiting for the first time, looks around in wonder. “Now this is what I call a law office!” she says. She asks if Boone needs a secretary, and says she’d love to work on a boat. Does the office relieve the stress of needing a lawyer? A little, she says, smile fading just a bit. A FLOATING STRESS-REDUCER But for Boone, the Dolphin has been a huge stress reducer. Boone is a man perpetually in motion, a master of multitasking. During an interview, he fields his own calls. (Margo Young, his secretary, is at lunch). He accepts one collect call from an inmate — admits that was a mistake almost before the receiver hits the cradle — then rejects about five more collect calls that immediately follow. He flips though a horoscope book a friend loaned him, examining its birth date analyses of himself and his family. He endorses checks, stacks them, calls Young down to collect them the instant she walks in the door after lunch. He lights cigarette after cigarette, adding to the already well-filled ashtrays around the boat. He checks his stocks online. They’re down, again. “You caught me on a calm day,” he says, finally. Lots of times, he explains, he’s pretty intense. He scrunches his face, bares his teeth, curls his fingers into tiger claws to demonstrate. Then he looks around the boat, at the brightness reflected by the water through the windows even on this cloudy day. “It helps with that, a little,” he says. “It’s given me a little more sense of freedom, a little sense of hope that one day I’ll get somewhere and get something done.” He jumps to his feet and leads a visitor up the narrow steps from his office to the reception area, pulls down another set of steps and climbs into the fresh, crisp air on the Dolphin’s flying bridge. “I love to get up and go to work in the morning,” he says. He gestures at the river, talking about the minnows that congregate around the boat in the afternoon. He tells of bream so wise that when he fishes, they look up at him on the boat’s deck, then swim away without touching his line. He turns toward the South Carolina shore, explaining that he loves watching the kingfishers, the herons, the river otters eating hydrilla, a vine-like underwater plant. Suddenly he relaxes, sliding into a captain’s chair. As the lines of his face smooth you can almost hear his heart rate slowing. He scans the dull gold of winter-dead grasses on the opposite bank, looking down at the Savannah’s green-gray water, corrugated by a light breeze. “I say that I am the king of all I survey,” he says, and smiles.

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