The SpaceThe 50' Chris Craft, GiaMaria, is a hybrid idea turned reality that came into my mind as I was exploring a way to provide an adventure for guests at a reasonable price, even for those who would be staying aboard only for one night. And so, I built the boat so that looking at the stars and hearing a Hoot Owl from the upper deck, would in my opinion beat hands down watching another dumbed down TV program. Also, my plan was for the GiaMaria to offer a total living space, where you can cook a full meal or grill outside. She is not just a room where you don't know who is in the next room to you, but a safe and quiet place where you can relax while "off the beaten path." For all practicable purposes, you will be experiencing living in a "tiny house" while living aboard a very nice boat. So, if you have ever wondered what living in a tiny house is like, or what living in a houseboat would be like, then this is for you. Because you get not only a great place to enjoy your stay, but you get to experience both life styles. This vessel is a great addition to the greater Richmond area too because of her unique location, and also her close proximity to the cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell and Colonial heights.
And something else that is unique has to do with me, your host. And that is, I am the longest surviving USCG licensed James River tugboat captain, and in my retirement years in addition to building and offering the Giamaria, I became an amateur historian, writer, and a lover of the hundreds of species of wildlife in our area. Even where the GiaMaria is berthed it is unique, because she is moored alongside a private dock, and in a remote oxbow of the James River where commercial vessels don't rock and roll us, or scare our game, or destroy our beautiful shorelines. In truth, we are remote without being remote because we are only seven miles from the Capital of Virginia. Yet the only approach to the Richmond Yacht Basin other than by water (or helicopter) is through the beautiful, scenic, and well kept Richmond National Battlefield Park.
It is an area where many species of wildlife live and can appear at any time or place along the roadway, so please be careful when driving. The road which is about a mile long has a speed limit of 25 MPH and follows earthworks that were hand dug by Union soldiers during the Civil War .
At the end of the road and straight ahead, a walking path will lead you to Fort Brady (named for Matthew Brady the celebrated Civil War Photographer) which overlooks the James River. It is a magical spot well worth every minute you will spend there.
And only a few yards away and to your right is a coded gate that secures a couple of beautiful farms and the marina entrance.
As you descend the hill, the sign reads 41/2 miles per hour. It is not just to control speed, but because we want you to take a moment and enjoy the beautiful view and the historic space that you are entering as you approach the marina.
The GiaMaria is only a 50' long Houseboat, but what has surprised every single guest that has stayed aboard, is how roomy and comfortable she is.
As her owner and someone who has spent a lifetime on boats, I very well know how charming but uncomfortable some boats can be no matter their size. And so, my number one goal as I set out to redesign and rebuild this vessel was to make it as comfortable as your home, and also highly functional. And if what my guests have had to say about it is true, then I did accomplish this goal. And not only did I want to build in easy living, but my plan also included locating the GiaMaria in a safe, seclude and picturesque marina.
I therefore chose Richmond Yacht Basin to be her new home. It is a place where my guests would have an opportunity to cruise, fish, play or stay aboard in one of the most beautiful settings to be found in Eastern Virginia. It is not the kind of marina where all boats are necessarily stacked one beside the other, or where deck shoes are required, but a place with lots of local color because of the people who inhabit the marina, the working boatyard and the wilderness just across the river.
Richmond Yacht Basin, a place that I have come to cherish, is a small, quiet and cozy family owned jewel, and it is only 15 minutes or less from downtown Richmond by way of (Osborne Turnpike) an old country road. The road itself is also unique because as you reach a point on a hill just before entering Richmond you will experience a beautiful view of the downtown, yet you will still be traveling past a well kept farm.
But back at the marina and within walking/jogging/cycling distance there is the Richmond National Battlefield Park, a magnificent Henrico County owned park at Osborne Landing with a Bass Master's Classic landing for launching boats and a separate kayak/canoe launch dock and a wonderful playground for children complete with toilet facilities. And it is all free.
We are also adjacent to one of the busiest and most scenic bike trails anywhere in Virginia (The Virginia Capital Trail which runs from Richmond to Williamsburg) and on any given weekend hundreds of cyclists peddle through the park near the marina or on the trail as individuals, couples or on club outings.
The historic James River will be your "front yard" where sea going tugs and ships travel sometimes on a daily basis, but of course not through "our front yard". The GiaMaria rests in only four feet of water at dockside, and it is protected from storms by a wild and beautiful island on the opposite shore.
And if you like history, there is no spot in the entire United States that can offer so much in such a small space. You will be onsite where Powhatan and his daughter Pocahontas spent much of their lives at Arrohateck, as did her husband John Rolfe. And just around the river's bend you can experience Henricus Park (named for Prince Henry, the eldest son of King James I) and the second English Virginia settlement in America. Henricus is a re-created historical adventure park that is well worth visiting and it is similar in many ways to the Jamestown Historical Park.
Our area is also the place where Benedict Arnold sank our Colonial fleet as it rested on anchor almost within sight of our marina once our patriots had declared war on England in order to gain our independence. And just up the road in Church Hill, Patrick Henry gave his famous "give me liberty or give me death" speech.
Civil War battles were fought here on Chafin's farm while Union Ironclads like the Monitor and Galena fought unsuccessfully while trying to pass Drewery's Bluff (the confederate naval academy) and hoping to subdue the confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Think names like Captain John Smith( Jamestown), Patrick Henry( "Give me liberty or give me death") and US Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Tyler and William Henry Harrison. Peter Jefferson(Thomas' father) lived here before moving to Monticello in the Albermarle as did the 4th Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall. Generals during the Revolutionary War, like Washington (American), LaFayette (French), Arnold and Cornwallis (English), and Kosciuszko (Polish), Washington's "accomplished military architect" as well as Civil War Generals like Grant and Lee were also here. All of these giants spent considerable time here or lived here as did many other well known personalities throughout our history.
In modern times people like the Honorable Governor of Virginia, L. Douglas Wilder, grew up and lived just down the road in Churchill and became the first black governor of Virginia and in the United States. And the late and much loved singer Jimmy Dean chose his wife, his yacht, (The Big Bad John), and this area as his playground and also to make it his home.
Fortunately for us today, Jimmy Dean's beautiful widow and well known singer, Donna Meade Dean Stevens has been very successful in her own right while reviving The Old Dominion Barn Dance, a Virginia Treasure that was broadcast in the 40's and 50's throughout much of the country and even worldwide to our servicemen and women who were serving overseas during those years.
But the area is not all about famous people and events. Wildlife abounds here. Bald Eagles nest just across the channel as do Great Blue Herons, Little Green Herons and Ospreys among many other birds and land creatures.
And Osborne Landing which is only a mile away has become a sports person's paradise. Whether it is fishing, hunting, skiing, paddle boarding, canoeing, canoe sailing, small boat sailing, kayaking, playing on personal watercraft, hiking the beautiful and well planned paths that will take you down by the riverside, checking out the battlefields, hunting for relics or what ever suits your fancy, you will find it here. In fact, there is only one word to describe the docking spot that the GiaMaria enjoys, and that word is UNIQUE.
One more thing. I understand that anything is possible, but our area is UNIQUE in another way too. We have not suffered from many serious storms, earthquakes, fires, droughts or blizzards as do other parts of the US. We experience the four seasons, and it would be very unusual for any one season to have severe weather that would last more than a few days at a time. We truly are blessed to live in such a beautiful historic countryside that is laced with meandering back roads that cut through ancient forest or small well kept farms and villages. So..., what are you waiting for? Come and take the weight off and absorb the excitement (or the solitude) that the Crossroads of North American History has to offer. Guest AccessIf you want to bring your personal fishing gear, bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, etc., there is plenty of room on board the GiaMaria for them. One of the latest and very exciting recent developments surrounding Richmond Yacht Basin is that the Richmond National Battlefield Park bike route now has a direct link to the Virginia Capital Trail. This newly opened hard surfaced cycling/walking/running path covers more than 50 miles between Richmond, the capital of Virginia and the ancient colonial capitals of Jamestown and Williamsburg. As you will see, our area is truly a place where you can have it all. Interaction with GuestsSomeone will be within minutes of you should you need assistance. But, we also respect your privacy just as we would any neighbor. The NeighborhoodWhether you just want to stay aboard and enjoy the boat, or experience all the area has to offer, we can help you find your way. There are wonderful upscale restaurants with great views of both the river and the city in Churchill Hill, Shockoe Slip,("the bottom") or Rocketts Landing. Restaurants such as Millie's, The Tobacco Company, Conch Republic or The Boat House are all only minutes from the GiaMaria.
But we also have ( kinda/sorta) in our backyard, the "Lilly Pad". Actually it is next door to Osborne landing. It is a great little spot along the shore where you can have a relaxed evening with locals over a beer or a delicious meal, and sometimes they have live music, but it is like that proverbial box of chocolates, "you never know what you're gonna get".
Richmond also has great museums, sporting events, Class III and class IV whitewater rafting that will carry you right through the city. There are also numerous theaters, places of worship, colleges and universities. County and National parks are all around us, and only a short drive up or down the road is Petersburg, Charlottesville, Williamsburg, Jamestown, or Yorktown as well as Bush Gardens, Kings Dominion and outlet malls. In fact, there is so much to see and do here in our area, that it would require a team to put it all together in tour guide format. There is truly something here for everyone, and we can help you find it. Getting AroundDriving? You will park in a free secured lighted area with lighted docks during your entire stay. Richmond has two train stations and an airport which is only fifteen minutes away.
We are four miles from route five (a Virgina Scenic by-Way), five and a half miles from I-295 and five miles from I-95. Richmond in my opinion is the easiest city on the east coast to get around in. We have multiple freeways going in all directions and even through the middle of the city.
And monument Avenue in the center of Richmond is the only avenue in the United States that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, Monument Avenue was named one of the 10 Great Streets in the country, by the American Planning Association.
Note: It is worth reading on Wikipedia about this great street and the events that occur there each year. And ladies, bring your most outlandish bonnet if you plan to be here during Easter.
Want an "in place" to do some chic shopping, then don't miss Carytown on Cary Street. It is just a few blocks south of and parallel to Monument Ave. Other Things to NoteI am a native Virginian who has spent most of my life living and working on or along the James River and at a very young age, I developed a love of our area, our people, and our history, and I will be glad to share what I know with my guests.