In despair, Tom Hallock buried his beloved Myrtle Kate.
In debt, he sold the yacht named for her.
"Damn right I'm sad," said Captain Hallock, making his last trip aboard the Princess Myrtle Kate this weekend.
"The other day, I cried the whole night."
Captain Hallock, 56, lost his wife to cancer in 1985. He sold the yacht, known as Baltimore's love boat because of dozens of marriages performed on board, a few months ago.
"It never rained on a single ceremony, and I don't know of one di
vorce," Captain Hallock said. "I tell you, if this boat could talk . . . I've had psychics come on board and tell me that all they felt was love."
Coast Guard inspectors, he said, were not so charmed.
In addition to his debts, the source of which he said would be better left out of the newspaper, Captain Hallock blames the demise of his business on Coast Guard officials out to give him a hard time.
It seems the Myrtle Kate -- a vessel with three staterooms, three full bathrooms with showers, mahogany trim, a sun room and dining room -- needs a fair amount of work, and it was cheaper to sell than fix.
"It's all wood," said Mary Wright, one of the new owners. "And there's a lot of leaks."
A lot has happened since Miss America beauties sailed on board with original owner Arthur Godfrey.
Captain Hallock bought the 60-foot motor yacht in 1978 and used to dock it at Pier 4 on Pratt Street, where the National Aquarium's Marine Mammal Pavilion now stands. For the past four years, it has tied up behind the Broadway Recreation Pier.
The last wedding on board was two years ago.
Before dawn yesterday, the Myrtle Kate sailed out of Fells Point for a Potomac River marina in the nation's capital, the new floating home of a couple from Washington.
Before heading down the Chesapeake Bay, Ms. Wright and her partner, Richard A. Youdal, turned the wheel over to Captain Hallock Friday night for a sentimental journey from Thames Street to the Inner Harbor and back.
Mr. Youdal and Ms. Wright, both civilian employees for the Department of the Navy, don't expect to spend much time, if any, in Baltimore.
While here, the Myrtle Kate held parties for U.S. Sen. John Glenn, Gov. William Donald Schaefer, former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns, and anyone else with the money to party on the harbor.
"I never dreamed I'd ever start this boat up again," Captain
Hallock said, a boyish gleam in his eye, a pipe in his mouth.
"This is my last ride. I've had some good thoughts and sad thoughts, most of them good. But I buried Myrtle Kate, and this is part of Myrtle Kate -- I'm letting them both go now to start my new life."
The Myrtle Kate, custom-made for Mr. Godfrey as the "Ivanhoe" TTC 1967, will sail into her new life as the "Ad Inexplorata," which Ms. Wright said is Latin for "going into the unknown."
Captain Hallock's new life will embrace death: He wants to buy a small boat to do burials at sea.
"I'm not going to get away from the water; you can't take an old sea dog from the water," he said.
"After I sold the Myrtle Kate I was on the bow meditating, thinking about what I was going to do next. I had already done a few burials on the water and something said: 'Go with life beyond. . . .' "
That's the name he dreamed up for the enterprise, for which he has already printed business cards showing the hands of God coming down from heaven to steer the wheel of a yacht.
Captain Hallock is searching for the right vessel and waiting to get the proper licenses needed to spread the ashes of the dead over the Patapsco.
"Your body is mostly calcium, so it's good for the sea," he said. "And I don't need a floating mansion to carry a couple of urns around."