After deciding that he couldn’t socialize and captain, Baker swallowed his pride and hired Capt. Dolph Farmer, which Baker says is one of the best decisions he’s ever made for his lovely lady. Farmer has "made boating wonderful for a guy like me," adding that the two of them have become great friends throughout the years. "He’s as connected to this boat as I am. I give him all the credit. He’s the one who really takes care of her and has given her the TLC she needs." He adds in jest that Farmer also "gives him the pleasure of paying for [the boat]." Together they’ve cruised Florida and the Bahamas, not to mention all over Charleston several times a week. (Farmer says the sunset harbor cruises are his favorite.)
The duo’s first major project came in 2000, when they took Lady Victoria to Dawtaw Marine in Beaufort, South Carolina and hauled her for a six-month refit, which Farmer estimates cost more than $300,000. The boat’s old engines were replaced with twin 6-71 Detroit Diesels and an oil-change system and duplex Racor fuel filters were added. The multiple engine-room hatches were replaced with a single hydraulically activated aluminum one, and all the windows and portions of the deck showing rot were replaced. They also exchanged the saloon sofa for a mahogany settee that converts into a double bed and added mahogany woodwork and a mahogany-and-teak sole throughout the interior. A few years later, they spruced up Lady Vic a little more by updating her electronics and adding flat-panel TVs throughout and an entertainment system. Now that she’s as close to perfect as she can be for Baker, he realizes, "The boat is really an extension of me."
Given that, it was surprising when in 2005 Baker got the new-boat bug and traded in his beloved Huckins for an 88-foot Rayburn. But as time went by, he missed those sunset cruises and entertaining his friends on a classic old wooden boat. And the more he thought about it, the more he missed his long-lost friend. Badly.
So badly, in fact, that he placed a call to the broker who had sold her to inquire about where she was and how she was doing. The broker discovered that Lady Victoria was docked, unused, behind the new owner’s house in Boca Raton and mentioned that the person would probably be willing to sell her. Instead of balking at the thought of repurchasing a boat for more money than he’d sold her for just four months before, Baker grabbed Farmer, hopped on a plane, headed to Boca, sea-trialed the Huckins, and—yet again—plunked down the money to buy her. He prefers to keep the exact amount private, saying only, "There are certain things you wouldn’t want to repeat. It would probably make me want to have a double scotch." Today Lady Victoria is back up in Charleston, and the Rayburn is in charter in the Bahamas.
This article originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.