The Strange Story of a Place in the World with More Shipwrecks Than the Bermuda Triangle

No need for flying saucers or improbable fantasies. The coasts of Maldonado and Rocha accumulate more shipwrecks than the Bermuda Triangle. Here they run aground or sink. However, they do not disappear.

Some scholars have left us with surprising surveys and stories of insurance companies’ heroics, blunders, and frauds. Still, today, it isn’t easy to find witnesses in places that are so little inhabited. But let’s not be so badly thought. Let’s have respect because this inventory includes thousands of deaths and misfortunes. Some were adventurers and even pirates, but many others were emigrants. They were not very different in desperation to those trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa today.

If someone took the job of signaling, it would be equivalent to marking the GPS, which is so popular today. Walking those deserted beaches would be the most exciting sport. The west wind discovers the bottom of the ocean during the great downspouts. It would be an excellent bloke for the baqueanos that are never missing in the area. If they built a little trolley, the tourists on horseback would enjoy an activity. An activity that does not exist anywhere else in the world.

And if you do not want to get your feet dirty with sand, pack the mate and sit on the deck chair. Bring one of the books recommended by Alberto, who always writes about things from the sea.

By Alberto Moroy

Many who spend their summer or visit the beaches of Maldonado have no idea how many wrecks there were in the area. They say that they are more than a thousand in the Rio de la Plata. 67% in the vicinity of the port of Montevideo as recorded by archaeologist Juan Pablo Gagliardi. 3% occurred between 1516 and 1775—20% between 1776 and 1861.

Today, as a racconto, we will replicate part of the work of Carlos Seijo, “Maldonado and his region.” It is related to shipwrecks between 1548-1932. I advise you to read everything related in the link below. Surely this list is not all shipwrecks. It’s between the sinking of Drake’s nephew in 1581 and 1765 of the San Rafael frigate. It was 500 meters from the beach of the same name. There is a gap of 184 years in that timeframe where many ships surely had the same misfortune. To separate the Dept. Maldonado with those of Rocha. These are in cursive and underlined letters. J. Varese points out 153 shipwrecks on the coast of Rocha until 1932 (p.309-332)

Maldonado and its region

Fray Bartolomé de las Casas in 1554, when the galleon that took him to Santo Domingo sank.

“The ship tripped over a stone or island that he did not see. It opened in the middle,” says the friar. “Some people grabbed the boards they found near them. It so happened that a father and a son took together with the same table. It was not big enough to support both of them to be able to escape. And the father said to the son: Son, save yourself with the blessing of God and leave me to drown. I’m an old man!”

Historical chronology of shipwrecks on the coast of the Depto. of Maldonado

The average life of a seventeenth-century ship was 25 years. But at the end of the eighteenth century, it did not reach 15 years. It was without detriment to exceptional durations. On average, it takes 18 months to construct a ship until its launch. And it takes 2 years for it to be able to navigate. At the age of 5, it needs a first fairing, which gives him life for another 3 or 4 years. And then it requires a more important rearrangement. At 13 or 14 years old, you have to decide between redoing it or abandoning it. Regarding the causality of the phenomenon, atmospheric factors affect 80% of cases. And the wear of materials in the remaining 20%. (Antonio Lezama)

The strange story of a place in the world with more shipwrecks than the Bermuda Triangle
  1. 1548. – Alonzo Riquelme de Guzmán departed in a caravel of the port of La Asunción. He was taking 60 soldiers to Spain. It was still in a brigantine that was Hernando de Rivera. They left the river to penetrate the wide sea and dismissed one from the other. They went by the channel that was going to leave to the port of Maldonado. Here, that night a great storm overtook them. It gave with the caravel in an undercover flagstone. Today, it is on the same channel and is called the “Laja del Inglés.” A few years ago, a ship was lost in it as it ran a coast. The caravel was stuck on the rocks. The sides opened it, and so much water entered them that they could not exhaust it. The furious storm never ceased during all this time. Distrusting all the inferno they had so close, they agreed to forsake the ship and go off to the mainland. They were facing the danger and risk of all coming to the hands of the Indians. They were the inhabitants of that land, also called the Charrúas. They were cruel and barbarous. And to be able to do it, they cut the main topmast. With boards and wood, they made a big raft together with the batel. Thus they could cross that arm and go out.

Under Mostin, “alias la Caldera” is a Possible slab of English /

Alfonso Riquelme

1581 (Sic ). Pedro Sarmiento, in his “Sumaria Relacion,” told that an English ship” was lost between the island of Lobos and the mainland. In escaping in the batel, the people went to the mainland, where the Indians brought them along. From here, the captain named Juan Drac and the helmsman and another fled in a canoe and went upstream of the Plata. Juan Drac was the nephew of the famous pirate Drake (Drack) of Plemud (Plymouth).»

This counted as the nephew of Drake before the inquisition of Lima in 1587

On a date close to the year 1583, the nephew of Francis Drake was lost adrift in the River Plate. He had gone around the world with his uncle. The 16 men who manned the Francis saved themselves from a choke by miracle. Also, Richard Farewether and John Drake were saved. But they fell into the hands of the Indians. After thirteen months of captivity, John Drake and Richard and John Daclós fled in a canoe to Buenos Aires. Here, they arrived in March 1584. The Spanish authorities imprisoned them and sent them to Santa Fe. Here Drake declared before a notary public the story of his adventures in the company of his uncle Francis. This was recorded on March 24, 1584.

1728. September 29 ship “Sea Horse.” At the southern tip of Gorriti Island. According to the information,  it was a slave ship belonging to the Real Seat of England. It came from Buenos Aires under the command of the captain Moore WhiteJ”. The ship was shipwrecked at 2 o’clock at night, drowning 23 crew.

1753. On January 31, 1753, the ship Our Lady of the Rosary went down due to a tremendous storm. It was at the height of Los Castillos on the coast of Montevideo. Thanks to the exploration of the wreck, it is known that most of the cargo could have been saved. Both the ship Our Lady of the Rosary, San José, and the Animas alias “Fredisberg” went down on January 31st. The “Fredisberg was of a Danish factory and weighed 408.118 tons. It was owned by José Polloni Salio de Cádiz and took off on November 13, 1752. It was bound for Buenos Aires and transported his cellar in addition to other loads. 2 thirds and 24 canvas pieces of Tomb Prats and 1 drawer and 28 thirds embarked by Josep de Molas.

1765. – On August 3, the frigate “San Rafael” “sank with a scant shot of a rifle.” It would be between 100 and 150 meters. This is according to the Spanish chronicles that relate to the shipwreck.  However, those who say they have located the “San Rafael” do not agree. They indicate that the remains are about 500 meters from the coast. Two centuries after the sinking, Rodolfo Filippelli wants to take that load to the surface. Filippelli is a 53-year-old Argentinian.  The San Rafael frigate sailed from the port of Cádiz-Spain on January 29, 1765. The captain was Francisco López Fiesco. The ship was bound for the port of Santísima Trinidad in Buenos Aires. A destination they never reached. On May 22 of the same year, the winds pocketed their sails. The ship was pushed up against the coast, thus becoming a shipwreck.

1778. – On the 6th of September, the boat Antonio Algeziras arrives at the port of Maldonado. It was sent from Buenos Aires. Here it remained anchored until the night of the following day. But as the storm continued with the same fury, the ship was ruined on the beach.

1785. – On January 19, Francisco de Paula Sanz ordered the minister of finance of Montevideo to help financially. The money was to go to the Minister of the Royal Treasury of Maldonado. In return, the rescue of the frigate “La Limeña” in the Rincón de Don Carlos was expected.

1785. – At the beginning of April, the “La Soledad” packet that went to Cádiz was shipped to Solís beach. Orders were given to safeguard the cargo of the leather that it was carrying. But the tenacity of the contrary times and the strong bursting it exerts. The sea in that destination barely gave rise to the third party. The rigging and candles, as well as sticks and utensils that could be saved, were destroyed. So was the wood that was smashed and went to the beach.

The strange story of a place in the world with more shipwrecks than the Bermuda Triangle
  1. – On May 18 the brig “Tragamar” of Malaga. Captain Manuel Arróspide, on Maldonado.

1789. – The frigate «Our Lady of the Good Trip» had left on 9/1/1789. It was on the coast of Maldonado in December. And in it traveled Tadeo Haënke. Haënke was a naturalist and abotanist. He was also a zoologist and Czech geologist. He participated in the expedition at the request of Alexandro Malaspina.

  1. The Ganges «is about extracting from the sea bottom a treasure whose importance rises according to some to six million. The extraction operations must begin in front of Maldonado. That incredible sum is contained in the hull of the Spanish warship “Ganjes.” With its 74 guns, it went down in this harbor about a century ago. »

1792 . – On October 13, the brigs “Nuestra Señora del Pilar” and “Santa Rosalía” of Barcelona were in Punta Negra. Next to the Port of English you find.

  1. – On January 28, the brig “Explorer” from Cadiz and the Royal Maritime Company is next to the E. Cape Santa Maria.
  2. – On April 22, the frigate «Our Lady of the Star» is coming from Barcelona to the inlet of Burgos. It comes immediately to Maldonado.

1794 – On July 7, the frigate “La Liebre” comes from Málaga to the E. of Maldonado. It is on San Rafael Beach. The frigate “La Liebre” was a Spanish warship built in the arsenal of La Carraca. San Fernando built it from Cádiz between 1753 and 1755. It had dimensions of 41 meters in length and 10 meters in width. The draft was 5.5 meters. It was armed with 34 guns, of which 26 were 12 pounds.

1795 – The frigate “Gaditana” of Cádiz in the restinga of the island of Lobos. In recent years, important investigations have been conducted in the vicinity of Isla de Lobos. There have been recovered many valuable and interesting artillery pieces. Those pieces seemed to have belonged to the wreck of La Gaditana (1795).

1795 – On August 12, the brig “San Miguel” of Santander was in the inlet of Castillos.

1797. In Punta Negra, the Portuguese summit “Our Lady of Sorrows” is shipwrecked. It was traveling from the Bay of All Saints to the Silver.

1797  Meeting Frigate

1797 NS of Dolores Zumaca Portuguesa area Punta Negra

1801 – On May 1, the king’s brig was named “El Carmen y San Antonio.” It was about 4 leagues from the Solís Grande Guard. From Montevideo, they sent a canoe, so to help her. It was the one that the neighborhood could lend for them to help rescue the shipwrecked.

1801 – On August 3, the summit “Santa Rita” alias El Gallito of Corsica to the N. of the island of Palmar.

1801 – On October 21, the frigate «La Amalia» from Hamburg in the stone resting of the Castles inlet.

1801  – On December 1, the Big Island summit “Bota Fogo.” It was made by the summit “Santa Ana” in Castles

1801 – On the 1st of December, the Big Island summit «La Bizarra.» A dam was made by the Sumaca «Santa Ana» in Maldonado.

1801 – On December 15, the summa “Our Lady of Carmen” of the Big Island. A dam made by the Sumaca “Santa Ana” in José Ignacio.

1801 – On December 16, the summit “Sinforosa” from the Isla Grande. The dam was made by the Sumaca “Santa Ana” in Pan de Azúcar.

1801 – On December 16, the summit “Nuestra Señora del Rosario” of the Isla Grande. A dam made by the Sumaca “Santa Ana” in Pan de Azúcar.

1805 – In December. The North American cutter «Spray» in the Chaplet.

1805 – On June 6, the English frigate “Duque de Clarens” of 180 tons. It came from Liverpool with a royal patent for whale fishing in the S. and the Corsican seas.

1806 – On January 30, the frigate «Adelaide» from Lisbon on the coast or port of Maldonado.

1806 – On January 31, the frigate “Young Casimiro de Gijón” on the coast of Maldonado.

1806 – On April 17, the frigate «Luisa» from Rio de Janeiro on the coast of Maldonado. He led a number of black muzzles.

1806 – The English ship “Agamemnon” to the N. of Gorriti. It was forming a bank at the end of the island. There are no more than 18 feet of water. There they were agglomerating sands and gravel, producing a very hard bottom. It was wrecked in this same place called the Placer de Los Chinos with 4 or 5 fathoms of water. It was due to such a shallow depth.

Gorriti Island, the most famous shipwreck

1808 August Brick French Le Consolateur

1809– On April 23, the English merchant brig “Caledón” had left Montevideo for England. They sailed without any occurrence until the next day at 11 o’clock in the morning. When they were 4 miles distant from the NNE of the English Bank, they ran aground. They fought, but there was no hope due to the great current. The current that had lowered it on the SE near the mouth of the Solís Grande stream continued. There was hope to save it because the SSO wind came hardening more and more. The people were saved from the boat and moved away from the ship. Only the captain and the helmsman remained. There they stayed on the boat until 8 pm. They stayed at much risk and work and could disembark in the corner of Pan de Azúcar. The time was seven-thirty in the morning of the 25th.

1812– On August 31, the merchant ship “San Salvador” of 50 meters in length from Cádiz. It brought the 2nd battalion of the Albuera Regiment to Montevideo. The ship was wrecked in Maldonado Bay. On the coast of Uruguay lie the bodies of almost 400 Spanish soldiers who were shipwrecked. They suffered the largest tragedy ever by the Spanish Navy in the Rio de la Plata. It was just a hundred meters from the beaches of Punta del Este. The remains are accessible at shallow depths. We have learned from official sources that many skeletons still conserve soft tissues. This is in addition to the accouterments and uniforms that the sea has miraculously preserved. In June of 1893, Antonio Rebolledo was going from Maldonado to Punta del Este. After 81 years, he discovered several skulls and jaws in the vicinity of the remains of the Russian boat. These finds were found t a distance of 250 yards from the sea and near the spring designated by the name of La Pastora. These belonged to 5 graves in semi-circular order and appeared partly on the sandy surface of the land.  The human remains corresponded to the crew of the Spanish warship “San Salvador,” shipwrecked in the bay. This is according to data that was collected from ancient neighbors.

1815 – The Portuguese Sumaca Americana Sandosa was captured and shipwrecked in Punta del Este by the corsair Esperanza.

1816 – On April 18, the Portuguese brig «Caña Verde» when entering the port of Maldonado. Due to a storm, it chose such a bad spot to anchor that it sank on the resting of stones in Punta del Este. The crew could be saved.

  1. In August, the French schooner “Victoria” of Saint-Malo. His cargo consisted of Brittany and canvas and silks. It was shipwrecked on the coast of Rocha, splitting in half. Your crew was saved.

1821 – The English brig “Clyde” on the beach of San Rafael.

1823 – In March, the brig «Galiano» sank on the beach of Maldonado.

1823 – In June, the brig “Blucher” from England sank on the coast of Maldonado.

1823 – The brig “Águila de Río” sank on Maldonado coast.

1824 – On March 3, the Sumaca “Concordia” ran aground on the beach 6 miles east of Maldonado.

1824 – In April, the brig “Aleluya” ran on the coast of Maldonado.

1824 – In July, the sumaca “Santo Domingo” ran aground at Garzón’s bar. They were saved.

1824 – In October, the brig “Alianza” ran on the coast of Maldonado.

  1. – On June 24 at 10 and 1/2 of the day, the imperial gunboat called number nine, «Paqueta.» A furrier named Antonio Cardozo de Silva came among the castaways who claimed to be his commander. He also claimed to have left Rio de Janeiro on April 28. They were 10 gunships and a corvette, and three brigantines. He claimed that the gunboat of his appointed command led carrion of 24. He said that his crew consisted of the commander and one helmsman plus 9 sailors and 2 soldiers. They had not been able to accompany the other boats, so they were forced to arrive at Santa Catalina. From here, it left in the direction of Montevideo. The storm of that day shipwrecked the ship. The Cabildo ordered them to be assisted. He guarded them as prisoners in a barracks room and then sent them to San Carlos. This is part of José Machado’s military correspondence to General Lavalleja in 1825.

1826 – On March 14, the Anglo-American brig “Slate” from New York went on the ground on the coast of Maldonado.

1828 – In May, the American brick “John London” went on the ground on the coast of Maldonado.

1828 – In June, the corsair vessel “Triunfo Argentino”  from Moctezuma went on the ground on the coast of Rocha.

1829 – On February 3, a storm threw 8 boats to the beach and 2 to sink in the port of Maldonado. (Names are ignored.)

1832 – A ship wrecked on the coast of Solís Grande. The name is ignored.

1833 – On August 25, the brig “Prompt” from Liverpool in England was stranded on the coast of Garzón. It brought 200 barrels of flour, 100 bushels of wheat, and other general cargo.

1833The brig “Evergreen,” in Castles.

1839 – On December 12, the Spanish brig “Comercio” went on ground in the Rincón de San Carlos. It was east of the bar called José Ignacio. They were saved.

1840In May, the Spanish brig “Leonidas” grounded on Balizas beach.

1840 – On May 27, five ships were lost on the coast of Pan de Azúcar. A Spanish frigate and a French boat «La Reina Rosa» were among them. 6 passengers perished.

1840 – In June, the Brazilian pataro «Leopoldina» was lost in the Portezuelo.

1840 – On July 5, Sardinian Poland «Our Lady of Mercy» was lost in Boca Chica in Punta del Este

1840 – In August, the Brazilian brig «Carolina» grounded on San Rafael beach.

1840 – On December 18, the English boat «Gazelle» went on the ground in Castles.

1842 – On January 18, the Spanish brig “Victoria” grounded on the bank between Isla de Lobos and Cabo Santa María. It was from Mallorca. The captain told us that a strong blow came from the sea at night. This lifted the boat up high and dropped it on a sandbank where it was left-leaning on the starboard side. The sea had been washing us for an hour and a half, but the ship always stayed whole. We were desperate in the face of coming death and imagining ourselves isolated. At dawn, we saw with surprise and astonishment a man on horseback. The distance was that of a gunshot of the brig. This was encouraging us. Chop the ratchet and serve as a bridge with the rods and masts. We jumped to the ground putting us all safe. Because the coast was so low and sandy that nothing was seen more than the point of our shipwreck.

1842 – On June 9, the ship «Leopoldina Rosa» from Bayonne went on the ground on the coasts of Castillos. They saved 72, and 236 drowned.

1842 – On August 26, an English frigate in Punta del Este.

1843 – On June 25, those ships were lost in the storm in Maldonado. A French boat, «L ‘Aigrette,» whose crew perished except for 3 individuals, including the captain. An English brig, the «Conception,» sunk. A Brazilian Zumaca «Deolinda» perished. A Sardinian schooner, the «Bella Angelica,» also perished. Schooner’s «Our Lady of the Garden» sank. The Goleta «María Luisa» sank, and the Schooner «Three friends.» The English Pailebot «Cau» sank, and the Lanchones «León» together with the «Pepita» and the «Emilia.» You may also include both the «Avelina» and the «Cometa» as well as the «Forment» and the «Carolina.» And finally, both the «Francisco» and «Juan» also sank. The source of this is Isidore of Mary’s quotes in the “Annals of Defense.”

1845At the beginning of July, the English brig “Catherina” grounded on the coast of Chuy. It was losing only one man.

1845 – In August, the English brig “Jonathan Fell” fell in El Polonio.

1845 – On August 26. The English boat «Seagull,» on San Rafael beach.

1845 – On October 30, the French brig “Auguste” in Castles. They drowned the captain, his second, and 2 sailors.

1845 – On November 2, the North American brig “Sea bird” sunk in Punta Negra at the Maldonado coast. Six died.

1848 – The English ship “Francton Filis” in Maldonado.

1850 – On February 21, the English ship “Achilles” with salt cargo sunk at San Rafael beach. The captain and crew were saved.

1851 – The 5th of July. The English brig «John Peal.» Forty miles south of Maldonado.

1852 – On September 23, the national boat «Flores.» At night he suffered a storm in which he lost his two chains. He was going to run aground in the vicinity of the battery called «The Shepherdess.» The whole crew was saved.

1859 – On April 1, the English brig “Minalto.” It was on the coast of Garzón.

1859 – In July, the Polish «Victoria». Barra by José Ignacio.

1859 – The 30 of July. The Brazilian ship “Vigilante.” At Cape Santa Maria.

1861 – The Argentinean polish «Giussepina» in the port of Maldonado.

1862 – November 22. The Italian brig «Apollo,» on the island of Lobos.

1868– “The schooner brig” Saint John of Scotland ” sunk while coming from Maldonado. It was a carrier of some details about the event on board an English vessel. That was supposedly the” Hosbornee House.” The ship was coming from India with a valuable cargo. From the reports that we have gathered, the British ship had an insurrection on board. Some individuals led this on the crew. It led to the assassination of the captain and his wife, and several other people. Consumed by the rebels of that brutal crime, they became the ship’s owners. They navigated the ship until they led it to the eastern coast. And once close to the Isla de la Paloma (Rocha), some passengers were locked in the chamber. Then several directions were opened, after which the ship sank, and the insurgents gained the coast. One of these was believed to be the helmsman. He was able to separate from the others and report to the authorities of Rocha what happened.  Without loss of any time, they gave him a home. What has managed to capture them? Quotes are from “La Nación” from Montevideo on October 20, 1868.

By Coricia

Marketing manager and co-Chief Editor of Maritime Herald.