MORGAN HILL, Calif. -- Have you ever just wanted to get out of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland and walk through the world of buccaneers and raiders? In Morgan Hill, Calif. you can.
"Morgan's Cove is just a pirates island and you have to see it, it's too hard to describe," "The Benevolent Pirate" Rich Firato said. "Whatever I try to tell you, whatever hype that you hear, it will surpass it. This is like being at the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, but you can get out of the boat and walk around and touch it. People are amazed with the attention to detail. Everything was designed to look in a camera. So wherever you look, I challenge you to find something that's out of place."
Morgan's Cove takes up the entire backyard and side yard of Firato's house in the Bay Area.
For his day job, Firato works for his family-owned sanitation company.
He never dreamed of creating a pirates paradise until a surprising inspiration came his way.
"When we moved into this house, my wife wanted to tear this backyard down," Firato said. "It was just an overgrown mess. The guy that was doing the demolition told me I have this vision for your yard. This guy had long hair, had an earring with a hook on it and he had teeth around his neck. He was a real life, Daniel Boone. He just said let's go do it. So we built every day for three years and we just created this tropical island. It's always evolving every day, every week. All the props that you see, all the displays, are mostly handmade and they stay intact. They don't come down."
These props include dozens of skeletons, handmade props like treasure chests and the centerpiece, an actual pirate ship.
"There was this news anchor who said, 'If you own enough coin in your treasure chest, you can own this,'" Firato said. "I just about died. He was from British Columbia. He told me that this is a one third scale of a Spanish galleon, something very similar to Sir Francis Drake and the 1500s. So I called him up and said I want to buy your ship. He told me that he checked me out on YouTube and saw everything about me. He said he was going to ship the boat to my house, fly there and he'll show you how to put it together. It was just a match made in heaven."
A small team and a crane installed the pirate ship on Firato's lawn that you can actually see if you drive down Hill Road in Morgan Hill.
Firato doesn't just keep his hidden gem a secret to the public, he holds tours and parties.
While he can't officially open Morgan's Cove to the public because it is in a residential neighborhood, Firato shows why he is considered "The Benevolent Pirate" and offers to host events for charities and non-profits.
Firato shows that not all pirates plunder.
"Rich really was the character that identified with Morgan's Cove," Firato's friend Charles Veach said. "I mean, he's a Pirate heart. He acts the part in every way.
"He's big and burly, but he's just like a big teddy bear." Firato's friend Kevin Fernandes said. "He loves everybody and he's real good role model. He gives back to the more than he needs to."
There is truly so much to see and experience while walking around Morgan's Cove.
It's hard to pick a favorite.
In fact, there is no favorite for Firato.
"The last place I was at," Firato said. "Because what happens is when you start here, and you go through and visit everything, you forget what you just saw. Right now it's the captain's quarters looking at the ship behind me."
While on his tours, Firato and his band of merry men tell the tales of their voyages along the Lady Morgan.
They tell the story of how their ship time travelled back to the Spanish Galleons to find treasure to return to Morgan's Cove.
Their story is now in a book that they sell.
Those that review the book can earn a tour of the cove.
Firato hopes that the book can help take his home to a new level and create a lasting memory in the South Bay for years to come.
So will he ever be done creating and dreaming?
"The answer to that is no," Firato said. "We look behind us and we want to sell a million or 2 million books so I could buy the property next door and continue. It's just a neat place. You don't see this. To see Morgan's Cove, you have to go to Disneyland. But in Disneyland you can't get out of the boat. My goal really is to be the Walt Disney of my time. I just want to pursue it to see if I can do it. I want this place to be historical site 100 years from now. 100 years from now, I want kids to be able to walk through here and see it. So if I make it really cool, make it authentic and real, they're going to want to keep it here. They are going to want to stay and become part of Morgan Hill."
For more information on Firato's book or Morgan's Cove, visit their website here.