About the property
- House Boat350 sq. ft.
- Half Baths0
- Minimum StayNone
Built as a small and comfortable condo inside with sun and shade decks outside
Dear future guests,
Even though the GiaMaria's listing might cause you to think only about a fun place to spend a night or a holiday, she is in reality just a piece of a unique and wonderful experience. And this becomes apparent from the moment you turn onto a wooded National Park service road that parallels Civil War breastworks, beautiful homes, and a couple of well kept farms before it terminates at Fort Hoke Brady. From there you will pass through a coded gate, and as you approach Richmond Yacht Basin (Virginia's oldest marina) only a few feet away, you will see one of Richmond's best views, America's first river; the James. But before I get into telling you about what lies ahead for you to enjoy, let me tell you about Homeaway's Ranking Metrics System. I do not know exactly how long ago it was introduced, but what I am proud to say is that out of its current 691 rental properties, the GiaMaria has been rated at times as their #1 property, and never less than their #3 property.
Now: for the James River and the calm old oxbow where the GiaMaria is berthed, it is an awesome place to spend your time. In fact, it is a place like no other in the entire United States, and I will make an honest attempt to back up this statement in the description that follows with the few words allowed. As for the vessel, she is a 50' 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.
After a beautiful canopied drive which will take you to the marina, you will find yourself standing on the ground where so many famous people lived and events took place that 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 "sweetest 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 our Revolutionary War. 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 Henricus 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 and a Confererate favorite general, JEB Stuart. Within minutes too, if you are a 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, but 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 above Richmond 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 many free attractions or other places of interest in which to fill your time, because it is all here.
Ronald M. Blaha
- Response rate:
- Response time:
- within one hour
- Calendar last updated:
- May 21, 2018
About Ronald M. Blaha
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 more than 7 decades 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 who at t age of 60 received a Master of Teaching degree. Ruth 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 she also has starred in Brigadoon and Pajama Game and later she sang alto with the Richmond Symphony Chorus for seven years.
Ronald M. Blaha purchased this House Boat in 2012
Why Ronald M. Blaha chose Varina
As an older man not ready to sit in a rocker, I decided to buy the GiaMaria and make her into a very unique 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.
What makes this House Boat unique
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. My guests book is filled with interesting things that some guests have shared with me. Read below my latest note from Al and Mary Ann from Pittsburg. It is dated October 24, 2017. Dear Captain Ron, "This has been a very memorable experience. We have traveled extensively throughout the world and this overnight stay ranks as one of our most unique. Would love to have spent more time hearing about your life. My only regret is that our children and grandchildren were not here with us. They would have loved it. It would be great if you could plan a trip to Mon River and visit Pittsburg." Warmest regards, Al and Mary Ann
Local Services & Businesses
Sports & Adventure Activities
100% refund if canceled at least 14 days before arrival date. 50% refund if canceled at least 7 days before arrival date. You must contact the owner directly to request cancellation.
Awesome !!!!! Great place to stay
If I could give this unique spot a 10 star review I would. The boat had plenty of room for myself and my husband and we enjoyed every minute of our stay. It was very clean, decorated well and had the most comfortable bed. The kitchen had everything we needed and the shower was perfect too. Capt. Ron was so very kind and made sure our stay was perfect. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting something unique and different. The city isn't far and the park that is close by was perfect for riding our bikes to the capital trail. Great job Capt. Ron for making a great place for people to come and visit Richmond.
One of the many pleasures that i am blessed to receive from providing this unique stay aboard the GiaMaria is knowing that my guests have found at least a moment in time to just relax and take a break from our many stresses. Thank you Mary and Paul
Loved the feeling of living on a houseboat!
Captain Ron makes this trip worthwhile, even if it rains the whole time you're there. Super nice man.
Best trip ever!
This could not have been a better stay. Capt. Ron and his family are awesome. Although our vehicle broke down and rendered us stranded, Capt. Ron spent hours trying to fix our vehicle, offered us his truck and was a wonderful story-teller who is now a true friend. His houseboat was perfect and located in a beautiful, historic area of the James River. This wasn't the trip we planned, but it turned out even better! If even just once, everyone should give this destination a try. Bring fishing poles and binoculars!
Relaxing on the water , outside Richmond
We are new to the Richmond area, we enjoy staying in the city but we were intrigued with the idea of relaxing on a houseboat. We were greeted by Captain Ron upon arrival and he shared some history with us ,suggested a local restaurant and the location of the bait shop, gave us a tour of the boat and he was available by phone if we needed anything. The boat has everything we needed for a comfortable weekend, I was impressed with the size of the bathroom and the bed was really comfortable. We hope to visit again, we had a great time on the river, relaxing.
Thank you for all the local history you shared with us , we were able to take some time to explore the forts in the surrounding area and learned a little more history of the James River. We found the marina to be quiet and peaceful at night and we enjoyed relaxing on the deck listening to the birds and taking in the sunset while enjoying a beer from "The Veil" in Richmond.
We had a fun adventure and enjoyed our stay. Ron has done a nice job updating the interior of the houseboat.
The boat was very comfortable, it was all that was described on the website. But the marina was in very poor condition. Lots of boat repairs going on, very noisy. Also the marina owner was very unfriendly. They also shot high powered guns for about three hours not 100 feet from the boat ruining our last day with family on board. We should not be charged for the last day. We asked the owner to stop shooting the guns and he said its a private marina tough luck. I wouldn't stay again. Our grandkids were very afraid of the very loud GUNFIRE !!
Some reviews just cannot be ignored and this is one of them. My guests only told a half truth and I am feel sure it is because he was not only high strung, but it also appears he would like to get a refund. Which of course he will not get! Now for the truth: The boat is as he stated, 100% as advertised. He did enjoy four days on the boat and anyone who stays aboard can read the nice review that this man wrote in my guest book.
The truth: I advertise that the marina is the oldest working marina in Virginia. So yes, during the day sometimes people do work on their boats and occasionally there is one on the railway. But nothing commercially is done here like heavy metal banging and such. It is mostly power washing, etc.
True: a gun was being fired.
Lie: Not for three hours though, at most it was for thirty minutes.
Lie: It was not a high-powered gun. It was a small .22 caliber rifle.
In fact, it was a rifle that I had given to the owner of the marina. He and his father were teaching their children (grandchildren) how to shoot.
Lie: They were not shooting 100 feet from the boat, but more than a football field away in a wooded part of the marina. They were shooting into the side of a 70 foot dirt cliff (an old fort) at a paper target.
True: the marina owner did tell my guest that he owned the marina. And he also tried to calm the old man down when he came out of the boat hollering and cussing for him to stop "making such a racket." But according to the marina owner, when reason was lost on my guest, the owner basically told him to "get Lost." True; two sets of grandchildren were there. But evidently only the ones who were inside the boat and more than a football field away were frightened. True: the marina owner immediately stopped firing the gun. But it did nothing to alleviate my guest anger. True: my guest got in his car and spun his tires when leaving for the afternoon. Then about 1:30 AM when the marina owner and his extended family were in the lodge asleep with several children, my guest spun out again, and blew his horn all the way up the hill past the lodge.
True: He will never again be welcome in this marina.
Note: Once in a great while something safe, nice and unique comes along, and the GiaMaria is one of them. But it is people like this who can ruin it for all future guests should the owner decide to pull the plug on my lease. The GiaMaria has a 4.8/9 star review on multiple sites and more than 200 reviews, so, we must be doing something right
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 85 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.
Rates & Availability
Additional information about rental rates
Rates are subject until reservations are confirmed. Children 12 and under must wear life vest/jacket/etc. while on the docks. No smoking/vaping inside the boat!