- Pirate Cove Marina’s roots go back to 1953 when Thomas W. Kidd, Jr. bought the property next door to the marina to build a family home on what was then a secluded dead end street on the Island Park peninsula. Thomas ran a marine construction business across the river in Tiverton building seawalls, breakwaters and jetties. In fact, the jetty at the entrance to Nantucket Harbor is his handiwork. His son Don worked for him in the construction business, enjoying driving the big machinery and lifts.
- The escape bridge connecting Island Park to the Hummocks was opened and in 1963 Thomas purchased the land on which the marina now sits. He had both the vision to foresee what that land could become and the expertise to build a marina. Permitting took two years, construction another two.
- Thomas’ Marina opened for business. And with a name like Kidd – as in Captain William Kidd the Scottish privateer – what better name for his marina than Pirate Cove. To this day, while there are many Pirate Cove Marinas on the East coast, we are the only ones with a real Captain Kidd!
Thomas built the breakwater and cement bulkhead to protect the entrance, and used pre-1900 era pilings extracted from a Boston bridge demolition to set the docks. Most of those pilings are still in service. Even though it housed just a dozen boats at first, the dock layout is pretty much what you see today with 75 slips and 45 moorings. It was a very casual marina, with a 25 ton travel lift but no fuel or services. The office was originally a one-story building with a desk and a pay phone. A fuel dock was added next to the building in 1969. Actor James Cagney and singer Tom Jones were two of the marina’s famous early members, and six of the original members still keep their boats with us today.
- Thomas’ son Donald R. Kidd took over as acting manager. At the time the marina had a box lift, so masts had to be taken down before sailboats could be lifted. That was accomplished with block and tackle attached to the bumper of Don’s pickup truck. Improvements were in order as they got busier, and he bought a bigger, 40-ton travel lift and retired the pickup. He also expanded offerings and turned the marina into more of a service operation in addition to a great place to keep your boat. He took on more and more boats for both summer fun and winter storage. Putting his construction knowledge to good use, he built storage cradles from wood. “My construction background helped immensely, it made me know my limitations and my equipment’s limitations,” Don says. “In the years we’ve been here, we never damaged a boat.”
- Don bought the marina from his parents’ estate and moved the fuel dock to the end of what is now C-D Dock on an 80′ foot float for easy access. Since it was a floating dock, Don had to dedicate a staff person to stay out there all day. Later, he moved the fuel dock back near the office to minimize risk of spillage and make staffing easier.
- Don opened a J-Boat dealership at the marina, and it quickly grew to become largest J-Boat dealer in the U.S. for ten years running, from 1982 to 1992. The dealership’s success led Bob Johnstone to write a story called “If you want to know what’s fast, ask a Kidd.” They also hosted J-Boat Regattas for J22s, J24 and J30s, setting up a racecourse further south in the Sakonnet River.
- In 1980 he built a second story onto the marina office, partly to handle the J-Boat business but also to expand the store, bringing in more of the items boaters need to maintain and enjoy their boats. To add repair and maintenance services, he hired Dave Holden in 1982.
- Pirate Cove obtained permits to place 50 moorings outside the breakwater, and Don and Dave set about sinking 4000-pound concrete blocks one at a time. They attached chain, line and mooring ball, hung the entire assembly from blocks under an old 32′ powerboat that didn’t run anymore, towed it out to the proper location, cut the line, and the mooring sunk right into place.
- Hurricane Gloria brought high winds and three feet of water to the parking lot, but not a single boat was damaged.
- Eight feet of stone was added to the breakwater, which was hidden underwater at high tide – a navigation hazard. The added height also offered more storm protection. Seeing a need for more winter storage, he bought the Island Park Movie Theater building and property in 1986, which today houses 65 boats.
- Hurricane Bob struck in August, again with high winds and enough water to dinghy around the parking lot, but no boat damage. Don rode out the hurricane in Boothbay Harbor, ME, while Dave oversaw operations at the Cove.
- Meanwhile, Don’s son Brandon grew up around the boat yard and was immersed in boating at a young age. When he was four, he and his family lived aboard an Irwin 52′ for two years. Over the years, he had a chance to form lasting relationships with many customers and to learn the ropes first-hand from his Dad and Dave’s 60+ years of boating expertise. His boating passion grew and today he is fortunate to be able to combine his passion for boats with his business expertise gained at Bryant University.
- Don handed over the keys and Brandon took the tiller at the marina jumping in whole-heartedly to the marina’s next chapter of growth and development. He’s bringing Pirate Cove into the next generation with enhanced products and services, fine-tuning operations to keep up with new environmental regulations. Already he has hosted a 40th anniversary party and a blood drive, improved the grounds, and opened a new yacht brokerage office. As the industry changes, he’s constantly looking for new ways to evolve the marina and the best way to do things. In the future, continue to look for treasure at Pirate Cove!
- Pirate’s celebrated their 40th anniversary with a summer picnic for customers at the marina. It was a huge success, attended by over 300 people chowing down a traditional clam boil and enjoying each other’s company.
- The marina also takes care of the community, launching an annual blood drive every July, with about 50 people giving blood for the American Red Cross.
- Brandon established a relationship with Sakonnet Point Club in Little Compton, bringing some boat care services directly to club members on site.
- The marina opened a yacht brokerage office, Pirate Cove Yacht Sales with listings on yachtworld.com.
- Pirate’s added additional indoor winter and year-round storage space for 25 boats on Fish Road in Tiverton, reaching out to Tiverton and Little Compton boaters.
- Brandon and his staff jumped into social media to help keep in touch with customers via Facebook and Twitter. They keep followers up to date on fuel dock prices, event info, yacht maintenance reminders, and weather updates.
- Pirate Cove Marina secured a Community Block Development Grant, which provides funds to improve property appearance. Brandon used it to improve the entryway, add a new guardrail and a new sign, and to refurbish a WWII U.S. Navy anchor. His grandfather had purchased the anchor in 1967 and used it as a mooring until it was replaced with modern equipment. It now serves as a fitting marina location marker at the Point Road entryway.
- To keep up with a growing list of loyal clientele, the marina added more boat storage space at 684 Park Avenue, Portsmouth, on three acres of waterfront property.
- A new full time mechanic was hired on staff.
- Brandon earned his Captain’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard, becoming certified in CPR and First Aid in the process.
- Each year the marina has added moorings for summer and transient rental, up to a total of 54 in 2011.
- Gas dock hours were expanded to 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Another mechanic was added to the staff to keep up with customer needs.
- Another successful customer event, A Pirate’s Picnic, was held over the summer – a screening of Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie on a giant inflatable screen at the Park Avenue Property. Better than a drive-in!
- Many improvements were made at the marina, including buying another workboat, rehabbing the dock-building barge, upgrading the barge push boat, and upgrading the crane.
- Staff were busy replacing docks and pilings in the marina to make them stronger and safer.
- Expanding the scope of our Barge services, we drove pilings and built a new dock at Little Compton’s Sakonnet Point Club.
- The marina is active in ongoing stop-the-toll efforts, collecting signatures voicing opposition to the toll on the new Sakonnet River Bridge.
- Plans call for more customer events and facility upgrades, including a dock at the Park Avenue property. Stay tuned for more developments and continue to look for treasure at Pirate Cove!