It’s July 4 and Pirate Pools owner Pat Irelan does not care one bit that he’s dripping sweat as he cleans a pool along the Boardwalk of Rehoboth Beach.
“If you’re going to be working, it really doesn’t get any better than this,” he said with a big smile, as a continuum of morning walkers moved along the wooden slats and families set up umbrellas on the beach. “Sometimes I really do forget I’m working.”
Pirate Pools opened for business in the weeks before Memorial Day, but Irelan comes with decades of pool maintenance and servicing knowledge.
Irelan said it all started with cleaning his parents’ pool as a teenager. “It was my job to go to the pool supply store and buy buckets of chlorine and other chemicals,” he said. “Since then, everything I’ve done has been around the water. I don’t necessarily look for it, but it keeps finding me.”
Irelan became a certified pool operator at age 19 and worked as a lifeguard after high school. He graduated from East Carolina University in 1998 with a journalism degree – his company’s name is inspired by the university mascot – but the tranquility of the pool beckoned. Irelan said he found himself as the head lifeguard, with a small staff of lifeguards and maintenance responsibilities, at a pool in North Carolina shortly after college.
By 1999, Irelan was back in Rehoboth working as the operations manager at Jungle Jim’s. He stayed there for 13 years before moving back into the pool service business four years ago. It was getting so busy, Irelan said about why he decided to branch out on his own. “I was working seven days a week, 12 hours a day for someone else,” he said.
Still a certified pool operator and lifeguard, Irelan said Pirate Pools offers a number of service options and can maximize the elaborate electronic systems of today’s pools. He said he has taken a series of pool servicing classes from manufactures and can install custom safety pool covers for winter. Irelan said he also does pool openings in the spring and winterizations in the fall.
Irelan said he’s also offering something called pool school. He described it as lesson for those new pool owners who want to do the servicing and maintenance themselves. “Some owners just want to be able to do it themselves, and I’m happy to show them how,” he said.
Pirate Pools currently serves Dewey, Rehoboth, Lewes, Milton, Millsboro and Georgetown.