Old Books


Direction for the entrance and exit of the Río de la Plata.

Second half of the 18th century.

Quarto major (29.6 x 20.7 cm / 11.65 x 8.15 in), 2 sheets, with three of its pages handwritten in iron gall ink. Copy in very good condition. We have the full transcript available upon request.

Remarkable period manuscript, with the necessary information for entering and leaving the port of Montevideo. The treacherous waters of the Río de la Plata and its surprise storms claimed numerous victims in countless shipwrecks, so the expertise of the pilot who brought his experience to paper will have been extremely useful.

Numerous seafaring terms appear in his instructions, such as “nautical scandall” (1) or “luff” (2), categorical proof of his authorship, as the Uruguayan historian Juan Antonio Varese expressed to us in a personal communication: “a practical pilot, a man with experience and perhaps little education, who relied more on direct experience than on published guidelines.

Transcript (partial):

Derrota para la salida y entrada en el Puerto de Montevideo

Salida para España: Será más conveniente verificar la salida de Montevideo para que fuera del Río de la Plata, por el Canal del S., por que así precave una desgracia, que pueda acarrearle una travesía, y es factible la experimente por la canal del N. También será más conveniente que otra salida de Montevideo por la canal del Sur la verifique por la tarde, por causa de que si le viniese el mal tiempo, pueda arribar: Supongamos para esto que sale a las seis de la tarde y navega hasta las 12 de la noche poco más o menos, y que a esta hora le obliga el temporal a arribar a Montevideo; para ejecutarla tiene la ventaja que le viene el día, y como que ha hecho poca navegación, tiene tiempo bastante con el día que está próximo para granjear el Puerto; y no le sucederá así, saliendo por la mañana, porque navegando todo el día internado  ya 10, o 12 leguas le viene la noche, y si se le ofrece algún mal tiempo, lo pone perplejo para la arribada. (...)

(in English)

Route for exit and entry in the Port of Montevideo

Departure for Spain: It will be more convenient to verify the departure from Montevideo so that it would be from the Río de la Plata, through the Canal del S., because in this way it prevents a misfortune, which could lead to a crossing, and it is feasible to experience it through the Canal del N. It will also be more convenient for another departure from Montevideo through the South Canal to verify it in the afternoon, because if bad weather comes, it can arrive: Let us suppose for this that it leaves at six in the afternoon and sails to 12 o'clock at night more or less, and that at this time the storm forces him to arrive in Montevideo; to execute it he has the advantage that the day comes, and since he has done little navigation, he has enough time with the day that is approaching to win the Port; and it won't happen that way, leaving in the morning, because sailing all day interned and at 10, or 12 leagues, night comes, and if bad weather offers him, it puts him perplexed for the arrival. (...)


1. Nautical scandall: Piece of the end of the sonde that is used to examine the aquatic bottoms. 

2. Luff: 1. intr. Sea. Tilt the bow towards the part where the wind comes from. (SAR dictionary)

We are grateful for the reading and information provided by the Uruguayan journalist and researcher, notary public Juan Antonio Varese, author, among other books, of "Shipwrecks and Legends on the Rocha Coast" (1993), "Stories and Legends of the Island of Flores" ( 2000), “Coasts of Maldonado” (2005), “Coasts of Rocha” (2005) and “Coasts of Colonia” (2006).

S.O. XV-38


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