|Property type||house boat|
The james River can be an awesome place to spend your time during winter months, weather permitting. So I am offering my guests who want to experience a winter on the river, a weather related full booking refund, less Homeaway fees. Here is how it works. You tell me what would be unacceptable to you weather wise, and if the forecast calls for that inclement weather to occur, then I will honor even on the day of your intended arrival a full refund. And I will be happy to help you find other suitable accommodations. Unlike some small enterprises we are not all about the money, we really do want our guests to enjoy their stay while aboard the GiaMaria. As for the vessel, she is a 46' Chris Craft Houseboat that has been completely remodeled inside and out in order to give our guests a home like atmosphere without losing the feel of being on an old riverboat. It is modern in every sense of the word. It has been reconstructed to have a large bathroom with a full sized vanity, a 4' designer shower, ventilator fans, and its own USCG certified sanitation system. It comes complete with a queen eleven inch memory foam mattress (Sleep Innovations) and high quality bedding, a small but complete galley and a large salon for relaxing. Outside you will find a very large upper deck for morning coffee or sunning that offers great views and a lower covered bow deck.
See attached pictures. But it is not just the GiaMaria that you will enjoy. It is also about her unique location.
The Richmond Yacht Basin is a gated facility for members and guests, yet there is nothing stuffy about it, and it is only 9 country road miles from downtown Richmond. It also has the distinction of being the oldest marina on the James River and its setting cannot be duplicated because it is surrounded by a beautiful island, the Richmond National Battlefield Park and a well kept privately owned farm. It is also only one mile from Osborne Landing, a county owned facility including a new fishing pier, a Bass Master's boat launch, great walking trails along the river, canoe and kayak launch ramps, pavilions for picnics/cookouts, bathrooms and wonderful playgrounds for kids, and it is always kept in tip-top shape, and yet it is all free to the public.
As you approach the marina after a beautiful canopied drive thru the Richmond National Battlefield Park, you will look through very old trees to the marina and river below. You will be on sacred ground from the minute you enter the park because it is a land where so many people and events shaped our nation's history. Some of the historical characters who lived in the nearby Indian settlement of Arrohateck included Chief Powhatan's son, Tanx or (Parahunt) and Pocahontas his daughter, who married her English born husband John Rolfe. Pocahontas and John Rolfe after marriage made their home here as well, and with the aid of many nameless slaves, (black, Indian and white) they saved Jamestown and the first English colonists by producing a type of "Varina" tobacco that would have tremendous economic value in many European countries. It is a spot where Captain John Smith found his "sweet water" during his explorations of the "wilderness" and in later years of sail the area surrounding those springs became a local stop over known as "Sailor's Tavern". People like George Washington, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, Anne Hill Carter, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall, Susannah Bowling, the Marquis de Layfayette, Benedict Arnold, Gen. Cornwallis and many other great men and women passed thru this oxbow in the James River on their way to transform our nation. Battles on land and in the river were fought here too, during both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. For example, Benedict Arnold sank the Colonial Fleet in January 1781 before burning Richmond within eye site of the GiaMaria during the Revolutionary War with England. And Union Ironclads like the Monitor and Galena fought other Ironclads like the South's CSS Virginia while trying to pass Drewery's Bluff, the confederate "Annapolis" in order to subdue Richmond, but that never happened.
And Just around the river's bend east of Richmond Yacht Basin is Henricus, the London Company's second settlement after Jamestown in the New World. Unfortunately the original "citie" was destroyed by Opechancanough, Chief Powhatan's successor "brother" during the Indian massacre of 1622.
Today however it is a thriving reconstruction of what it was like in the days of Sir Thomas Dale's early 1600's "town", and many of my guests who have visited there say it is on par with Jamestown.
And just down the road heading east along Route 5 (our Virginia Bi-Way) are plantations like Shirley, still owned and operated by the same family since its beginning in 1613, Berkley, where Taps was first composed and played, and where the first Thanksgiving was held, (probably no turkey included). Westover, the home of President William Henry Harrison (Ole' Tippecanoe), Sherwood Forrest, the home of President John Tyler ("His Accidency") and Evergreen, the birthplace of Edmund Ruffin, who is considered to be the father of modern agriculture and the southern firebrand who is credited with firing the shot that began the Civil War lived nearby too. And these are just a few of the historical events or attractions to be found within a few minutes of the docking space of the GiaMaria, and we haven't even touched on the historical attractions going west on Route 5 into Richmond such as St John's Episcopal Church where Patrick Henry told the King of England, to go to hell, OOPS! I meant to say, "give me liberty or give me death", or Hollywood Cemetery where a great many historical figures are buried like the Presidents Monroe and Tyler a Confererate favorite, JEB Stuart. Within minutes too, if you are Civil War buff, then you are in luck because you will be set squarely in the middle of where the Battle of the Crater took place, as did Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, White Oak Swamp, Deep Bottom, Chaffin's Farm, Pamplin Historical Park and City Point (Gen. Grants headquarters during the siege of Petersburg) among many other well known and not so well known battle sites and fortifications.
Much about our old and dusty beginnings causes us to be proud and at the same time ashamed of it, but because of the lessons learned from our past, the Richmond area today has become a bright and shiny area said to be set like Rome on seven hills.
For example, there are many and varied museums, river rapids to be enjoyed by those brave enough to take the plunge, sports events of every kind, major universities and hospitals like Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia, world class car races (Richmond International Raceway )and cycling (the UCI world championship 2015) as well as the Richmond Marathon (rated the 18th largest in the nation). There are also restaurants galore from local favorites to world class dining. Richmond is fast becoming a gourmets delight and the Craft Brewery Capital of the South. Chic shopping districts like Carytown, River Road, Short Pump or Stoney Point are all within a short distance, as are outlet malls and several large shopping centers.
Watersports and tours of many kinds are offered in several nearby places. Major garden tours (voted one of the best in the country) like Lewis-Ginter Botanical Gardens or Maymont Park as well as national, state and local parks are all within minutes of the GiaMaria. And in one to two hours by car you can be in the Blue Ridge Mountains or Charlottesville or Virginia Beach or Washington, DC, or Williamsburg or Jamestown, or Yorktown, or Petersburg, or Kings Dominion, or Busch Gardens, and several major outlet malls.
We even now enjoy the Virginia Capital Trail. It is a cycling/walking, running hard surfaced path of 52 miles between Richmond, the Capital of Virginia, and the colonial capitals of Williamsburg and Jamestown. And all of this is only a sampling of what you will find within a stones throw of the GiaMaria.
The area though is also a wildlife lover's delight. There are many native species of plants and animals such as rare Lady Slippers, Bald Eagles, ancient swamps of Cypress and Junipers, Running Cedar, and Song Birds galore. There are Foxes, both red and silver, and occasional Bobcats, beavers and otters. We are also a flyway for many species of animals, such as Butterflies, Ducks, Geese, Humming Birds, Robins, Northern Bald Eagles, and fishes spawning in the spring such as Striped Bass, American and Hickory Shad, eels, and in the fall the ancient Sturgeons that jump out of the water weighing more than 500 pounds.
And if you like fishing, we have both Large and Small Mouth Bass, several species of Catfish, record sized Crappie and several local guides will guarantee that you will catch a catfish of 40 pounds or more during late fall and throughout the winter.
And on a totally different note, if dancing is your thing, then the tobacco company is just down the road where you can party late into the night or we can hook you up with a lively Argentine Tango group for some lessons or a Milonga.
One thing is for sure concerning our area, you will not be hard pressed to find something of interest to fill your time, because it is all here.
So..., come and join the fun. You can relax on the water or go out and explore our wonderful slice of the good ole USA.
I am a retired tugboat company owner/captain who cannot get the James River out of my system, I began going on tugs with my dad when I was just four years old and that was a very long time ago.
Throughout those years I was blessed to meet and befriend people from many seafaring nations and from all walks of life. Sometimes I wondered how some ships ever made it across oceans to come and load cargoes. The Captain's entire family would be living aboard with chickens and goats and dogs and dried fish hanging from many places on the outer decks.
At other times the officers would be in full dress and sail spotless ships into the harbor.
Stories that were told to me I have tried to document in a yet to be published manuscript, (Chosen River) because they were often told from the heart of men who seldom saw their loved ones or who escaped their homeland and probable death for a better life as was the case of a wonderful skipper who told of the atrocities committed by Mao Tse-Tung after the end of WWII.
During those years, I raised a family, built some homes/restaurants, earned a degree from Richard Bland College of the College of William and Mary, with continued ed at Virginia Commonwealth University and University of North Florida.
In 1987, I was appointed by Governor Gerald Balliles as the Maritime Commander for Central Virginia in the Virginia State Guard with the rank of Lt Colonel.
I am currently married to my beautiful wife, Ruth Christiane Rawlings, a Rocky Mountain girl turned Queen of the James. Ruth is currently studying full time towards a Master's Degree in Education. She has enjoyed a colorful background that spans from raising kids to skydiving as a student with the Golden Knights, to acting as the lead in many plays and musicals such as South Pacific, Zorba, Scrooge, Wait Until Dark and starred in Brigadoon and Pajama Game. Ruth sang alto with the Richmond Symphony Chorus for seven years and has been a life long church leader and teacher.
Ronald M. Blaha purchased this house boat in 2012
As an older man not ready to sit in a rocker, I decided to buy the GiaMaria and make her into a very comfortable vessel that would be not only safe and comfortable, but a fun boat as well. I have known this boat all of her life. She was originally built by Chris Craft and now re-built by me. She is a roomy boat and unlike most houseboats she does not rock and roll because she is built on a hull with a vee shape rather than a flat bottom.
I have spent many hours on her and found her to be solid and comfortable and I think you will find the same.
Each of my guests seems to have found something that they liked about the GiaMaria. For some it has been the comfort of the memory foamed mattress and high quality linens, for others it is the upper sun and viewing deck, still others like the large ceramic shower, some, the shaded forward deck or the large living quarters for lounging or reading. And a couple have opted for a cruise that I offer at a reduced price for guests who are staying aboard.
We spent three nights (four days) exploring the greater Richmond area and were delighted to stay at this warm and cozy houseboat. Ron was very friendly and gave us the full tour and instructions upon arrival. His suggestion to contact Sails Angels (Tom Lewis) for a boat ride up and down the James River was a perfect idea for how to spend Friday afternoon.
Heaters in both ends of the boat along with a small one in the bathroom kept the place quite warm. The spacious shower had great water pressure and plenty of hot water. We spent our days out and about but then retreated for the evening to relax, snack, and play cards. We didn't use the TV but did enjoy the radio for a bit of music. We just wanted to relax and gently bobbing along on the water was what we wanted.
We spent time exploring the battlefield trails along with some great sights in Richmond. If we ever returned to explore more, we would definitely be back on the Gia Maria.
From the minute we booked, we knew we were going to like it. Having lived on house boats in the past, our stay brought back many good memories of life on the river. It was very easy to get to and very comfortable once we got there. Captain Ron was friendly and not only showed us around the boat but gave us a history about the area. Apparently Pocahontas lived on the site back when. The boat was well stocked with anything you might need for a short, or longer stay if you wanted. Where it is docked, there was not a lot of rocking like you get on some boats. It was very stable and you really wouldn't know you were on a boat, except when you looked out the windows, or noticed the steering wheel and motor controls towards the bow of the boat. The bed was firm but comfortable and we really didn't miss the wi-fi at all. We would recommend this property to anyone who was looking for a different kind of vacation get-away. Thank you Captain Ron for allowing us to stay on your boat. Ken and Patti
Captain Ron is quite a guy very nice and hospitable. The houseboat is older lt shows it's age on the outside, inside is nice and charming. We were looking for something different then a hotel room and this fit the bill.
The yacht basin is in a private gated community. There are old civil war forts within walking distance.
Although I probably wouldn't rent again I am glad I did it. Thank you Ron for your hospitality.
We had so much fun being on board. Cozy and sweet - and fun to look out the window and watch the wildlife.
Even though the weather was really bad (there was snow and ice everywhere and temperatures reached a record low), Captain Ron made sure we were able to get to the boat and get off the boat safely. He had several heaters on so that we didn't freeze during the night. The boat was beautiful, especially on the inside. The huge bed was incredibly comfortable and the sofa-bed was OK (as sofa-beds are). We loved our stay! I would recommend it to anyone wanting to stay at a unique location. It was kind of magical!
My cousin and I meet in Virginia each year for the Re-Enactment of the First Official English Thanksgiving in America at the Berkeley Plantation on the James River. This year we booked our stay with Capt. Blaha and were not disappointed with the choice. It was quiet in the marina and sipping a good hot cup of coffee on the deck was relaxing. We had a most interesting visit with the Captain. Hearing about his history on the river is worth the stay itself. I am looking forward to next time to explore and learn more about the area. I'll admit the couch was not as comfortable as the memory foam bed! The houseboat stay is a great idea for a couple get-a-way to enrich your marriage! Really cool!
Thank you, Captain Blaha for a great stay on your boat.
First a rule: Please enjoy the marina until sundown. After that the east and west docks are closed to all people except boat owners. Also, please never board anyone else's boat. Thanks! Note: having a car is the best way to get around, but the marina is Uber supported.
Now for the area: I feel certain that the initial strategy to locate Richmond in its present location was fairly thought out by its original founders.
Being located at the last possible point on the James River where commercial vessels could conduct worldwide trade as well as collect goods from the far interior of the country, was by no means a stroke of luck. On the contrary, it must have been a stroke of genius.
It is about 80 miles from the major ports of Norfolk/Portsmouth and Hampton/ Newport News or the Chesapeake Bay/Atlantic Ocean.
Richmond is also strategically located about 100 miles from Washington DC or the Blue Ridge Mountains and 70 miles from Charlottesville or the North Carolina border.
We are fortunate to have major highways going north and south (I-95), east and west (I-64), circling (I-295 to the east and Rt 288 to the west) and other freeways cris-crossing through Richmond. These routes are Rt 895 (Toll) just south of Richmond and the expressways are the Powhite (Toll), (east to west) and the Richmond Expressway (Toll) that runs through the middle of the city (north to south).
There are also other major routes that cross the city as well including Routes 250, 60, and 360 (east to west) as well as
Routes 1 and 301 (north to south).
With so many major roads leading in and out of the city it is no wonder that we have such a diverse community of people, businesses, religions, educational opportunities, medical facilities, museums, sports events, nightlife and so on.
Richmond has also become a hot spot for fine dining, and craft beer lovers. And there is no shortage of festivals at almost anytime of the year.
Richmond is no longer a backwater town because there is something here for everyone.
Note: if you want to get a feel for the James River, check out the internet video: "On Board With The Henrico Marine Patrol" June 8, 2015. As the longest living professionally licensed captain on the James River, I was honored to give opening comments, mid-video comments and closing comments about our beautiful river.
|Rate Period||Nightly||Weekend Night||Weekly||Monthly||Event|
My Standard Rate
1 night minimum stay
|Notes: Rates are based on 2 guests; add $5 per night, per additional guest|
Rates are subject until reservations are confirmed.