Members of Cloideryn Northern Theatre were welcomed with open arms as they joined the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s celebrations of the 160th anniversary of the launch of Star of India.

The ship was built and launched from Ramsey Shipyard in November 1863 as Euterpe and is the world’s oldest active sailing ship.

The theatre group was invited to travel to California to take part in the celebration after staging a musical about the history of the ship, written by Cloideryn founder and director Heather Ruffino and Marilyn Cannell, last year.

Delegates from the museum, including its president, Dr Ray Ashley, were in the audience for one of the performances.

Heather told Island Life: ‘We were welcomed with open arms with so much fuss because we were from Ramsey where the Star of India was built.

‘We were on local TV and CBS, we sang on board the Star during sailing, we sang in dock, we sang on the quayside, we sang on the tour trolleybuses and even on the USS Midway aircraft carrier.’

Captain Chris Wood, of Offshore Marine Services, was one of the members who took part in the trip.

‘To sail out into the Pacific aboard this beautiful ship has been the most emotional event of a 47-year seagoing career,’ he said.

‘We’re incredibly proud of her Manx history, yet to feel her come alive, sails full, moving to a Pacific swell, with the passion of her crew and the reality of the hardships and glory of that life at sea, was beyond any expectation, very personal, yet embraced all. Basically I’m still stunned by the experience.’

He added: ‘Their pride in being home to a United States National Monument, the SV Star of India, built in Ramsey, is awesome.’

Heather said she thought there needed to be more awareness in the Isle of Man of ‘how famous this ship is and what a gem of Manx history we have for our little town of Ramsey’.

‘Just to give you an idea we heard a saying that the Star of India is to San Diego and California what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris and France,’ she said.

The Cloideryn members who visited San Diego are part of its singing group.

Heather said: ‘We decided to give it a name in honour of this 160th celebration and the hard work by all the volunteers who look after the Star so we named our singing group The Star Shanty Singers and we will be about singing during the Christmas season.’

Star of India is the main attraction at the maritime museum.

Launched five days before Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, she sailed 21 times around the world.