HE was a kind, caring and happy go lucky family man who spent much of his life at sea.

Well known and much loved merchant seaman and cruise ship steward Peter James Rayner has died aged 79.

He leaves his wife of over 40 years Lydia, daughters Zahra and Ramona, son Pete, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Pete was born in Sandown in 1941 and grew up one of six close siblings. He attended St John's and Christchurch Schools on the Island, but preferred to play truant with his cousin, listening to pop music, hanging around arcades and sunbathing.

He yearned to see the world and took seasonal work in hotels until he was old enough to enrol in the Seamen's National Training School in Gloucester in 1958.

After passing out, he signed on for his first ship in Southampton as a bell boy. The Andes was bound for South America.

Pete spent much of the rest of his life at sea working as a steward on various ships including the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, RMS Mauretania and P&O's Arcadia, as well as ten years aboard the Pacific Princess, cruising out of Los Angeles to Vancouver and Alaska.

He had a few years as a payroll security guard land lubber before returning to sea on the Dover to Calais ferries until his retirement.

Known as Pete the Sleep due to his love of sleeping, he was a well-known face in the pubs of Sandown and also enjoyed playing darts and crib.

Pete's funeral has taken place in Newport.