Ohana Sailing Adventure

The Episode of Which We Shall Not Speak

Imagine buying a new car and getting hit by another car while you are parked in your driveway. Or moving into a new home and three days later having someone race down your street, miscalculate, and hit your house.

Now imagine us sitting inside our beautiful new home in the harbor of Colonia, Uruguay, three days after finally leaving Buenos Aires, making plans to leave the next day for Montevideo, dreaming of the ports to come on our way north to warm beaches in Brazil. On a mooring ball in a mooring field (the equivalent of being parked for a boat), the same place we’d been moored for three days, when suddenly there were bright lights through the salon windows and a deafening BOOM as a steel pilot boat hit our port hull. The girls, playing in Katie’s cabin just next to where we were hit, started screaming and crying, and we all ran out on deck.

A steel pilot boat had sideswiped our new home. A pilot boat is used to transport pilots and crew from shore to boats, as well as to help guide boats in to port. They are supposed to be crewed by high-level captains who are more skilled than average, especially in the ports in which they operate. And yet one hit our stationary boat.

Thankfully, once we settled down and got a good look at our boat, the sound of being hit (essentially being inside a large drum) was infinitely worse than the damage we sustained. The hull, although scraped, was intact. We contacted the pilot boat on the VHF radio, and we emailed 40 Grados Sur, our builder. 40GS sent someone to us on the next ferry, and he confirmed that the damages were superficial, as did multiple other inspections including a marine surveyor. Other than paint and gelcoat, there was no structural damage.

40GS also helped us navigate reporting the incident to the Prefectura (Coast Guard). Apparently, the Coast Guard and the Uruguayan government have the ability to restrict a boat from leaving for at least 15 days after an incident such as this. Our contact from 40GS helped explain to the Coast Guard that the damage was minimal and specifically did not make our boat unseaworthy, and the Prefectura released us to leave. We were able to motor back to Buenos Aires for 40GS to do the repairs. We elected to take her back to Argentina so that the factory could match the gelcoat exactly and bring her back to her previously new condition.

We were so grateful in the end that we were only across the Rio de la Plata from the boat yard, that they were so helpful both in Uruguay as well as in fixing our boat, and that the damage to the hull was as minor as it was. And now, even knowing exactly where the damage occurred, we’re hard-pressed to see any residual changes. The whole episode also reaffirmed our knowledge that this was one safe boat that we had purchased. In a steel versus fiberglass impact, Ohana handled it well and kept our family safe.

This is what hit us (without fenders at the time!)

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