News & Politics  |  Real Estate

Remember That Pirate-Ship Houseboat? It’s Now an Airbnb.

"We'll always have a cool story about the time that we bought a pirate ship," says the new owner.

The Jolly Lodger docked in Callao, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Lauren DeMarco.

If you’ve ever wanted to spend a night or two on a pirate ship, now you can. A pirate-ship houseboat docked on Virginia’s Northern Neck that went viral a couple months ago has now been turned into an Airbnb.

Richmond natives Lauren and Kellen DeMarco purchased the 44-foot-long vessel from retired firefighter Daniel Corder in September and opened the Jolly Lodger in Callao, Virginia, earlier this week. The previously-abandoned 1993 Holiday Mansion comes with two bedrooms, one-and-a-half  bathrooms, and an upgraded, fully equipped kitchen. The boat has also been rigged up with air conditioning and heating, wifi, and a TV.

One of the two bedrooms inside the houseboat. Photo courtesy of Lauren DeMarco.
The fully equipped kitchen inside the houseboat. Photo courtesy of Lauren DeMarco.

Lauren says she and her husband were the first people to check out the boat in person, which was a big condition for Corder. When they laid eyes on the ship, it was obvious to them that they had to buy it. But the couple ran into a problem: They actually didn’t have a place to dock a boat. They don’t live near water, and none of the marinas in the area were the right fit.

Just when they were going to give up on the purchase, Corder told them his next-door neighbor was selling his property, which happens to be the historic home of modern-day crab-pot inventor Benjamin Franklin Lewis. The five-bedroom cottage had been vacant for 60 years after Lewis’s son passed away. The DeMarcos have kept most of the home’s original furniture and details, but upgraded the kitchen and laundry appliances.

The historic home of Benjamin Franklin Lewis, the inventor of the modern-day crab pot. Photo courtesy of Lauren DeMarco.
The cottage’s living room. Photo courtesy of Lauren DeMarco.

Regardless of which property they book, patrons of the cottage and pirate ship will have access to the outdoor amenities on the three-acre site, including the kayaks, fire pit, and picnic area.

The gazebo and picnic area, shared by the cottage and houseboat. Photo courtesy of Lauren DeMarco.

DeMarco says she and her husband are working with Corder to find a way to use the properties to attract more tourists to Callao, which is a prime place for water views and fishing. It’s only been a few days since the DeMarcos posted the listing, and five people have already booked the houseboat. “This will either be the dumbest thing we’ve ever done, or the smartest thing we’ve ever done,” Lauren says. “But we’ll always have a cool story about the time that we bought a pirate ship.”

Damare Baker
Research Editor

Before becoming Research Editor, Damare Baker was an Editorial Fellow and Assistant Editor for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.