If you travel a lot, especially if you are a cruise enthusiast, you will on occasion come across ship and boat wrecks either grounded or in shallow water. They seem to garner more attention than wrecked and abandoned cars on land. Maybe there is something more intriguing or romantic about ship wrecks because they seem to recall huge tragedies or great seafaring legends. It’s unlikely you’ll find a story titled The Wreck Of A 66 Oldsmobile, but there are accounts that live on about the Andrea Doria, Rubin James, Titanic, Edmond Fitzgerald and a lot more.
On a recent stop in Montevideo, Uruguay we came across what looked like a ship graveyard, right in the middle of the harbor. Derelict fishing boats, tugs and even larger ships were left in the harbor, making for a very strange sight. Seeing this surprising, large collection of half sunk, rusting, and abandoned boats and ships in the center of this cities working harbor raised a number of questions. Who abandoned them and why? How long have they been here? What is anybody doing about them?
Abandoned boats are not a problem unique to Uruguay and we often encounter ships wrecked along a coast, unable to be moved or salvaged. Even in the U.S. you’ll find abandoned boats usually left on remote and rarely used channels or in out of the way bays. But I don’t think we have every come across such a large number anywhere else before.
After getting home a little research turned up an article dated 17 June 2015 (HERE) estimating the number of derelicts at fifty that were abandoned by their owners because of debts or liens. It indicated that a plan has been developed that will re-float the boats and have them taken away. The Uruguayan National Port Administration will be in charge of the program.
When we were there in January of 2019 and I counted thirty boats so maybe they have made some progress in the last three years but Montevideo still has a long way to go.
Making a Day in the Port of Call Montevideo, Uruguay
Tucked in between Brazil and Argentina along the South American coast is the county of Uruguay. Its capital and major port is the city of Montevideo where over half of the countries population of three million live. A frequent port on many South American cruise itineraries the city is located near where the Rio de la Plata flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It is two-hundred fifty miles down river and east of Buenos Aries.
Where You Dock
Cruise ships normally dock at the Terminal Puerto De Montevideo which sits at the tip of a peninsula which covers most of the Tres Cruces barrio. A barrio is neighbourhood or district and Tres Cruces means “three crossings”, referring to the three major transportation routes which meet in the area. The port is well developed but does not offer a terminal adjacent to the pier. However only a couple of blocks outside the port is a shopping district and public restrooms are available in the Port Market*.
While Montevideo is a large metropolitan area,Tres Cruces is the heart of the historic city with most of the sites within walking distance. Getting outside this area usually requires a taxi. While Taxis are common they are not cheap as gasoline is expensive here. A majority of drivers only speak Spanish so be prepared with written names of your destination. Expect to pay about UYU100 for a ten minute ride. Tipping is not usual, but rounding up is common.
Getting To and From the Airport. A shuttle is available between the airport and downtown for about UYS 800/950 or US$45. A taxi should cost about UYU 1500 or US$70.
Currently a Uruguay Peso (UYU) is worth about US$0.03. Most merchants in popular tourist areas will accept Dollars and Euros and most major credit cards can be used. If using currency expect small change to be in Uruguay Pesos.
Just outside the port is The Port Market. Outside are street stalls and local shops and inside the main pavilion is a collection of cafes, bars and restaurants. The area is particularly famous for its steak houses.
Within the Tres Cruces area are a number of attractions like:
Locks Fountain at Av. 18 de Julio
Ramírez Beach, a wide sand beach & popular hangout
Galeria SOA, Candombe pedestrian Curuguaty
Palacio Diaz at Av. 18 de Julio
Ciudadela at Av. Intendente Municipal Juan Pedro Fabini
Fountain Plaza Cagancha at Dr. Enrique Tarigo
Galería Caubarrere Convención at Restos de la muralla de la Ciudadela at Buenos Aires
Mausoleo de José Gervasio Artigas at Prócer de los Orientales
Monument at Plaza Independencia
The Black Gallery Arte Contemporáneo at Calle Perez Castellano
Palacio Santos at Av. 18 de Julio
Monumento a Atilio Narancio
Palmera de Juana de Ibarbourou at Manuel Vicente Pagola