Labor Day travelers on Highway A1A, south of the Flagler Beach Pier, pass by a house that looks like a refuge for fierce-looking pirates. Grinning buccaneers scale the walls, sit on the railing and stand on the rooftop deck of this two-story home.
But there’s no danger. They are merely models collected over the years by homeowner Griff Detrick. “We started with one and it got out of hand,” Detrick says. “But it’s been fun.”
The house has become an attraction. “That place is more photographed than Princess Place,” said neighbor Mike Larson. “It’s good to be different.”
The first pirate came aboard about 10 years ago, when Detrick watched a chainsaw exhibition in Flagler Beach by renowned Florida woodcarver Jerry Stringham.
“I was fascinated,” Detrick says. “I had to have this pirate I watched him carve.”
That peg-legged wooden pirate now stands in front of Detrick’s house. Through the years, friends and family have slowly added to the crew, finding them at such places as flea markets and the International Bazaar in Orlando. All the pirates except for the first one are fiberglass.
Detrick says that sometimes people tell him about a pirate statue that’s available somewhere. “I tell them I’m running out of space,” he says. “But I guess there’s room to hang a few more on the side of the house.”
Children are enthralled by the display, Detrick says. “I tell them the pirates move around at midnight,” he says. “They like that.”
The pirates also make good conversation pieces at the parties Detrick and his wife Carol host throughout the year.
Flagler Beach Chamber of Commerce Chairman Joseph Pozzuoli says he has noticed people stopping to take pictures. “It brings a smile to people, so that’s a good thing. I’ve never had a negative thought about the house but I wouldn’t want multiple houses on A1A going Disney-esque like that. One is enough,” he says.
Detrick, a retired civil engineer, moved to Flagler Beach in 1999. He spends his time walking his dogs, dabbling in real estate and tending the pirates, which need frequent painting because of the sea air.
When real pirates roamed the seas, they ranged from the Caribbean Sea to the Carolinas, but there is no historical record of any coming ashore in Flagler Beach.
“We were not developed at the time,” says Teri Pruden, director of the Flagler Beach Museum. “There was no one here to document any pirate activity.”
But if treasure is buried in these parts, perhaps Detrick’s pirates know, and maybe they will reveal the secret some evening around midnight.
For Wayne Grant's previous story about surf fishing, click here.