After hosting the governors of Maryland in millionaire's fashion for 19 summers, The Maryland Lady - "127 tons of floating luxury," as it was once called - will sail no more.
The 118-foot yacht with two decks, an elegant dining hall and sleeping quarters for 18 will remain docked at Matapeake across the bay from Annapolis indefinitely, forced into idleness by a hull that has deteriorated so badly that it cannot be repaired.
"We'll keep the yacht in one place and let the bay float by," said Gene Oishi, press secretary to Gov. Harry Hughes.
According to Oishi, the Department of Natural Resources examined the state-owned yacht earlier this year and found the bull in such poor structural condition that it would be impractical to refurbish it and dangerous to sail it extensively.
The DNR inspectors said The Maryland Lady could still be used for short trips in fair weather, but Hughes, with an eye on the budget, decided that the time had come to permanently moor the vessel, which costs the state some $60,000 annually to operate.
Huges will still have one pleasure yacht at his beck and call - the modest, 65-foot "50-50" - thus maintaining a boating tradition for Maryland chief executives that began in 1911. But when The Maryland Lady was idled last week, it took a colorful part of the state's history with it.
When H.C. (Curly) Byrd, the former director of the Chesapeake Bay Affairs Department, helped the state buy the ship from the West Indies Fruit Co., for $155,000 in 1960, he boasted that it was "a millionaire's yacht."
The governor at the time, J. Millard Tawes, took a fondness to the yacht and blessed it with what to him was a beutiful name - "The Governor Tawes."
When Spiro T. Agnew replaced Tawes as governor, he renamed the boat The Maryland Lady. Then Agnew took the yacht as his second home, actually living on it for four months when the Governor Mansion was being remodeled.
With a new governor, Marvin Mandel, came a new use for the elegant yacht. Much like Richard Nixon used his presidential yacht, the Sequoia, as an escape from political turmoil, Mandel took refuge aboard The Maryland Lady.
From the days of Tawes to the first days of the Huges administration. The Maryland Lady was skippered by Harry B. Porter, an oysterman from the Eastern Shore. Whenever other boatsmen would compliment Porter on his impressive yacht, the captain would take a look at the 127 tons of floating luxury and drawl, "It ain't bad."