HOLMBERG: Marina growing near downtown adding to love of River City

Posted at 11:58 PM, Apr 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-10 09:06:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--For the first time, there’s a real marina within sight of downtown Richmond.

And it’s catching on. The question is, why did it take so long? After all, this is where  Captain Christopher Newport landed in 1607.

Three years after opening, Rocketts has added public slips and a fuel dock, the first one on this stretch of the river in recent memory.

There are 50 or so slips, 15 of them public so that visitors can tie up for free and walk to nearby bars and restaurants. (You can spend the night for $30.)

“Fish, cruise, hang out with friends,” said Aaron Holmes, who moved his boat to the marina this season. “This is the perfect spot for us. It’s 10 minutes from the house.”

Fisherfolk have long known this to be a great – if  not smelly – spot. But it’s also a wonderful spot to recreate, to hangout, to watch a sunset and the quiet beauty of an actual wilderness river.

“Now a lot of people are learning about it, finding out about it,” said Rocketss Marina harbormaster Tory Wiles. “Instead of driving an hour away, they can drive for 10 minutes and be down on the docks.”

The ingenious floating dock rises and falls with the tides and the floods. There’s room for boats up to 50 feet in length.

The closest marina is eight miles downriver. The Kingsland Reach Marina and the dockside Lily Pad restaurant have proven that there’s magic being by the James.

Now that boat and waterside culture has eased up river to the edge of downtown.

And the riverfront development and popularity continues to grow as folks from all around are figuring out what the prehistoric sturgeon have found – that the James downtown is way healthier then when it served mainly as Richmond’s sewer and a channel for shipping commerce.

So why did a marina take so long for a marina to arrive?

The truth is the James River is the cleanest it’s been in 150 years - clean enough for boaters.  It’s about time.