By Bruce Burdett
Pirate Cove Marina is expanding from its Portsmouth base across the Sakonnet River to Tiverton where it will oversee the former Quality Yacht Services waterfront site.
It’s a move that gives Pirate Cove the elbow room it needs to store and service many more boats. And for the Kidd family that founded and owns Pirate Cove Marina, it’s a return to roots. Three generations ago, Thomas W. Kidd Jr. bought the Tiverton facility from Humphrey Lumber and ran his marine construction and boatyard businesses there. Barges pulled up to the bulkhead and took on loads of stone used to build breakwaters at Cuttyhunk, Nantucket and other places.
“In some ways, we’ve come full circle,” said Donald Kidd (son of Thomas and father of present-day Pirate Cove owner Brandon Kidd).
Pirate Cove has agreed to lease the marina from owner Trinity Marine of the Channel Island (between England and France), for three years with the option of two 3-year renewals.
“Our long-term hope is that we might someday get an opportunity buy it and this gets our foot in the door,” said Brandon Kidd, Pirate Cove Marina owner and manager.
Trinity Marine purchased the Quality Yacht Services at 95 Riverside Drive about five years ago for around $8 million and announced plans to build a “world class marina and yacht yard.” The transformation would cost $5 million, a spokesman for Trinity owner Keith Laker said at the time.
Although the company had hoped to start work on the 75-slip marina in 2009 and said it had fabricated parts for an innovative deep-water dock anchoring system (held in place by screws driven deep into the riverbed), funding issues caused those plans to be put on hold.
“That is still their plan,” Mr. Kidd said. “If they ever do build, we would stay here and run the marina for them … so either way, we believe we are involved there for the long haul.”
Along with much of the Quality Yacht Services property (the lease does not include the southern half of the lot) and its very deep water frontage — depths are 30 feet right off the bulkhead — Pirate Cove inherits many of the former QYC clients and several experienced yard workers.
“Our team is excited about the opportunity to service and store boats at our new location. Through cooperative efforts with the QYS management team, we were able to retain approximately 70 percent of their clients.”
Helping ease the transition is the fact that QYC yard manager Steve Perry is staying on as are a few others.
“It gives us the continuity we need to reassure customers that they will get the same top-notch service they have come to expect there … Steven’s skill set and rapport with his clients will smooth the transition for everyone involved. I’ve known Steven a long time,” Brandon Kidd said.
With a 40-ton travel-lift (that previously served Pirate Cove Marina on the Portsmouth side), the Tiverton facility will offer all of the services of the Portsmouth location, from hauling and storage to varnish and repairs.
The Tiverton location has room for 50 boats in outdoor storage and six to eight large boats indoors.
“That’s especially important because we were at our storage limit” at the Portsmouth marina,” Brandon Kidd said. Pirate Cove also rents boat storage space at the old Portsmouth bowling alley on Park Avenue (across from Scampi’s) and in Tiverton on Fish Road.
“The Tiverton facility will open many doors for us, including building a relationship with the marine trades program at the local high school,” said Brandon Kidd. “Our founder, my grandfather Thomas W. Kidd, owned this property years ago where he ran a marine services facility. We expect to continue his tradition of high quality work.”
Work is already under way to repair a portion of the dock and pilings, as well as move the Pirate Cove Yacht Sales office to the Tiverton site.
Former QYS customer and long-time boater Jack Ellis had been looking for a home for Independence, his Sabre powerboat, and said he’s thrilled to have Pirate Cove taking over.
He had planned to keep his boat on the Portsmouth side but, “Later (Brandon Kidd) called and said they’d taken over operation of the Quality yard in Tiverton and they could accommodate me there. I was really pleased because I live right up the hill,” Mr. Ellis said. “It’s also great news for the town that we have another business opening after one closed.”
After opening Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth in the early 1960s, the Kidd family sold the Tiverton facility to George Cerce who ran the former Tiverton Boathouse there. Later, Shannon Yachts operated a yacht service operation at the site, which later gave way to Quality Yacht Services.