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If you are sailing the Atlantic along the South American coast, there are many glitzy and glamorous places to stop. Uruguay is not one of them. This is the perfect place to stop for a while if you have been on the water for weeks and are not feeling quite ready for the busier ports. Uruguay offers South American hospitality and simplicity with just enough European influence to get a few repairs done and some supplies restocked. Anything more than the basics will have to wait until you get to Buenos Aires. Luckily it is only a couple of hours of sailing away, across the Rio de la Plata.
Interesting fact: If you paint a fishing boat in Uruguay, only one colour is allowed and orange is recommended, as it is an easy colour to spot in the ocean, in case you need to be rescued.
Sailing into Uruguay
As with many former Spanish and Portuguese colonies, red tape can be a bit annoying in Uruguay. Before you enter any Uruguayan port, call ‘Control Maritimo‘ on VHF16, 9 or 11 to report your position and destination. When you arrive at the port, visit the Coast Guard (Prefectura Naval) and be sure you have many copies of your documentation — this will speed things along. Sometimes the Coast Guard complete entry requirements, and on other occasions sailing folk are directed to Customs and Immigration.
Before you leave…
Make sure you get a letter from the Hidrografia office that states that you have paid all required fees. A huge plus is that you may not need to exchange currency. Besides Punta del Este, Colonia is probably the only place in Uruguay where you can use dollars or euro with ease and at good rates.
As soon as the official business is over it is time to step back in time, and enjoy Uruguay.
Sweet Colonia – a quaint feel-good place
When visiting Uruguay, be sure to include a trip to Colonia de Sacramento in your itinerary. Colonia has a very special ambience. Founded by the Portuguese in 1680, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Beautiful cobbled streets and old stone houses form a stunning backdrop for hordes of really old, really well looked after cars and bicycles. Visiting Colonia will make you wonder if Uruguayans throw anything away. Some of the cars have been in families for many generations and are lovingly looked after, although you do see cars that look a bit used and abused. Other attractions include interesting street art, gorgeous textiles and a calm atmosphere, making Uruguay, and in particular Colonia, a great place for a relaxing stop.