Mariner III was built in 1926 for Captain James Griffiths of Griffiths Steamship Company. Ted Geary designed this classic yacht. Captain Griffiths travelled to China to select the lumber for her construction. They chose 3 inch teak planking for the hull and very strong wood, called yacal, for framing. Captain Griffiths used his yacht (originally named “SueJa III”) to travel up and down the West Coast.
A tour of the interior of the vessel would show one king-size and one queen-size state room, each with their own private bath; also, three private staterooms, each with their own sink and vanity sharing a full bath with the original bathtub. There is, of course, the V-berth, located in the fantail, a cosy room for two, adjoined with a double bunk side cabin and fully tiled bathroom. The woodwork below is made of beautifully crafted joiner work surrounded by gold buff color of paint and navy carpet.
Among his travels on SueJa III Captain Griffiths visited many parts of California. It was in these waters where the actor John Barrymore made his way on board and demanded to see the owner. Barrymore insisted on purchasing this vessel. Captain Griffiths, poking his finger into the tall actor’s chest, said, “This yacht is not for sale at any amount!” Barrymore, however, did not leave empty-handed. Captain Griffiths introduced Barrymore to Ted Geary who designed a sister ship for the actor. It was the least Griffiths could do for a man who had exquisite taste in boats! Barrymore named his yacht “Infanta” and gave it to his wife for her birthday. It was 120′ in length and cost, in those days, $220,000 to build.
Captain Griffiths used SueJa III for private use up until World War II when the Army commandeered her for wartime service. They ballasted down and set her out on patrol, mainly in the Aleutian Islands. After the war effort, the Army returned SueJa III to her owners. By that time Captain Griffiths had died a natural death. Without her proud owner to command the helm, SueJa III was placed into the custody of Arthur Ayers (Captain Griffiths stepson). Mr Ayers used the vessel to initiate a charter service. He sent the yacht on many charters in Alaska where she did quite well commercially.
In the early 1950′s Mr Ayers sold the yacht to a Californian, O. J. Hall, who replaced her Washington Iron Works Diesel with Detroit Diesel 6-110S, a pair of engines that were in service for more than thirty years. Mr Hall used the yacht to race up and down San Diego Bay. After a few years of service she was sold to a new owner – a New Yorker who voyaged on the vessel to the Mediterranean. After a short time, she wound up in Cannes, France.
In keeping with its original 1920′s design and the flavor of that era, the Kennedy Engine Co., Inc. restored Mariner III to its old world charm with deep, rich, patterned furnishings, beautifully varnished woodwork, and polished solid brass fixtures. It took over two years with a team of 12 men. Once ready to cast off, they travelled mainly in the Gulf of Mexico with some lengthy stays in Cozumel and Belize. Today, she is well cared for and is brightly polished and maintained in the spirit to which she has lived.