The iron steamship Davaar was launched from the yard of Campbeltown Shipbuilding Co Ltd (Yard No 3) on 30th October 1878. She measured 165.4′ x 24.5′ x 11.0′ and her tonnage was 435 gross tons, 268 net tons. She was powered by a compound steam engine by Dunsmuir and Jackson, Glasgow delivering 60 registered horse power. She was built for Mr Matthew Louden of Glasgow intended to operate on routes from Glasgow to ports in Ireland and the Scottish west coast.
On completion of her sea trials and a final adjustment of her compasses at Garelochead the Davaar steamed up river to Glasgow to begin her maiden voyage. Chartered for this voyage by McPhail and Co Ltd, Broomielaw she was bound for Limerick in Ireland. Also on board the vessel, which was under the command of Captain George Prior, were two passengers and the crew of twelve. She departed from Glasgow in the morning of 9th December, 1878 with a 300 ton general cargo and stopped at Greenock to pick up 180 tons of sugar before proceeding down river into the open waters of the Firth of Clyde.
By 8pm she was abreast of Pladda at the south tip of Arran, on a hazy calm evening steaming at her cruising speed of eight and a half knots. The captain steered WNW for twenty minutes before turning onto a course west by south calculated to clear Sanda light. He then handed over to Mr McKinnon, a master mariner hired by the charterers to look after their cargo during the voyage, before retiring to his cabin instructing McKinnon to call him when Sanda light was spotted. McKinnon became nervous about the course, fearing they were too close to the Kintyre shore, and made a small adjustment. He was then shaken by a shout from the lookout telling him that there was land on the starboard bow. He steered the ship hard to port but almost immediately the ship ran aground on Paterson’s Rock, which lies east of Sanda, and there it remained stuck fast.
The night was calm and as such there was no problem in getting the passengers and crew off safely in the ship’s boat but the vessel was left sitting in a very exposed position with her bows high out of the water on the rock. Some of the cargo was transferred onto SS Seamew and the steam lighter Pelican before the ship slipped off and sank. She was sold at auction where she lay on 7th January, 1879 and was later heavily salvaged. The subsequent enquiry into the loss was to find that the master had steered a wrong course when leaving Pladda and that he should not have left McKinnon in charge. In his defence the captain stated that the mate, J Martin, had been drunk and could not be left in charge although the mate strongly denied this.
The wreck of the Davaar lies on the north west side of Paterson’s Rock in approximate position 55° 17.098’N, 005° 32.561’W. Due to the salvage activities the only large item of wreckage is the huge boiler which rears up from the otherwise scattered and flattened debris which remains at the wreck site.
The wreckage lies in general depths of 12 metres and makes an interesting dive particularly because of its proximity to the wrecks of the Adept and the Norse which can be visited on the same dive. The site is very exposed to wind, swell and is subject to fierce tides demanding extreme care both in the water and by boat handlers. This can be a very interesting dive as the wreckage of the tug Adept, lost on 17th March, 1942 and the steam trawler Norse, lost 17th September, 1920 lie along the same side of Paterson’s Rock and can be explored in a single visit.