With the Manxman due to arrive in the island this year, Gemma Nettle finds out where some past Steam Packet Company vessels are now.

The fifth ship in the King Orry fleet, which was acquired by the Steam Packet in 1990, was a steel twin screw Pielstick diesel motorship.

It is now under a new name with a company called Seajets, which is based in Greece and operates passenger and freight ferry services in the Aegean Sea.

John Whitehead, who moved from the Isle of Man to Skiathos in 2017, says he has became aware of the vessel after speaking to a tourist.

‘He said “King Orry is coming in this afternoon”,’ Mr Whitehead said. ‘Sure enough, the Sporades Star came in so I did a bit of research and I was really surprised to learn it was King Orry.

‘We were going regularly from England to the Isle of Man in the late 80s and I remember it being called Channel Entente.

‘It was a cross channel ferry before the Steam Packet got it, then they renamed it King Orry.’

It had been built for Angleterre-Lorraine-Alsace and was named Channel Entente in 1989.

She served these routes for only a year before being sold to the Steam Packet in 1990 and reflagged to the Bahamas. Renamed King Orry, she was reflagged to the Isle of Man in 1995.

Mr Whitehead said: ‘We went on that ferry loads and loads of time.

‘I went from here to Valos before Christmas. It looks amazing now, it looks like new.

‘I can remember it never looked as good before.

‘Now, they’ve even got an escalator up from the car deck to the main lounge!’

He added: ‘In the summer we get seven different island ferries coming in.

‘There might be even more in this Seajets fleet that are ex-Isle of Man Steam Packet ferries.

‘I live right opposite the port on Skiathos, so we see the boat coming in every day.’

Mr Whitehead has fond memories of the vessel, saying: ‘On the night of the first ever lottery my family all bought tickets and we were convinced we were going to win the big money.

‘I said to my dad “what would you do if you won a million pounds?”

‘He said he’d buy the King Orry and we all looked at him as if he were daft, and he said “when it’s the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, I want to take the King Orry into the port, I’d have the biggest boat in Monaco”.

‘That’s always stuck with me. My mate that comes here he’ll look at it and say “your dad’s boat is coming in”.

‘From the early 90s to now, it’s still kicking about and it’s got good memories for us.’

Sporades Star does a daily service throughout the year, linking the Greek mainland port of Volos to the Northern Sporades Islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos.

It leaves Volos early morning calling off at the three islands, then does the return in the afternoon returning to Volos around 6pm.

In the summer months, fast craft are also introduced linking the city of Thessaloniki to the Sporades Islands.

Seajets has a total of 23 high speed vessels, and among them are the Super Runner Jet, which used to be the SuperSeacat Four (1999–2009), the Champion Jet 1, previously Seacat Isle of Man/Snaefell (1994–1996), and HSC Caldera Vista, which was Seacat Isle of Man (1997–2005).

Aside from the Seajets fleet, Lady of Mann, a side-loading car ferry built in 1976 and the second vessel with the name, served the Steam Packet for 29 years.

In 2005, she was converted to a roll-on/roll-off ferry and was operated by SAOS Ferries in Greece under the name MS Panagia Soumela until she was scrapped in August 2011.

Turbine steam ship the Manxman was launched in 1955 and was the second of the Steam Packet’s ships to carry this name.

She was a passenger ferry and the final vessel of six similar ships, the Six Sisters, ordered by the company.

The ferry was withdrawn from service in 1982.

Following this, it was announced that September that the Manxman had been saved from the scrap heap and would be the centrepiece of a new leisure complex at Preston Docks in Lancashire.

Manxman’s new owners intended to convert her into a floating museum and visitor centre. This failed and the ship was developed into a floating nightclub and restaurant.

However, before moving there, she was used as a location for the film Yentl with Barbra Streisand. She also featured in a Granada series called Scramble with Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan (before they were an item) – the show provided help to people setting up businesses.

When Preston docks were redeveloped, the Manxman was towed to Liverpool in 1991 where she was to be used as a floating nightclub in the Trafalgar Docks area.

In 1993 she was moved again to Hull, being moored in the disused Ruscador Dry Dock.

A fire broke out in 1997 and damaged the boat’s interior. Around 75 firefighters battled to stop the former Isle of Man ferry from sinking.

Despite a campaign to try and restore and preserve the Manxman, the ship was finally broken up for scrap in 2012.

The Manxman’s previously mentioned ‘sister ships’ included King Orry (IV), built in 1945, withdrawn from service in 1975 and scrapped in 1979.

Mona’s Queen (IV) was built in 1946 and sold for use as a Mediterranean cruise liner in 1962. She was scrapped in Greece in 1981.

Tynwald (V) was withdrawn and scrapped in Spain in 1974 after being built in 1947, while Snaefell (V) was built in 1948, and withdrawn and scrapped in 1978.

Finally, Mona’s Isle, the sixth ship in the line’s history to bear the name, was a passenger vessel built in 1966.

She was bought by the Steam Packet in 1985, operating on the Douglas to Heysham route.

But her shortcomings were quickly identified.

A number of problems persisted, including in the docking of the vessel. The Mona’s Isle was laid up in October 1985.

She was then sold to Sadaka Shipping, based in Egypt, in 1986.

She served in Saudi Arabia for another 12 years but experienced engine problems in 2004. Mona’s Isle anchored in the Red Sea and was then abandoned as a wreck near Jeddah.

However, the wreck has become popular in recent years as a scuba diving site.