|The Montevideo Port|
We found out about this zone through an off the cuff remark. As most of you know, Wally and I live near the beach and through our living room and dining room picture windows we have a grand view of the water. (yeah, I can't help bragging just a little bit). Well, normally during the day we keep the shutters open so we can enjoy the view and happenings on the beach. After sunset, we sometimes debate on just when and at what time to shut those shutters. I often joke, "it's too bad the ocean isn't lit up at night like a pool is, then I'd have something to see through those windows at night." Recently, that has changed!
About four years ago when I first looked out of those windows at the water during the day, I occasionally saw a small red fishing boat, fishing while seagulls circled and pretty much nothing at night. Two years ago, I posted a photo of a ship around twilight time lit up. I thought it might be a cruise ship heading to Argentina, as it was summertime.
Now, when I look out my windows, I see huge container ships and others (as in plural) not only passing by during the day but at night they stop and rest there, camped out as it were, all along the horizon. Now at night we leave the shutters open much later, as we now have a beautiful view of multicolored lights. We pretend, we are looking at a city skyline view, lit up at night.
|Ships at night, lighted up off the coast from my house.|
|Off-shore "Parking" of ships just waiting.|
Still wondering why there was so much waiting time and unloading going on in the waters in front of my house and not in the harbor itself, I found out some more info. about the Port of Montevideo. It's a natural port with a main channel that gives access. This channel is not very wide or deep and is often threatened with sediment. Some people say there are spots you could walk upon. To the west of the channel one can see sticking up out of the water the mast of the shipwrecked El Calpean Star (formerly called the Highland Chieftain). It sank in July, 1960 (the result of an explosion and fire).
|Ship in the middle maneuvering into place.|
The amount of ships certainly has increased in 4 years time! As an update; May 19th, 2013 saw a record 100 ships off the Costa de Oro or the gold coast that runs past my house.
|Thanks to Mark Mercer for posting this on Facebook!|
In a 2008 report it was mentioned that the port had dealings with some 5,000 plus vessels, including fishing vessels from various countries (525) and Uruguay (1827), petroleum ships (245), barges (113), cruise liners (101), and general cargo ships (223), container ships (819) and bulk vessels (111) among others. The port handled a little over 9 million tons of cargo that year. That shows a lot of ships coming in and out (imports and exports).
The port handles almost all of the imports of the country and the exports mainly are effected through Montevideo and Nueva Palmira. Chief exports include exports of meat, hides, wool, rice, milk, and fish among other things. The approach to the port by the Atlantic is between the Island of Flores and the English Bank. The port is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with a few exceptions.
The port is protected by 2 breakwaters. Wind rather than tidal changes effect conditions at the port. Normally during the year the wind speed averages 12 knots but when the gales of the Southwest blow they can reach 80 to 120 km. an hour (1 knot equals 1.85 km or 1.152 mph). The port closes (at the authorities discretion) when the wind reaches 32.4 knots. This is one example of why so many ships might have to wait to get into the port. The port can also close when visibility is less than a 1000 meters. These things are determined by the Maritime Authority. It can be compared to an airplane circling the airport, waiting to land. Strikes or trouble at the port would also cause a back log of ships waiting.
I went online to various shipping companies websites and found out that Montevideo's port location is: Montevideo Latitude 34°54'33"S Longitude 56°12' 45" W
|At twilight, ships in a row with lights aglow.|
There are water zones delineated where ships are allowed to lighten, transfer, complete cargoes and receive supplies and services. The Zone of Anchoring is used for supplies and services.
|Ship waiting, "parked" off-shore.|
There are two light house zones. The light house zone declared "Alpha" of the River Plata (Rio de la Plata), is between the coast and Long. 55°30 and 57°21 'W, and in the south by the limit of the River Plata with Argentinean water. On a clear day, I can see the Alpha Zone's light house on the Island named "Isla de Flores" from my terrace.
|The Isla de Flores lighthouse as seen from my deck(zoomed in).|
|Ship cruising by my house.|
Close to Montevideo's port address of Longitude 56 is an anchoring spot (about 200 hectare) that can be utilized for picking up supplies and services needed aboard the various ships. The zone Common is part of the main channel and also heads towards Argentina. The "D" or Delta zone runs in front of Piriápolis.
All said and done, my little window on the world has just gotten a bit more interesting and hey, Alphas rule!