As the steamer Nobska slipped past the Chops on the ebbing tide late yesterday afternoon, there was none of the celebration that greeted her arrival in these waters just about 50 years ago.

Her decks were empty, her boilers cold. When she left Nantucket slip yesterday she didn’t sound one long blast on the steam whistle people hereabouts have come to know as hers just by the sound - she was on the end of a Coastline Towing Company hawser.

The few people who saw her headed west in Vineyard Sound in the waning light watched the last of a noble era of Island ferry service disappear - apparently for good.

At 10 a.m. yesterday, representatives of the Steamship Authority met at the New Bedford Customs House to sign over her papers to Alfred M. Johnston, an entrepreneur from Devon, Pa. Five hours later - at the peak of the tide - the waiting tug started her off on her last trip through Nantucket Sound.

She had been for sale for almost two years, no longer wanted by the Authority because of her high operating and maintenance costs. The final blow was a Coast Guard decision that extensive hull work would be required for her to keep her license. Various schemes were proposed for her preservation in the ferry trade or as a museum, but no such effort was organized, according to Authority spokesmen.

In the middle of April, the Authority announced an agreement to sell her to Mr. Johnston for $61,750. “It was not an easy decision for any of us,” said John J. McCue, general manager of the Authority, at the time. “A good deal of nostalgia is attached to the vessel. She served us well for nearly half a century, but she was simply too old, too out of date, and too expensive for us to keep.”

But she’s not lost forever. After a stop in Fall River for conversion work she is headed for the city of Baltimore, where she will be tied up and used as a restaurant. “We’re not going to make any real changes in her,” Mr. Johnston told the Gazette Wednesday. “We’ll put in heating and air conditioning, and dress her out in the decor of 1925, but we won’t move any bulkheads or anything of that sort. We’ll keep the engines oiled and turn them over every now and then to be sure they don’t freeze up.” She will also be repainted, and leave there in time to receive customers in her new service by Labor Day.

Her new home will be a wharf in the inner harbor of Baltimore. Baltimore is a major commercial port, but the shipping has withdrawn from the narrow inlet in the center of the city - once the heart of the port - and the area has been undergoing major redevelopment for the past 20 years, a joint effort of the city government and local businesses.

The Nobska will be laying right next to the frigate Constellation, built in Fells Point, Baltimore, at the same time her sister ship, the Constitution, was being built in Boston. A spokesman for the coordinating agency, Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management Corporation, describes the immediately surrounding area as “a low-key family recreation area.” Around a park with playing fields and playgrounds rise office buildings and hotels; a short way to the north are residential buildings.

“The area is only two blocks from the heart of our business district, so we are trying to turn it into a real asset,” he said. “We are trying to keep some record of the historic importance of the district, but combine it with modern buildings.”

The Nobska is very similar in lines and style to vessels which once plied the Chesapeake Bay out of Baltimore, the reason for the city’s interest in her. A provision in Mr. Johnston’s lease makes it possible for the city to take the vessel over should she lapse into disrepair.