A SHORT STORY
Throw Away Boats
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 freighters and tankers 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 city’s 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 in Uruguay at fifty being 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.