Good Morning, Good Morning! I would be remiss if I didn’t “dive” into one last story from the sea before I finish things up here! Well, technically this one is on land, but if you take a wander into the new Pirate’s Cove Shop across from Skinny Legs in Coral Bay, you are bound to be inspired (and better equipped!) to get out there on the water to explore!
Before I delve into the incredible offerings that this new store brings to Coral Bay, I first want to give you a little bit of background. You all remember Leah and Colin of Flyaway Charters, right? The couple that has assisted in the discovery of the historic shipwreck in Coral Bay…A Coral Bay power-couple with a wealth of experience in old-school sailing, diving deep into the waters (and the history) of St. John and a passion for educating their guests on Flyaway about the deeper workings of this beautiful island. Well, that is exactly who is opening up this new shop that is bringing the convenience of rentals, apparel and eco-sustainable offerings to the heart of Coral Bay! All of this deducts that this place with be SO much more than just a store…
Colin has been boating in VI waters since 1998 and chartering in Coral Bay since 2000 but the couple scraped and saved before taking the plunge into ownership with Flyaway Charters in May of 2017. Yes, you read that right. They purchased Flyaway just months before Hurricane Irma swept through the territory, claiming so many of the beautiful boats on St. John. And, while their newly acquired power boat business sustained the storms, Buxom, a 1938 gaff-rigged ketch and the boat they called their home, was damaged beyond repair.
“We’ve got really great timing,” Leah reflected jokingly…Also alluding to the birth of their son Thatch in the beginning days of COVID 🙂
Oh, and remember that shaking image of the silver SUV perched on top of what was once Chateau Bordeaux? That was Leah’s. Crazy right?
They have fought long and hard to maintain and build their charter business in the years since the storms and, in more recent years, have added a new power boat to the fleet, began managing the iconic yellow sailboat, Pepper, and rebuilt Wanderlust, a boat wasted by Hurricane Irma, in order to start running the first Lime Out shuttle service.
They also had their little boy, Thatch, who is now almost three, got married AND continued to dedicate time to researching, preserving and sharing with visitors the history, ecology and JOY of St. John. In their “spare time” Leah and Colin also dedicate a ton of volunteer hours to coordinating trash clean-ups, partnering with Gifft Hill School on a mini-mester, hosting the Woods Hole Institute and other organizations and supporting their community wherever they can. And now, Pirate’s Cove will be their next venture and it should be open next week! (These two make me exhausted just thinking about everything they do in a day…HA!)
And, it goes without saying that Pirate’s Cove will be so much more than a retail and rental shop. Here, guests can view and purchase books about St. John, her shores and her history (some of which are out of print). You can enjoy riveting conversations with Leah (and colin if you’re lucky enough to catch him off the water for the day!) during your shopping experience about stories filled with pirates, ghost ships, history and the boat building history of Coral Bay.
And you can also learn more about the sustainable products they offer in the shop. What has worked, what hasn’t and how they are sourcing them on the tiny island of St. John where NOTHING is easy to get!
On the phone last week, Leah expressed that she hoped this place would become a space for collaborative community efforts to keep St. John’s environment protected while working with other businesses to share information or assist with ordering the “green” products she has researched and sourced. On the shelves, you’ll find, not just reef-safe sunscreen, but also shampoo, conditioner, body wash and laundry detergent that either use zero plastic waste or recycled materials and use only chemicals that promote the protection of our seas, lands and reefs. She looks forward to diversifying that product line even more as she hears from customers and community members about certain products that they are looking for.
On the apparel side of things, Leah is working on sourcing sun shirts made of recycled plastics and other beach and boat friendly apparel that coincides with their sustainability mission. They have shirts and hats on the way that meet their ecologically minded goals with Pirate’s Cove designs. Currently, in store, they have these AWESOME lightweight and breathable button-down shirts (coconut buttons!) from David’s Wear that all have unique and funky, hand-painted designs.
David’s Wear is dedicated to sustainability with a mantra stating, “make what you wear an impact,” and a dedication to carbon neutrality and annual investments to carbon offset projects. In addition to these efforts behind the shirts, the designs are original and SO St. John esque. Leah also told me that collaborations are in the works with some notable names in the St. John creative circle that I am super excited to see! Rani Keohane (Ranifly Bikini) and Leah are working on some exciting plans, Tallships Trading T-shirts by Elliot Hooper will be in store soon and a pirate line by David Wegman is also in the works!
Leah also excitedly told me about the hangers she has on the way that are all made of ocean plastics. I’ve never seen someone so excited about hangers…But, I get it! Ha!
As for rentals, well, it isn’t just snorkel gear! In addition to Scuba Pro fins, masks and snorkels, you will find lobster snares, Hawaiian sling spearguns, snorkel vests and other amazing rental items (available by day or by week) to escalate your time under the sea on St. John.
Oh, did I mention the SHOT SKI? Ha! Soon come Leah and Colin will have a shot ski that you can rent for your boat day, villa or beach trip…If you have ever been to The Willie T, you probably know what I’m talking about 😉
They will also be offering Neso beach tents that sit on top of the sand to avoid staking the tent where there may be a turtle nest or other beachy friends below the surface of the sand. Leah is also working on sourcing sustainable coolers (and more!) to add to the rental repertoire.
Pirate’s Cove also has an open invitation to other organizations or individuals in the community who may want to display their collections in the shop, further promoting the historical and environmental education mission of both Flyaway Charters and their new store. While many mariner trinkets already dot the walls and the shelves of Pirate’s Cove, one to look out for is the transom of Serena Sea.
This boat was owned and chartered by the original owner of a shop in this same space. Marla McClung, owner of C 4th and her husband, Dan, shared years of beautiful memories with their guests aboard Serena Sea. Colin and Leah, good friends of the couple, ended up managing this beautiful boat for her next owners. After the storms in 2017, Leah and Colin saved her transom, knowing one day there would be a perfect home for it. And, while the original owner, Marla, is no longer with us, a piece of her boat and her heart pay tribute to her memory on the wall of the store she once operated.
A core mantra for Leah and Colin in Pirate’s Cove is to be “focused on improvement, not perfection.” We might not all get it exactly right the first time. But collaborating and growing together as a community to find new ways and options to protect and preserve…Well, that sounds like a pretty fantastic goal to me.
Pirate’s Cove is located in the space that once housed Busy Bee Dive Shop, right across the street from Skinny Legs. And while we all truly miss Busy Bee in that space, it is fantastic to see it being re-purposed as another service to the marine community here on St. John. Pirate’s Cove will be open 9-4 Monday-Friday to start with additional hours by appointment in order to fit and pick up gear. They will adjust hours based on the desires of the guests and the community as they move forward. This is the growing part 🙂
If you have questions about this unique learning experience, gear rental and gift shop or any of the other Flyaway Charters offerings, please contact Leah via email or follow Flyaway on Facebook or Instagram to watch it grow!