After 14 years of sailing out of Maho Bay Camps, Pepper – the little, yellow wooden boat fashioned after an 1860s Island Sloop – is returning back to its roots. The boat will now sail from the Coral Bay dock, which is mere feet from where it was originally built.
“Pepper was built behind Skinny’s, so we brought her back over here,” said Lance Davies, who now owns Pepper with his wife Kim Sammartano. “We are originating right from the dingy dock, right behind the fire station, right behind Skinny’s. That’s where all the sails will start.”
Lance and Kim purchased Pepper after chatting with its former owners at Maho Bay Camps’ employee going away party. Kim worked at the campground for one season where she was affectionately known as the “beach cafe girl.”
“Kim knew the owners of Pepper through Maho, and at the going away party, they started having a conversation about us buying it. So, we did,” said Lance, who worked as a divemaster at Caneel Bay’s dive shop.
“It was a bittersweet moment,” Kim added. “I wanted to keep something from Maho. I wanted to keep it going.”
Pepper will remain connected to Maho Bay Camps as it will serve as Concordia’s primary sailing charter. (Concordia was Maho’s sister property prior to its closure last May.)
In addition to providing charters to Concordia’s guests, Lance and Kim will also book their own trips. The couple plans to stay in local waters in and around the Coral Bay area. They also plan to intertwine some of Pepper’s history into each charter.
“Pepper was hand built behind Skinny’s in 1998, and is modeled after an 1860s Island Sloop, so she has a bit of a history,” Kim said. “And many people know all about her, some even more than us. We plan to use that history aspect, along with the history of Coral Bay in our daily routine. We hope it’ll be a lot different from all the other charters.”
Pepper can be reserved for either a full day or a sunset sail. Full day charters leave Coral Bay at 9:30 a.m. and will return at approximately 2:30 p.m. The full-day charter costs $95 per person and includes one snorkel stop and a gourmet lunch. Snorkel locations may include Le Duck, Pelican Rock or Round Bay. Next year, Lance and Kim hope to be able to bring guests into Hurricane Hole as well. (Boaters need to obtain a permit before being able to sail into Hurricane Hole. Permits are currently unavailable.) Pepper also offers sunset sails complete with hors d’oeuvres for $65 a person. The boat can accommodate up to six guests and they do combine groups if necessary.
And in an homage to Maho, Kim made sure to point out that there will be no waste stemming from Pepper’s sails.
“We’re really eco-conscience,” Kim said. “There will be no disposable cups or straws. Everything will be reusable. We want to keep the island as beautiful as possible.”