As we reported yesterday, we set out to go see what may have been a cool set of classic boats tucked away in a local marina. What unfolded was far far more fun. The destination, Colonial Beach Virginia, just a tad over an hour from Washington, DC on the Virginia shore of Potomac River. Colonial Beach is a small beach side community that has been a fun summer hangout for over 100 years.
It’s a tad off the main road though, and when you arrive in town.. You are hit with an over whelming feeling that you have slipped back in time. There is even an old metal diner on the corner.. Nothing has been slicked up either by the last ten years of over development. It’s the real deal.
So you can image the excitement as we arrived to our destination. Stanford Marine Railway. The first thing you notice when you pull up is that, this is one very nice business set up if you are into wood boats.
Clarence Stanford was one of the top boat builders in the mid Atlantic. His work and pleasure boats are still in use in the area. And this was his home base. Sadly we lost Clarence in 2006 and from what it looked like, time stopped at the marina. One turn of the key into the Marina office and you would have trouble trying to tell someone what year it was outside.
Mary Virginia Stanford is still around and full of energy and running the show. Mary Virginia and Clarence have been running the marina since 1945.
To say there is a lot of history in this place is an understatement. It’s still of a living marina living the lifestyle that is a way of life when wood boats ruled the seas. And as we found out.. For Sale. Dear god, is this the next evolution of Woody Boater? All the emotions of a barn find boat amplified times 1000.. Not just an old Chris Craft barn find, but a fully stocked inventory of parts, flags, letters, books, wood working tools, wood, tools, all of it. Right there included in the sale. Working rentable slips, two marine railways, one that goes into a massive workshop. It goes on and on.. It was mind blowing. You really feel the history and more importantly feel the humor and love that this family poured into the Marina. This was far more than just real estate, or a business, this is the living breathing embodiment of the Stanford Family. You would not just be buying a cool piece of property or a business, but a way of life.
If you think, hey Woody boater why don’t you get this place? Don’t think for a second that it has not occupied every part of my pea brain all weekend. I almost did not do this article for that reason. This may be one of the few times where anyone gets a chance like this. No one has screwed up the place. And there won’t be many opportunities like this ever again. Where a place has not been changed or picked apart. It’s more than a marina, it’s what heaven must be like.
What a privilege to be able to see such a cool place, to be able to go back and feel what it was like to work and live this life. Not in a cleaned up museum sort of way where you are taken through a image of what it was like behind a rail. But to see it in all its clutter, with engines still on there motor stands apart. The imperfection of history is always richer than the pasteurized restored version. I wanted to just shrink wrap the place to save it. But that’s not realistic. What is realistic is for someone to continue the marinas destiny. To restore, or preserve the place. To be a cool place where wood boat lovers can gather near Washington DC. where people that appreciate history and the lifestyle that woody boats are all about can get there classic boats worked on. Washington DC and the area surrounding have no such place. Here we are in one of the most historic places in the US, with one of the strongest economies in the US, Colonial Beach is ripe for a restoration , and this Marina, could be a focal point of that preserved image. So if you have a pile of mula and want to check out of this century and take it to the next level. Click here and let the varnish engulf you.