Type :
Iron paddlewheel steamer
Launched  :
Builder :
J Dow and Co (assembled)
Williamstown, VIC
Gross :
64 tons
Dimensions :
36.39 x 3.99
Passenger capacity :
Speed :
12 knots

The Phantom is the earliest Manly ferry about which any great detail survives. She was an iron paddlewheel steamer and the first double ended Manly ferry (but not the first double ended ferry on Sydney Harbour). Like others of her vintage, she was assembled from parts imported from England. As such, she was also the first full time Manly ferry to be imported. She was also the first Manly ferry to introduce the standard Manly colours - dark green hull, white superstructure, white funnel with a black band - that would endure until the blue and white of the UTA ferries introduced in 1974.

After being built she was used as an excursion steamer on Port Phillip Bay until 1859 when she was sold to Sydney to operate on the Manly run.

Phantom was known as 'Puffing Billy' due to the habit she had of blowing smoke rings as she huffed and puffed her way over the harbour. Sometimes the trip would take nearly two hours to complete.

In 1860 she was sold to the Skinner and Wilson partnership who continued to operate her on a regular Sydney-Manly run for around another eight years.

In 1868 she was again sold, this time to a partnership that would eventually form the shipping line of Huddart Parker in 1876. They also kept her on the Manly run until 1877 after which she was then operating to Watsons Bay.  She remained in this role until being retired and broken up in 1886.

She was not an ideal sea-going boat due to her narrow beam. On one occassion in bad weather she shipped a large wave that put out her fires. Her crew jury rigged a sail and got her to safety in Quarantine Bay where they managed to restart her engines. However after getting underway, she again shipped another wave. After rigging the sail once again, they managed to take her all the way to Circular Quay - a little over two hours late. To counter the bad roll that Phantom often developed in such seas, the crew took to hanging weights on poles from the side of the ship on the windward side. A common complaint from her passengers was that her engines were also fairly noisy.

Phantom can be credited with being the first Manly ferry to provide a 'snack bar' on board - something that would be formalised much later when the South Steyne came into service. At this time the Manly boats called en-route at  Woolloomooloo and were frequently delayed while waiting for passengers. One enterprising passenger (or perhaps Phantom's engineer) by the name of Rober Grant devised the idea of roasting potatoes on the boiler grate and serving them up with hot coffee and bread and butter. Ultimately this came to be called the Hot Potato Club.

Phantom's running mate was The Brothers.