Requiem Rum - A tribute to the Songvaar

  • by Ian Schmidt

The Real Story of the Songvaar

Before we start, let's not forget that by definition a Requiem is a final mass, a prayer for the dead, a final tribute. Each expression of our Requiem Rum is a tribute to a ship, wrecked or lost at sea and to the seafarers who sailed in those ships. In this rum, we offer tribute to the 'Songvaar'.

The Songvaar was formerly known as the Barcore and was built as a three masted iron ship in England in 1884. The Songvaar sank on the same day as the Titanic but unlike that disaster, the story was not tragic in terms of human loss.

The official account states that whilst at anchor between Point Pearce and Wardang Island off Yorke Peninsula, the Songvaar's captain, Isaken, was ashore in Adelaide arranging clearance, leaving the vessel fully loaded. On board, the chief mate saw dark clouds on the horizon and dropped a second anchor in preparation for a storm. The storm blew out, the tide dropped and the Songvaar sat onto the second anchor, which pierced the hull just behind the foremast. With decks awash and the wheat swelling, the Songvaar settled "peacefully and quietly on the bottom" (Chronicle, April 20 1912) standing fully upright. Several salvage attempts failed and the vessel remained upright for eight years until it was damaged by a storm. It was subsequently demolished with explosives as it had become a hazard to shipping.

The real story as told to me in the front bar of the Waralti Hotel at Port Victoria is slightly different. My source was an elderly gentleman who claimed to have been a young man at the time, employed in Port Victoria. He stated that the captain was indeed in Adelaide arranging clearance for the ship. The crew had worked up a real thirst hand loading 3,500 tons (40,700 bags) of wheat by the usual method at Port Victoria - lightering by ketch and small schooner while moored in the open roadstead. So, while the captain was away the entire crew except for the ship’s boys were ashore slaking their thirst in the very same Waralti Hotel bar that I was in. When the storm clouds were noticed the crew headed back to the ship to find that the ship’s boys had let go the second anchor and the ship was not in danger of dragging ashore. The winds died down so naturally the crew went back to the pub. The tide went out and the rest is pretty much as recorded.

The wreck is well marked and a popular dive spot. Dive videos can be found here.

Introducing Requiem Rum, SV Songvaar

We released the Requiem Rum, 'SV Songvaar' initially through The Rum Tribe rum club and it sold out within hours. We recognise that not everyone is a fan of buying through rum or whisky clubs and so kept a few for sale to our favourite bars and Den Members. There are not many, so get in quick or miss out!

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